Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Good Morning Mr. and Mrs. Raven......

This morning I looked out our front window to see these two ravens on the front gates.  These birds always make me laugh because they're so comical in their behavior.  They don't hunt which means they are scavengers - in other words they're always on the lookout for a free meal!

Because they're downright cocky, they are fearless.  I've seen them sitting two feet away from a vulture while waiting for their turn at the leftovers!

In knitting news:  I just finished lining the "Cleo the Camel" knitting bag.  A cotton lining always completes these bags so nicely.  An added pocket is perfect for the smaller things that you don't want to drop to the bottom of the bag.  It's all ready for our Etsy shop.

The ends were woven in last night into this brightly colored scarf.  While working on this project, I went through different opinions on it.  At one point I was totally jazzed with the bright colors...... then I absolutely considered ripping it all out............finally I kept plugging along and decided it wasn't too bad.

I'll get it ready for the craft show in two weeks and see if it drums up lots of interest.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What Could it Be?

The next craft show is less than two weeks away, so I decided to crochet a little item for it.

Lately, bright colors have gotten my attention, so we'll see if this all works when it's done.  Any ideas out there what it might be?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Solar Panels are Working..............

Yesterday the 12 solar panels were connected to our off-grid system and we are off and running.
Within an hour, our 32 batteries were fully charged. 

We're generating so much power that the generator isn't coming on at all during the day, which means that we will try to keep our wind turbine off during daylight hours and just let the solar do its thing.  So, all chores that require electricity will be done in the morning and early afternoon.  And actually, I've always done this anyway, so really no changes to my routine.

By keeping the turbine off during the day now, it will prolong its lifespan, too.  Once the sun goes down and the solar panels have gone to sleep, we'll start the turbine up to provide wind power for our evening needs.  It's really gonna be a balancing act.

When I say "gone to sleep," it's really true.  The engineers who designed this system have a great sense of humor, because the readout on the new little box actually reads "sleeping" at night and then in the morning when the sun comes out, another reading says, "wake up!"  I love that!

Because this is something new to our system, I've been going out checking the battery levels to see what power is coming in and going out.  If I see a reading of "absorbing" then our batteries are charged and the system is actually throwing away power to prevent the batteries from overheating.  At that point, I go inside and maybe run the vacuum, washing machine or do some baking.

It's quite fascinating learning about off grid systems.  Even after 5 years of living like this, we still have a tremendous amount to learn.

In knitting news:  I've signed up for yet another craft show next month and am getting a kick out of making more mug wraps.  I think it's really the unique buttons that make them so special.

And who can resist hearts, right?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Meet Cleo the Camel................

Cleo the Camel is the next character in our "Crumpet and Tea" collection.  This will definitely bring some smiles when you carry your knitting around in this tote!

And it's nice and roomy at about 16 3/4" wide by 17 1/2" long.

As the story continues, Mrs. Crumpet meets up with Cleo on her sojourn to learn more about knitting with camel hair. 

I just need to proof the pattern a bit more this evening and then will place it in our Ravelry and Etsy stores.  Thanks for taking a peek!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Sneak Peek at the Next Knitting Bag

As you can see, "Cleo the Camel" is almost finished.  Intarsia knitting is so addictive to me - it's like working a jigsaw puzzle that you can't walk away from.  And once the main color work is complete, I usually put on a good movie and work all the duplicate stitch.  I'm hoping to have the bag and pattern totally done by tomorrow evening.  Next post will have Cleo's humorous face ready for the world to see!  AND, you just might get a kick out of the book title that he's holding.

Yesterday I drove out to the desert to do my grocery shopping.  And of course, a stop at JoAnn's craft store is always a must.  Do you love buttons as much as I do?  I could hoard buttons every bit as much as yarn!  I've designed some mug wraps and yarn bracelets and both require unique buttons.  So I stocked up yesterday.  Pretty fun, huh?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Solar Job Continues..................

Last week the posts were set in concrete and allowed to dry over the weekend.

Eight posts will hold the frame and twelve solar panels.  On bright sunny days, this system should generate 3.18K of power in addition to our wind turbine.

Yesterday the frame was built and the panels placed on top.  When it was time to place the connectors, they realized that the wrong ones had been shipped.  As crummy as that is, the days have been cloudy and extremely windy and cold.  Not much power would have been generated anyway.  AND, we haven't had solar in the last 5 years at all, so what's a few more days to wait for the new parts to arrive!

I was pleased with our sales at Saturday's craft show and will consider another one next month in Stallion Springs.  Nothing keeps you more motivated with your knitting than knowing you have a craft show deadline!

Sunday I re-organized my craft room which gave me a good opportunity to do some deep cleaning.  Who says you have to have sunshine to start your spring cleaning!

This morning our mountaintop is still shroudded in clouds and it was dropping itsy bitsy snow pellets when I was out cleaning the girly girls' pen.

Speaking of the girly girls.  One of our little gals has gone "broody."  That means that she sits on an egg day and night and rarely comes out for food and water.  This type of hen makes a wonderful mother, but since we have no rooster, there can never be any chicks!  Since this chicken "stuff" is all new to us, we decided to let her have one egg to sit on to keep her happy.  But, the more I research this topic, I see that we really need to break this cycle.  So, later this afternoon I'll go out and remove the egg that we left.  My husband put a happy face on it so that we knew which egg to leave in the nesting box.  I've placed some of her favorite treats by her side, but she hasn't touched them.  Oh, the world of chickens!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Solar Installation Begins..............

The parts arrived so that the guys could start the solar panel installation today.  It really worked out well because yesterday's weather was frigid up here and we even had flurries at our house.  Our back peak even got a dusting over night.  I snapped this photo bright and early this morning to catch the morning's rays on the mountaintop.

Today was total sunshine but still a bit too cool for me!

That didn't stop the men tho and they set the forms for the posts and will pour cement on Thursday.  Tomorrow the county inspector will come to check things over.  The concrete will set up and the panels should be installed on Monday morning.  It will be interesting to see what 12 solar panels will generate for us. 


Friday, April 5, 2013

Who Won the Mug Wrap?

Congratulations to StacyKnitsIt on Ravelry!  Stacy, if you'd be so kind to email me at tehachapisockcompany@gmail.com with a mailing address, I'll get this little mug wrap right off to you.  And thank you all for your wonderful comments.  I really, really enjoy reading them!

Last weekend I made the Pioneer Woman's "Chicken and Noodles" and it was delicious.  Talk about sheer comfort food!  If you haven't visited her blog, please do so because you'll love it.  AND she has wonderful giveaways.  We watch her tv show every Saturday morning on the food channel and enjoy seeing what she's cooking and how her family lives on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma.  You know it has to be good for us to get up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Knitted "Mug Wraps" and a Tiny Giveaway

Our solar installation is stalled until next week because of parts AND my husband and I are both dealing with some kind of sore throat/cough/yuggy feeling kind of bug, SO it's a good time to work on a new pattern and just relax.  (I think that was a very long run-on sentence!)  These are called "Mug Wraps" and will (or should) be in my Etsy and Craftsy shops tomorrow.  Still need to proof the pattern and make one more sample.

The "Cleo the Camel" pattern (that I promised months ago) is over half way completed, too.  I'm so eager to get it up and running because it's so dang whimsical and cute.  But, no sneak peeks yet!

Also, I just got word that a 10 pair-of-socks order is coming in.  Now that makes my day!

Would anyone like to have a tiny giveaway for this sample of our "Mug Wraps?"  If so, please leave a comment on this post and let everyone know what this glorious spring weather has you up to.  Be sure to leave contact info for me, ok?  I'll randomly draw one lucky name on Friday, April 5th for this little wrap. See you all on Friday.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Living Off the Grid and the Need for More Power

For the last 5 years we have survived totally with one 3K wind turbine, 32 batteries and one huge Italian generator.  Did I mention that we are an all electric home?  No propane whatsoever, which was really foolish on our part. 

Two weeks ago we heard that the company in Flagstaff that services our wind turbine was bought out by a  company from India and that our particular turbine is not being made anymore.  Not good news at all and calls to the Flagstaff office aren't being returned.

With that news, we realized that if our turbine breaks down, we will be without a power source.  So, the decision was made that it's finally time to bring in solar.

My husband marked our water lines since a trench will have to be dug for the solar lines and the county permit is being pulled today so that work can begin.

Everything will run right into our pump house which houses the "brain" to our entire system.

The 12 solar panels will be placed adjacent to the pump house so that they will be more efficient to the entire power source for the house.  Concrete posts will be poured and allowed to set up and the entire array will be just above ground level instead of being placed on the roof.

This will give us approximately 3.6 killowatts of additional power for a total of 6.6 k.  We will still live a life of conservation, but it will be so nice not to hear our generator running as much.  Diesel fuel is still costly and we're hoping that this additional power will result in a smaller fuel bill each month.

As progress begins, I'll share photos along the way.  Hopefully, once the cement is hardened we'll have the actual panels installed within the next 2 weeks.

(And by the way, did you see the red tailed hawk sitting up there on our wind turbine?  We've never lost a bird yet because of this turbine and they never try to perch on it when the blades are moving.)