Thursday, November 22, 2012

Seeing Sunshine

This week I started a new, sunny project...

 On a gray, rainy day...

I've been noticing this sunny yellow everywhere.... even on the kawai (cute) fleece lap blankets I see in my high school classes:

And how about the Mormon Helping Hands vests... that's Miss K on the left - she's spent the last two Sundays helping with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, with her church young adult group.  She's a hard worker with a heart of gold.

And more yellow this week as I've been helping a friend make her very first quilt... always a pleasure!

 Fabrics were purchased at Naniwaya at Takashimaya Times Square.

Tuesday was the big push to finish the top.  Sandwiching and quilting will happen soon.

I got a kick out of her sweet dog who took a keen interest when it was time to arrange the blocks:).  I miss my pets.

As JoAnn pieced the top, I sat and worked on a binding, hopping up now and again to offer help, and we chatted away.   I think she was shocked to realize how long it takes to actually make a quilt (not to mention the expense).  We've been at this for a long time, off and on since early last spring.  I always tell new quilters, if you don't enjoy the process, then forget it, just buy a pretty quilt!


And tonight..... the last pie is out of the oven.... I was inspired by Julie to make a pecan pie for David - his favorite.  My Mom would always make him a pecan pie.  She passed away 13 years ago yesterday and we still miss her dearly.  Her pecan pie was straight out of an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but she always doubled the pecans, two cups instead of one:

We are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow since today was a regular workday in Japan.  We are having several young adults who are far from home (missionaries) for dinner.  We will give thanks to God for our many many blessings - for the sunshine in our lives, which comes mainly in the form of good friends and family - and we will feast!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sashiko basics

It figures that I'd come all the way to Tokyo, fall in love with sashiko, and then find a resource on the internet pointing to an expert teaching minutes away from my home in Massachusetts!

Miho Takeuchi maintains Studio Aika, a website and business dedicated to traditional sashiko design and instruction.  I'm not sure if she's still actively teaching, since there isn't any current content on her site, but I have really enjoyed the information on her website and it looks like a good place to find sashiko supplies in the states.  She writes about the origins of sashiko, and includes a free PDF with good basic instructions for getting started stitching. She has a few tutorials including one showing some sashiko do's and don'ts.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Handling sashiko thread

If you like using Perle cotton for making biggish hand-quilting stitches, then maybe sashiko is also something you'd like to try.  Sashiko thread is homespun, matte, rustic, and provides wonderfully graphic contrast. 

Look for labels like this when buying sashiko thread: 

 Remove the paper:
 Gently pull apart the skein:

 You will have one continuous loop of thread:

Tie the bundle together:

 Opposite where you tied the bundle, cut through all the threads.  Just do it!  You will then end up with lengths of thread that are an ideal length.

 Borrow a bit from each side, to create a third rope:

Braid loosely:

Now... you can easily pull a single strand from the top of the braid:

Thread your needle, and you are good to go:

Sashiko needles are straight and very strong, with no "give" whatsoever.

Sashiko thread is best used with a looser weave of fabric.  Homespun works well.  Liberty fabrics are too fine.  Experiment and see what works for you!

Friday, November 9, 2012

International Quilt Week, Yokohama

Beautiful fall day today... and I took myself to the Yokohama Quilt show.

Photography was off limits in many areas, but I have to mention....  Jen Jones' collection of Welsh quilts knocked my socks off... lots of red and white, and just gorgeous hand quilting. She's an American (from Massachusetts!) who moved to Wales in 1971 and has collected and celebrated Welsh quilts ever since.  There was one from 1870, called " A Victorian Grandma's Garden" - red and white hexies I wish I could have photographed but you can catch a glimpse of it here:

And there was a great exhibit of portrait quilts by Alice Beasley:

And more by Marion Coleman:

Coleman's "Spirit of a Man" was my favorite, so striking in black and white, so graphic and emotional.  I wish there had been English text next to the quilts.

Photos were allowed in other parts of the show:

winning quilt by Chieko Shiraishi

another winning quilt by Junko Sano 
A favorite of mine from the "Machine Quilts" category:

quilt by Keiko Ono
Another favorite from the "Traditional Quilts" category:

quilt by Shoko Sakai
Gals in these fuchsia jackets were all over the place, and they were so friendly and helpful:

Of course many if not most of the quilts in the rest of the show were made by Japanese quilters, but there was a special section for "Japanese quilts" which I think meant "traditional" Japanese quilts, or quilts inspired specifically by Japan.

I loved this one and asked one of the staff for some info.  Her English was better than my Japanese (for sure!).  I could have stood there for a long time studying this quilt.  It appeared to be made by reverse applique, using vintage indigo and other traditional Japanese fabrics.
Yoko Otani.  Title of quilt may be "Momofuku" or "old kanji"

This character - very old style kanji - may reference the title of the quilt - notice the boro-style patchwork peeking through:

 The middle white character also refers to the title of the quilt:

And here's another quilt in the "Japanese quilts" category that grabbed my attention and held it:

Festival Lanterns (probable title) by Shizuko Yoshizawa
Again, a staff person helped me by interpreting the title of the quilt for me. It could be "festival" or "festival lanterns".  I recognized the word "o-matsuri" which means festival.

 Everything about this quilt was engaging - the fabrics, the placement of the lanterns, the patchy border, and the beautiful hand quilting.  This quilt takes "scrappy" and "fun" into the realm of the sophisticated...

And then..... into the crowds in the vendor area - hard to get even a look....

But did find a few treasures here:

Made my way home... (couldn't live here without my iphone and!)...

And unpacked my goodies.... I just can't resist the "taupe" style wovens!