Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Gala quilt is done!

Today the binding and the hanging sleeve were added and the quilt is now hanging in the stairway at the Early Learning Center. This picture was taken at the foot of the stairway at the ELC.

The quilt is not easy to photograph in the stairwell, but the lighting shows the fish and quilting off to the best advantage.



and Spot.

Well, they don't really have names ... and if they did, they should have something a whole lot classier.

Tomorrow morning, the arriving children and their parents will have a surprise where a painting usually hangs. Saturday will be the Gala. Yes, we finished in time! Next week there will be no quilting day but our group will meet to celebrate.

This is our tenth year of quilt making. My husband would like to make a set of all ten quilts on note cards and has begun asking around for printers.

I have no idea how cards would sell but I sure wouldn't mind having a few sets. Each quilt is a reminder of friends made, ideas shared, problems solved and goals met.

Today I had a call from Kuraishi-sensei. This is the block she made for my friendship quilt.

Tomorrow she will come to the meeting with our former member.

Afterwards, she has invited me to a quilt show.

It is going to be a great day!!!

Asayama-san made this Ohio Star block. She is our best member for keeping in touch with those who have moved away. I'm so happy I will see her tomorrow too.

I'm sure Haeno-san will be there too because she is the member who was first to call and tell me about the meeting.

This block called "Nocturne", is the one she made.

Five other members of the group that made blocks for this quilt are still in the area but have not attended for at least a year or more. One member is living in San Jose, California and has returned several times. Another was living in Oregon and some of our group visited her one year for the "Sisters" show.

I have joined the Book Quilt Club and finished the first reading of The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas. One thing I liked about the story was that even when members of the quilt group had issues with the others, they counted friendship and loyalty to the group stronger than little irritations.  No member was quitting because of something someone said without thinking how it might sound to others ... or some other silly reason that needed to be forgiven and forgotten. I wish I could make a gift of that book to five friends.

My blue runner is almost ready to bind and I am sketching a plan for a baby quilt for my coming grandson.
My book club block for February will soon be underway. My + and x blocks are moving ever so slowly. 14 more blocks left to quilt on the first border. While wishing it would go faster, I am enjoying re-visiting all those fabric scraps. Now in the hoop, a block from my son's stash, Fabric from a quilt my daughters and I made for a friend's first baby, two bits from daughter's dresses, several more scraps from grandbaby quilts, batik from my daughter's quilt finished last year and Paul's "big boy" quilt. only a few scraps have never appeared in one of my former quilts. Plenty to do, plenty to enjoy. I hope you are enjoying your days too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting in the wings.

It's all over but the shouting ... or, in this case, adding the binding and the sleeve. I don't know what kind of a picture I will get next Tuesday after the last stitch is put in so Nikko and I went off with the carp, to the park for a photo shoot. I'm sure the orange silky-looking binding will be the frosting on the cake but I am quite satisfied with what our group has managed to do in such a short tiime.

My oval hoops have returned to their hanging spot and my big round hoop is embracing the last two rows of the + and X quilt ... that I may complete the quilting before the weather warms up. A few more stitches are needed in the blue table runner, then the binding. Tonight't train ride may get that finished.

So.... a new project is waiting in the wings. There is a baby quilt to make ... and a birthday gift ... but...
The thing that really excites me right now has to do with three things I love, quilting, reading, and friendship!

The last post, I shared a picture of the friendship quilt block made by my friend, Linda.  Here is another block from that quilt. The flower basket was made by me. The feature fabric got some fussy-cutting and the color I pulled out was brown and gold.

Along beside the block is friendship in the form of a book. Even though I am the world's slowest reader, I love to read. When Susan came up with the idea of a Quilters' Book Club, I really wanted to take part even though I was not sure I could get the books. While I was still plotting as to how to find the first book here in Japan, friend, June, sends me an e-mail saying she has an extra copy she can send me.

Last night, on my way up to bed, I checked the postbox and found her book waiting for me. I was so excited I could hardly get to sleep. (in fact, I fell asleep with the light on and my head on the book. Now I will be dreaming of the blocks to make for each book. I may make more than one block per book. The only thing I know for sure is that this quilt will not be made for the guestroom bed. It will be made for my semi-single futon on the greenhouse floor! Quilting, Reading, and Friendship! (And the comfort of a finished quilt ... no matter how long it takes or how many interruptions life tosses in).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

All My Friends are Stars

    The January 1996 issue of "Lady's Circle Patchwork Quilts", featured a challenge quilt made by friends,
When I showed the article to our International Quilt Circle, everyone thought it would be a fun challenge.

I gave one meter of the above fabric to each member who wanted to participate. She was to add her own fabric, picking up a color from the feature fabric, and make 12 blocks, 10 x 10 inches. A date was set for the exchange and then each member would arrange those 12 blocks into a quilt.

This was a fun project for me and the resulting quilt is most often on the bed in the loft, well used and loved.

My quilt group has under-gone many changes. Of course many members have left Japan. Some have quit for reasons unknown, and only a small core remains. The biggest joy is when we hear from a former member who will return for a visit.

Next week will be one of those joyous gatherings! I am as excited as a school girl! Linda Franlkin will be here and what remains of our group will gather to celebrate an old friendship.

Here is the block made by Linda. After my quilt was finished, I got a package of signature blocks. Some of out group put these blocks into the front or backing of their quilts. I wish I had thought of that. I still have these blocks and am now thinking of how I might use them in a pillow or something to go with this quilt.
The size is big enough for a five inch square. They are a variety of colors and prints.

Since the quilt is a star, perhaps turning each block into the center of a star block using similar colors to what was used in each block??? The interesting thing is, when I selected the feature fabric, I picked a print with basic colors that would not be hard to match up. It seems each quilter picked up a different fabric and the blocks are quite different.

A picture of the finished quilt was shown in "Quilt Presents Sampler Quilts #13" c.1999.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's day in Japan ... the culture of giving

How a Western celebration has been Japanized

You don't have to live in Japan very long to notice the culture of giving. Many of the traditions go back for centuries to a society based on rice culture. During the planting and harvesting seasons, everyone needed a cooperative effort to get the jobs done. "I help you today, and you help me tomorrow". It is not hard to understand the importance of keeping good relations with your neighbors. 

This continued into the era where there was a  give and take among Warriors, Farmers, Craftsmen and Merchants, and a hierarchy was established in that order. (After all, the Lords were paid off in rice). 
I became aware of the two "gift-giving seasons" soon after arriving in Japan. Among my English students was a class that was made up of a doctor and a dentist and their families and friends. Twice a year, during mid summer and again at the year's end, I was passed bags of fruit and other edibles that had piled up in their houses faster than they could be consumed before spoiling. (The medical profession being rather high in the hierarchy).

Years later, when my husband had manager-type jobs in financial institutions, the gifts began to arrive at our door during those same times of year. I also remember there was a certain number of people to whom we were obligated to give gifts. Even these days, twice a year, gifts, usually of edibles, are exchanged. Right now we are still consuming the last of a box of apples and a box of oranges and a giant salmon that arrived before Christmas. Just as the dentist friend, we take a few of those things to other homes in the neighborhood or to relatives so they can be consumed before they spoil.

So ... what does this have to do with Valentine's Day?  Somewhere in the 50's, a well known Chocolate company promoted valentine's day as the time for a girl to give a box of expensive chocolates to some guy that she wanted to attract. I suppose some attractive guys got lots of chocolate, while others may have been depressed by getting nothing. To even things out, there was also cheaper chocolates for the girl to give to other guys in the office out of obligation. Can you imagine the guy who mistakes the chocolate for a gift of affection? Or the wife, whose husband brings home a big box of expensive chocolate?  Oh yes, every year my husband brings home boxes of chocolate but so far, no one has stolen him away. Now we have guys looking at the value of the gift and wondering the reason behind it. Valentine cards? Forget it. Those are for pre-school kids!

And... since this is a gift-giving culture ... there needs to be a day when those guys can give back. Thus, "White Day" was created a month later, March 14th, when the guys return the gifts. Men are expected to return gifts that are at least two or three times more valuable than what they received. A marshmallow company tried to promote their product but white chocolate and even gifts of jewelry, accessories, and even lingerie are usual. 

The romantic "date night" ? Not on valentines day. That is celebrated at Christmas. 
As an aside, my husband says a survey shows a trend toward more modernization of times in that women are less likely to need a special opportunity to express their admiration or gratitude to men.
What that will mean to the chocolate industry, I have no idea. As of now, they make half their annual sales during this time of year.  Also, I have told my husband that I won't give him chocolates (he is diabetic) if he promises not to get me lingerie. 

So, what is happening in the quilting department? This silk with the stabilizer is layered over other pieces plus the kasuri background. Quilting through all these layers is less than a picnic! The large area of the fish body will need some kind of quilting and I am considering rather large scale scales in random groups.

When I consider all those Tokyo Dome quilts with their tiny tiny stitches, I don't know how those quilters could get such small stitches in this kind of fabric other than stab-stitching. I keep telling my Scouts, "Just do your best and that's good enough". I guess the time has come for me to follow my own advice.

Just maybe a cup of coffee and a taste of chocolate  ... to get in the mood.
Happy Valentine's Day to all my blogging friends! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monday holidays


The first Monday in February was not really a holiday ... as in "day off" but was celebrated by households throughout Japan. 

The traditional first day of Spring by one of those ancient solar calendars, is a day for scattering beans (mamemaki) for dispelling demons and welcoming good luck.

This picture is of a shop window where traditional sweets are sold

You can see the shop window at "Blue and White" also got on the mood for the festival.

On Setsubun, beans ... usually roasted soy beans... are tossed out the opened doors, shouting "Oni wa soto", then into the house, crying "Fuku wa uchi".
(Out with the demons! In with good luck!).

My kids had a big laugh over this because O-niwa (the honorable garden) is outside, sure enough. And our home was full of "Fuku", eight of us to be exact.

This lovely quilt was hanging in the window as part of the celebration. Made by Reiko Okunushi.

This traditional face of Lady Luck can also be found in a traditional New Years game of "Fuku warai", kind of the Japanese version of pin the tail on the donkey.

Players take the face parts and try to place them while blindfolded. 

The stacked boxes contain beans and I hear it is tradition to eat the number of beans, one for each year of age. 

I reckon "tradition" is a mistake that has been allowed to happen more than once, and they no longer put that many beans in one container so only Nikko ran around sniffing out the tossed beans.

There is also something about eating a super-big sushi roll while facing South by South-east. Paul and Nikko took care of that one too.

National Foundation Day

Yesterday was a real holiday ... as in "Day off". In truth, that is all it was. The origin was in the traditional lunar calendar when the Emperor Jimmu ascended to the throne on the first day of the first month.

It was designated as a national holiday during the Meiji era when Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar.
Originally called "Kigensetsu", it was intended to bolster the legitimacy of the imperial family over the Tokugawa Shogunate, and was a major holiday.

The holiday was abolished following World War ll. Ironically the day General MacArthur approved the draft of the model Constitution in 1946.

In 1966 it was re-established as a holiday but now watered down to a day to hang out the flag and reflect on the meaning of Japanese citizenship. Sorry, Nikko, no beans!

The carp quilt is moving along. I was glad for a few quiet days to work on the fish and the inner water circles. We have only a few more weeks to get this finished. I planned to get the center mostly quilted so that the group can work around the edges. Today the lovely ladies got a lot done and we had to lay it out on the floor and mark some more circles.

The good thing about those karisma white lead pencils is that they mark very accurately and the chalk disappears as it is quilted. The bad part is that the markings get lighter and lighter while working and often have to be re-drawn. 

No more holidays coming up this month and the fish and I will be battling it out until we meet again next week. 

Here is a look at the back side. It looks pretty good for a group effort. I hope we can keep up the momentum.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tokyo Dome Quilt Show - part 5

Original Design Catagory

Ayame (a variety of Iris) 
By Takeyama with lots of machine work.

This Spider Lily was created by Hayashi. Also with machine work.

This "Witch's Calendar was created by Kikuma and is all hand done.

The title is at the lower edge. This is all hand done by Takeda.

                   Sorry, I didn't get the title. I guess I was too busy looking at those tiny appliqued dots.
This quilt was made by Saita.

                                                                 Vines of Life  by Ueno

Caribbean Paradise by Date.           A fine Mola-style piece of work.

"Torobi = 50th Anniversary" By Murakami.  I wish I could have been able to read the explanation that went tith the quilt. My 50th anniversary is this year but there is no way I could create something like this to mark the event!

Afternoon Shower in Red ... by Ishii

This is a detail of the slashed technique.

Temptation of Red

By Sato.

The picture doesn't really do it justice.

"Enclosed With a Thought" or (Thinking of you) by Miai
It may be original but looks a lot like a "Dear Jane" to me.

"Where Notes Went"  by Fukushima.  All this pale Japanese taupe is the pieced background of many white notes floating about. 

                                              "Dancers" by Yabe, another fine Mola-style quilt.

                                                     "Benefit of the Sunshine".    Nozawa

                                                               "Swing Jazz" by Okamatsu

                                                                       "Arigato" by Ozaki.

This should be the last of the pictures but I find that I still have some more that I failed to connect to a catagory.

                                                                    This is by Matsuo

I think this was called My Baltimore or something like that. It was probably among the traditional quilts but I sadly failed to take notes on it as to the quilt artist. I tend to look more closely at the handwork rather than the signs written all in Japanese. My apologies to the quilter but I thought you might like to see it anyway.  

                                                             My Allstars 9 Patch by Hashiba.
                                                    "For You Arigato" by Sakai.

                                                             "Nostalgia" by Yoko Ueda

                                     These cats are by Akashi. There was sashiko quilting
                                              "Monmaruto in Dawn" by Watanabe

By the time I got to the end, the Auld Lang Syne had finished playing and the announcements were hinting that it was time for the viewers to wend their way back up those bleacher stairs to the exit. 

In all, it was a great show, though it is hard to believe that with all the preparations made to put it together, they can't find one person who could translate at least the names of the participants into English. Then the title "International" could take on more true meaning .

Snow is falling. My evening meeting has been postponed. The ASIJ quilt awaits my attention. Time to shut my laptop and get to serious business.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tokyo Dome Quilt Show - part 4

Traditional quilts

The "traditional" quilts were truly amazing. They were also very creative and all but three were hand-quilted.

Perhaps the very word, "traditional" speaks to the Japanese as "old style" and that may mean by hand. 

Certainly, quilters living here are as challenged as I am for space and I doubt many have a "sewing room" or any room that could be dedicated to the making of quilts.

I can picture them sitting on tatami, a quilt spread over their lap as they work.
                                                                  By Matsumura Akiko

                                                                    by Junko Niwa

                           "Sweet Fifteen" by Miyuki Hamba.    This is all made of tiny hexagons!

by Sumiya?  (or could be Sumitani)

This Baltimore Album quilt is all done in Japanese taupes by Suzuki.

The most incredible part of this quilt is in the quilting.

This is a detail. All hand done by Tanaka.

"Rose Bouquet to You" by Tamai.

White on White by Origata.
This was one of only three machine quilted pieces in this category.

This, too was quilted by machine. 
Sorry but even looking at the kanji, my husband was unable to figure out how the name might be in Romanji.

Another compas quilt entitled "Blue Jade" by Nagatani.

Junior Category 

I only took one picture of these quilts. This one was made by Higashi Fukuzawa Middle School.

This is called "Apples Tree"  Each apple was done by a different girl and they are all quite cleaver. The tree trunk is in brown wood-like fabrics and there is a caterpillar along the bottom edge.

I happened to run into the teacher of the girls who made this quilt.
She (on the left) is from Yokohama, and was with her teacher (on the right) who lives in Okinawa.

I still have enough for one more post. 
Meanwhile, check out my friend Cynthia's blog. A Quilter by Night . She,also made two trips and got many good pictures that I missed.