Monday, February 25, 2013

M's college quilt, and Hakone

I'm making a college quilt for my niece and sure enough she wants the same design that my daughters wanted.  Oh my goodness!  Here we go again!

Miss M sent me an email with some color choices and inspiration images:

8", 5", 3 1/2", and 1 3/4" squares - all raw-edge machine appliqued for an eventually frayed and tattered look.

I am drawing from my stash of Japanese scraps, some neutral linen and muslin, shot cottons, and lots of "modern" fabrics purchased at the City Quilter in NYC and Quilter's Way in MA.

 These colors aren't true but I'm so busy these days I have little chance for daytime photos.
This afternoon I finished piecing the first half.  Most apartments here in Japan are wallpapered with white textured vinyl... ours is no exception - so with a little washi tape, voila! Design wall.

If I were making this quilt for a wee toddler or preschooler, I would quilt and bind it as is - I like the proportions.  But for a college student it needs to double in size!  I have the rows all set to piece.

On Friday, David, Tommy and I took a daytrip to Hakone - by the end of the day, we had enjoyed various views of Mt. Fuji and had taken subway, bullet train, train, cable car, ropeway, ship (!), and taxi.  Lots and lots of walking too.  It was a sunny brisk day - just a great outing and if you are a local, I highly recommend it!

Open Air Museum:
Hey!  by Shin Yamamoto, 1992

Park in Rome, by Toshio Yodoi, 1976
We hiked (walked really, up a long series of steps) up to the summit of this inactive volcano crater, which had erupted 3000 years ago and still emits sulfur steam - ya, it smelled terrible!

Once at the summit, with any luck you have a great view of Fuji-san.  Ours was somewhat obscured by clouds; we saw it but you'll have to take my word for it that it's somewhere in the background of this photo!

And for 500 yen you can purchase a steaming packet of eggs which have been hard boiled in the sulfured water.  The shells turn a beautiful matte black - reminded me of soapstone.

Legend has it that eating one of these eggs will add seven years to your life.

To me, that's time to make at least seven additional quilts:).

Friday, February 8, 2013


I'm making slow and not-so-steady progress on my sashiko sampler table runner:

Lately I think I've been spending more time perusing quilting/stitching blogs than on actually working on my own projects!  Mmmm.... does this happen to anyone else? :)

And there are other real-life distractions... such as the itch to do some spring cleaning...

(After all, even the subways (every inch!) here regularly get soapy-water scrubbings):

And errands.... which sometimes reward with happy distractions, such as the ever-evolving windowscape at Blue and White:

Setsubun window display at Blue and White

I stopped in to sign up for my next sashiko class, and noticed this beauty right away:

Lady Happiness, 2011, by Reiko Okunushi,
on loan to Blue and White from the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum

Detail from Lady Happiness, 2011, by Reiko Okunushi,
on loan to Blue and White from the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum
Lady Happiness indeed!  Even as a winter storm rages in our hometown in MA, here we are definitely feeling some happy hints of spring in the air!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sticks and Stones, Stepping Stones

We are expecting snow tomorrow... and with last month's big Tokyo snow still fresh in our minds:

Snowy days are perfect for quilting... and last month I got out these cheery yellow squares again .... to work on the "Sticks and Stones" quilt.

The pattern is by Bonnie Hunter and can be found here.  Note that the pattern is free to use by individuals.  Check out Bonnie Hunter's website here for more free scrap patterns.  Awesome!

A little chain piecing... taking over the dining room table for a few days....

I bought most of the fabrics at The City Quilter  in New York City last summer and over the Christmas break:

A group of ladies from my church has started a quilting initiative for "graduates" of an orphanage  here in Tokyo.  In Japan children are fully released from orphanages at age 18, and they often need a lot of support finding an apartment and securing basic necessities and perhaps a few luxuries.

The graduate I'm sewing for is Erika (yes, that's a Japanese name!) and her favorite color is yellow.  And these fabrics are (bright) YELLOW!  Not my usual palette, as I wouldn't consider myself a "modern" quilter, but I have to admit, it was fun to work with these cheery fabrics.

I finished the blocks side by side with Tommy as he studied for final exams.  Sure glad I wasn't the one working on physics:

Julie W suggested "Stepping Stones" as a name for our little initiative - I love that.  A step up, a step forward, a step perhaps over trouble, and into a promising future.

In any case, we hope that this project will become ongoing even after most of us have returned to our home countries.

I hate to admit how long it sat on my floor before I put on the borders - ugh.  It took Downton Abbey and several movies to motivate me through borders, sandwiching, and basting.

And then ... some quilting in the ditch:

I hope wherever you are in the world... that your year is off to a promising start!
Linking up with Plum and June, and with Quilt Story. :)


p.s.  On a few blogs... and on Facebook... I've seen this idea of picking a focus word for the year.  I LOVE this idea.  I'm still thinking about it... but we're in February already.  I'd better pick a word soon - otherwise it will be "indecision" by default. :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

ASIJ Gala Auction quilt

The ASIJ (American School in Japan) Gala quilt group has been meeting on Tuesday mornings to work on this year's quilt, which features a background pieced from kasuri, and three striking carp pieced from silks and chirimen.  With the March deadline looming I'm trying to join in as much as possible.

This golden carp needed to be pieced/ needle turn appliqued.  Satisfying work especially when the basting had already been done, and when stabilizer had been used.  And time flew as we chatted away.

The fish were designed by master quilter JulieF of My Quilt Diary - check out her blog for more detail about this awesome quilt.  The fabrics were chosen so very carefully.  Stunning!

These finished fish...

await their placement back into the water -

These ladies set the bar high!  It promises to be a stunning addition to the Gala auction, and will hopefully command a high price to benefit the school.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2013, Part 3 of 3 - Ok, there's more!

I do have a few more photos to share from the show!

Travel Diary by Akane Sakamoto 

Pom Pom Mum by Reiko Naganuma

Stars in a Field by Hiroka Ninagawa 
Check out these yo-yo's...




This was one of our favorites:
Family Tree by Osami Gonohe

Family Tree by Osami Gonohe, detail 

Family Tree by Osami Gonohe, detail 

Family Tree by Osami Gonohe, detail 

Family Tree by Osami Gonohe, detail 

Family Tree by Osami Gonohe, detail


And the third prize winner in the "Wa" category:

And there you have it.... and for more,  see:
Julie's insightful observations at My Quilt Diary,
Quilt Otaku's collection of links
Queenie's Needlework - several wonderful posts such as this one.

It's amazing how many "takes" there are of the same quilt show - it was just MASSIVE!  I've really enjoyed seeing other bloggers' posts and I know you will too!