Friday, January 27, 2012

Wind, Breathtaking Cloud Formations & Intarsia Knitting...........

By later afternoon yesterday, the wind turbine had to be turned off due to high winds.  We had a low pressure system blow through that created quite a picture in our skies.

Unfortunately, my digital camera just couldn't truly capture the amazing beauty that we saw.

The first of my new series for dogs and cats is now underway.  Intarsia is my favorite form of knitting and I learned years and years ago that the secret to working with all those loose ends is "manageable lengths."  For longer sections of color, I usually use about 6 foot lengths and less depending on the smaller areas.  Outline stitches are always worked after the piece is completed and worked in with duplicate stitch.  To me, it's like a puzzle and very hard to put down.  This sneek peek is of the back only because I don't want to spoil the surprise for you when it's finally completed. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Rainy Day in Tehachapi

With 60 days of no rain or snow, it is now pouring outside my window.  And I am loving it!

I just turned on the pellet stove and will now crank out another sock to match this one.  Rainy days are wonderful for knitting, but who needs an excuse to knit, right?

And then in a few hours I'll pop some huge baking potatoes in the oven to go along with some marinated salmon and a little steamed broccoli on the side.  YUMMO

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Gorgeous Sock Yarn....

We have a wonderful little book store here called Books & Crannies and they're now starting to stock yarn and needles.  Yesterday I popped in and found this new sock yarn - Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street Collection.  It's fabulous!  The actual yarn is "Petals Socks" and is a 50% fine merino superwash, 20% angora and 30% nylon blend.  And the colors are just amazing.

I immediately made this pair of women's socks with it to add to our Etsy store.  And do you know what's even better with this yarn?  On the label it reads, "Debbie Macomber is donating all of her proceeds from the sale of this collection to help children all over the world."  Now you can go out and buy some beautiful yarn and support a marvelous cause, too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wind Turbines Are Always a Mystery................

Is it too windy? Should I turn it off? Can it take these rogue gusts? These are only some of the many questions we ask ourselves during high winds and almost always during the middle of the night!

Sunday night we had some pretty substantial wind gusts but we kept checking the turbine with a flashlight and it seemed to be doing just fine. It wasn't tilting backwards or at a strange angle (both being good indicators to shut it down).

And yet, by morning's first light, it was barely spinning even tho the winds were still strong. Finally, around 9 a.m., I walked down to the pump house and looked at the controls. We were getting a zero readout with no green or red light. It wasn't generating electricity. So, I shut it off and waited and tried again later in the day - still nothing. I finally called our wind turbine guy who came by yesterday afternoon.

I explained what had happened and he hit the switch and VOILA, it was up and running. My mouth just dropped open! Even tho we had no red lights flashing, which can mean that the winds are too strong and the batteries are filled to capacity, the turbine still shut itself off on Sunday night.

Phil decided that it was either just a fluke or indeed, the batteries were maxed out and the excess power was being thrown out through a special black box just for that purpose. I guess the bottom line here is that if we're going to keep it going during high wind times, we should get up in the middle of the night and vacuum the whole house! Use that power! My husband thought that baking a cake would be better!

We've been living off the grid now for 5 winters and still are learning the do's and don'ts of offgrid power systems.

Monday, January 16, 2012

High Tide Socks

Doris has been busy cranking out some lovely socks!  I'm trying to use up my pink yarn since Valentine's Day is just around the corner.

The stockings that I designed for Your Knitting Life Magazine are now on newstands - my dear friend Charlotte just let me know that she saw this issue at Barnes & Noble.  Here's a link.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

High Desert Views and Dear Doris

Our daughter and her family love to head out northeast of California City to camp and ride dirt bikes.  The high desert of California is an awesome place with views as far as the eye can see.

There's a special off road campground there, where you pay your fee and just plop your rv anywhere you want.  You have to bring your own generator and all because there's absolutely no hookups.
It's only about a 40 minute drive from our house, so we drove out for a few hours and had lunch with them.

And here's a photo of our dear antique sock machine, Doris!  Leslie asked for a photo and I know that many of you are quite intriqued with these machines.  Many owners give them names and when this machine arrived from Canada, I just knew that "she'd" be able to whistle a happy tune once I got her up and running.  So, she was named after Doris Day!

Friday, January 13, 2012

No Rain, Snow or Sleet..................

This is our 5th winter in the California mountains and totally different than the first 4. We are close to 60 days now of zero rain, snow and sleet. While I'm loving this fantastic weather, I realize that we desperately need the moisture.

It really hits home when you drill your own well and want that water table to maintain it. We still have several more months of winter here, so we're all crossing our fingers and toes that some good snow falls very soon.

In the meantime, I'll continue to take my leisurely walks and enjoy the sunshine.

I'm back to building our sock inventory and just had to share a photo of this amazingly beautiful shade of blue. The yarn is called Yukon from Pagewood Farm. They're now in our Etsy shop but I really think they'd look better in my sock drawer!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Counting Inventory for the Tax Man

Yep, even really small businesses like ours must do an inventory count each year.  Now that that's done, I can get back to some serious cranking on our antique sock machine and start adding new items to our Etsy shop.

With this being an election year, I thought it would be nice to work up some patriotic scarves.  This is a yarn that we get from Skacel and it's been quite fun to work with.

Now to some socks and we'll see if I can reach my goal of two pair today.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

After Christmas Bargains for Sock Givers

I am a huge knitter and giver of socks - maybe that's why I started a sock business! I love to visit Target and other various retailers after Christmas to see if I can find some great bargains.  Yes, even at this late date there are some wonderful finds out there.  Most people overlook the Christmas gift bags that are left, especially ones like these.  But, at 10 cents each because they were a whopping 90% off, they will make some great bags for next year's Christmas sock giving.

Since we do various arts and craft shows also, I'm always on the lookout for bags to place the socks in for our customers.  They not only leave smiling because of the handcranked socks but because they've been placed in fun bags.  Add some pretty tissue paper and voila!

Tomorrow I absolutely have to get my inventory done and bring last year's ledger to a close.  Then, this year's fun will begin and I will get some serious cranking done and new sock yarns ordered.  So much to look forward to for sure!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sock Plans for 2012

I have such high hopes for our little sock business this year.  I'm hoping to increase the amount of socks made on our antique sock machine and hopefully add some new designs and patterns also.

One design line that I'm working on is called "Catghans and Dogghans - Tail Wagging Afghans."  These are whimsical blankets for dogs and cats that will definitely make their owners wish that they were for humans! 

So, I hope that you'll follow along this year on our adventure of socks and all things knitted AND of course our life of living off the electrical grid in the California mountains.

We hope to add chickens to all this fun and I was lead to a fantastic blog (thank you so much Heather!) called Tilly's Nest.  If you want to learn more about raising chickens, this is a must read!

We will also be offering some little giveaways along the way, so be sure to watch for those.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Little Boys, Calico and a Chicken Named Lucy

We've had our two oldest grandsons during their Christmas vacation and decided to take them to Calico since they've never been.  Spencer is 11 and Mitchell is 8 - perfect ages for such a trip!

We did warn them about the open mine shafts and that they were to stay away from them.  Fortunately, signs are posted and we made sure that Mitchell read them. 

Our son Rick loves to go to Calico and enjoyed the day as much as the boys.  Here we are inside the silver mine which gives you a glimpse into what it was like back in the 1880's.

Boys love to climb and so a trip to the lookout point was on Mitchell's list of things to do.  Here you overlook the entire town of Calico and even can see the vistas out in the desert beyond.

The boys couldn't resist this photo opportunity and either could I!  In the background you can see the old school house.   If you haven't been, it's really a remakable place to visit and take your family.  On the way home, Spencer told me that Calico is better than Disneyland!

They just laughed and talked the whole way home and then we got on the subject of chickens and I told them that we've decided to build a chicken coop on our property.  I told the boys that they could each have their own chicken.  I asked Mitchell what he would name his and his answer was swift - Lucy!

I wish you all the very best in this new year and may your blessings be many.