Wednesday, January 20, 2021

This and that in January

I have finished Paulina's top, all except the borders (plain deep purple borders).  For some reason, I always tend to procrastinate anything to do with borders. 

The borders have been sitting there for a week!  

What do I do, when I'm in quilty procrastination mode?  I start, or think up, new projects, of course. 

I really have it in my head to make Christmas quilts for my kids this year.  I have a lot of scraps from the stockings I've made.  

Kaela loves this tree quilt.   I started this Tree quilt in MA in 2002, and finished it the last time we lived in Japan, in 2012,  Kaela's senior year of high school.   

One thing led to another and I went shopping at Tomato for fabric to make a Christmasy Tree quilt for Kaela. 

It's really kind of sad - normally this would be the time of the Tokyo Quilt Festival, and all the fabric shops would be chock full of tourists.  

I found some good "tree" fabrics among the fat-eighths: 

And it was fun to text Kaela back and forth a little as we chose a border fabric from within the modest Christmas fabrics section (this is a Riley Blake fabric): 

Plenty of physical distance on the train (sat across from this dapper fellow)

The pattern for this tree quilt is from an oldie but goodie 2002 book called Favorite Quilts Fast and Fun by Nancy Smith and Lynda Milligan (side note - I've always wanted to make a scrappy bear paw).  My copy is in storage in NH.   You can get your used copy on Amazon for about $8, NOT the outrageous price (about $165) pictured here: 

So I'm adding this Tree quilt to my already too-long list of projects for 2021.  But, it's just so fun to start something.  

I'm looking forward to starting Barbara Brackman's BOM Hands All Around - The Alcotts at War.  Easy piecing, and Louisa May Alcott.  I love sawtooth stars.  I'm actually going to make two completely different quilts from this BOM - so excited to get started - today! 

Meanwhile in handwork, I am steadily making progress in the evenings on my Liberty EPP Hexie quilt: 

So, as 2021 begins, I realize the virus is still rampant and actually more troublesome now in Tokyo than it was back in March.   Our church building has been rebuilt (adjacent to the almost-finished newly renovated temple) and our congregation is meeting here again.  It's much more convenient to us - about a 35 minute walk, or a quick taxi ride. 

We hadn't been to church in person since last February.  So we attended 9:00 am church in person the other week.  Still, I think we will opt for Zoom church sometimes, most of the time? all of the time?  

Meanwhile the joy of our lives is FaceTiming our kids... and Charlotte.... seven months old now!

It snowed in Austin the other day!  I just love this little bunny bear! 

And so winter goes.  We are here, they are there.  Our hearts are knit together.  

Today is January 20 - the U.S. Presidential inauguration and I have a lot of hope in my heart.  It will be happening around 2:00 am on the 21st our time, so I will have to catch highlights on the news tomorrow morning.  

I hope if you are reading this, that you have high hopes for your new year.  Thanks for reading! 

x gratefully,


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

FUN quilty beginning to 2021 (and Covid realities)

Happy New Year fellow quilters.   

David and I had a quiet Christmas and New Year's.  FaceTiming with our children all together was a highlight.  Hopefully they will be able to visit us here sometime in 2021?  So far, the borders are still  closed to tourists, even dependents (like college aged children) of "permanent residents" (that's us).  It's not the best feeling that Tommy can't come "home" to Tokyo.  Every day I'm thankful he has each of his older sisters a flight away, and great friends and extended family near him in Utah at school.  We live by texting, phone calls, and FaceTime.  David has yet to meet baby Charlotte and she will be seven month in a couple days.  Sigh.  

It looks like because of the spike in cases in Tokyo, we are on the brink of another state of emergency.  In practical terms it may just mean shops and restaurants are asked to close in the early evening - nothing as strict as last spring.  However, they are mentioning further tightening border restrictions, and the word "collapse" is being used to describe the hospital situation.  

We just have to live wisely and hope the vaccine reaches us as soon as possible in 2021.  My heart goes out to folks starting a new year in a state of grieving, or in a state of ill health due to COVID, or crushing financial difficulty, or crushing emotional isolation.  What a time.  We have to cherish what we have and help each other out. 

I say it so often... but what would I be doing with myself, in this little Tokyo apartment, with David working from home just down the hall, without quilting??  I am so grateful for it in my life!  I'm grateful to you for reading, for other blogs, and for the friendships made across the miles, through our blogs and emails. In some ways it feels like a virtual quilt guild.  Or awesome pen pals!

I'm starting off my quilting year with FUN.  I really do love making these improv log cabins. 

This one is for a very special young family friend, Paulina.  You know how some of your kids' friends end up feeling like family?  I have been thinking I'd like to make her a quilty hug.  So why not now.  

The brief is UNSTRUCTURED (yay!), BOLD (ok!) with lots of DEEP PURPLE (time to shop!).  

The time difference worked out so we texted back and forth to make quick fabric decisions in real time while I shopped at Tomato.  It was so energizing!  

And I discovered that Paulina likes red almost as much as purple. 

We thought we were done, and then I rounded the corner to.....  Kaffe Fassett -   

 Perfect backing fabric: 

Random logs, big blocks, so easy to trim up with my 12.5" square ruler.  These blocks are such a pleasure to make.  Making them feels like some great combination of play and meditation.  

What else in '21?  Are you like me?  Do you over commit to BOMs, swaps, challenges??   There are always a lot of sew alongs happening.  I thought about Kathleen Tracy's Schoolgirl Sampler (72 simple 4" blocks) which looks sweet and I have the book.  I also thought about Cecile's curved piecing challenge at Patchwork Inspirations.  

In the end I'm just going to bite off this much -- the following two BOMs:  

Poppy's Polka Dot Garden (free downloads for two blocks, around the first of every month - from Sentimental Stitches,  for 2021-2022).  This started a few months ago.  I am REALLY enjoying this appliqué.  Anyone else?  Someone started #poppyspolkadotgarden on Instagram.  I think there are just two of us so far.   

Barbara Brackman's 2021 pieced BOM, Hands All Around.  Second Wednesdays.  Louisa May Alcott, simple blocks, variations on Sawtooth Stars, need I say more?  Barbara's posts are always so interesting if you like quilt history, and she has a great sense of humor too.  (by the way Santa brought me the new edition of her encyclopedia - it's beautiful).   

Hoping to keep my quilting life balanced and fun this year - thank you for being part of it! 

x gratefully 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

December mini quilt - Nativity

Another little collage quilt.  I had fun making this and worked on it over a number of days this month, while listening to Christmas music and pondering on the miracle and joy of Jesus' birth.  

You will see lots of other minis on Wendy's blog The Constant Quilter.  Thank you for connecting us all through this year Wendy! 

It's meant to be fairly abstract and yet say "Nativity".   Mary is wearing a pink robe complete with selvage hem.  And Joseph is wearing a yukata.  Why not?  Lots of bright circles of light radiating from baby Jesus. 

One of my favorite Christmas songs is the brief and soulful "Star of Wonder" by the Roches.  It's on their 1990 Christmas album We Three Kings, one of my most favorite Christmas albums ever.  

I used  asanoha (hemp leaf) fabric for the stable.  Asanoha has a connotation of "protectiveness" and so is used in children's clothing traditionally.   

It measures about 13"x17".  The backing is one of my favorite tenugui.  The name of the pattern escapes me.

However you might be celebrating this season, I hope you are finding light and joy in your life, and shining that light too.   It is unlimited!