Sunday, September 29, 2013

One week down, one to go

I do not do well with deadlines.
I have finished appliqueing the hands,  and today I sewed in the white inner borders and cut out the letters. They are pinned in place and ready to begin appliqueing.

I have yet to mark the cross in the center of the circle for reverse applique.

The colors look a bit dark, the picture having been taken at night, lying on the dark carpet. 

My quilt group met on Friday and that helped me to get a lot done. My friend gave me a spool of a bit heavy black thread and I am thinking of doing some kind of an outline stitch when I quilt.

I was thinking of a pieced sashing along the top and bottom using the hand colors. I think that will depend on how fast I work. I am also thinking of using a white bias binding all around.

Friday night, Saturday, and again this afternoon were filled with Scout stuff. Today's program was a disaster awareness training and the fire department set up fun things like an earthquake simulator, a smoke-filled maze, fire extinguishers with targets to hit and knock over, and CPR and AED training. They let even the little kids do the activities and also dressed them in a fireman't outfit and helmet and let them sit in the fire truck to have their pictures taken. Many of my Cub Scouts went through the activities numerous times. The Troop helped with the event and it was a beautiful day, blue sky with sun shining on the Tokyo Tower in the background.

Tomorrow is early rise for rice delivery and then the push to get this banner done. When I get those outlines done, Perhaps you will be able to pick out the left hands.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Celebrating "Higan"

The "higanbana" or spider lily is the harbinger of autumn.

I think it is a good choice, because regardless of the weather we are having, when the equinox arrives, the flowers will be putting on a show.

This one greeted the full moon a few days ago and many can be seen in forested areas around the country. The leaves will not be seen until long after the flowers are finished, so the flowers stand alone in their glory.

At my last home there were pink and white flowers as well but having very little garden space, I only could dig out a few bulbs to bring and those have popped up in three locations but are all red.

Even when you are expecting them, they seem to pop up overnight, an amazing fete since they stand over a foot tall.

This season brings me to another fall "tradition" ... at least, for me. I use that word with tongue-in-cheek because, to me, a "tradition" is most likely an accident that has been allowed to happen more than once.

At the end of summer vacation, our church switches from our summer schedule, back to two services. When that happens, either the last Sunday in August or the first one in September, we hold a "rally day" when all the various activities and ministries set up tables and the congregation can become familiar with... perhaps even becoming involved in ... those team efforts.

The "rally day" team comes up with a logo and a theme, which then gets passed to the Stewardship team to use in the fall stewardship campaign, an effort to encourage pledges of time, talents and money to the work of the church.

Having served as both "elder"and member of that committee for many years, I have experienced all kinds of leaders, those who build a team, and those who take over and do everything by themselves with very little use of the committee other than preparing booklets and posting mail. After one year of seeing a ragged paper poster hanging in the foyer for a year, and having had my husband take over the job of elder, I volunteered to make a quilted hanging or banner to put in the foyer. That happened again the following year, and then last year as well.  But, what that means, is being stuck with a computer generated graphic that is feel-good pretty and has little to do with commitment other than showing up and being a part of the church as a whole.

So, here we go again. Within two weeks, I am expected to turn the graphics into a suitable banner.
So. the time has come to get going and Saturday I cut out some paper to draft a pattern I can work with. I also went to the local "button-ya" (fabric, yarns, sewing supplies in a tiny shop) to buy fabric dye. I'm not sure how this will all go together, but yesterday I tried my hand at dying the fabric to match the graphics.

You can see the results of those efforts along with the graphics (minus the lettering, which says. " Many hands, One body"

(I miss my neighbor's gate and had to substitute the barrier rope surrounding the construction site)

I suppose I will do a reverse applique to add the cross in the center circle ... there is a limit to what tie-dying can do and I think this is it!

When I began drawing those hands onto the paper for making a pattern, the first thing I noticed was that all those hands were right hands. Not a lefty in the bunch!

Maybe I should have gone back to the committee and told them if they wanted all right-handers, they needed to find someone else to make the banner.
Of course, since they were all men, it isn't likely that would work, so I tweaked the drawing to my own liking, and switched out some of those right hands for left.

 So, here is my plan, and I'd better hop to it.

I will put the lettering at the top and bottom and maybe add some kind of a border using whatever fabrics I select for the hands.

With the constant rotation of members, I wonder how many banners I will have to make before we can begin rotating themes.....

Once we rotate ... it just might become a "tradition"!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Monday musings

This summer, at our family reunion, I was greeted by a bed with a quilt. Yes, it seems all the beds had real quilts on them.

The piecing seemed to be very accurate but the quilting... that was another story, this quilt was made in China and the stitches were not quite toe-grabbers, but only two, or at the most, three stitches to the inch.

This morning as I read the most recent post on Marjorie's blog, I thought about the value placed on hand quilting. Indeed, this comes to mind when the women of Tohoku wish to make something they might sell.

I can't help wondering how the quilters were paid for this work ... by hour? or by finished piece?... Is that why the stitches are so large, just to finish up as quickly as possible?

I was once asked to quilt a single-sized child's quilt for a friend. I did keep a record of time spent and quickly figured that no one could afford to pay a quilter by the hour (and I am rather faster at quilting than some). Instead I asked for an OTT light, and let the friend decide the size. It was a good deal because I am still enjoying that floor lamp and would not have been able to have it sent overseas, as she did. I wonder how my blogging quilters would figure out a fair price for something they have made. Do machine quilters charge by time spent?

Today is a National Holiday, Respect for the Aged day.
The other afternoon, a lady from the neighborhood association came to our door bearing a gift of special rice for my husband and me.

Note the festive wrapping.

These packages were made at a local store just for this "festive" occasion.

And here is what was in that wooden box. (actually, there were two boxes, one for each of us ... but neither of us could eat that much in one sitting)

The rice contains red beans and toasted sesame seeds. This is something one eats on auspicious occasions.

I am not all that sure that getting old is something to celebrate unless one considers the alternative.

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, my husband turned the food item into a meal.

The little blue-lidded bottle contains more of the sesame seed and salt.

We celebrated last night because today my husband is off to a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Asian Rural Institute. I left him at Shibuya station at the finish of our rice delivery run. No, those homeless didn't get the fancy rice, though there are probably a few who are older than we.

One more musing to share, is something that greeted me as I walked to Friday's Scout meeting.

Here is a view of the Tokyo Tower.
The sidewalk was obstructed with young people with cameras and cell phones, taking pictures.

There seems to be great excitement over selection of Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. I remember well, the last Olympics held here in Tokyo. My husband was on the Olympic Organizing Committee. It was a time of great excitement. Now, however, not everyone is thrilled.

The newspapers are full of the designs and plans for facilities, new stadiums, an orgy of infrastructure investment, around 400 billion yen to be spent on Olympics related facilities, including the athlete's village and media centers. A new Olympic stadium will be built in an area where some 200 households, where a third of the residents are 70 years old or older, will have to move somewhere else. Meanwhile, two and a half years after the quake and tsunami, about 290,000 people are still living in temporary housing and no move has been made on re-building.

Since the majority of those people are elderly, I can't help wondering if the government is just waiting for them to die off and solve the problem. Meanwhile taxes and postage are scheduled to go up. Will the Olympic boom bring employment to the elderly and homeless? I seriously doubt it.

I guess it is time to get back to quilting.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Playing with an idea

I may have mentioned that the women up in Tohoku have asked me to return for another quilting class. It has also been suggested that I come up with something that they could make and offer for sale. I have a few reservations about trying to raise money through quilting, especially if it is done by hand.

A few years back, I noticed lovely hand-quilted bed covers on consignment is an American quilt shop and the asking price would not have covered the price of materials, let alone time spent in the process.

When visiting quilt/fabric shops, though I refrain from buying more fabric, I often check out kits and patterns offered for sale. This summer I did take notes and am trying to come up with ideas that might be easy enough for a beginner quilter with small work space and might make a nice gift or item to sell.

Aside from glasses cases and tissue holders/box covers, mug rugs or place mats, I decided to test a new version of an item that is handy to Japanese residents.

If you have never been to Japan, this item might look a bit strange to you, but the holders for toilet paper all have covers. Don't ask me why. We use up these rolls too fast for them to gather much dust. Depending on the maker, the lid flap might be metal or plastic. Since the purpose is to hold a single roll, the size is standard no matter who makes it.

Japanese lavatories being small and lacking in storage space ... often having a small sink at in the tank itself, a spare roll of paper may have to reside on the floor or in another room, resulting in becoming stranded on the throne from time to time.

Since my own throne room has a collection of owls ... perhaps watching out for wasteful use of products ... a number of years ago, I made a paper holder that I have posted before.

This little holder is made up of two and a half inch by five inch blocks, sewed into a strip about 33 inches long. It has a pocket at one end to fit over the flap and ties to join the loop underneath.

I drafted a pattern for the segments and made a test piece using some color-coordinated scraps.

Well, the diagram is a bit hard to see but the pattern pieces are just two triangles.

Each block takes three small triangles  of fabric A and one of fabric B, plus two large triangles of B.

By cutting four small triangles and two large triangles of each fabric, you could put together an interesting strip from assorted scraps.

I used just plain muslin for backing and the thinnest batting would work well enough. I just quilted in the ditch, added thin binding that included a pocket at one end, and, instead of ties, added loops and buttons to the inside.

I suppose the fastener could even be a strip of velcro ...
though I am not a big fan of that product.

This pattern is just made of the blocks but the top lid cover could have flowers or butterflies either pieced or in applique. I think "designer paper holders" might be something people might go for, either as a gift or to buy. I'll bet cute animal faces on the lid area might go over well for a children's bathroom.

So, here is the first design.

What do you think?
It could be made even easier with other block designs. Five inches is a standard measure to work with.

I think I will try a few more patterns.

I am also toying with some kind of item to wear around the neck like a scarf, but with a pocket for glasses or scissors, a pin cushion, measuring tape, or sewing kit ... and maybe a pocket at the neck for a little hot pad on winter or a cool pacl in summer.

Have you ever seen such a thing? Even if it might not sell, it would be a useful thing for hand crafters.

I am always open to ideas and I am happy the women have found pleasure in something I also enjoy.