Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A sofa

I have been trying to get rid of this sofa for years.

It has been a great sofa but we've had it for 14 years and before that it was owned by some friends who gave it to us when they moved away. It has seen better times. At first it was just dirty and I scrubbed it with carpet shampoo and a scrub brush. It passed inspection. Then it started bursting out of its seams and stuffing was coming up here and there. I approached Tetsu about it but he suggested a slip cover. Ok. A few more years went by and we had an old dog who lived out its days sleeping on the sofa. Not good for the smell and the dog wore diapers, which leaked... so you know what state the sofa was in. Tetsu and I took it out in the yard and washed it with the garden hose. Great except that the sofa didn't dry and molded instead! I sprayed it with fabric freshener. Again, I talked about a new sofa. Not with the old dog sleeping on it, Tetsu reasoned. True. Ok. We'll make due while the dog owns it.

The dog passed on three years ago but we still have the old sofa (new slip covers). Last week I noticed that it sagged to the floor when I sat on it! A spring broken! Yeah! It is finally time for a new sofa! I have students parents sitting on this sofa so I couldn't expect them to sag to the floor even though Tetsu didn't seem to mind. "Tetsu. This time I insist we buy a new sofa!" Maybe this weekend we'll go look?.......

Nope. Woke up yesterday morning and during the night Tetsu has turned the thing over, worked with wire and pliers and rope and tied and wired the whole thing back so that it no longer sags! He's so proud and of course I told him he's wonderful! Saved us a good $1000! Such a handy husband! My hero! But....

I guess I'm living with this thing for a couple more years.....sigh.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Star and a Picture

Even though I didn't feel so great yesterday what did I do? Patchwork! Tetsu would shoot me if he knew. "Why is it you are so sick that you can't cook dinner but you can do patchwork?" Actually he wouldn't say that to me but he might think it. Well. I'm just sitting in a chair looking at a dumb TV. I've slept so much I can't sleep anymore. I might as well do something constructive while I sit like a lump, so... Patchwork it is! I had already cut up the pieces so it just meant putting them together and since I was getting worried that I wouldn't get this goal finished this month, this was a great time to do it. Granted maybe my seams weren't so straight and it took more time than it would usually take me but it is done. My February Feathered Star Block! I'm up to 9!

Now to get rid of this cold.....

Oh. And here is a picture of my beautiful daughter (such a prejudiced mom!) She sent me a picture of her with her family but since I wasn't sure if the family wants to be posted on my blog I've just posted Leiya's picture. Well, I don't know if she wants her picture posted either but forgive me Leiya. You are beautiful and I want to show the world!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sick in bed

Well, I missed posting yesterday because...I stayed in bed all day! Unusual for me, but I was out of it! I'm sort of dragging around today too but I'll live... Some sort of bug or a cold. I don't think it's influenza, but I'm not at my best for sure.

So... Nothing to tell you about. I slept with four cats either on me or around me and they kept me quite warm but it was slightly uncomfortable. Lemi usually claims my right side and cuddles up to my shoulder. Velvet will claim my left side. Cleo and Patora burrow under the covers and go down by my feet. I know this sounds very unhealthy for you non-cat lovers (no wonder she's sick in bed!) but it makes me happy. The cats only choose to sleep with me for some reason. Even though Tetsu and I have tried changing beds, they still all congregate to my bed...

The gorgeous roses were given to me Saturday night by one of my students. The mother just dropped by around 8:30 and said someone had given her a car load of roses so as she was driving by my house she thought of me! So lovely! I guess God brought flowers for my sickbed even before I knew I was sick!

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I definitely got sidetracked today. This was not what I had planned to do, but as usual, when a new project appears I can't bear to let it sit. I have to try it out and see if I can do it. Well, this was an easy project and I am pleased with the result.

As reported yesterday, I bought a skein of yarn and got the instructions and couldn't let it alone. I could hardly wait for Tetsu to walk out the door this morning so that I could do this and two hours later, this is the result. Kind of cute don't you think? It reminds me of a chic lei (if there is such a thing) and it drapes so nicely. Will I use it? I don't know. No one would ever consider me chic but anyway I had a good time. It is made of an interesting "yarn"called Maggiore Dalia which is much like a two colored tape. You pull a very small part of the edge through the opposite side of the edge and make loops, then continue making more loops until you have a spiral of "flowers".
Ok. Back to patchwork and quilting!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hodge Podge

I actually had to think of what I wanted to do today! Not even 24 hours finished with my Autumn Blossom and I don't know what to do! Not really... I don't think I'll get another Feathered Star block finished like I've written for my February goal, but I did start cutting out the pieces. One problem is that I'd used up the diamond point fabric and the center fabric that I'd been using for the rest of the blocks so I've needed to find something similar. Not such a difficult goal. They were just very dark blue... but it hasn't been so easy. I finally decided to go in to Utsunomiya to check out a patchwork store.

In Nikko where I live, there are zero fabric stores. The department store has a notions section but I've never been able to find anything there. If I go 30 minutes into Utsuonimya I can get to three or four possible stores but there isn't a lot of choice and the fabric is pricey. Actually, yesterday I visited one of the stores where I've sometimes found "treasures" in a cardboard box that sits on the floor, but nothing yesterday. This store is tiny! I mean you are bumping shoulders if there are more than 4 people shopping! The owner, while she's a nice lady, has no organizational skills, so her fabric is stacked in bolts on the tables, on the floor, behind boxes etc. I feel like a Bekins worker as I shift boxes and bolts from one table or shelf to another! She also has a table where she teaches at the most one or two people, and that blocks off at least a third of her shop so I never did get to see any of the fabric on that side of the room. I gave up after a few minutes there.

The shop I went to today is larger but I wasn't swooning over anything. I picked out some remnants and then checked for thread and needles but no one had much advice about machine quilting supplies. This is a new art form in Japan. Asked about a quilting foot for my machine but they didn't seems to know anything about machines either. I did find a ball of yarn though so I bought that. Why? I don't know. I don't need another project, but the scarf was pretty and you can make it with one ball of yarn so I bought it. They gave me the instructions in Japanese and who knows if I'll be able to figure it out! Anyway, this is my hodge podge of purchases. No, I'm not planning to use the fabric together...

I'm reminded of the day when my friend Jane took me to a fabric store near her home in Laguna, California a few years ago. She knew enough to leave me to myself and after dropping me off, she went off for an hour to do errands. (She's not a quilter). Talk about swooning!!!! I actually hyperventilated myself to dizziness with the hundreds and hundreds of bolts and books and creations on the walls, and knick-knacks and kits and classroom set-ups to look at! Now I'm not saying that Japan may not have some wonderful stores somewhere, but at least not in my vicinity, and I hadn't known that heaven like that California store even existed! I actually bought very little that day just because there was too much to choose from! I carried bolts from one side of the store to the other making combinations and trying to figure out what I was doing and the hour went way too fast!

Ah well. I will wash up today's fabric and use some for the Feathered Stars and prepare some for practice machine quilting blocks.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Autumn Blossom Quilt!!!!!!!!!!!

Looking back over this blog I've been trying to figure out when I started the Autumn Blossom Quilt. I think it must have been in September because I have no record of the start. I came back from the States in late August and maybe in early September turned Leiya's room into a sewing room. About the same time I started looking at one or two blogs and Mary Johnsons's, Making Scrap Quilts from Stash quilt caught my eye. I checked out Bonnie's website from there and that led me to a new world of blogging and quilting! I figured out that Mary's quilt pattern was made from Bonnie's Pineapple Blossom and so decided to make 4 blocks a day until I got to the desired size. Sometime in early October that was done because my first blog post about it was October 31st when I was getting ready to have it basted by my quilting friends. Going back and forth from Bonnie's website to Mary's I decided to imitate Mary's border since I loved the striped fabric she used to break up the big border. I found something similar (in a different colorscheme) and I've been hand quilting it since early November though I'm pretty sure I took a month off in December to make Christmas presents instead. Today I am finished! Even the label is on!

I am sooooooo^^^^^^^^ happy with it! I love the colors, I love the border, I love the backing, I love the quilting! The backing is actually flannel and I had used the same fabric when I made Marlene's quilt last year and I just knew if I ever made a bedsized quilt for myself, this was the backing I wanted. So I splurged and ordered quite a lot for some future project which turned out to be my Autumn Blossom Quilt! Yeah me!!!!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thank You ceremony

Today I started my day by attending a Thank You Celebration at the Inokura Elementary School. I had been invited last week and though I hesitated to attend, in the end I thought since the kids were preparing a program then I had better go. I'm glad I did, though they made quite a fuss over those of us who were being "honored".

There must have been about 10 of us who attended and we first gathered in the Principal's office (with the Principal) until two children came to get us and lined us up in the order they had arranged. Then we were led single file to the gymnasium where the whole school body sat (on their haunches) waiting for us. As we entered the gymnasium to rousing music, the whole student body stood and we walked down an aisle in the middle and were led to our seats at the front (complete with name cards).

Each time someone was ready to speak formally, the moderator would tell the kids "Adjust your posture" meaning sit up straight and show respect and the kids would straighten up a bit while the speaker gave his or her speech. First one of the sixth graders formally announced the beginning of the ceremony. Next, the Principal spoke and reminded the kids that they were supported by many volunteers who gave their time. Next, three children read their speeches thanking us for volunteering and making some mention of the reason for their gratitude. Then the whole school perfomed a song for us. Two of the volunteers gave simple speeches expressing their honor at being focused upon and finally each volunteer was given an envelope with a stack of letters from the children and then a lovely basket of flowers. One sixth grader announced the end of the ceremony and then we volunteers filed out down the middle aisle again amidst applause from the children. I felt like I was a bride at a wedding!

I only knew two of the other volunteers, the two other ladies who do crosswalk "duty" with me, but there was an older man who is a volunteer policeman and he stands in front of the school every day. The other ladies were part of a group that goes once a week and reads from story books to each class for 15 minutes. This is a very popular activity in Japanese schools these days. Parents and grandparents will volunteer to bring a story book and before the day begins will read it to the class.

Anyway, I will read my stack of letters this evening and already I have put my flowers in the entryway and they brighten up the spot beautifully!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

Another busy day and my fingers are itching to get to my Autumn Blossom Quilt but not yet. Lemi helped me yesterday as I tried to figure out what binding I was going to put on it (ended up not putting any on it) so even though I wasn't going to take a picture until it was done I've taken one anyway. It probably looks nicer with a cat sitting on it.

And since that isn't finished I'll take a picture of the quilt I have hanging in my living room this month. It is a Bible Quilt, actually a New Testament Quilt and I think I've made at least of three of these, the first of these maybe 20 years ago. A missionary friend went to a conference in Tokyo and came across a lady named Sandra Shigeno, who had made a Bible quilt and taught a year long class of Bible and patchwork. My friend brought back the information and I contacted Sandra and she sent me the patterns and outlines for her class. I made one quilt for my mother and then another for a friend. Finally made one for myself (this one) and then there was a joint effort for another friend. I can think of two or three people who made the same quilt for themselves and then for their friends and a couple years ago I taught a small class of four ladies and they all made the same quilt. The blocks go from left to right and around: The Star of Bethlehem. The Holy Spirit descending as a dove. The Grape Basket. The Palm Tree Branches. The Crown of Thorns. The Cross and the Crown. The Resurrection. The World Without End. In the center I've crosstitched one of my favorite Bible verses. The quilt has faded some since it was first made but it is still one of my favorites. Here is a picture of the ladies who made the same quilt (their block placements are a little different.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Nursery School

Today went to the Yuyu Nursery School where I "teach" English twice a month. I've been coming here for over a year now after first being asked to do a one day class. It is a fun job since I do basically the same thing at Mifumi Kindergarten and I've been teaching there once a week for the past 10 years! Today did finger plays, sang a few songs, read a couple of picture books. The classes are very small so it is fun and I get to know all the kids very quickly. Today I noticed some a Girl's Day craft displayed in one of the classrooms so I took a picture of that too. It appears to be made of half a styrofoam ball covered in tissue paper with yarn glued on top. There were various degrees of completion around the room so it looks like an on-going project this week for the kids.

Thank you Simonetta, Teodo and Anne for send me wishes yesterday! No phone calls today!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Nurses needed

Well, I woke up this morning. went for a walk in the rain (short) turned on the computer and found an e-mail from my brother telling me my mom had been in the hospital for over a week. Sigh... I wasn't alerted right away because 1) what can I do from this distance? and 2) my sister-in-law was in the hospital at the same time for emergency surgery for kidney stones! My poor family!

Well, I've talked to both Mother and Marcy and though they don't sound particularly chipper, they are plugging away. My mom is 84 so she has to be careful. Marcy usually gets to do all the care of the household and extra "nursing" when the occasion occurs but this time it was left all to my brother! I have a feeling the kids are going to be happy when Marcy gets back in the pink. Who is cooking over there?

This is when living in Japan is a curse and a blessing at the same time. Of course there isn't a thing that I can do so I only sit and worry and say a few prayers. At least if you are in the general vicinity you can show your love by actions, cook a dinner, fetch necessities, say a comforting word, sit by a bedside etc. but I can only say I sympathize with you all when I'm sitting across the Pacific. That is the down side. The blessing or in this case, the cop-out, is that I don't have to know the daily trials and frustrations. I get a report after a week when everyone else has been on the battlefield and say "Wow, I'm praying for you" and I can put down the phone and go about other things until the next phone call.

So to Mom, I hope you will be feeling perkier soon and check out this blog every now and then to get your a little stimulation in your recuperating days.

To Keion, I really feel for you and thank you for all your work at keeping the family running. I know nursing is not your forte and it has never been mine either but you've gotten thrown into it and don't have much choice one way of the other. Thank you and love you lots.

To Marcy, as I've said over and over to you and to anyone who asks about my family, you are our angel. So cheerful, so loving and caring and fun. The greatest blessing to Keion was when you stepped into his life and we could probably say the same for Mother's life and mine too (though where that would put Tetsu and my kids I don't know.) Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you for putting so much brightness in a sometimes dim situation. Not just this time, but always.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Lazy day

A very lazy day and after breakfast, I even fell asleep again! Unheard of for me! I never nap! While I dozed, Tetsu cleaned house. What a nice husband! The rest of the day has been taken up with errands and reevaluating the way I'm spending my time. One thing for sure. I am having way too much fun with blogging! I'll have to make a resolution to do blogging after housework. Hah! I wonder how long that resolution will last...

My humble Girl's Day dolls got out of their box today. These shouldn't even be shown except that I'd feel sorry for them if I didn't introduce them. Most Japanese families have this huge displays with these gorgeous dolls that stand on 7 tiers! They are considered a real family treasure and worth quite a lot of money. My humble dolls are actually handmade though not by me. When Takumi was a baby we lived in Sendai and I taught English to a few children in the neighborhood. When we moved to Utsunomiya, the mothers of the kids gave me these dolls which a couple of them had made for me. Actually, I'm not really a fan on Girl's Day dolls. Too elaborate! But these are small and unpretentious and I have memories of the kids whom they came from so they come out every year at this time to sit on my piano.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A surprise present!

Wow! While I was diddling away at the computer look what my neighbor brought me! I don't even know his name! In honor of Girl's Day which is coming up, he brought me this nice little Japanese Emperor and Empress doll object.... of his own making! He said he makes the dolls of clay and then paints them himself. So cute! I have put them in the entry way for everyone to see when they come in! What a nice gift! What a nice man!

I often greet my neighbor when he is out walking his dog (Yuzu-chan... Why do I know the dog's name but not the neighbor's?) or when I'm out walking Choco. He must be over 60 and I think he lives with his sister. He's sort of a countryish looking guy and usually is wearing a knit cap, even in the summer. He asks me about America and English and things like that but seems sort of shy.

Thank you Mr. Neighbor!

A purchase

Moving right along here... I had some time this morning so I got out some more batik fabric I'd bought this summer and made another word block. I think I have twelve now! One more for this month's goals but I'm not going to do it today.

Next, appliqued hearts for the bazaar quilt. That goal is completed! (I know I said do 24 this month but we divied up the blocks and each of us took three home and I am done! Next patchwork day a month away.

And best of all!!!!!! Look what I ordered! I feel thrilled and guilty at the same time. This purchase was influenced by Judy at Ragdolls when she told me about this book she uses. Well, checking at Amazon proved that Ms. Guadynski had another book that looked just as intriguing so I pushed the button before I could consider anymore. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!! The pictures make me drool! To be able to do machine quilting like that!!! So you can see why I'm thrilled. Guilty? Well, I shouldn't really be putting more money into this hobby of mine. I'm already trying to curb my fabric purchases. And besides, am I really going to take up machine quilting? Yes! I really want to learn how and this is the only way I can figure I'm going to learn! I read the first couple chapters last night and was biting my fingernails as I went along. Hey, there's no way I'm going to be able to get a sewing machine cabinet or an extension table as she recommends. Does this mean I'm doomed before I start? The details in thread weights and needle numbers are great but I don't know if I'm going to be able to find them in Japan. I'm sure there must be comparable needles and threads but I guess I'm just going to have to buy different things and try them all to find what works best. More money spent... But first! Read the book and get inspired!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Quilting friends

Today is Thursday, my favorite day of the week. No teaching except for an evening lesson and even today that was cancelled so I have the evening free! And, I went to Utsunomiya to Mrs. Furui's house to meet up with the gals and work on the bazaar quilt. That is coming along nicely though no pictures to show since things are still in the basting (applique) stage. But!!! I did get permission to show some of the wonderful things my friends have been making!

Here's another beauty from Furui-san's hand! You may think she is really prolific since I just posted a picture two weeks ago of another gorgeous bedsize quilt. Well, this is bedsize too and beautifully quilted... but no, she didn't do all this work in two weeks. She's been working on this quilt for over 10 years!!! Actually we started it together (I mean I made a similar one) and though mine has been finished for a good 8 years (at least!) she has pushed hers to the back of the closet on numerous occasions to make time for other things. It has been 3/4 finished quilting for at least 5 years but she just didn't put it on the priority list. I guess I teased her enough that she finally set her mind to finishing it. (Actually she still is putting on the binding but I won't let her stop now!

The next quilt is Mrs. Harada's and she is busily doing the quilting on it. Actually Harada-san doesn't particularly like quilting (so why is she doing such detailed work?) and she loves piecing so when we plan a bazaar quilt with a lot of piecing we delegate an awful lot into her basket. I think she is making this quilt for her husband.

And lastly, a quilt from Ochiai-san's daughter Mai-chan. She had to do a patchwork project for high school and she chose Sun Bonnet Sue (well, applique and a little piecing). She did a fantastic job and the applique is tiny and perfect! It was her first time quilting too and she put in some nice hearts and stitched-in-the-ditch. She had a time limit on this project so we are all amazed at the beautiful and detailed work that she did. Yeah Mai-chan!

As for me... I'm still plodding away on my Autumn Blossom Quilt. Rats! The trouble with hand quilting is that I have nothing to show for months on end. (Or in some cases years!)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wow! I never got a thing done yesterday! Well, that's not true of course. I was too busy to get what I wanted to get done, done. (Which is quilting.) Teaching until 4:00. then off to the dentist, (dentists take forever in Japan. I've gone three times already this month and we're still not finished. And I have nice teeth!!!!!). Back home for more teaching and then by 8:00 I realized I still hadn't "addressed" the Valentine's Day cards for the kindergarten kids today. There are about 100 kids at the kindergarten and each year my mom sends me about 5 boxes of American Valentine's Day kids cards which I give out to the kids. They are nothing things but the kids are happy. Anyway, I needed to get the names on each of them, and get them separated by class so that I can hand them out today. I did that until 9:00 and still hadn't cooked dinner! (I had been forsighted enough to cook the pot of rice, and buy sashimi at the supermarket. Add some vegetables, some pickles given to me by one of my student's grandmothers and some instant miso soup and dinner was on the table by the time Tetsu got home at 9:20!

While I'm still in Valentine's (flavored tea and chocolate crackers for Tetsu, nothing in return since in Japan it is traditionally a girl-gives-boy day.) the rest of Japan has already started on Girls' Day which is March 3rd. Anyway, I brought out my pretty little cherry blossom candle holder and will start Girls' Day decorating tomorrow!

Monday, February 12, 2007

A date

Tetsu and I went out for the day and spent a couple of hours at the movies. We started out going to Denny's, then did a little shopping and then went to the movie theater. We saw Will Smith's movie, Pursuit of Happiness which was quite good. The little boy was excellent. Tetsu gets real choked up at movies, but I tend to watch them dry eyed. It's not that I didn't like it...

A little more shopping afterwards but things are too expensive so we didn't buy anything at all! I've got to teach in a few minutes so I'm signing off here. Choco will have to wait another hour before she's allowed in the house. Suffice it to say I didn't do a thing in the handwork department...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday school and another flimsy

Sunday here in Japan, but Tetsu had to go to work so I went to church alone. It is a three day weekend, (let's see... what holiday could it be? ... Ahh, just checked the calendar. It is National Foundation Day... I wonder what that is...) so many of the members were out of town including Kaoru-san, our Sunday School teacher. So... Today I played pinch hitter and taught Sunday School. Well, actually, got out my guitar and sang a song with the kids, then pulled out the craft stuff and made Valentine's Day cards. I suppose it was a fun class. Only four kids so it was pretty easy. Here are our cards.

Then went to the library which was closed so just returned books, then went to KFC for a quick lunch.

Home and a walk with Choco and then went back upstairs to SEW!! I finished putting together another Prayer and Square quilt. Sort of a hodge-podge of colors but it is a ministry about the prayers, not about the quilt so with prayers included, it will be beautiful! Yeah! have finished one of my goals for February. (So far only one finished. Boo!)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cats AND Dogs

Ok. While I'm talking about cats, I might as well show you a quilt I made years ago of just cats. (See I can't just blame my friends for my cat collection) I think I found these pattens in the 501 Quilt Blocks book and I had to try my hand. Although I'm not too thrilled with my choice of fabrics for the lattice and border, I still love all the kitties.

Then I decided I needed to make something for the vet we had been going to since he was moving to another city. So I pulled out the book again and made up a small quilt of dogs and cats. I actually think that dog in the right hand lower corner was a creation of my own! Our dog looked very similar and I had a few trials and errors before I got this block right. I think if you look at the cross squares in the lattice that you can see I fussy cut dog and cat squares. I rarely do that! Probably if I were going to do this again, I might try to do it paper piecing styles since these were very small pieces. (The mouse in the lower right corner of the cat quilt about killed me!)

Wow, you can really see that the old picture of the dog and cat quilt was taken on the old camera.

As for present progress, I made another word block yesterday. A long~~~ one. Actually, the Japanese word we use for Leiya's tendency to cry is "nakimushi" but that translates as "cry-baby" and that's not too flattering either. I love the pink though it is not actually batik like the rest of the fabrics.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cats, cats, cats

Someone mentioned about their collections so I'm showing mine that came about through no effort of my own. (But maybe that's how most collections come into being.)

I don't know when I became a cat lover. As a child we always had cats and dogs in the home. I think my father was especially fond of animals. At one point we had four big dogs and two cats (and a donkey and a sheep, and no we didn't live on a farm!) So I have always loved animals. Once Tetsu and I bought our own house we acquired a cat from someone who was returning to America. We already had a dog and Tetsu wasn't too keen on having a cat but we took it anyway. The kids of course were overjoyed and when it disappeared a few years later we were all heartbroken. We acquired a kitten and were happy with our one dog, one cat family. But pretty soon another kitten was found, then another, and I couldn't turn them away. Tetsu and I came home carrying a box of kittens (three) one morning but between finding owners for some of the animals we've found, and some just growing old or disappearing (a black cat named Zorro lived up to it's name, escaping after it jumped off the roof in the dead of night) we now have four cats and a dog. My friends know I have a soft spot in my heart for cats (well, I have so many) so they buy me cat trinkets and ornaments. If someone gave me dog things, I'd probably be a dog knick-knack collector too.

In one of my English classes I teach at home, I asked the kids (when we were practicing counting things in English) to count how many cats they could find in the house and just downstairs I think they found 139! That can't be right can it? But just sitting in my chair I can count 64! If people consider me cat crazy I guess I can't argue with them can I?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Finally some sewing! Yeah!

It has been days since I made a word block and I felt like I was losing motivation so today when I was putting together star blocks for the bazaar quilt I sewed up a word block real fast. Hmm. The pink is nice.

And now, I think we've got all the star blocks done. I seem to have 11 in my possession, so Furui-san must have the other 13. As it is now, I really see how all of us in the group tend towards mild colors. Hardly any strong ones or fun ones. It looks pretty blah now but maybe when we get the hearts in and the lattice holding it together it will perk up. Wow! Really ahead of schedule!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A cat towel

I'm not getting anything done in the way of my February goals! I don't know why I should be so busy all the time. No kids at home. I don't have to go off to work everyday. Tetsu isn't particularly demanding. What am I doing? I don't watch much TV or sit around. (If I were sitting around I'd be getting more patchwork or quilting done!) Oh well, another day has gone by and I haven't sewn anything yet.

I did want to show the cute little towel that Furui-san gave me last week (I forgot to post it). This is a fairly well-known artist in Japan, Makoto Muramatsu, and I think he does only cats. For some reason, I see a lot of his illustrations on towels on handkerchiefs and things. Mrs. Furui isn't particularly a cat lover so when someone gave this to her she immediately thought of me! I love it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Running around

Sorry, no pictures today.

I've been running around like a chicken with her head off. I taught from 10:00 to 4:00 and then hurried off to the dentist. After the dentist, headed into town to buy Yano-san a birthday present but I needed to be back by 6:00 so ended up buying some nothing trinkets at a little coffee shop. That didn't seem like much so I found a cute mug cup with a plant in it. Then I stopped for gas, and then hurried to Yano-san's house to deliver my gifts before my lesson showed up. I ran in, said "Happy Birthday!" ran out and came home. ... Only to find that I'd handed her the wrong package! The one with the bobbins and thread I'd bought earlier in the week and left in the car! So... I ran back to her house with the proper package and found her laughing hysterically at the "present" I'd given her. "Quick! Give me back my thread! Here's your present!" It's a good thing she's a good friend!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Do I know what I'm doing?

Well, I've bit the bullet and have started tearing apart Yano-san's mother's kimonos. At least one. I have no idea what I'm doing or what I'm working with or what I'm headed for. The kimonos are of different fabrics and even Yano-san didn't know what they are made of. Silk? Polyester? Brushed cotton? The inner lining looks like silk but I don't really know. The pretty orange fabric is still on the roll and it is very loud compared to all the other kimonos. Obaachan must have bought it for one of her daughters or grandaughters years and years ago and it has just sat in the cupboard. Anyay, I started with a haori rather than one of the kimonos since a haori is smaller. Haoris are kimono jackets that only go part way to the knees. Traditionally, all these kimonos would be made of silk but I'm not sure...

So, I sat on the floor and with my trusty pointed scissors and started taking out seams from the haori. Well, as I had been told, all kimono are made by hand and this was true of this one so maybe it is silk. Tiny little even stitches all over the piece. A minimum amount of cutting was done. Everything is symetrical. The width of the fabric is the width of the sleeves and where a piece is too wide, the fabric has one big pleat in it. Anyway. I tore it all apart and discarded the lining (which was stained and weak) and was left with the pieces which I've ironed and laid out on the bedroom floor (right side down so that you can see the pieces). That is the complete haori. No waste whatsoever! So now what am I going to do? Think I'll attack one kimono a day for awhile. I've had enough for the day.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Our small church

Yesterday went over to help clean the church, a small endeavor that takes any about 45 minutes. Our church has about 25 regular members and about 10 of us take turns cleaning the church on Saturday mornings. It is an easy job, just vaccumning, dry mopping, wiping down the pews, cleaning the two bathrooms. It is what I imagine the churches of the old days were like. Everyone knows everyone and if someone doesn't come for a couple of Sundays then we'll call or go over and find out why. We take turns cleaning, greeting people at the door, leading a Bible study. The Sunday school consists of 4 children on a good day. We pray that more people will come but we are a happy family as we are. The small stained glass windows were made by a lady who does that craft as a hobby.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

More stars

Found a picture in the e-mail box this morning from Ochiai-san. Yeah! We are moving right along with our bazaar quilt aren't we! She took home two blocks (Mai-chan did one?) and had them both appliqued yesterday. I got mine finished too so now we can go back to our own projects or I can find a way to get to Furui-san's early and pick up more block pieces. Well, today I'll do some of my own stuff...

Ochiai-san likes my camera and says it takes nice pictures. I'm not a connoisseur of cameras so I don't know, but I must say I couldn't live without it these days. THANK YOU KEION AND MARCY FOR MY CAMERA! They gave it to Tetsu and me for our anniversary last year.

And here are some animal pictures. Three of the cats found a warm place. Cleo, Patora and Lemi (don't know where Velvet was). Choco was sitting on top of her kennel roof (like a goat). And one more of Cleo in my quilt.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A quick post

I have to teach in about ten minutes so this will be quick. My optimistic estimate of one hour of sewing was off by two hours but anyway I finished up making the star points for all of the star blocks. I'll have to get them to Furui-san so that we can put them all together with the center and corner blocks. I also quickly did the heart applique and I guess it is acceptable. Furui-san is already threatening to leave the applique to someone else! The applique didn't take long so maybe the blocks will get done this month!

I thought up two more goals I need to post. I need to get the Star of David quilt machine pieced and I promised Yano-san I'd do something with her mother's kimono material so I'll have to think about that too. Busy, busy! What fun!