I have lived in Japan for 35 years and currently live with my husband, 6 cats and a dog. My two children are studying in the States. I have been a quilter for over 20 years but I teach English to neighborhood children for a living (I have a good time too!) I love the Bible and Jesus and try to serve as I can in a very small local church.
I'm a self-taught quilter who for the past 20 years has progressed through trial and error mostly using Japanese books. I belong to a small group of quilters and we yearly make a bazaar quilt but on my own I dabble in hand piecing and strip piecing and hand quilting. Since joining the blogging world I've enjoyed Wonky piecing and am trying to get a handle on machine quilting using a domestic machine.
I think we're going to have to rename Choco to "Houdini". After yesterday morning's chase I put her in the kennel and then went to Kanseki to buy a HARNESS. I figured that would keep her at home. I was surprised to see how tight the harness was on her and even contemplated buying a larger one. Tight or not, I put it on her and went about my afternoon. An hour or so later she is dragging the harness around and she is only attached by the chain collar that I'd also connected her lead to. "How did you get out of the harness?!" I put it on her again and a few minutes later I found she had gotten one leg free. I tightened the harness even more and felt sorry for her.
This morning I was explaining the escapades to Tetsu and after our walk put her back in the harness plus the chain collar and we went in to breakfast. When Tetsu was leaving for work.... NO CHOCO!! She'd slipped her harness again and this time had gotten out of the choke chain collar too. Off Tetsu and I went looking for her, he in the car, me running through the forest again. He found her first and tricked her into getting into the car. From there, back she went into the kennel. A little later I took her to Yabe-sensei feeling very foolish. Why ask a vet what you can do about a dog that escapes from its collar and harness? Not much advice he could give me except to build her a fenced in enclosure. She's in the house for now...
I spent about an hour on the Star of David quilt and got most of the star done and some of the log cabin diamonds. I will try to work on it an hour a day and see how much I can do. Besides the fact that I get mixed up on what colors I planned to use where, it is going pretty well.
And here is a picture of the bag that Marlene gave me this summer with all our pictures in it.
Tomorrow I will sit down and think about my goals for next year.
Well, extra exercise today although thankfully not for any great length of time. Choco slipped her collar again and one of the neighbors noticed her in the forest. Off I went with collar and leash in hand running through the forest calling her. I finally spotter her racing down the road from the rabbit farm. Oh gosh! I'd better go check and see if she did any harm there! She was back near the neighborhood when I finally caught up with her but she wasn't about to come to me when I called her! Off she raced down the street so I got the car and started looking for her in the neighborhood. After two times around I finally found her and she warily came and got in the car after circling it a few times. What a morning! I am definitely going to go buy a harness for her today!
As for handwork, I finally finished the dumb socks I was working on. What a long project and I really didn't have such a great time doing it. I don't think I'll try socks again for awhile. I'm not even too happy with them and numerous times I was considering throwing the project in the garbage. I don't like to half finish things though, so even though it was a waste of time, I spent hours on them yesterday and they are done! Will I ever wear them? Who knows.
Had a great day with Marlene and family despite the rain and my having to make two trips over there. I went at lunchtime and chatted, hurried back home only to realize that I'd left my coat. She's going back to Tokyo so I knew I had to get that coat that day but I had to teach and then had to go to the dentist. Around 5:30 I called but she wasn't in and finally around 6:30 I contacted her and said I was coming back over. She invited me to stay for dinner so there I was again. Great time talking with Erika and Eugene too and even had a little time to chat with Kohei after he came back. Too bad Tetsu wasn't able to come over too. No cooking for me yesterday!
Look at the great blanket that Marcy sent me for Christmas! It's enough to make me want to give up quilting! It's so warm and soft and of course the print sent me into ecstasy! I absolutely love it! I'm going to have to get Marcy to teach me how she makes it when I see her next summer. Happy me!!!
From Tetsu I got a lovely new Patchwork book. A man who knows my heart! Now maybe since Christmas is over I'll get the present of time to do some of the handwork I want to do!
Christmas Day and I feel a bit of a Scrooge. The Eve service went ok except that I bombed out completely. I couldn't hold a tune worth a penny and made a complete fool of myself. I suppose God wanted to remind me that I have no talent whatsoever and whenever I do sing and manage to sing well it is all because of Him. I would prefer to forget last nights horrid performance.
We had cold store chicken for dinner since I didn't cook dinner. I'm not sure why. I had time, it was just that we lazed around the house all afternoon not doing a thing. Tetsu watching stupid TV. Me reading a good buy depressing book. I never thought about dinner. In the back of my mind I had thought we might go out for late ramen after the service, but it was cold chicken straight from the pack.
Tetsu started watching TV after the skimpy meal and by 10:30 I just went to bed. No opening Christmas presents which there were only a few anyway. I knitted Tetsu a sweater but he's seen it and it's been hanging on the door for a month. Besides that I only bought him trunks and socks so there was nothing for him to get excited about anyway and nothing that I felt good about giving him. He had wanted to go buy me shoes somewhere but it was too much bother to go out looking and it would have irritated him if I'd looked and then didn't decide on something. I'd rather shop myself. So much for Christmas....
What a surprise last night to find that my two jr. high third year boys wanted to try their hand at sewing! I had put away all the decoration materials that I had used the two classes before (interestingly, the 4th grade girls found the project very boring and narry a peep out of all four of them practically the whole hour) and when the boys came I hesitantly asked if they wanted to go ahead with regular English study or if they wanted to sew. They opted for sewing so out came the materials again and did they go to town! Much more creative than any of my other classes and they really seemed to have a good time! Not too many mishaps (it took a couple of tries before they got the hang of holding onto the thread as well as the needle) and they seemed quite proud of themselves. "Maybe I'll hang this from my book bag. No one will believe I made it myself." Felt good about the evening and while they sewed I read them a book we had been reading together and did the translation myself instead of asking them to do it. Well, sort of an English evening. I gave sewing instructions in English.
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to show. Still running around. Still have lots of plans in my head but not many get done. I wonder if I should figure out how to make a list along side of this blog so I can mark things off as they get started etc. I found a neat Star of David quilt on Calico Cats blog so I've printed it out but I don't know if or when I'll get it started. Yesterday evening I spent about an hour trying to put a heel into a sock that I was working on. I put it in three times only to find a miscount so I'd rip out and start over. Do it again, the same miscount so rip again. Do it a third time and the same thing so I gave up. I wonder what I'm doing wrong. I was trying to watch TV at the same time so maybe I just got confused. Should I be so brazen as to suggest that the directions are off? I'll try it again today when I can concentrate a bit.
Christmas decoration making has been going well, but I don't have any more pictures since basically the little hearts all turn out the same. But the kids have been doing a great job of sewing sequins and beads and generally making their hear unique. As a surprise, I offered two ladies classes the choice of studying or making the ornament and they chose the ornament! So... I gave them free rein and they all sewed to their hearts' content. Yesterday I had to cut more felt because I hadn't expected the ladies to be so enthusiastic. Tomorrow I have 8 kids to provide materials for and then I think I am done with Christmas decoration making this year. As for myself. I'm trying to make leg warmers. The yarn is leftover stuff that isn't a bit interesting. I could have been more inspiring and bought myself some fun yarn but I need to use this up anyway and who knows if the things are going to be wearable. Anyway, no pictures of that project just because it is boring. Maybe if and when I finish.
Hey! My Christmas decoration class went reall well! The 3rd graders didn't really understand how to weave the hearts so that was pretty much a bunch of private work but they did a great job of sewing beads on. I had cut out all the felt pieces and just had ribbon and beads and needle and thread ready for them. Only Yasuaki was interested in doing it in Christmas colors but they all turned out well. Did it again last night with Shiori-chan my high school student who played along but I'm not sure she enjoyed herself. Oh well, give her a taste of Christmas tradition.
Christmas party at church was fun. I wrapped up the coasters I had made that morning and that was my gift exchange. I don't know if the person who got them will ever use them or even thinks they were so great but I am glad I got them done.
Kaoru-san gave me the cutest little mobile yesterday and I've hung it from the dining room light though maybe the cats are going to find it and play with it there. I can't get a good picture of it because of all the stuff on the walls but you get an idea. I think Kaoru-san said that she sent the same thing to Leiya.
Went to the Yano-san's Obaachan's wake last night with Tetsu. As wakes go it was quite nice though I don't like all the chanting and gonging done by the buddhist priest. (It's not my funeral so I guess they can do what they want...) Obaachan was 87 so except for Kyoko-san not too many people were sad.
Today I've got to get the Christmas decoration preparation done for the 4:00 class. That may be a disaster since they can't even cut on lines (At third grade!). Little felt hearts are the plan for today with them sewing beads for decorations. This may be a woeful blog tomorrow!
No quilting or sewing or anything though I think I had wanted to make some more coasters tonight. That may not happen. Last night Yano-san called to say her mother had died so I went over to pay my condolences. Mrs. Yano has had her mother at home for the past two months and was "force" feeding her just to keep her alive. Obaachan hasn't really been in this world for a year now. Things were going along well and the whole reason Obaachan came home was so she could die surrounded by her family. Still... Kyoko-san was very upset and wishing she could have done more. Obaachan was laid out on the floor in the room where she had had her hospital bed and there was an altar behind her and a smaller altar for burning insense. The family was having some argument about how there should be a mountain of rice dumplings on the altar instead of the measly 6 that the funeral people brought. They determined it didn't really matter. They also didn't like the plywood altar the funeral people had brought but what can they do about it now. Another argument about the flower rings will be displayed and whose name should be printed. All these things that I don't understand even though I've lived here 30 years.
Ok, a few things to show. I finished Takumi's name quilt with binding and everything and hopefully will send it today or tomorrow. Yeah!
On to the cherry omochi or whatever they're called. Japanese are so clever. These are little marshmallows with some cherry jam inside and then they are covered in a pink mochi covering. With some little plastic stems they look just like cherries that we find in Japan! Quite tasty but it was opening the box and finding lots of them that made me say outloud "Kawaii!!" ("How cute!")
And then my latest project of 10 minutes ago. I found a nice little tutorial on the computer about how to make these so I whipped them up to take along when I meet Kaneko-san and Heidi today. The first one I messed up grandly and had to rip it out three times but I figured it out and they were very easy. In case you can't tell they are coasters, two in each package.
Yeah, I made some time for myself today so I really need to put it to good use. One thing is to put a couple pictures on the blog. One of Patora trying to look Christmasy. Another of the muffler maybe made for Takumi (I found the darning needle in the bottom of the yarn basket). Another picture of a "muffler" I made from scraps of batik material. I had bought a very nice Japanese version for Bessie and though I debated about whether I could make it from memory I decided that Bessie would want Japanese fabric anyway (of which I have none) and so bought it for her. Then I proceeded to measure and cut and made my own version. I had put batting in which makes it stiffer than the original. I'll try again and maybe make it a bit narrower too. I love the batik prints though. OK. Off to do something constructive!
What do I have to say today? Not too much. I couldn't find my darning needle yesterday so I never finished the edge to the muffler. That is only a 5 minute conclusion to that project but no needle anywhere. I never got to the name quilt either though I've been carrying it around for the past few days.
I spent the evening "helping" Takumi with an essay question by chat and computer but I doubt that I gave him any ideas. We got to the point that we weren't even sure what the question meant. It seems he had written it down from some friend but it seemed like a strange question to me and suggested that the real question might be... That threw him for a loop and we never did figure it out.
Off to the kindergarten today for a last (hopefully) rehersal for the Christmas program on Saturday.
The cats are still playing with my pin cushions. I found two needles on the floor this morning. Maybe that's why my darning needle is missing. It might have gotten taken on one of their play times.
I'm not doing well with blogging. I guess I figure my life is pretty boring if I don't post pictures and I only get pictures taken of my minimal quilting or knitting. Well, December is a busy month. I'll have to settle down one of these days but maybe not until after the weekend. Oh no. I've got children's ornaments to craft and teach so it will be close to Christmas before I can just quilt again. Maybe I'll get some of the kids so inspired that they'll make some great ornaments this year. (We're making woven hearts and sewing some beads. Can they do it?) Back later.
Well, I finally had a sewing day yesterday and got one of my goals done. I finished prayer quilt number 5 but it is going in the closet until a time when it can be given. When I say finished, I mean the top. I haven't put it together with backing and batting and of course it hasn't been tied or the binding put on. It can not quite be called into service instantaneously but I don't think I want to have it at that stage in my closet. It is done for now..!
In the evening I pulled out the name quilt for Takumi but there is no way it will get to the States before Christmas so it's been relegated to low on the priority list. Same for the muffler. Same for whatever I was planning to make for Kiana and Colin. I'll have to use the internet for them.
Here is one of my pincushions that I rescued again from the cats. I liked some of the bloggers' chicken pincushion and made myself one for the sewing machine.
Ok. I'm back. I had a terrible week and have had trouble getting back to normal. The major difficulty has been resolved and I guess I'd better not even mention the cause. Surfice to say I didn't do any hand work at all and wasn't even here for a lot of the time!
Yesterday I got back to the sewing machine and started another prayer quilt, this time in green. I wasn't working very fast so I only got a quarter of it done. I'll try to finish up today. I haven't worked on Takumi's name quilt or the muffler. I haven't got any pictures. I have a hundred things to do today, one of which is clean the car and rid it of dog fur. That will take a couple of hours I'm sure so who knows if I'll ever get back to my sewing chair...
Nothing to show and I'm in a bad mood anyway today. (The whole weekend!) I will not go into details. Anyway, I briefly sewed on Saturday and decided to do Takumi's name quilt. That isn't finished yet but I've started the quilting. I also started the muffler and that isn't anywhere done yet either. Ah, well. Maybe if I get some sewing time in today my mood will change (but the problem is no where near being resolved.)
No pictures today. I muddled around in the evening not inspired to work on the Autumn Blossom quilt, not willing to go upstairs to the cold (and messy) sewing room. I only had about an hour anyway (it was after 8:00) so.... I pulled out the knitting needles and started a muffler! I don't know if I plan well or not. I have the materials at my fingertips but after all my contemplation about goals I hadn't really planned to do the scarf. I was just something to keep my hands busy for an hour. Now I have to finish it.
My cats (who know which one) are giving me a headache that could be dangerous. I wake up in the mornings and either find that my pin cushion is not where I'd put it the night before (usually next to my chair) or there is a pin cushion (the chair one or the one from the sewing room) which is lying in the middle of some room. Some cat has been using it as a toy! That is annoying in itself, but I suspect that I'm missing some pins and needles too. I'm almost positive that I'd had a threaded needle in it the night before but there isn't one there now... I may have to figure out a way to tack these things down...
I finished! I put all the bindings on and am now done with that project. Yeah me! I have no idea what they are... Placemats, but they're too bumpy. Wall hangiings, I suppose though not too interesting. Oh well...
Since today is December 1st I thought I'd better get down some December goals. Tetsu's Christmas present is done, Leiya's is done. Takumi I'm not sure about. I have yarn but does he really need a muffler in Southern California? No. I started a name quilt for him. I have the "Takumi" part done. Do I want to hurry and do that this week?
I've put a goal of one prayer quilt top a month and of course that is a job that can be done at any time. There is no one in particular that I need to make one for but I'd like to have a stock of prayer tops so I think I'll make one in green this month. That's a one day job.
I can always go back to my feathered star blocks which have been put on hold for the last month. Furui-san won't be happy to hear that I've started again since she hasn't got even one done and we wanted to do them together.
Of course I have the quilting to do for the Autumn Blossom Quilt but that is an ongoing project that can be done in the evenings.
I have left over yarn and I've been inspired to make socks but do I want to start something completely out of my regular scope?
I still want to do Judy's gratitude quilt but I can't decide on a color scheme and at any rate don't have 3 meters of fabric. Do I want to buy more fabric?
I'd like to try the Wonky Houses quilt but I need to make a stock of 2" squares and strips. Maybe that should be put on hold for awhile.
Of course I could stop piecing for awhile and just cut up fabric. I'd like to reduce my scrap box to 31/2 in" and 2" strips and squares.
I want to do another wonky letter quilt this time that says something but I don't know what I want to say and that would mean buying fabric again.
I have all those fat quarters of batiks that I love but don't have a plan for yet. More time on the internet?
I could knit a scrap sweater for myself from left-over yarn. That's another long project that isn't really necessary.
Hmmm.... All these options and that's only half putting my mind to it. I guess I should rule out buying fabric for awhile. I need to work with what I have. Batiks. Scraps. Quilt in progress. That means go back to the Autumn Blossom in the evenings. Do Takumi's name quilt and who knows or cares when it gets done. Put aside a day next week; Tuesday afternoon or Thursday afternoon; to do the Prayer Quilt. Cut up scraps and who knows I may get myself a pile of 2" squares... Hmm none of these goals have a completion date. I guess that's ok too.
And as a reward for completeing my name quilts, go ahead and order fabric from Thosands of Bolts and get 3 meters of something for Judy's gratitude quilt. (And since to get the most for my money buy 3 different fabrics for a Wonky Letter Quilt.)
Let's see, what do I have to say? Not much. I was running around madly most of yesterday and probably only got 10 minutes consecutive done on my name quilts. Too bad! I had wanted them finished by November 30 and here in Japan it is already December 1st! Two more to go and they only take about 20 minutes a piece to get the bindings on so I can see the end. Noah's is great. in bright colors and very easy to read. Caleb's is bright but the pattern in the name makes it a little difficult. Elijah's is too light and you really have to "read" it. Oh well... I guess I've learned something. Leiya's is too dark and not at all colorful. I wonder if I can put a lighter binding on it. That may clash though so I'll have to think about that after I post this. Anyway, for all the reasons above I don't have a picture. But never fear! I plan to finish all of them today and take a joint picture today!