Thursday, June 11, 2015

Feeling Homesick for My Second Home

I received an email today from my dear Quilting Sensei in Japan. Her news was part good and part not so good and part just sad. I was left feeling quite nostalgic for my heart's home in Japan.

As a result of the email, my fond thoughts of town and friends and food brought me to cooking a batch of American Koshihikari Rice and trying to remember how to properly make a couple of onigiri. I had some lovely umeboshi - made by a classmate in that quilting class and mailed to me earlier this year. (I asked a Japanese person one time how long you could keep umeboshi. She looked confused, trying to imagine having some left over when this year's batch was being made.)

Putting it all together with some salad for dinner I got out the chopsticks, the little cat hashioki to rest them on, then realized - I have no cups for ocha. How in the world did I return to America from Japan four times with out an ocha cup?

Ah well, I'm finishing up a bit of yokan and feeling a bit better. Japan will always hold on to a part of me.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Before I'm Awake

I tell people that some mornings I literally roll out of bed before 7 and after abbreviated ablutions, dress in drab sometimes slightly smelly clothes. I put my house key in one pocket, my cell phone in the other and pull on my walking shoes. I'm on my way down the sidewalk before I'm fully awake.This precludes any real objection to the very thought of exercise.

I was aware that sometimes when struck by some scene in my view I pull out the phone and take a photo. When I return home, my phone reconnects to my wi fi and automatically and silently uploads the photos to a file in Dropbox. Easy, almost too easy. 

Today I looked at my little collection and edited a bit. Here are some examples of what I see and snap before I'm awake.

A mama Muscovy with three chicks

Some Sand Hill Cranes

Some flowers I can't name. They are growing in a small pond of water in the abandoned golf course

Some mornings are quite hazy

Some are overcast

Clouds attempting to obscure the imminent sunrise

Gradually being tinged with color

Or left drab and monochrome

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Highland Games in the Gulf Coast Flatlands

Today's weather was glorious for our plans. We were going to this years Dunedin Highland Games. Just to clarify for my friends in the UK and in New Zealand, there is a small city in Florida called Dunedin. Google it, honest, it's really there.

The sun was shining, a breeze was blowing and the expected high temperature was in the low 70's. Lovely. Our group comprised a Kennedy, a son of a Kennedy and me. It had been nearly 20 years since I had visited this Celtic Festival. It has grown and improved. We had a great time.

We saw some dancing.

We visited the Clan village.

Saw lots of cute dogs.

And a well turned out sheep or two.

Some bales were tossed over very high bars.

Some cabers were cast (but very few were turned!)

Even the fry cook at the Chippie's was well dressed.

I was also introduced to Utility Kilts that you can see here. I keep trying to make this concept make sense, but have failed so far. I guess I thought that the main reason for kilts was to display your tartan. I looked for an explanation from a shopkeeper who sported a nice twill kilt in kind of a pismuckledun shade. He said, "Well look if you wear one to the pub and spill beer on it you don't have a big dry cleaning bill." His kilt had a loop for his IPhone case and another for a neat tool pouch. Still thinking here. Maybe there are men out there who, if given a practical alternative, would opt for a Utility Kilt rather than a clan tartan (or trousers.)  What do you think?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Thank you for your patience

Those of you who have stuck with me through the Austen Family Album Quilt project so far, Thanks. It's been more than two months since I posted anything about any thing. So here I am. I have finished another block today.

Block #32 (of #36) is Ladies' Wreath in honor of Jane's sister-in-law Elizabeth. Please visit Barbara Brackman's blog here to get the story of her life and a discussion of female mortality during the Austen's time. Elizabeth died at age 35 after the birth of her 11th child.

The block which is to represent a mourning wreath for a woman like Elizabeth. Because of the solemnity of the subject I chose a dark fabric with just a touch of green in the center to accompany the basic taupe theme fabric.

You might also like to scroll through some of the more recent blog entries to see some examples submitted by people who didn't stall near the end and have actually managed to set the quilt top.

In reading through these it appears that if the sashing is kept fairly narrow (finishing at around 1.5 inches) the quilt will be Queen Size. I think I can live with that. So on I go, four more blocks to make and then I can look at further steps.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lady of the Lake, remembering Sir Walter Scott

Block #31 is called Lady of the Lake. This is the title of a poem by Sir Walter Scott who was a contemporary of Jane Austen. Read the story of their interactions here.

The block bears some similarity with a couple of previous blocks but is a degree more difficult. Lots and lots of points to match. This is the block I spoke about in the previous blog. I had difficulty with a couple of the fabrics growing when I pressed them. I took at least half of the seams apart, repressed and resewed before coming up with this:

Even though it was frustrating and has taken a really long time to complete I can't say I'm not pleased in general with the final product.

If you're keeping track of the block numbers you will see that I got slightly out of sequence. I think I am back on track now. On to #32 Ladies Wreath.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

PhD or UFO?

This might seem a strange question with no sensible answer unless you are an avid crafter/sewist/quilter. In these creative circles PhD is an acronym for "Project half done", and UFO is an "Unfinished Object."

Postings of new quilt blocks have been completed for the Austen Family Album Quilt. There have been some further postings concerning how some people are finishing their projects. If you are interested you should visit Barbara Brackman's blog here. I still have several blocks to make.

The latest one I finished is this one: Block 29 "Lend and Borrow." Not overly horrible if you really pay attention.

I'm currently working on the block called " Lady of the Lake." It is quite similar, but made more difficult because two of my fabrics have the unfortunate tendency to grow a bit with sewing and pressing. So, when I tried to put it all together I found I couldn't and have needed to unsew two sections and repress, remeasure and square up. I haven't gotten back to the sewing machine.

I have a couple of friends who would say, just do it. Get 'er done. But I have always felt a need for a "want to" in times like these.

This is probably the watershed between Projects Half Done and those that remain Unfinished. I know in my heart that I need to continue and finish this project. On the other hand I cheer myself with the thought that I don't ever need to make another quilt.

Don't be shocked. I'm a garment sewist and this quilting gig was always an experiment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Caroline's Choice for Queen Caroline

Caroline was the second wife of George IV of England. This union was rife with scandal from the beginning and ended with her death just three weeks after the coronation. For more information about this part of British history, please visit Barbara Brackman's Blog, Austen Family Album here.

The construction of this block was fairly simple compared to some in this series and comprises four squares. Two are simple pinwheels and the other two I call hourglass blocks, though they may have another name I'm not familiar with.

The guidance for construction of the block suggested that the two colors of the hourglass should be of a light medium and a medium light value. My choice of fabrics (growing smaller all the time!) led me to this combination. I think more contrast would have been better. The photograph, despite my fiddling with it, wants to further blend the colors. The points are passably matched, so I've decided it's okay.

This is block #30, so six more to go!