Thursday, October 27, 2016

Playing with scraps

I am a scrap-a-holic.

I come from the generation when you never threw anything out if it could be re-used.

The first quilts I made were using scraps from my old clothing that had been taken apart to use for making clothing for my little daughters.

It included scraps from a quilt my great grandmother had made. When my son made holes in elbows or knees of clothing, I shortened the item and used the cut-offs in quilts.

Even when I could afford to buy new fabric, the scraps got saved. When daughter got a new dress, so did her doll get a matching one, and yet some of that fabric still remains.

Well, I do throw things out, that is, anything smaller than an inch square plus enough for a seam.
The plastic box on the right contains lots of one-inch squares ... divided into baggies by color.

I have a tin of two-inch squares, three-inch squares, 4-inch squares, and a baggie full of squares to be measured, marked, and cut before going into the proper tin.

The shoe box contains baggies of 1x2, 1x3, 1x4, and 1x5inch strips. And the tin to the bottom left contains 2x2 and a half, 2x3, 2x3 and a half, and 2x3 inch strips.

The runner currently on my table is made by assembling blue strips and squares into five-inch blocks.

All these tins and boxes live under that coffee table and are just waiting for me to come up with a plan that will use them. I have made a log cabin quilt long ago as one of my first projects to consume scraps.
A rainbow quilt for my grandson's big-boy use used a lot more ... as did the one I made before for his older brother using green and blue scraps.

Sitting beside me on the sofa is another tin, piled with squares made over the weekend. My brain is spinning trying to come up with a creative way to use these scraps.

Meanwhile, I took some of those two-inch scraps and tossed them together into a little mat for my trash bin top.

When we lived in the former house, I kept two plastic bins under my sink ... a red one for burnable items, and a blue one for un-burnable trash.

When we moved back to the rabbit hutch, there was no room under the sink or in any part of the kitchen. An open trash can was also an invitation to Nikko for a trash-fling-party. (even a small wastebasket by the sofa is an attraction should I leave it unattended for a minute or two just to answer the door-bell. ) So ... I was very lucky to find a double bin.

It sits right at the entrance to the kitchen. Burnables in the top bin and un-burnables in the bottom. Nikko is unable to open the bins that tip open at an angle and it is very handy for a chain-drinker of coffee ... fill the cup part way, set it on the bin, reach to the side with right arm and open the fridge, take out the milk container from inside the door, fill the cup to the top and return the container, pushing the door shut.

At the bottom of the bins is a small drawer that contains plastic bags to line the bins. Trash is collected in bags set out on different days depending on the collection days for that type of trash.

To the side of the bin is a little box decorated by my first daughter when still small, which is used to gather glass bottled and tin cans for recycling. A bag holds pet-bottles and back by the window is another bag that collects other plastics.

In the corner of the diningroom hall there is a recycle container for newspapers (that can be traded in once a month for rolls of toilet paper, and a bag-lined box for other recycle paper ... mostly advertising flyers that gather regularly in my post box. See..... I do throw things out from time to time!

I often wonder how people living in small two-room apartments as in our early years, are able to manage all the sorting and storing of trash. Back in those days, we didn't have so much as we shopped carrying a basket and items were wrapped in newspaper and placed in the basket. No plastics, no styrofoam trays, no saran-wrap, no plastic bags ...

Well, a small mat on the top of the trash bin is not going to use up many scraps. Even the pile of three-inch blocks has hardly made a dent in that stash.

I am wondering if I can sell my daughter on something very scrappy for her poncho.

Norie and Leia are coming for an over-night stay so maybe there is a chance for a scrappy appeal.

Meanwhile, the cookie factory will get in gear for fall and Halloween cookies.

I hung out the ghost and before it had been out five minutes, the doorbell rang with a question from a neighbour wondering what was up.
Shops have been full of Halloween decorations for well over a month but ghosts are not as accepted in Japan. I remember my neighbour, in the old days,  cutting all the branches on another neighbour's weeping-willow, just at the time they were looking most graceful and lovely. When I asked her why, she said they looked like ghosts. Well, it is only a few more days and I will put my decorations away.  Meanwhile, I shall celebrate a scrappy holiday. Hope you have one too!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Having fun

The choir retreat more than met expectations.

We got in lots of quality practice time and ...
the part I like best ...

time for fun and fellowship.

On our regular schedule we only have time to interact with our own sections before we have to go and sing.

At the retreat we take Saturday night to enjoy a sip of wine and snacks and lots of fun getting to know each other better.

My weather app on my cell phone predicted rain but as usual, it lied. We had lovely weather, cool and not too humid.

The YMCA where we stayed is being re-built and there was a new reception center and mess hall but other aspects of the place had not changed much.

Like many forested hills in Japan, the area is surrounded by a mixed forest of Hinoki (a false-cypress) and Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica).
Both are called "cedar" ... white cedar and red cedar but as in many places, things called "cedar" are no relation to a true cedar.

I suppose the air-born pollen causes lots of suffering in the spring but here the air was so fresh and welcoming.

No snow yet on Mt. Fuji.

Clouds moved in to decorate the scene but not enough to hide the subject.

This picture was taken from the window in the small chapel (behind me in the first picture).

With a view like that, who needs stained glass?

During the ride down and back ...

Plus while listening to other parts work over their section,

Plus sitting around and sipping wine and jawing,

I got most of the blocks I had pre-cut sewn together.

Well, they are only three inches square finished so not as big as this seems to be.

I am wondering if I put this into a table runner and maybe added a border ... maybe with a bible quote quilted in, if it would be the kind of gift the speaker could use and enjoy.

It is pretty loud and scrappy and though I could use something like this ... I don't know what would be fitting as a gift.

I don't even know what would be a suitable size for a finished runner.

I do have one more pattern I am considering trying and there are some interesting ways those blocks can be arranged.

This bush was outside our practice room. I had to take a picture so I could look it up.

Cotoneaster horizontalis, or Rockspray cotoneaster. The leaves are tiny, round, and evergreen.

We have pyracantha in our park that is crammed with berries too. The rainy summer seems to have made lots of plants very happy. (though, according to my book, this bush does well in arid spots too.)

And, upon my return, I was greeted by this "Hototogisu" or toad lilies along my garden path.

Some of these had been devoured by caterpillars and were festooned with hanging chrysalises.
I am thinking of finding a bug cage to put them in so I can figure out what the butterfly and caterpillar looks like before another year rolls around.

Nikko returned happily from the "dog club" late Sunday evening. She didn't say much but the kennel guy praised her highly enough. (Probably hoping to get her back again ... but I remember a dog from my childhood that no kennel wanted to take so it may not be all talk and bluster.)

Well, so much for the weekend. Now it is back to the real world. It is suddenly chilly and after a week and a half of pre-school runny noses, mine also has become drippy. I need to figure out a layer system that won't be too hot but will save me from the un-expected air conditioned room or the sudden call to an outdoor activity.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Take-along work

This weekend will be our annual "Choir Retreat".  Twice a year the choir presents a musical sermon, once at the beginning of Advent and again during the Lenten season.  Each fall the choir gathers at a retreat in Gotemba in the foothills of Mt. Fuji to polish our delivery of the chosen piece.

This year we are working on John Rutter's "Magnificat". We have sung this several times in the past so, to some long-time choir members, it is a familiar piece ... something like re-visiting an old friend.
Of course ours is the church of the revolving door and the choir has some new members to whom this is a new challenge. Even for the old hands, we need to coordinate and balance our presentation.

Therefore it will be three days  ... well, for some two or even one day of work ... but also fun and fellowship. For those staying overnight there will be wine and laughter.

This time I will ride with friends instead of driving so I had two things to prepare. First was easy. Just to pack up food to go with Nikko on her trip to the "Athletic Dog Club" where she will be heading tomorrow morning. Second was to pull out some scraps to sew together.

I should be working on my daughter, Norie's, poncho but I have yet to figure out how to make one that will meet her desired idea and my skills.

I have also been tasked with a gift for the Women's Conference speaker. The theme is something like weaving together our stories and those of women in the bible. I have several ideas for blocks that seem to weave fabrics together. I have not seen any panel I might use so thought this block might be interesting to try. I may have to coordinate my scraps a bit better but by the end of the trip I will know if I want to continue in this mode. I like that block so whatever happens, they will be put to use.

The weather is cooling off a bit and fall is working it's way in.

Goldenrod is blooming in the local weed patch.
I have been told this plant has invaded from North America by way of used railroad ties.

It is not as invasive here as many other weeds and in small amounts it is colorful and brings  back memories of times past.

It also lasts longer than other autumn flowers that are here and gone in a week.

 In the park the Beauty berries are bowing down
along the pathway.

I have a small bush in my garden but should probably move it to a planter so it can be moved into a sunnier location.

That bush carries memories of a dear friend and needs
better exposure.

The local persimmons have begun to ripen.

Depending on the variety, they are ready to eat at different times. I have already had some from a friend's garden.

The ones two houses down are ripe and being attacked by birds. Three or four were squished on the street and impossible to sweep up.

Another tree in the area has fruit so high up, only the birds will be able to access them.

Some varieties hang on until all the leaves have fallen and make a striking picture on the otherwise bare branches against the bright blue sky.

Hopefully the foot hills of Fuji will have beauty to share. Since I will be missing a Cub Scout Camping event that got moved to this weekend, I am hoping the weather will cooperate as well for my cub families who are going there.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Done at last

Not a very bright picture as the sun was still behind the buildings this morning. Maybe I will try again later in the week. I began this as part of the "Nine Patch Adventure" on the "Celebrate Hand Quilting" facebook page.  Maybe back in November of last year.

Finished last night, October 1st, the size is 71 inches by 88 inches and I was hoping to use up lots of two-inch blocks in my scrap tin. Looking at my tin now, I have hardly made a dent in the stash.

This is a detail of all that blue quilting.

I don't think it did much to hide the variety of white and off-white fabrics.

The quilting in the blue border hardly shows at all ...

... but if you look closely you could find a few rather long stitches that were accidents when I was trying to pass the needle through to the next row instead of stopping and starting over.

Anyway, a man riding by on a fast horse would probably miss those bloopers.

Thursday the tiny flowers on the kinmokusei (sweet olive) burst in bloom throughout the neighbourhood.

I had passed this small potted tree on Wednesday and seen the tiny buds looking like pimples on the branches and wondered when they would bloom.

Usually it is the sweet smell that gets you to look up into the trees but this year ... maybe because of the rainy summer or heat ?? the trees have out-done their usual performance and if a flower that tiny could be termed "showy", they have made the grade. So ... fall marches in, bit by bit. Happy October!