Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The gift of friendship

On Tuesday the years fell away and I was happily back with my friend, Cynthia, from Wabi Sabi Quilts.

The foreign community in Tokyo, and Japan as a whole, is one big revolving door. 
You never know when greeting a friend, how long it will be before they depart, taking a chunk of your heart with them.

It is also an unknown if or when you might get to see them again.

I was so happy that Cynthia could give me a day of her short stay. For once the weather was warm and spring-like. I had to carry my jacket until returning to my home station later in the day.

We met near the place where she is staying and took a short train ride to Kamata and a large fabric and craft store ... or I should say "stores" as they have different stores in the area selling different craft items.

Cynthia came with a number of items to hunt down, and we pretty well covered four floors of the building carrying fabrics and sewing supplies. I was able to hunt down pencil leads to re-supply my marking tools and get a new spool of thread to replace the one I used up earlier in the week.

Cynthia managed to fill a couple of shopping bags with the items on her list ... as well as a few things that jumped off the shelves saying "Me too!"
We finally sat down for a nice lunch and time to catch up on the last few years. Cynthia brought me some Maple syrup (the real stuff) and some fabric bits, but the biggest gift of all is her friendship.

Last night I marked and cut a few bits to add to the scrappy blocks I am now working on. A sampling of them can be found in this block.

Today I was able to add another row to the growing quilt.  I think this is quickly becoming a memory quilt.

The days seem to fly by. 

Evening service tomorrow evening that includes the choir ... and Easter will bring two more services that include the choir.  Happily it will also bring my daughter, Norie and Leia.

And, speaking of Leia,

This morning I had the special treat of the first sweet tones from this little harpist. 
This picture was taken at the end of the year and we were able to acquire a harp for her to use for practice.

Listening to the soft chords plucked by these gentle hands really made my day. I thought of my first daughter at age three playing variations of twinkle twinkle little star on a small violin, followed by her five siblings as they added one or the other form of music to our lives.
The gift of friendship, like the gift of music ... what joy for all.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Signs of spring

Morning walks with Nikko take me past the kindergarten at the end of the street.

Along the borders of the playground are a few cherry trees. Though the cherries downtown are in full bloom, these have just begun to open in the morning sun.

In the bottom left corner is a highly pruned gingko. It will be one of the last to show it's leaves. There are about five or six of those in a row along the border and they will be pretty in the fall, then pruned again.

The walk takes us through one of the parks.

Here two small forsythia bushes are in bloom.

They remind me of my childhood home in Ohio, where we had about 8 of these big bushes in different parts of our spacious garden.

These, and the star magnolias, were some of the first plantings to bloom

And, speaking of magnolias, This winter the pruning team left the magnolias near here alone.

The row along the north side of the street bloom first, as they get more hours of full sun.

The ones on the south side have just started to open about a week later. (the tree on the left)

The trees line both sides of this street, which is along my walk to the train station. Each year they begin to bloom from the eastern end of the street ... one by one. When the last tree in the line has displayed it's flowers, the south side starts it's parade.

When these are finished, the dogwoods will start to bloom. But there won't be many blooms this year because the pruning team trimmed off the buds in the fall.

This is a closer shot of the tree on the right.

There are a few smaller buds along some of the branches and they usually bloom during the summer, however are hard to see because by then, the leaves are gigantic.

After weeks of cold and rain, this blue sky is a welcome sight.

Here are more blooms in the same park.

In my home garden we had these too.

Both "Bridal wreath" and "Babies breath" but I can't remember which is which. One has flowers in clusters but these are like beads on a wire.

Grape hyacinth have opened in the pots along my wall  and these little bulbs are volunteers along the walk.
Some are all white but these have a slightly purple tinge to the petals.

I don't know what they are but they are very hardy. The picture is a bit out of focus but that is the only way I could get the purple to show.

Today was a school holiday for me and my challenge quilt has increased by another row of setting blocks and a row of crumb blocks, plus one half-finished block.

Tomorrow I will be meeting a good friend and blogging buddy who is in Japan for the week. Guess where we will go? 20 guesses and the first 19 don't count. We will be checking out some fabric and supplies in Kamata. Shall I take a little money with me just in case?

I need more fabric like I need a hole in my head! But then ... who knows what might jump off one of those shelves into my bag? 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

So far, so good...

It is a bit difficult to see the total effect when the blocks re laid out on another quilt, especially the busy nine-patch on a single bed.

I will not begin sewing the blocks together yet, because I want to turn this into a larger bed-sized quilt. I still have a yard and a half of the mottled purply-black. If I use some other fabric for the edge triangles, I can probably double the size and add some kind of a border to make it into a bed cover.

When I laid this out, I just took the blocks out of the tin without any order but I think in the final plan, the variety of colors could be better placed by moving or rotating blocks. Any way, this has been a fun challenge and a perfect way of using up scraps and odd moments.

And ... hard to believe ...
This little bundle of joy ...
my cookie factory expert ...

Leia ... turns ten years old today.

I don't remember getting older, how did she do it so fast???

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Has the rain stopped yet?

Sitting on the sofa listening to rain pitter-pattering on the range hood outside ... suddenly it seemed to have stopped. Oh goody, I can go up and hang my laundry...

Well, don't assume that no pitter-patter means it has stopped, it just has turned to snow ... and since I took this picture on my front step, the snow is coming down heavier.

At least it gives me something to show other than more of the same blocks that I have completed since the last post. A day like this will add more to the pile 'cause I'm not going anywhere!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Playing with scraps

It's nice to have a bit of take-along work, and I'm surprised how much can be done on train rides if I can grab a seat. Of course I carry something to read in case I have to stand. the danger of reading while sitting was something I experienced Wednesday, by falling asleep, only to be awakened by the conductor at the end of the line. At least I am within two stops of that station but still a bit embarrassing...
Thursday evening I finished up the last of the prepared pieced squares. I wanted to lay it out to see the overall effect, as I had the feeling that using squares and strips in the "crumb" blocks might look more boring than those more random bits one can get from adding odd pieces by machine.

I sorted the pieced blocks a bit to get variety of color and shape of pieces used, but arranging this layout was just random and seems to work.

I have not done the math to see how large a quilt I can get, but this much only removed the first 6 inches from over a meter of fabric. With rain falling outside and no meeting to attend, I might see even a bit more progress.

Monday, March 12, 2018

How about a challenge?

Well, I really don't need a challenge. I have enough stuff on my to-do list.

There is the "Cathedral Window" challenge with Carin and Tanya, which I am still thinking about.
Having made one very large cathedral window quilt in my past, it will not be as much a challenge of doing something new as figuring out what to make of something that is sure to turn out heavy.

Then, there is the challenge of making the big-boy quilt for my third grandson. I have been gathering black and white fabrics, which was his choice, but coming up with a plan that will fit the fabrics I now have .... So, it is still on hold...

Now there is another challenge in the picture.

My Left-handed quilting friend has been playing around with "crumb" quilts. One was set in black and another in cheddar, and now there is a challenge to try other backgrounds to see how they work.

Without the use of a machine, I do not save odd scraps, but cut them into the largest size block I can make and put it into a tin or box. anything smaller than one inch square (+ a quarter-inch seam allowance) I throw out.

I therefore have lots of marked and cut pieces that can be used in something like this project/challenge ... the most plentiful bits being the one, two, and three inch segments.
I am not sure these fit the title of "crumb" but they can be easily sewed into three-inch blocks ... and that can be done on train rides and down-time.

In fact, I have a whole bunch of three inch pieced squares that were left over from the "bento-box" runners made last year.

Note one zip-lock of 1 x 2, and another of 1 x 3, and a whole big box of marked 1-inch bits.

Does this look like a challenge or just a good way to clear out scraps?

I don't want to have to buy any fabric and have a few bigger pieces of solids that have gathered over the years. I thought of using the blue-grey piece but have not yet measured what I have, and not sure if it would make a quilt of a usable size.
Probably I could get a table runner out of what I have.

Looking through my piles I found the mottled purple-ish black. There seems to be a bit more of that. Of course, Brown is my favorite but I have plans for the large piece in my stash. I might want to decide just how big a quilt I would like to make.

Usually I make quilts with a purpose. If I made this on into a bed-size quilt, I'm not sure who might want it. If I make it into a table runner, maybe I have enough of the grey and by the time I get it done, I could clear the junk off my table so I could replace the Christmas/New years runner that is still on the table. Of course, the original purpose of quilted runners was more to protect the wood from the white rings created by glasses of ice water left sitting ... a problem I no longer have. But ... then again, Maybe if I had a new runner, I might refrain from piling junk on the table ... hmmm,

On the other hand, maybe I could raffle off a bed quilt to make money for the homeless meals...
Meanwhile, it is rather fun to just be making little blocks and possibly seeing some of these cut bits decrease in number ....

If you like challenges, you might go to my side bar and check out what the left-handed world has to offer.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A touch of spring ... and a finish

On Sunday it seemed that Spring
was just around the corner ... sun and balmy weather ...

That was all the plum tree needed to burst into bloom.

Well, Monday turned blustery and the cold rains returned. If my cell phone is telling the truth, it will be Saturday before the sun returns.

The sweet daphne is also blooming.

I guess the two birthdays are now official.

There are several all white daphne bushes in this plot but they have yet to open ... maybe because they have no birthdays to celebrate.

Anyway, between these two bloomers, the air is sweetly scented. I could walk down the street with my eyes shut and know when I have reached home.

Benefits of cold rainy days ... the next I-Spy is now finished, quilted, bound, and labeled.  It turned out 46" x 56.5 inches or 177cm. x 144cm. I think a useful size.

If the sun comes out on Saturday as predicted, I will try to get a better picture before I pass it to it's new owner on Sunday.

Interestingly, the backing is a rather fine stripe that was given me by a friend. I rather hesitate to use fabrics that might show off my crooked quilting, but this one turned out with all the rows of in-the-ditch stitching matching the stripes ... more luck than planning ... but pleasing to me.

SO.... Time to plan the next baby quilt. The lid on my "kid-friendly"prints bin is still too tight for comfort and the babies keep arriving. With a cathedral window challenge on the horizon, I am wondering what kind of I-Spy I could make with that setting....