Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Tokyo Dome show has begun!

Prepare for a string of posts .....

I would not have thought of attending that big quilt show on the opening day. I knew there would be thousands of people cramming every open space ... BUT ... Quilting has as much to do with friends as it does with quilts.

Long ago I joined a group of quilters .. The Tokyo International Quilters ... it was in the days of many ex-pats temporarily assigned to Tokyo and it was a group of the revolving door. We celebrated new members coming in and were saddened by their departure. I think the average assignment was about three years but there were always members coming and going.

Yesterday, my trip to the show was focused on a visit with a former member, now from Texas. Ah, how the years flew away, and we were back to those good old days. Another long-term member, Kuraishi-sensei, set up the meeting over lunch in the coffee shop ... ah, friendship and coffee ... what could be better?

It was a good thing I left home early because though the line to buy tickets was short, the line to get into the stadium went almost the entire way around the building. It must have taken close to an hour to get in, but a lucky thing is that quilters are friendly and I could get to visit with those in line (even in my miserable Japanese).

 After lunch, the three of us wandered around the show, looking at interesting areas that Sensei lead us to and gave an insider's view.

Our last visit was to the partnership quilt #8, where I got to see my Ohio cardinal guarding his nest at the top of the quilt.

Even though the blocks were made smaller this year, there were still 60 finished quilts.

A number had blocks that were all the same except for fabric choices.

I think the quilter that joins with NHK on this activity, issues a selection of patterns for those who need an idea.

After looking at many of the quilts, it seems this one containing my block got the most creative donations.

Next to Mr. cardinal is a patterned block

but those surrounding ones are original ideas of the quilters.

Panda with bamboo (it may be a tree of life for the panda, but bamboo is a grass)

The woodpecker...

This rabbit by the stump gazing at the sprout coming from that stump and the roots below...

And, how about these trees?

Or the squirrel gathering acorns?

A tree with a swing

a Twitter shaped bird ...

a pink squirrel ...

There were lots of apples but this one was made of hexagons.

These cats were so cute framing that sprout.

More creative apples and trees.

That one on the bottom has a tree house at the top of the ladder.

There were a few of these cat blocks that had been arranged in circles on a few quilts.

The giraffe is one of a kind

not sure about the footprint ...

I have to admit, though I hardly ever win anything... I had to buy a raffle ticket for this one. And my friend, Linda bought one too.

My usual camera suddenly stopped working after the snow day and the alternative camera battery was not charged and soon gave up.

Saturday will be another chance. Along with the friendship worth cancelling my english class, I will get another chance at picture taking.

This year the contest quilts all included names in English, but alas, the other exhibits of traditional, Wa, Original design etc. were not translated. All I got for many years of filling out those questionnaires, was a pile of postcards advertising the show.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Good day to stay inside

This was the view outside my garden door this morning.

I didn't even try to open the door to access the compost pile.

It had begun snowing Monday while I was at school, and while I was washing up the paint pallets and brushes, the director came by and urged me to go home.

Well, there was still work to do and I ride a subway, now how was that going to be disturbed by snow? When I finally left, the snow was still falling and the sidewalks were quite slippery in places, especially on the downhill grade.
Luckily I made it to the station with lots of slips but no falls.

The train, about 8 levels or more below ground , was running but it seems every boss had nagged their employees to leave early. The usual sardine-can was crammed with people. In fact, at each station, more tried to shove in and the doors could hardly close over the bodies.
The only people I say sitting were young and dry and looked like they had been sitting a long time with a number sleeping. People were packed so tightly there was nothing left to hang on to.

I took Nikko on her evening walk as soon as I arrived home to save going out and getting wet all over again.

The sun came out in the morning but the snow had piled up to the point that opening the front door was like plowing the snow and even opening the front gate a challenge.

Nikko was very excited ... like a kid on a "snow day" with no school.

I fished out the shovel and cleared a path to the corner. One lady on the corner had "fixed" the problem in front of her house with hot water.

The snow was heavy and wet, and where people had walked since the evening, thick sheets of ice.

The snow was about a foot deep and broad-leaf evergreen trees had branches bending way down.

When we got to the park, I let Nikko off her leash.

She made three or four wide laps round and round the edges of the park before trotting back to continue her walk.

It is hard to believe, looking at her run, that she will be turning 15 in a few weeks.

My usual Tuesday schedule had been cancelled so I took the opportunity to work on the tree quilt for the conference.

I finished appliqueing the tree.

Then I found four prints that seemed to represent the four seasons, measured and cut some strips and sewed them on the border.

Half-way through I remembered I had wanted to put a one-inch strip of green on first for an inner border.

I thought of un-sewing what was done but as I considered that possibility, I realized that if I did, the seasonal prints would be too short to meet and I would have to come up with more solutions for the corners.
So, I left it as planned.
Now looking at it, I might have added some solid corner pieces with appliqued kanji for each season. Well, I could still do something like that for an outer border.

Nikko and I walked to the station area for a bit of shopping and there was quite a bit of shovelling going on ... as well as kids playing in the snow and an igloo near the train crossing. The crescent moon was out and now the wind is rattling the windows.

How nice to spend a day with a bit of sewing. Now I will have to prepare some material for leaves. I wonder what the members will like ... many colored solids? small prints? stripes or plaids? Something they could embroider veins or initials on? Well, I still have a little over a week to prepare...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Next on the list

  • Somehow this went to the family blog.  I guess I need to pay better attention when writing a post.
    Jan 18 at 3:29 PM

    Coming up the first weekend in February, is the Women's Conference... WOCON.

    For the last few years I have taught a quilting basics class where the participants can make a small pot holder or mug-rug and learn the basics of piecing, basting, quilting and binding.

    This year I am thinking of something like a drop-in class covering applique and needlework or simple embroidery.

    The theme is "Changing with the Seasons", and after discussions with the planners, we are thinking of having participants select fabrics for seasons they love best and applique a leaf on the tree of life.

    This is about one day's work ... but I sat through a loooong meeting last night which moved things along. I am kind of thinking of a border to represent each season.

    Today Norie took some pictures of my vest.

    Usually I wear a light down vest around the house but I think this one is a bit warmer.
    (Maybe it is all the dog hair it has picked up in the process).

    I think when time allows, I will add a bit more quilting around the owl's tail, otherwise I am satisfied.

    The thinsulate is intended for use in clothing and is what I most often use in quilts.

    It is a bit tacky but, though it makes it a bit hard to line up the front and back for basting (unless you have extra hands to place the top), For all the quilts I have used it, it never pills or shifts and washes well... even when the quilting is widely spaced.

    I once heard that 3M was going to make quilt battings but that may never have happened. I just take it off the bolt and if needed, whip the edges together to make it larger. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Having way too much fun

 I am beginning to wonder how I will know when I am done.

As long as there are little spaces, there is possibility for adding embellishments.

The pocket is now in place but it is really way too big. I am thinking of adding a button loop at the top and a button below the frog to keep things from falling out.

I might have a few nice pearl buttons left from my button blanket that will work.

I needed to quilt the area underneath the pocket but that work will never show.

I decided to use a "morning star" and "evening star" design that I have used in in the past on a star quilt.

The variegated thread  was rather fun to use and the cloud design is in the same pale blue that I used on the back.

I chose a herringbone stitch on the owl's tail feathers, but since the stitches were rather wide and might get caught on something, I back-stitched over all the places where they crossed.

There are a few open spaces left for some quilting or stitchery but they will have to wait for another day.

Yesterday Norie and Paul's sister and I met for a meal to celebrate the second anniversary of Paul's passing. It is kind of a special tradition in Japan and we met at the same place as last year.

Don't we look well fed?

We even had room for a bit of dessert.

Norie took this picture outside the restaurant where they have a small weeping cherry.

This is one of the trees we are considering to plant in Paul's memory in the chapel garden of ARI (Asian Rural Institute)
that Paul supported for so many years,  a school where community leaders from mainly Asia and Africa come to improve their leadership skills and knowledge of sustainable farming and grassroots community development.

ARI's motto, "That We May Live Together" is found in every aspect of community, food, labor, diversity, and mutual respect for servant leadership.

OK, enough for now. Cub pack meeting tonight and I had better get packin'!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Attention to detail

Here is a picture of a real Mola that has been in my collection for many years.  After assembling my pseudo-mola vest, I have begun to focus on the details and looked to this piece for inspiration.

The zig-zag lines are made with a single thread in a chain stitch. Those chains are really tiny with about eight links in a one centimetre length. The running stitches are done with two strands of thread and are three stitches to one cm. There are also tiny Y stitches in the neck area that I want to try. Those are with one thread and spaced about four per cm.

This is my attempt.

My stitches are about six per cm. and I doubt I can make them any smaller. (or feel a need to do so)

I am glad for my collection of needles that includes some S. Thomas & Sons that are short and fine but yet have an eye large enough to get the thread through easily.

Of course, I did not practice first but just jumped right in (and as usual, learning as I go).

I was able to find the hidden fabric and add a border of patchwork to the bottom edge of the back.

It still needs a bit of in-the-ditch quilting.

I decided that with the owl and turtle, I will stick to Native American designs.

Being originally from Ohio, I am preferring those designs from the Northeastern  Woodlands.

This area on either side of the turtle has been quilted with light blue thread.

I plan to fill the larger areas with this kind of quilting and then add detail as time allows. That way, I might even be able to call this a finish before long ... with maybe room for more creative embellishment as time goes on.

The pocket is yet to be assembled and added.  (But I still have a bit of time until "due date").

Last year at the quilt show, I received a spool of Coats "multicolor' hand quilting thread and I am eager to try that out at one point. I think it will work well on this navy background.

So, with the baby quilt on the way to it's new owner, I now have another warm item on my lap to work on. Pretty good timing for this cold blustery weather...

Friday, January 5, 2018

Making up for lost time

If I am going to finish this project by the end of this month, it is time to stop procrastinating and get going.

I think by now I have an idea of the basics of Mola and that was more or less the goal of the year-long challenge. Basically, the colorful reverse applique designs created by the Cuna indians of the San Blas islands along the Atlantic coast of Panama, are intended to be worn in clothing.

In studying up on the technique, I read these words ... "Every mola is a thoughtful statement of the creator's personality and relationship with her culture". Therefore, rather than copy directly from the Cuna designs, I decided to make this statement completely mine.

The butterfly was once a symbol of the hidden Christians. 50+ years ago when I came to Japan. there were many young people wearing big fancy crosses. They were only an ornament with no meaning at all. It was then that I decided to join my husband's ancestors as a hidden Christian and exchanged by silver Celtic cross for a tiny gold filagree butterfly. My goal was to express my faith by my actions and deeds. Thus the butterfly. 

Then, there is the frog. He too is reminding me to Fully Rely On God.

The sun was my first attempt where I learned the most as what to do and what I should be doing. I'm sure it will remind me to remain sunny, even in the face of adversity, and learn by my mistakes. I intend this to become a pocket.

The owl and the turtle are the real me ... a relationship with my own culture, so I decided not to include distracting colorful bits. I was hoping to add a strip of quilting across the bottom but since I "cleaned up" for Christmas visitors, I have not been able to find where I hid those pieces. I am still hoping to locate them before the final assembling.

The Owl and the Turtle are more native American designs. As a child, my name was "turtle song", called by my great grandmother. I still remember how happy I was at around June 1944, when I was presented with my own Bible and opened it to the first page of the Song of Solomon, reading ...

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone: 
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; ....
Could that be part of my love of singing?
Driving to my first home, what was going before me but a turtle ... right down the middle of the street!

The Owl is my "spirit helper". A number of my friends have heard my owl stories. Certainly when I was a child camping in the woods with my family, having a screech owl calling above my tent each night was scary, even when my great grandmother told me it was watching over me.  Over the years, wherever I have traveled and lived and camped, an owl has found me bringing greetings and even aide.
I am thinking of adding a bit of stitchery on some of these. I have begun quilting the patchwork parts in the ditch using navy thread which will not show in the back. The patchwork and quilting is also a part of who I am.
So, though the mola origin is with the Cuna indians, This project has evolved to meet me where I am in life.
I am still experimenting on the finishing and hope I will have time to get my act together. In the cold weather we are having now, one can't have too many warm wearables.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

First finish of the year

Right on the edge, this was either to be the last quilt of 2017 or the first this year. I finished turning the binding yesterday, put a label on the back, and took it out to pose in the bright sunshine of a new day.

As you might notice, I decided to quilt a cable in the border as I think the edges of quilts ... especially for children, get heavier use than those just draped over a bed.

 The new year began with a project begun by my husband, a special New Years meal for the homeless.
I was worried that without his input, the project might be scrapped but, though the person in charge had been worried about the lack of members signing up to make it happen, not only did the project continue but there were plenty of people willing to lend their helping hands.
I am in my scout uniform because my cub pack contributed to the number of helpers. Washing dishes at my right side is Leia ... a chip off the old block. She was there bright and early with Mom Norie and Pop Hiro.

Norie brought flowers from her garden for me to arrange.
Pine ... Plum in the bud ... Jonquils ... Nandina ... Robai (Wintersweet).

There were also some gigantic needles from a pine donated by Norie's friend. I had never seen such a pine and could not find it in my tree book.

Can't say this is my best arrangement but the best I could do with what I had to work with.

We finished up around noon and took a family picture with the flowers moved to the church lobby before going off in different directions.

Being the "year of the dog", Wumpy, Leia's buddy, had to get into the picture.

Nikko was glad for my return ....

The heater goes on when mom is home, and though it doesn't heat the whole house, Nikko claims the spot that gets the first blast.

Here she sits, waiting for the magic word.

Most of the words she obeys are in english ... things like come, heel, sit, stay, down (or go lie down) off, NO!

But when the word is "wait", it means something good is coming. The magic word is "Itadakimasu" (I am about to partake ... said before taking your first bite).

This dog is hardly starving but perhaps she still remembers her early months in the wild. Any item remotely resembling food is high on her list of attention getters.

Happy Dog Year 
From me and Nikko