Monday, March 25, 2013

Tenugui table runner lining

We've had dear friends - Julie S and children - visiting for the last while.  Cherry blossoms, food, long talks, church, games, more food, laughs, hugs and some tears (you might remember I'd made a quilt out of Julie's late husband Karl's shirts last year)... gardens, temples, and Allan West's studio... just basking in having enough time to really go deep in our conversations.  And it was great to have the place filled with tween/teen energy for awhile!  (Poor Tommy is such an only child now that his older sisters are out of the house.) 

 Now I'm left with a rainy grey day, laundry, to-do lists, and what David calls "big event letdown" - the blues that inevitably come to me after a big event.  So I thought I'd just sit awhile with some hot chocolate, a show on my iPad, and the ol' blog. 

This morning Julie S and I ran last minute errands and since the post office is so close to Blue and White.... well we had to squeeze in another visit.  (See Tokyo Jinja's amazing post here - well worth a look, as she perfectly captures the spirit of this special place!).  

I just can't get enough of this little jewel of a shop with its ever changing window displays... 

Boro from Amy Katoh's collection
And beautiful indigo textiles, including an enticing selection of tenugui:
Tenugui and yukata cottons
Backing up a week or two... I lined this sashiko table runner with a length of tenugui.

My sashiko teacher, Yoshiura-sensei, picked it out for me and I didn't feel in a position to argue!

But I didn't have quite enough, so I patched in some polka-dot tenugui I purchased at Kappabashi:

This proprietor of a kitchen uniform shop was busy cutting these long lengths into rectangles to sell.  Tenugui is used much like we might use bandanas in the states - as rags, headbands, handkerchiefs.

Read more about Kappabashi here.

Kappa statue 
I have my eye on house blocks, and Japanese farmhouse designs... 

I love these pods - I see them around in shops but I have no idea what they are. Can any locals identify them for me?

 I couldn't resist one of these fish baskets (tesage kago or shirekago).  I'm a foreigner so I think I can get away with using it improperly - for sashiko supplies!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sashiko table runner finished!

I bought this length of vintage cotton indigo yukata lining at a flea market last year and have been slowing working on this sampler table runner for months, during and between monthly sashiko lessons at Blue and White.

Here is each design (I'm not sure why capturing the true indigo color is so tricky on my iphone):

Higaki - cypress

Seigaiha - blue ocean waves
Jyu-ji tsunagi - connected cross
Kasumi tsunai - spring mist/ clouds

tsu no kikko - tortoise shell variation

Idowaku - water well frame

fundou - scales/weights

Asanoha - hemp leaf, a protective symbol often used in children's clothing 

Nowake - the storm that comes in fall/winter; fall grasses such as Zebra plant 

I have it in mind for my dining room back in the states, but for now, it looks A-OK on our rented table here in Tokyo - in between sewing projects anyway!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Yet another raw edged square-in-square

This quilt, which I began back in October, has been finished for awhile but really needed a good solid washing and drying, to "tatter" the edges of the raw-edge applique.  I finally got a chance to borrow use of a friend's American-sized washer and dryer, which made the task possible!

David wasn't around so I just had one helper to take a photo outside - what a goofball!

Come on, Tommy, hold still so I can snap a few close-ups!

And because this was raw edge appliqued I then spent an episode or two of White Collar,   trimming and picking out stray threads.

It is now finally ready to send to David and Janette.  Yay!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stepping Stones


Last week a small group of us visited two orphanages here in Tokyo - to deliver the Stepping Stones quilts from Mormon Helping Hands, and gift certificates and futons from the Franciscans.

Orphanages are more like group foster homes here, with the teens transitioning into more independent settings (college dorms, group homes, apartments, military service) once they turn 18 and graduate from high school.

As Julie presented the quilts to the graduates (or to their caregivers) she explained that when we made these quilts, we put our love into each stitch.  We hope that this warmth and love will be felt as the quilts are used.

Sekiguchi-san gave each student a beautiful card as well, which translated into English reads:

We are a group called “Stepping Stones”.

In a Japanese garden, it means Fumi-ishi. As our name implies,
our hope is to be stepping stones for you as you make a new step in your life.

We have made a quilt for you to symbolize our wishes.
The pattern of the quilt is called sticks & stones. The small 2 cm squares in the quilt represent stones which will help you spread your wings and fly high.
We hope that the quilt will keep you warm in body and spirit and remind you that there are people who wish you happiness.

May your future be bright! March 7, 2013
With Love,
*** Stepping Stones*** 

Here's this year's lineup of quilts - each the same size and from the same pattern (fairness and uniformity are highly valued in Japan), but personalized according to each teen's favorite color.

By Cindy G, Utah, who started the Stepping Stones project last spring!
by Julie W, Tokyo, who took over for Cindy

by Laura H, Tokyo, who also long-arm quilted some of the quilts.

by Vanalee C and Susan L, Utah

by yours truly, Cynthia, Tokyo

By Sandy T, Utah

By Anny W, Oregon

This was such a fun and gratifying project.  I hope this is the first of many years for Stepping Stones!

I first blogged about this project here.  The pattern is Sticks and Stones from Bonnie Hunter and can be found here.

And just for fun - here are the mealtime rules posted near a table where 3-4 year old boys were eating lunch, during our tour of one of the orphanages.  No translation necessary!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Team Quilt Ten show

Last weekend I batted my eyelashes and convinced David to help me find this small quilt show, in Ikebukuro on the 5th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space.  Finding a new place in Tokyo is always an adventure!

The show was put up by nine quilters who have won prizes at the Tokyo Quilt Festival.

This one caught my eye right away, especially the closer to it I got:

KomoRebi no Diamondo, by Shimura Tsunekko

The piecing, hand quilting, and to top it off, applique and embroidered embellishments were just awe-inspiring.

 As I snapped this photo of the quilt info, I asked a nearby pair of Japanese ladies to read out the name of the quilter, so I could give her due credit here.

They told me, and motioned for me to stay right there.  They skipped across the room back to the entrance to fetch Shimura-san herself.   She seemed tickled over my oooing and awwing, and was happy to pose for a photo in front of her masterpiece.

KomoRebi no Diamondo, by Shimura Tsunekko

David and I stood for some time afterwards admiring her quilt.

Next I recognized this beauty from this year's Tokyo Quilt Festival:
La Primavera by Toshiko Kurihara

And moved on... and found a little cluster of small quilts, where this little gem caught my eye:
little house quilt by Chiyoko Umeda

Chiyoko Umeda

Of course I couldn't read the name on the sign, so I found someone official looking (a docent I thought) and asked her.  She gave me the name, and I could tell her English was very good.  Next I asked her if she wouldn't mind identifying the maker of another quilt, and led her back to "La Primavera" - at which point she smiled and said "I made it."  Wow!

La Primavera by Toshiko Kurihara

She said the quilt was inspired by the good thoughts turned towards the region and people affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  Spring = hope and regrowth.  The following quilt was inspired by the painting styles of Van Gogh and Matisse:
Soleil by Toshiko Kurihara
 And the this one was inspired by "Phantom of the Opera":
Masquerade by Toshiko Kuwihara
Kuwihara-san has been quilting for 32 years.  At first, she had inspiration photos of American quilts, but not much else to go on.  She didn't know to hide her knots, so the back of her first quilt is full of knots on the outside (I think that sounds charming).

Kuwihara-san said that she designs and machine quilts these more modern quilts specifically for the Quilt Festival, according to that particular year's theme.  Each quilt takes a full year to complete.

She also makes more utilitarian quilts for regular use, using plain and traditional Japanese fabrics, and for those projects, she hand-quilts.  I sure would have loved to see some of those quilts!

It was such a nice show, in a bright venue, and such a pleasure to view quilts without the crushing crowds!  Julie F of My Quilt Diary posted here and here about the show and she includes many many more photos.