Monday, July 31, 2017

Extreme Family Team-Building

Camping trips to the Uintas are usually low-drama, because we don't have to travel far from our home to reach beautiful campgrounds close to lakes for swimming and trails for hiking. This adventure was a little different.

It all started the night before we planned to leave, which was Saturday, July 22nd. Everyone had arrived to spend the night at our house. Late that night, we discovered our furnace/water-heater room was flooded.* We had 10 people in the house, including four children. We planned to leave Sunday about noon to get a campsite as other campers left after a weekend or week of camping. We knew our destination was without water and had only an outhouse, so we all planned to bathe or shower in the house that night, reserving our trailer water supply for a quick Navy shower about midweek.

After they determined that the leak was coming from the water heater, the men attempted to shut off the intake valve to the unit. It wouldn't work. Our only alternative was to shut off the water to the entire house. So not only did we not get hot showers, we didn't cold ones, either. Each of our three toilets had only one flush. We decided to use our trailer as an outhouse except for emergencies, and to flush when we were able.

Of course, few plumbers work on Saturday night. We decided nothing would be hurt by waiting until we got back to get the plumber to come, so we sent the two young families off with their kids to select campsites at Cobblerest, while we attempted to reach a plumber and schedule an appointment for Friday, our planned return date. (We would have no cell coverage up in the mountains.)

The kids were able to find two campsites side-by-side with access to the brook and away from the road.

They set up their tents on each side of the picnic table we would use for meals, so they could hear the kids if they woke up while the adults were still up in the evening, and they parked a car in the adjacent campsite to reserve it for our trailer. We arrived while they were still setting up.

On Monday we went to Washington Lake. We found a nice place away from other people, so the pups could run free, chase the ball, go into the water and generally do what water dogs like to do.

I had worried a bit that the dogs would have issues with being manhandled by our youngest grandson, who is three...and good at it! However, the pups endured a variety of tortures at his hands without complaint. Dusty, in fact, seemed to enjoy the rough treatment, as well as the opportunities to run, hike and swim afforded by camping.

Tuesday morning I had planned to cook a hot breakfast, so I set my alarm for 6:00. While I was working in our little galley, I glanced out the window to find a doe happily munching on the grass and bushes. I grabbed my phone to get some photos. She saw me watching her, but seemed unconcerned. She approached the trailer coming within inches of my window. I put my phone down, so I wouldn't scare her. She craned her neck to peer in at me. We just stared into each other's eyes for a few minutes, and then she turned and returned to her breakfast. I had the sense that she knew I wouldn't hurt her and was enjoying the connection.

Later that day, we went to the Provo River Falls. We had a look at the falls from several different angles, following the little trails in each direction for a good view. The boys took turns holding an extra leash on one of the dogs, a trick I learned from training with Therapy Animals of Utah. We stopped to have a snack.

(He looks so innocent, doesn't he? Did I say he's good at being three?) I took a group photo.

The following day we took a picnic to Trial Lake. We found a secluded part of the trail around the lake, where the kids and pups could swim. Our 3-yr.-old grandson threw his brother's hat into the lake and had to retrieve it. Our son found a unique way to help him get to it.

The dogs had a good time chasing sticks the kids threw into the water. Dusty, in his zeal, actually got in deep water and discovered he could swim.

We had saved the highest destination for last, to give the lowlanders a chance to become accustomed to the elevation, so on Thursday we went to Mirror Lake, which is about 10,400' high. We found a picnic table where we could eat and then swim or splash in the water. After lunch we hiked the trail that goes around the lake, stopping at the signs that described the plants, animals, habitats and biomes present along the shores of the lake.

I noticed a man fishing and imagined offering to teach him to knit. "I could never learn to knit," he would say. "I just don't have the patience." (From my favorite cartoon in Franklin Habit's It Itches.) It amazed me that people could just sit there and stare at the water for hours, waiting for a fish to bite.

For part of this hike, we could see Bald Mountain. DH and I have been to the top of Bald Mountain, but it isn't a good hike with kids or adults who aren't used to the high elevation up to 12,000'. (I've always wondered if we would hear Mussorgsky's music if we spent the night up there.)

There was a lot to do in the campsite, too. When we still had power*, we could go around taking photos. The kids could use their Leap Pads and iPads while I cooked.

A campsite is a great place to read. All our grandkids enjoy books, and some of the time one of the parents read to them.

Sometimes the two older kids read on their own, either outdoors or in the tent.

Or an older one would read to the younger ones.

When we ran out of water* in the trailer in spite of our efforts to conserve, the brook was handy for bathing...nekkid (which was how the kids swam).

We set up the hummingbird feeder we keep in the trailer, and it didn't take the little birds long to find it. (She's hard to see. Look at about 9:00 for her. Theres another one right below, but he/she is just a blur.)

We had our own sweet goodies, including S'mores made with vegan marshmallows, thanks to DD.

There were lots of other things to do, such as taking advantage of a handy tree stump to practice your dance moves.

The two grandkids who had come by car had brought their dolls, Zachary Jr. and Daphne Jr., with them. Baby Ann was added to their family at our house and would return to Wisconsin with them. I brought Dolly along, thinking I might need her to help with the size for another doll sweater after I finished one for Baby Ann. The dolls appeared to have a good time camping as well.

Dolly's one big adventure was when the 3-yr.-old (did I mention he was good at being three?) threw her across the main room in the trailer. Fortunately, Dolly nailed her landing and was unhurt. (What a trooper!) The kids had a good time with the dolls.

I didn't get as much knitting done as I usually do when we go camping. The only thing I finished was Baby Ann's cardigan, based on the free Gracie Cardigan pattern from My Doll Best Friend. I made it with long sleeves, because Baby Ann just has vinyl hands, so generally just wears a long-sleeved dress. Otherwise, I just knit it as-written. I finished it on Saturday night, as Baby Ann was supposed* to be leaving with her family the next day, heading directly to Wisconsin from Cobblerest by way of the Mirror Lake Highway.

Our DDIL finally got to see her moose. This one popped up very close to where I saw my doe. The white arrow points to the bull's rack; the yellow one shows you where his face is. I didn't want to get too close, because moose can be very dangerous if they feel threatened. This one seemed unconcerned.

There were also two (at least) rabbits that put in an appearance from time to time: a large one, possibly a hare, and a small bunny. We don't know if they were the same two individuals or if there were several identical individuals from each species.

*If you haven't noticed the asterisks already, here's a by-no-means exhaustive list of our more important misfortunes by the end of the trip:

The generator stopped working, so we couldn't charge the batteries
Our battery backup for charging devices (including our phone cameras!) ran out of power
The trailer water tank (for washing and flushing) ran dry
We discovered there was no sugar (DSIL had to use hummingbird feed in his coffee)
The outhouses were stinky
It rained sometime during each day and every night
Rocky threw up on our bed
One of the boys wet his sleeping bag two nights in a row
One of the boys developed croup and needed to go to urgent care
One of the boys fell and gave himself a fat lip; there were tears
Our daughter-in-law misplaced her cell phone
Our daughter's family car wouldn't start (major complication, as they were planning on going home from directly from Cobblerest.)
I misplaced my trailer and truck keys

On the bright side, we managed to figure out how to deal with each issue and had a great time. No one was attacked by a bear. The kids didn't set fire to the campground. The trailer roof didn't leak when it rained. The generator can be fixed. The kids had no permanent damage. The cell phone and keys were found. The new water heater and new shut-off valve were installed on Friday afternoon. The car just needed a new battery, which meant the family's departure was only delayed one day. DH and I each have a Golden Age Passport, and we were able to get a significant discount on the week of camping.

Even though there were some tense moments while we jointly worked out how to deal with various "changes in plans," such as how to get nine people, four of whom required car seats, and two dogs back to town in two cars, we had a lot of laughs, good food, exercise and great family time. (I loved the snotty kisses!)

Everyone made it home safely, and the 3-yr.-old got to help fly the plane IN THE COCKPIT from SLC to Seattle.

We found packets of sugar in one of the lockers as we were cleaning the trailer.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Expressions in Vinyl?

I had Vroni standing next to my computer a while back. I looked up and saw this.

I could have sworn she was puckered up, ready for a kiss. It was startling. I had finished sewing an outfit and tried it on her. I took some photos and then just stood her there. When I saw this, I started looking at other photos I had taken of the dolls and seeing them in a new light.

Some of the photos don't say anything to me about what the doll might be "thinking" or "feeling," but other photos give me a clear impression.

Just to make this into a game, what emotion or feeling would you give to the following photos of these dolls?  (My answers are at the bottom of the page, so don't scroll down until you've decided on your impressions.) Each photo is numbered.












Note: There are no wrong answers. We all see different things in people's body language, and these are dolls, so their features are fixed. Maybe I'm reading something into their expression(s), but I suspect the artists who designed these dolls did this on purpose, and I'm in awe of them. I'm so glad I noticed this effect.

There's probably a scientific explanation. I'm guessing it depends on the direction of the light and the angle from which we view the face.

Before you scroll down to find out what I saw in their expressions, Here's a photo of Carter in his new French Back-to-school Cardigan.

In case you've missed my discussion of Carter and his purpose, I want to say that he's a My Sibling/ My Pal doll. He's a guy with a mission, first because he was dressed and groomed in a workshop for disabled young people and adults, and second because he will be part of Habitat for Humanity's silent auction at the Overall Ball in Park City in September. Carter is the namesake of President Jimmy Carter, who has been active in Habitat for Humanity for many years. They both remind us to stay hydrated.

Watch for more clothes for Carter. He will need pajamas, play clothes, dressy clothes, and something to wear in the snow when it gets cold. In September, he and his wardrobe will go to his forever home.

A reminder: There are no right/wrong answers. We all see things in the light of our own experiences. I'm no expert in nonverbal communication, and even if I were, you may have different answers. It will be fun to see which ones we view differently. (But go back and give Vroni a kiss. She's been waiting for it.)

1. Awe, wonder, almost in a religious sense
2. Sensing a bad smell, as in "Ew!"
3. Impish
4. Compassion
5. Expectant
6. Sad, tearful (I don't know about you, but I can almost see her lower lip quiver.)
7. Surprised
8. Curious smile
9. Impish smile, almost smug
10. Happy
11. Attentive

Another note: I'm off camping with the grandkids this week. Watch for my regular blog post next week with some photos from our camping trip.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pieces of Mind

Barbara hosted Vintage Stitchers again on Thursday. She had just finished this quilt top:

Barbara used It’s Sew Emma’s Fat Quarter Style: 12 quilts that never go out of style, by Kimberly Jolly, Jocelyn Ueng and  Sarah Price, but she used totally different fabrics from the quilt in the book.

Then she showed us this redwork quilt she had made as a gift.

Remember the redwork quilt that cost her an arm and a leg for the quilting?

The quilting is gorgeous, but she couldn’t afford to do another one like that, so she asked the quilter for less heavy quilting. It will looks lovely, though.

Marilyn was sewing the binding on this machine-appliqué quilt.

…and Brenda was doing the same with this machine-appliqué quilt, a pattern by Edyta Sitar.

We had to go outside and admire Barbara’s beautiful back garden. What a work of art!

Ellen is back in town for a few weeks. I picked her up and brought her to Barbara’s. I hope we can do something else fun together after we get back from our camping trip next week.

I managed to get a little more spinning done, but not much. I finished Mandy’s French Back-to-school Cardigan, started last week. The yarn is Knit Picks Palette in “Custard.”

Then I made a comparable one for Carter using Palette in “Tidepool Heather.” 

 It’s a very quick pattern, once you figure out what you’re doing. I’ve made enough of these now that I can do one almost without looking at the pattern, which I’m rewriting to include an increase that doesn’t show up in the seed stitch and markers, to keep track of where the other increases go.

I did more doll sewing, too. I just heard that the Habitat girl will be a blonde, and she's on her way, coming to join Carter. This will go into her wardrobe:

Then this will be put aside for Daphne's dolls for Christmas.

We went to the Deer Valley Concert on Friday night, outdoors, and all lovely Gershwin music. People take blankets and quilts, and bring food and drink, so it’s a picnic, too. Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain at the house when we left. It wasn’t too bad during the first half of the concert.

Then during intermission, the sun came out, and we saw this:

We’ll be camping next week, and I’ll be out of internet range. (Even out of cell range, I suspect.) I have a special blog post set to appear on Monday morning at 8:30 Pacific Daylight Time, but I won’t be here to remind you, so set your alarm! It will appear in the same place as this one. Next week’s blog post is about doll faces, and how they express emotion, in spite of being fixed. There’s a little game, so you’ll want to see it.

I’m hoping to be able to show photos from our camping trip in July 31’s blog post.

What's on my needles: Ready to CO another doll project.

What's on my Featherweight:
 Still doll clothes.

What's on my loom: Still waiting.

What's on my wheel: Stanzi is out and at work. I had planned to take photos, but I’m writing this right after learning that the cleaning lady I’ve been trying to get for a one-time cleaning is coming the next day. 

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Finished listening to Between Heaven and Texas by Marie Bostwick. Now listening to Apart at the Seams, the next book in the Cobbled Court Quilts series by the same author. On the Kindle app, still reading Undeniable by Laura Stapleton.

What's in my wine glass: Charles Shaw Shiraz (Two-buck Chuck). Always a good value.

What's my tip of the week: Cleaning copper or brass? A cheap and effective tarnish remover is white vinegar mixed with salt. You can put the vinegar on first with a sponge, sprinkle salt (sea salt or cheap salt, it doesn’t matter) on and wipe gently with the sponge.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Fun

I can't begin to say how much pleasure it gives me to see my latest finished quilt put to good use.

I remember quilts from my childhood, and my grandkids (and their cousin) will always remember this one. It was fun to make, and now it's part of their fun.

I got to the quilt shop on Monday, but not to buy fabric to add to my stash (I could set up a store of my own). I was looking for some pink fabric to go with some doll leggings I bought on sale. The leggings don't fit Vroni or Mandy very well (too loose and short), but I think they will work for the Creatology doll who will be the Habitat girl. I couldn't believe I didn't have anything in my huge quilting stash that had enough pink of the right shade! I came home from the quilt store with the cute love bird print you can see in the photo below, along with a couple of other fabrics, one of which you also will see in this post.

Tuesday was Independence Day for us in the US. How ironic that I had to spend it doing the H-word. The appraiser was coming on Wednesday, and I wanted the house to make a good impression, although we don't need to get much money out of our house with this refinance, just enough to do some repairs. My fiber studio looked as if a tornado had picked up stuff in the local quilt and yarn stores and scattered everything across my space. Once I got it tidy again, I was able to get back to sewing. 

Doll clothes are a priority right now, because I need to put together wardrobes for Carter and the Habitat girl, although I'm also planning to put aside some things for Daphne Jr. and Hannah for Christmas, and the three (!) boy dolls in the family as well.

I recently picked up Simplicity 1484 from a seller on Etsy. It's a little big for the slim Götz dolls, but not that far off. This is the pattern I used for the pants I showed in last week's post, although I have enlarged them a bit, because they were designed for use with stretch fabric, like the leggings I bought on sale. With the enlarged pattern, I repeated the pants and added a top from the pattern using fabric from my quilting stash.

I was happy with the result, so I made another top with the fabric from the quilt shop. (Here you can see the leggings are a bit short. The waist is too big, too, but she wasn't wearing them for long, so it didn't matter.)

Then I repeated the peasant blouse I showed in last week's blog post (from the pattern I found here), but after adding 1/4" all around the American Girl size, because the first one I made, using the version designed for slim dolls, fit more snugly than I wanted.

The pants were next. They will go both with the top from the Simplicity pattern and the peasant blouse.

I was anxious to get some cardigans made to go with the girls' new outfits, but first I had to finish Carter's Layered-look sweater. I know this looks like the one I showed last week, and it's virtually identical, except for how the colors pool in the Knit Picks Imagination "Woodsman" yarn. Carter gets to keep this one when he goes to his forever home. In case you're new to my blog or missed the last few, Carter is a My Sibling doll. He will be part of the silent auction at Habitat for Humanity's Overall Ball in Park City.

Note: This year's Overall Ball is scheduled for September 22, so I need to have everything done sooner than I thought. We're making a quilt this year, too, so early September will be devoted to sewing the blocks together with sashing and putting on borders. Julie has agreed to quilt it.

After finishing Carter's sweater, I cast on the Gracie Cardigan, a free download, using Knit Picks Palette in "Rouge." It goes better with Vroni's top (which has a rounded neckline, unlike the yellow one Mandy is wearing, which has a square neck).

It also works with the peasant blouse, which also has a rounded neckline.

For Mandy's cardigan I'm using Palette in "Custard" and back to the French Back-to-school Cardigan again, because the V-neck should highlight the little kitty on the fabric of her top, which I fussy-cut to end up right in the middle of the top and right below the neckline.

As I was writing this yesterday, I was ready to cast on.

Maybe you've noticed that the Götz dolls seem to be made so that their expressions change with the angle of the light and the angle they're viewed from. This effect can be seen, for instance, in the last two photos of Vroni. In the photo where she's standing, she seems pensive, almost concerned. In the next photo, where she has her head cocked to one side, she seems to be smiling. I don't know how they do that, but while I was sitting at the computer late at night, adding some things to a project page on Ravelry, I happened to glance up and see Vroni apparently puckered up and ready to kiss me goodnight. Creepy?

I've been participating in the Tour de Fleece on Ravelry again this year. Here's what I'm spinning:

I'm trying to spin 15 minutes a day, not much, but with all the pressure from the doll clothes, not to mention the H-word, I can't really count on more than that. Here's what I had as of Thursday. The bobbin is a bit fuller now.

Susan came to visit on Thursday. She visits Park City twice a year and comes to our Common Threads group. She wasn't here for last week's meeting, which was off-schedule because of July 4th. We had a nice visit and got caught up on what's been going on with each other. She brought the shawl she had been working on during her last visit here.

She had photos of the dish towels she had been weaving. Susan always has something interesting to show.

It has been hot for here (in the 80s), but we've managed to get in some hikes, and the pups have had a visit to Gorgoza pond. The summer moves along. Some of it is work. Most of it is fun.

What's on my needles: Another French Back-to-school Cardigan in a soft yellow to go with Mandy's casual outfit.

What's on my Featherweight: More doll clothes: dresses, pants, shirts and blouses, PJs, etc.

What's on my loom: Still waiting. Plans in the works for some rag rugs.

What's on my wheel: Stanzi is out and at work. (See photos above.)

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Finished listening to Between Heaven and Texas by Marie Bostwick. Now listening to Apart at the Seams, the next book in the Cobbled Court Quilts series by the same author. On the Kindle app, still reading Undeniable by Laura Stapleton.

What's in my wine glass: Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir 2014. Very, very nice, and good price. (Shhh...don't tell anyone, but it was contraband from our trip out of state.)

What's my tip of the week: Want to give a bit of a smoky taste to your pea soup without using a ham hock? Add a bit of dried chipotle chili while it cooks. One caveat: Don't add pepper or other hot spices until you taste, as it may add a bit of heat along with the smoky taste.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.