Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Another Banner

Today I added the hanging sleeve and took this banner to the park for a photo opp. Not too easy getting a good picture in the wind blowing through the fence.


 This is the 13th banner over the years, and I am finding it harder each year to work with a committee, especially a committee that wants some "feel good" sentiment. We have added lots of new people to our congregation, and feeling welcome is important, but getting involved is much more what I would like to see. Most of the suggestions were themes we have done over and  over. Why bother making a new banner?

"Where will you fit? was rejected because it might hurt someone's feelings. Really?

After spending a good part of what might have been my dinner time, and with the help of my daughter, I got the EMS postal form filled out and printed up to send the labyrinth to Boston.Today I walked all the way to the big PO and waited in line, only to have my form rejected. It was in a B4 brown envelope, but not paper, as the computer choice expected. A complete waste of an hour and a half, not to mention getting the form filled out and printed. There is no choice for "quilted fabric or wall hanging"

The anniversary banner went to church last Friday, and was hung on Sunday, gathering a few more signatures. I added vines with leaves that could be signed in the empty spaces, but have no idea how many more signatures it might collect. October 1st and 2nd are the "big" days, so I will know soon.


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Finally finished

 Finished after a long day yesterday, and posed for a picture this morning...


My friend from church brought me printouts of the kanji. I decided to just embroider them, doubling a single strand of floss. The photo doesn't show the autumn one well. Red on purple isn't much of a contrast, but it is actually clearly legible in person. I just put small  quilted images in the corners... cherry blossom, sunflower, colorful leaf, and snowflake. 

Next challenge will be getting it mailed to Boston.

Meanwhile, a stewardship banner needs to move from graph paper to fabric, and a hanging sleeve needs to be added to the church anniversary banner. Both of those have about half a month to get finished. No more time for dithering....

Friday, September 9, 2022

A small project

My daughter, Marie in Boston, is involved in distributing food to those of her community in need. Unlike my Tokyo daily onigiri delivery, there are rather large bags for people to pick up, and some need to be delivered, requiring a day of physical exercise. 

Thankful for the dedication of a Chinese Christian fellow's help to lighten the load, she asked if I could make him a small gift. 

Similar to a labyrinth I made for myself, I put this together. I used the same quilting templates I had created for mine, but in the corners, I am planning to put the kanji characters for spring, summer, fall, and winter.

I have used those characters before with applique on a big quilt, but am thinking of outlining the strokes with embroidery, using pink, green or yellow(for summer) red, and white.

I used Olympus pearl cotton for the labyrinth ... a light violet but ran out and had to finish it with a different brand (DMC 4) which was close enough that it doesn't show.

A church friend has offered to print out those characters in the needed size, and pass them to me tomorrow. 

Today I hope to sew a hanging sleeve on the signature banner for the 150th anniversary celebration at our church the first of October. There are still signatures to be collected, but I am thinking if it is hung, it could still be signed and might attract others to add their names.

This year's stewardship banner is still waiting, so that will be next on my list ... needing to get finished by October. Progress is a wee bit slower since I have returned to work three or four afternoons a week. And the giant spoon is again stirring up my room.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Complete and gifted

 With a rather heavy schedule and school beginning soon, I was anxious to get this I-Spy quilt finished and into the hands of the new youth ministry person before the end of the month, when classes resume. I was lucky to have enough thinsulate for batting, making it fine for simple pin basting.

I laid the flimsy out face down on the floor, put the batting on top, then the backing, and smoothed it all out making sure the edges were even. Then I just pinned it around the edges and flipped it over to check. I made sure the top was smooth, then put safety pins, spaced out in the top. The quilting was mostly in-the-ditch, with some inner quilting in the 4 inch squares. I used my hoop and it went very quickly. A simple linked-hearts pattern fit nicely in the border.

Saturday, I had to pick up my car from the inspection place, so while going through town, I picked up some bias tape to match the blue border sashing and all the little blue dots in that orange print. My last task was to back-stitch the doubled binding on and then turn it to the back and add a label. I may have been a bit later than usual going to bed, but could rest well having finished.

In the morning I went to the park to get document the finish with a photo. It was quite cloudy, so not looking so colorful, but at least I did not have to deal with wind or shadows messing up the results.

I had to get to church early because of an early discussion with a group reading Shusaku Endo's "Silence".  Then it was time for the service and I could pass the quilt to the new owner at the following coffee hour. Next thing I need to do us get a print made for my paper diary.

The log cabin awaits basting and a small labyrinth quilt is the next on the list, as well as a stewardship banner for later next month. I sewed signature leaves on to the anniversary banner and will have to check out my stash for a strip to add a hanging sleeve. There are still areas where people can sign, but maybe those signatures can be added when it is hanging.

The weather is still hot and humid, though the morning was a bit cooler than yesterday. Since I missed last week's weeding in the park because of rain, I got a huge bag of weeds on today's outing.  I left a few piles of weeds for the "gardeners" to collect rather than start another bag. Saturday it will go to the corner to be collected.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Another flimsy flapping on the fence

 I was finally able, with my daughter's help, to buy enough thinsulate for my log cabin quilt. It is now laid out on the apartment floor waiting for basting. What is holding it off is the summer heat and humidity. The electricity is off in that unused space and each day is so very hot.

Meanwhile, I had Vacation Bible School for the first week of August, and since the program activities were about nature, and written for children living in the states, they had to be tweaked to fit Tokyo. Leaves, bugs, birds, and animals and stuff for nature crafts had to be rounded up.

The days began with an early rush hour ride in the crammed sardine can subway, Only the youngest, fastest, and most aggressive got the senior sitting. I felt like a minnow swimming upstream in a typhoon! Ayway, I survived and hopefully the kids enjoyed the week. Then, the next week I was playing catch-up and getting ready for my Friday Cub Scout meeting

As it turned out, I heard from one parent that the cub had a fever and would not be coming, but I went early, set up the room with chairs and table for activity, and waited. Half an hour into the meeting time no one had come, so I slowly began folding the chairs and taking them back to the storage area. I got the room back to empty shortly before our usual closing time, and hauled my roller bag of materials back to the train station. The good thing is, I have something all ready to go for another meeting later on. It was gusting and rainy with the edge of a typhoon passing through, so I am not surprised that parents hesitated to drag their kids out in the storm.


  After the VBS week, I decided to make an I-Spy quilt for the new children's ministry director to use while the kids are gathering or waiting for parents to pick them up. 

I had a tin of 4inch blocks already cut and plenty of small solids to use in sashing, so this did not take much time.

Next will be to face the heat and get both this and the log cabin flimsy basted so the quilting can begin. I have a labyrinth wall hanging on my to-do list at the request of my Boston Daughter. I might be more motivated if it wasn't so difficult (bordering on impossible) to mail things larger than a small letter to the states! 

The end of the week, my car will go for it's three-year inspection. I get to sit on the room and wait some hours, but it is air conditioned and would be a good time to work on quilting. That alone will be my motivation to stagger up to the apartment floor and get to some basting. Hopefully the day will remain cloudy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

on hold


Considering the heatwave we have been having here in Tokyo, I have left the log cabin waiting on the floor in the upstairs apartment for basting... hoping that the predicted rain later on in the week may cool things off a bit.

Looking around for a "zoom activity", I found a small cut of the fabric in the lower half, "Island Style" by "Kathy Mom", that is a Hawaiian print produced by Kathy Nakajima, a well-known Hawaiian quilter.

The piece was only 25.5 inches long, but there were 4 repeats of the design, so I decided to try making four repeat blocks in the "stack 'n' whack" style ... only I mark and cut rather than play around with rollerblades and machines.

It didn't take long before I had 20 five-inch blocks assembled. Now, what to do with them?

There aren't really enough to make something very big. I can use sashing or an alternate block setting ... maybe include the leftover piece in the center ... that might be big enough for a table runner.

I thought I would solve the problem of unused fabric. I hope I did not just create another UFO... 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

It's on the fence

I was thinking of something light blue for the inner border, but going through my assorted scraps, I couldn't find anything that would work without a lot of piecing. Then, I found a wood print that wanted to visit the cabin, and had enough to work with. I did have to piece the long sides, but that would have happened anyway.

The dark blue had two long strips that may have been cut for some other of my friend's quilts, but was not cut straight and had to be resized at 4 1/2 inches to allow for seams. The side pieces needed to be sewn but don't seem to show that much.

It is quite a windy day, but I was lucky to find a section of fence that was high enough for a photo with the quilt turned sideways. I was rather pleased when clipping it up, to find how uniform the blocks and measurements are. I didn't have to pull it in any direction to make it square up.

 


So ... next on the list will be finding something for the backing. I could piece tenugui or there might be something in the acquired stash that is large enough. I am determined NOT to buy anything other than thread. 

Monday, June 13, 2022

Moving along

 

Today I added the last block of another row to my log cabin.

I played around with some of the blocks yesterday, to get a better balance of dark and light in the Ohio star area.

The size is now 50" x 79". There will be space left for planning a border ... and time to think about the possibilities.

Meanwhile, I have to get this off the floor in case guests come, so I had better begin getting this sewed.








The hardest part will be keeping the blocks in order while in the process and I am hoping this plan will work.

At the last quilt show, I picked up this collection of Clover clips. I think they were made to use to hold seams when sewing by machine, but since I don't use a machine, I think these will help keep the blocks in order until they are together, and not fall off as readily as pins. 


I put on little numbered stickers which will keep them in order.

Then, I clipped each one to the bottom edge along the first row.
Hopefully, that will help to avoid possible mistakes of getting a block turned the wrong way, since I can't see the whole setting as I go.


I can use more clips and numbered dots to put at the end of each row so they don't get twisted before joining.

Sound like a plan? 

Now, to try it out ....
See you later, I gotta go sew!



Friday, June 3, 2022

Plan as you go

 I have done a lot of "Quilt as you go" quilts, and even taught that class for a few years. I often chuckle at the comments on the Celebrate Hand Quilting facebook page, as so often the first questions are, "What is the name of that pattern?" and "Where can I buy it?" My quilts usually start another way, for example, a lot of "North wind" blocks needed something to do, causing me to add some sail boats and a mariner's compass, then a wave print and a cloud print in the border ... with seagulls to cover the joints where the short border print met.

Now I am working on my log cabin challenge. Though one of my earliest quilts was "Log Jam", made for daughter Kimie's futon, I had not tried that pattern since, and am not overly fond of traditional arrangements. Thinking of my grandfather, who was my biggest childhood supporter and born in a one room log cabin in Ohio, I decided to try arranging the blocks in an Ohio Star.


I had been thinking of making this into a cape to wear, but that is not going to work, as the star would be split. This was also tricky because the blocks had to be made half with the blue strips dominant and half with the brown, to get them to meet properly. This is also somewhat difficult to lay out. I have decided to add more rows to the top and bottom and turn it into a bed cover instead.

Once I get a few more rows made, I will have to work some more on the layout, fixing the dark on light and colors to work a bit better together, as one block cannot be easily swapped for another.

This is definitely a "Plan as you go" quilt. I am hoping, once the quilt is longer, it will tell me what it wants for the border. Somewhere, down the road, I will be sleeping under my log cabin, without having to return to Ohio, and dreaming of days with my grandfather.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

A small finish

Another I-Spy quilt for a new church baby.  This did not take long to piece because I had a tin of four-inch blocks already cut. Sashing strips needed to be made, but by this past Sunday, the border had been added. I went shopping for batting on my way home from church. I am very sorry that thinsulate is no longer  in local shops, because I like it best. Yuzawaya had an assortment of samples I could choose from, but only two were large enough for this quilt. My first choice was not available but they might be able to order it. Well, how long might that take? I decided to buy the higher loft, just right at 150cm x 125cm. polyester 92% rayon 8%, and unlike the rest  of what they had, was not "iron on". (KSP-120-NP) and the bag says "Owl's Mama". 

Anyway, I found it a bit thick and hard to quilt through. I think my stitches were around five to the inch, and the resulting finish is a lot puffier than I usually get. Of course the baby getting this will not be comparing it with other of my quilts.

 

Now, all I need to do is add a label and find a bag to put it in. Sunday I will pass it to  its new owner or leave it in the office for the family to pick up.

The rest of the week I will plan the leaves for the 150th anniversary signature quilt.  I figure that if I make them oval and pointed at both ends, I will be able to arrange them either left or right on the vine.

The day started out quite sunny and nice. It was warm and had been predicted to get warmer, but by the time I went to the park for a photo shoot, it became cloudy and windy with a slight chill. I sure am glad my job is not predicting the weather!

Monday, May 2, 2022

OOPS!

 A month  has flown, and what do I have to show for it?   Not a whole lot!


I have been working slowly on the banner for the church's 150th anniversary. I joined all the signatures I collected at the 140th celebration, and April 9th, we had a whole day kick off for this year's anniversary. It was at church, beginning with a half hour of meditative organ music, then a history presentation by our current pastor, then a whole day discussions by former pastors, members, Taize and prayers for Ukraine, etc., ending with a program by the youth, ending around 5:pm, then replayed on line. 

I had added segments around the border for members to sign, and after the first hour, took the work to the basement fellowship hall where I could quilt and take signatures.

By now I have quilted all the floral areas and the signature areas, I don't think I have enough spaces to add more signatures (about 30) and am wondering what to do next. I had been planning to quilt in vines in the open spaces, but now thinking if I added vines with leaves, people could sign those leaves ... or perhaps just mark and cut leaves, let people sign them, then applique them on later, I did that for a friend's wedding quilt, adding the leaves to a vine. Any ideas out there?


An additional project is this table runner as a thank you th our associate pastor for youth, who will be leaving back to the states at the end of the month. At this point, all I have left to do is quilt in the bible verse around the border. These are just more floral scraps, and the verse is; To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

The pattern is "bento box" and I like the floral prints that represent our very diverse congregation. No calories in the bento box, but a bit of food for thought. My daughter suggested a tenugui with children for the backing, but this is just too wide to use one of those or even yukata fabric. I did have enough of a Japanese print with beckoning cats, daruma, paper cranes, and the like all over. Maybe I could have pieced blue and white fabric for the backing, making it reversible, but that would have made the quilting rather difficult.

There have been LOTS of online meetings each week. Scouting has had Eagle boards of review, district board meetings, and Council executive board meetings, plus training, My Cub Scout pack has met in person. We had a shrine hike on Sunday afternoon.

Church meetings for outreach committee, Communication committee, Stewardship committee, Women's Conference three Saturday mornings in a row, plus regular morning meetups Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,  and several other meetings during the week. The thing I really miss is choir, and that will probably be the last thing to return.

There have been community things too. I met friends the last Sunday in March to go to a quilt show in Tokyo. This was to replace the now past history Tokyo Dome Show. Mostly the work of well known quilters, with many things seen in the past, and no pictures allowed. It was a three day show with vendor's included, but the best part was meeting with friends in person. Hopefully the Yokohama quilt show will take place this fall. 

Other than quilting, time moves on. Plenty of church events. Last week was a wonderful ballet of the messiah. I try to take time out to visit my friend living in a senior care home without many opportunities for speaking in english. Sometimes my daughter goes with me. And, of course, Monday mornings are still out early for onigiri delivery to the homeless. 

I spend time tidying up, and about the time things are looking better, I sit down to do something and can't find what was right here before I did the tidying... then I mess up everything looking for that item.  It seems every day is about the same, and without reminders, I might forget which day it is.

So, that's about it. If I didn't have friends to worry about my silence, I might have let another month slip by. Thanks Kitty!

Monday, March 28, 2022

Not too much to post about.

 Thanks to a great kindness, the "Big-Girl" quilt has met up with my granddaughter in Colorado. Our Pastor's wife was travelling to California, and offered to take the quilt with her and mail it from there, thus saving all the problems faced with mailing anything larger than a  letter from here to the states. I got a facetime call at the time and could enjoy Maile hugging her quilt.


This quilt was finished on the 9th of this month. It is not heavily quilted, as I wanted it to be a bit puffy and thus warm. With thinsulate batting, I don't have to worry about shifting. It has been passed to my friend on Sunday, the 13th when we could meet up in person at church.

Next on my list is the banner for our church's 150th anniversary. I started a while ago sewing the signature blocks together. Those were collected at the 140th anniversary and joined using my vast collection of floral prints. 

I separated the large and small signatures into two halves, and have added a blue sky between. Now I am busy adding a garden in the blue area.

This was probably not the smartest move, because it is somewhat difficult to be appliqueing stuff in the middle of a large space without catching in surrounding fabric.

Also, it is a bit of pick and choose when it comes to selecting flowers to add.

I thought moving along by season might work.





Well, I got in a few camellia and plum blossoms.....

Now it is cherry blossom season, so I added a branch and some petals.

I'm finding this is really going too slow, and I have upped the challenge.

Our church is having a "Kick-Off Celebration" on the 9th of next month. It will be a 24 hour, partly in person, and livestreamed  for those not going in person and former members living around the world.
By then, I would like to have the rest of the garden planted and blooming, and a border added with more strips to be signed. Then, I want to get it basted for quilting and take it to work on that day, while gathering a few more signatures
from those attending.  If I add a piano key border, I think it will become too wide, but maybe a white one-inch strip all around could accommodate more signatures. 

Here is a picture of it, spread out on my sofa. (too big for the floor space). I sketched more flowers on the tracing paper, hoping to fill a bit more of the space in the middle.

I hesitate to add too much detail, as this will be the hardest part to fill.
 


Kerria, 
          Hydrangea, 
                            Lilies,
                                      Roses.....
Maybe I could add a bird or another butterfly...








So, this will be next on my list.

I hate deadlines, but this is a bit self-imposed. 

I hope I can pull it  off in a timely fashion. I certainly an still open to suggestions.

Guess I'd better stop dithering, and get to work!

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Where has time gone?

Maile's Big-girl quilt was finished on Valentines day. It is a bit difficult to find a fence area large enough for a picture, as any sunny area has lots of crossing shadows or the fence is too small. These days there is a lot of wind to add to the challenge as well.


 I am fairly happy with the results and the light blue bias binding worked well. I still need to add a label, but it will be some time before I can get this sent to Colorado.


The backing is all tenugui and yukata fabrics. Since the finished quilt is square, there is no top end, so I turned the prints in every direction. Two "Girls Day" (Hinamatsuri) prints remind me of that first granddaughter.

Having taken out lots of yukata fabrics from my stash, I began to realize I have way more than I can ever use. I started sorting it into categories and have one box of large strips. Another container of medium pieces and samples I was given many years ago. 

Then... Having used these fabrics in a number of quilts over the years, I found LOTS of cut pieces and scraps. Some of those, I decided to put together in a small throw for a friend.


This is now in the quilting stage. I am just quilting in the ditch to begin with and thinking what to do next.

It is basted, so I don't need to use a hoop, which goes somewhat faster. The center squares are three and a half inches and the batting is thinsulate so won't shift with use. I am debating quilting within those squares or leaving them puffy and warm.

I plan to use a karakusa design around the cranes. This friend teaches tea ceremony and is an expert on Japanese traditions. She has also been very generous in her friendship over the past years. I am hoping this will be something she will like and use.

The days seem to drag by with little change. No decorations went up at Christmas or New Years. Valentines day was just another day here, except for a giant basket of flowers coming from my kids,



and no  Hina dolls went out to celebrate Girls day. The plum tree we planted to celebrate my first daughter's birth, has been very slow to bloom this year, and the Sweet Daphne we planted for daughter #3 has taken the clue and late to bloom too. Junk piles up on my coffee table and each day seems like the last. 

Now it is the season of Lent.
I will celebrate with a haiku for the day.


As with a compass

May the needle in my hand

Keep me right on course.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Next to last step

 The thing I worried about most, was quilting the floral print border. Should I outline the pattern with navy stitching? That might have been a plan, but using navy thread on the navy background could be a problem. I had tried it on the Hawaiian blocks, and in some places the thread left a small loop and it was hard to see until it was too late to fix.  It really didn't show up in the echo quilting either.I left the parts I had done in navy, but switched to a regular blue.

I decided to use white thread on the print instead, as I had just bought a new spool, so am sure I will have enough. Then next, what should I do in the larger areas? This design is not really suitable for echo quilting. I used thinsulate for batting which will not shift and does not really need heavy quilting. 

I decided to try randomly sketched hearts, and use the lighter blue thread. Once I put those in, I decided this will be the way I quilt the rest of the border. I basted the border every 6 to 8 inches, and I can work on this part without using a hoop. I think this quilt has decided what it wants, and we are both happy.


Sitting here in my livingroom quilting, I am enjoying the birds visiting my window cafe. Last week I re-stocked my supply of sunflower seeds. Then, I began to notice they were disappearing at a faster rate.

NO WONDER!


I had seen this visitor last year, and moved the window cafe up higher, so it was not in reach of the fence below. That had seemed to be working, but this "Kuma nezumi" is a bit smarter than I thought. He has found a route along the top of the window ledge, that he can drop down into the feeder.


When I opened the curtains to get a better look, he did not jump down to the fence and run along the top, but leaped up in the air to the top of the window.

With him gone, the birds returned, but at night he must have come back, because the feeder had nothing left but seed shells.

I wonder if I need to remove the feeder from the window at night, or just buy more seeds. I wonder if this is the guy that chewed the electric wires to my heated floor.

My english student says he has seen the rat at the entrance to the house across the street. We have a number of old houses that were built in the day the area under the house was open with a few grates around the base. In the past, when we had rat problems, we closed off those open grates at our house to keep the rats out. I knew it did not get rid of the problem because I often see droppings or evidence of plant seeds being chewed.
We have many feral cats in the area, but they don't seem interested in that kind of problem solving. This guy probably knows I'm a rat-year person, and is taking advantage.


Thursday, January 20, 2022

border progress

I decided that, as long as I have to move the hoop around, I may as well do the next two borders together.

Since the 5-inch squares are made from a variety of yukata fabrics, I didn't want to use a quilting design that would either distract from the print, or not be seen at all. 

I decided on just a square inside the square, one inch from the border. I think that is enough to keep the batting from shifting, and the puffiness will be warmer. 


I had planned to use the same vine pattern for the second blue strip, and decided to use a blue thread instead of the white. Since I was doing this along with the squares, I drafted a different pattern that could be done square-by-square. It is quite convenient because I can keep two needles ready for the squares, white on light, and blue on dark, and I like the way the blue thread shows up in the third border.

I am finished now with three sides, so will have to think about what I am going to do with that floral outer border. I have a basic idea but am thinking between navy and blue threads, and how much I want that quilting to show.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Slow progress

On December 22 I finished piecing the backing, basted the quilt on the apartment floor, and began quilting the star in the ditch, from the center out.  Once the star was done, I began working on the Hawaiian blocks. At first I stitched around the applique using navy thread. It was hard to see against the navy background. I didn't take out my work, but decided to switch to a regular blue thread,  The applique quilting was done in white but it is not easy to see the quilted details 




Today, I finished quilting the first narrow blue border. 
The next task will be to select a quilt design for the border of five-inch blocks.


 
I really don't want heavy quilting, as it would distract from the yukata prints.
I am thinking of doing the second blue border with the same design as the first, only using the blue thread instead of white. 

It's nice to have a cozy quilt to work under, but my fingers are very sore working through the many seams in the backing.