Wednesday, April 18, 2018

It's on the fence

Yesterday I sewed the last row in place.

It was gusty and growing dark, so I took a chance that the morning would be better for a photo shoot.

Well, it is still windy  ... especially the section of the fence with sunshine on it.

I decided the back fence would work better, even in the shade.

At this point, the size is 59" x 79".
I could hardly reach the top links of the fence to place the clips.
This could easily fit my bed without adding more ... but then, most people don't sleep on a semi-single futon.

Anyway, now I am thinking of what kind of border to add.

With all these one inch pieces, I am thinking the first border needs to be only one color and at least two inches wide.

I have been thinking of using some of the many 2x2 inch blocks with some of the leftover purplish-black mixed in, and then a solid outer border of the same as the first. My thinking is maybe purple or turquoise. I have yet to check my stash. Many of the fabrics came to me from friends or people leaving the country. Some scraps seem to have been chopped up with a purpose but that is a mystery to me. some have been sewed and then chopped into blocks.

Then, again, I look at this picture and think the border needs to be more calming to contain all these wild scraps. I really don't want to buy any fabric so that might be a challenge, though I might be able to piece a single color to get wider border strips.

Another challenge is ironing all those seams. Ironing one block sometimes un-irons the neighboring one. At least sewing by hand gives me a choice.....  I am not even thinking of the quilting part!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Bit by bit

Since I have no place to lay the rows out
(without adding much dog hair),
I pinned the sewn segment to the curtain behind the sofa.

After putting each row together, I need to get an idea of which setting triangles to use so that I won't have the same fabrics close together.

The shorter rows, I could piece on the train but now I am to the long diagonal and will need a bit more sofa time to get those joined.

Friday was taken up by planning and running my Cub Scout Pack meeting and Saturday was an Order of the Arrow event. Nikko and I took the car out to the scout area and I led the "Brotherhood walk". I use a trail that is not used for anything else so had to do the walk first with a saw and clippers to clear off fallen trees and branches that had been brought down by the snow.

Luckily the weather was not as windy as predicted so everything went well. Nikko was so tired that she fell asleep on the front car seat on the way home. I had to turn in right away too because the choir was to sing for the early service, meaning I had to have Nikko walked and fed and be out of the house before seven to get there in time.

Sunday I was invited to lunch with the rest of the guys in the bass and tenor section. I did the salad bar but it was all-you-can-eat thing with lots of kinds of meat being brought around and served up at each table. I could hardly even finish the salad, taking just a sampling of about half the things offered. I took one piece of chicken from the meat man but in the end, brought it home to use in a sandwich untouched.

THEN ... in the evening we had a nice family gathering to celebrate April birthdays ... well, including Leia whose birthday is at the end of March. Also what would have been Paul's 81st birthday, plus my wonderful SIL and Peter, my "Son-on-loan".

Two big meals out in one day was a bit much for me and my tummy did some massive complaining during the night, but I was able to get out at 4am for onigiri delivery and make it to school afterwards.

A lot of things going on tomorrow, so it may be Wednesday before I can get the lower half of the rows joined on. I still am thinking of what I will put in the border. I have a lot of 2x2 inch squares that might like to get out of their tin....

Friday, April 6, 2018

It's taken some time...

Finally I have assembled enough blocks that I think can be turned into a single bed size quilt.

35 crumb blocks and 24 setting blocks are done and ready to be joined together.

I laid them out on the empty apartment floor and moved them around, trying to get a balance of color without getting the same fabrics in nearby blocks.

Then I pinned numbers on each one so I know where they are to be sewed in strips.

meanwhile, I am sewing small blocks for the outer border. I will need 20 of these side squares and have finished four.

Next I will see if I have enough of the purplish-black to do the outside triangles.

I have a bit more fabric in the same color but with a streaked print instead of blotchy like I have used so far.

If it doesn't make enough, I have some solid black. I'll just take it one step at a time.

I don't think it will be hard to make some kind of scrappy border ... maybe something solid, then something scrappy followed by another solid or print. This is really a "Plan-as-you-go" kind of challenge. I am happy to say that my marked and cut 1x2 inch squares are significantly reduced in number. The one-inch bits will be used in the side squares and I still have plenty.

Meanwhile, I have a scouting event both this weekend and next ... but tomorrow it is supposed to rain and I am now dealing with a rather severe leaking roof. At this point I am dithering over going at all, as there are surely others who can do my tasks (and could probably use the experience.)

The grape hyacinth is now enjoying a bit of spring in the weed lot on the corner. This is where there was knee-high grass a few years back.
Two years ago I planted tulip bulbs along the fence but the "plant vandal" ripped off the flowers and they haven't done well since. Two came up among these flowers but they will not bloom. I may dig them out and move them to a different place.
When these are finished, I will plant salvias. They bloom all summer and into the fall with no care at all and now there are volunteers coming up from seed. Pink-headed knotweed covers a lot of the gravel and keeps the rain from washing the dirt out onto the road.
I still get yelled at by Mr. Mori, who lives in the apartment on the other side of the fence, for burglerizing the weeds so I only pull a few at a time as I walk by. I am not sure why he preferred the knee-high weeds catching garbage and animal poop and plastic that held water and gave mosquitoes a good start. The house-owners in the neighborhood are happy with the new look. (and the owner of that triangle of land is living somewhere else and doesn't seem to care).

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....