Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

The projects, chores, and life of a family-owned, Northern Wisconsin resort.


I think this picture sums it up right now.  Winter is knocking on the door.  We do have cabins open with a 1 night minimum at times up to Christmas if you are looking for a short trip away or a long one.  Christmas week is booking up if you want to enjoy the holidays at the resort give a call.  

Thanksgiving we have one 2 bdr left open up to Friday which is Bayview at 140/night 2 night minimum


The ice is freezing things in.  I jumped on the raft and it is stuck solidly in the ice with no bounce at all. 


There were a few tracks close to shore on the ice.  Not sure guessing this might be a rabbit.  I know it is not Mack’s tracks


There will be no fishing at Thanksgiving this year


We have been working inside getting things done.  Besides working at the desk the hat machine has been whirling with me making hats.  Yarn has been flying as I get ready for shows next week and filling Christmas orders.


I caught my brother inlaw Bryon at the Great Northern Coffee Shop.  He was giving a thumbs up for working on the new Black’s Cliff website.  Right now he has a resort map in the works.  He and Steve will be putting their heads together to come up with the best one in the Northwoods.  Our old one used Flash and could not be downloaded anymore so we got a make over from Bryon.  The website will be a creative process for the next few months as we add to it and edit things


It was a quiet and colder weekend but perfect to spend up North


The Blaser Family was thrilled to enjoy the first snows and a hike in the woods with their kids


Mack contemplating the arrival of an early winter


Even with the cold it was time to get a few things done.  Jake was up for the weekend and we put him to work making winter kindling as Troy loaded up wood

Recognize that trim he is denailing for kindling?


Steve and Chris Moran were the suppliers of the kindling trim


All of the 70’s dark paneling in Bear Den’s upstairs bedroom is gone.   Looks good guys!


A few hooks installed in the closet for all those hook people out there

More to come in the spring after Steve goes window shopping


View off the hill of the freezing lake


With temps cracking 32 it was time to head for a walk in the woods with Mack


Down the Red Trail we went


Mack keeping eye out for any stray deer that might cross the path


Though the valley of darkness


To the frozen swamp


And back home to the warm wood stove and comfy new bed.  

Mack really has a rough life


It may seem quiet at the resort but it has been a busy week


We had part of our crew from the 4th of July stop up to the resort for a few days of fun.  Ottos was a great evening with everyone to start out the fun


We choose this weekend because it is craft fair weekend in Minocqua and Murry brings up her creations to sell at her own booth.  She also had Linda Hoadley’s famous pot holder bowls with that were being sold to support the Northwoods Wildlife Hospital.  The pot holders were flying off the table!


I was next door to Murry making and selling socks, hats, gloves and scarves.  It was the most entertaining booths in the show with commentary flowing between the two booths


Troy’s sister Felicia on the far right, was up this weekend with her friends for their annual cabin weekend.  They were up to shenanigas the craft fair was their first stop.  There were a few others but things that happen on shenanigans weekend stay up north

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There tame shenanigans was a fun afternoon crafting


We had more sock machine lessons with Amanda who is considering giving my last sock machine for sale a new home.  Stanley the sock machine went back home with Amanda after he made it through the first pair of socks with her


Murry tried her hand at using one of my other machines making her own pair.  Amy my soap making friend was showing her how to make a heel.  Murry and Amanda had fun and have a new member of their family, Stanley, as long as he does not bit anyone with his sharp needles and behaves

At the moment I have no other sock machines for sale.  Troy is ok with me having 8 resident sock machines 5 of them are on permanent display and in retirement.  Three of them are at the house working.  Then there is the hat machine and the 1890 flatbed knitting machine but those don’t count.  

When I find another machine to sell I will announce it.  Machines come with sock making lessons.  So far 4 of them have headed out my door to new homes


Rich and Gloria Snodgrass while visiting took a drive over to Cedar Falls and took some nice pictures they shared with me


Thanks for sharing, Rich and Gloria!


Once everyone left it was time to get back to work.  Raking and blowing the resort is high on Troy’s list


Steve and his buddy Chris Moran had other ideas involving power tools and making holes in things.  First thing was a door on the boat barn


Making holes!


Looking good at the boat barn!


When the table saw gets moved over to a cabin things are serious along with a pile of lumber.  

The cabins get empty and the projects start.  Bear Den has a few more things on its list this year


First up was ugly 70’s paneling removal in queen bedroom upstairs


This was the end of day one.  We shall see how far they get.  I heard this is just a short project, not taking on the window replacement til spring


Penny just wants to have a warm place to take a nap while they work


Speaking of warm places that is not at the beach this week


Yep that is ice out half way into the lake.  With more cold temps on deck for next week


Time to enjoy the fireplaces at the resort and peace and quiet as long as the power tools are not being used



Light snow and cold arrived this week making it perfect.  Perfect for what you ask?  Just wait and see


The ladies started arriving one by one setting up in Muskie for our first official Crank In at the resort.  The 1st Annual Loons At The Lake Crank In started with 15 – 20 machines and crankers set up in.  We moved out all the furniture to make room for everyone.  We spent 3 days laughing, cranking, eating and learning from each other.  The farthest traveler we had was Missouri.  Many people ask me does anyone else do what you do with sock machines and the answer is yes.  We had a waiting list of more who wanted to come but we ran out of room


Cindy above bought one of my old machines back on vacation in June and was back to learn more.  Vicki behind her was a pro who was sharing her knowledge of the ribber with the rest of us along with much more


Shari and her husband John enjoying time together and helping others.  Emily behind them was our farthest traveler from Missouri along with her buddy Hilly.  Emily was working on a Legare machine from Canada


We had several newbies stopping in like Linda above who used one of my extra machines to make her first sock.  It may be the only sock she ever makes but she did it herself and was thrilled.  Working on my first machine I ever got a 1924 Gearhart


My buddy Hilly who invented the pedals for my sock machine is next to the windows with her machine from the 20’s hooked up to her original pedals  Hilly traveled from Hanibal Missouri to join us and get the only 2 pedaling machines in the country together for the first time.  Amy is on the right side of the machine who makes all the soaps everyone in the resort has enjoyed this summer and was learning how to use her machine that she also got from me.  


Deb on the left who never had been in a room with other sock machines brought her 20’s Legare to learn from everyone.  Peggy on the right had a new machine like my red pedaling machine from Erlbacher Gearhart in in Missouri that makes about 10 machines a week at the moment.  Erlbacher has a 2 month waiting period to get one of their new machines.  So far they have put abut 1500 new machines out into the world.  4 of them were at our crank in


Christy from central Wisconsin was teaching techniques on her Legare.  A Legare is just a brand of machine just like Ford is to cars.  Christy bought her machine in January when she saw the article about my machine in Our Wisconsin Magazine.  Christy in 10 months has learned more techniques than I have in my 7 years of sock making.  She had everyones undivided attention solving the problem of dog eared toes and explaining the joys of ravelry cord.


Christy with her friend Diane could not wait to get her hands of my hat machine and try it out.  Diane works at the Nueske’s Meat store and antiques.  Many of our guests stop at Nueske’s to buy great meat on their way to the resort.  Say hi to Diane and you may see her sock machine which is now on display at the store.


Hilly giving instructions to one of our newbies who dropped in.  Pat had run into a sock machine in an auction for 95 dollars and snapped it up 3 weeks ago from 1904.  Pat was thrilled to find a group to give her a hand learning this new craft and is headed down a rabbit hole.  It was fun to see all the different tables and set ups everyone had come up with from Amy’s ladder to Diane’s antique table to Hilly and my pedal seat up.  Hilly on the left used an old treadle base for her set up.  


After day one it was time for a little wine


Wine was enjoyed and laughs and food.


Some enjoyed their wine a lot


We also had a sock machine mechanic stop in Pete Oswald with his wife Deb.  They brought back to me my 1890 Lamb flat bed knitting machine that I had tried to restore this summer.  The number of parts when I was putting it back together baffled me and I sent it off to visit Pete for a few months.  Pete cleaned it up amazingly well.  It still needs some tweaks and I have yet to learn how to use it but it is very pretty and an amazing piece of history.  Troy and I have our home work to do from Pete and will be heading to Ham Lake Minnesota in January to get Pete to fine tune it after Troy makes a 100 clips for it from wire.  Deb will be giving me some instruction on how to use the old machine and we may have it going by summer.  Time will tell


The beautiful finish and decorative painting on the machine survived the years and rust.  Pete helped me clean up the brass fittings without loosing the black finish


Thanks Pete!!!  


The ladies took a cranking break to enter Hilly’s dye shop.  Everyone got on gloves


Hilly was like a mad scientist mixing up the colors of dye


Off they went dyeing away sock tubes


I did a polka dot tube


Everyone went home with a tube to make a sock out of dyed by themselves.  The Packer colors in the middle will be Packer socks and gloves for sale at the gift shop as soon as I get them knit up.  Hilly will be dyeing Packer yarn for me in the future and you will see her yarns made up into socks in the shop from now on.  Just ask me what Hilly socks I have done when you are in the shop.  Hilly promise to keep my mail box full of special dyed yarns from Missouri that will be Hilly originals just like she is 


All good things must come to an end and so they did….


Looking forward to the 2nd Annual Loons At The Lake 2020 already!


It has been a beautiful fall.  The dog gets lost in the leaves


Late fall colors


We had a wonderful weekend with our college friends Matt and Tammy.  Matt brought his tripod cooker up and promised to make wonderful dinner and he did not disappoint   First night was chicken thighs and potatoes.  Matt calls this 5 beer chicken.  You drink 5 beers while it cooks and that is the measure of when it is done.  It was perfect




Matt caught Mack enjoying the shnibbles left over on the cooker the next morning


I had a long craft fair on Saturday and was starved….


Warming the cooker up for venison wrapped in bacon and seasoned with teriaki 


Mat getting the proper spin on the cooker that keeps everything cooking equally.  He also raises and lowers the cooker.  We may never look at a weber grill again


This was a 3 beer meal.  




Back to work taking out the pontoons.  This was colder than it looks

This week starting Monday we have 20 sock machine folks coming to the resort for the first ever crank in.  Muskie will be set up for 20 sock machines and the click clack clicking of the machines will echo through the resort.  Stay tuned for pictures.  Everyone thinks I am the only one who uses sock machines.  I have one lady traveling all the way from Missouri for Loons At The Lake 2019 Crank In

Wild pictures to come


It was a wonderful warm weekend to enjoy fall in the Northwoods

Mack was in to it


We took him for a walk on the Schlect Lake Trail 10 minutes from the resort




The volunteers at Schlect Lake are gearing up for winter with the grooming equipment out for ski trails.  They do a wonderful job keeping these trails ready for skiers.  Part of the trail is lit at night and very fun to do


This is the attachment that makes the ski tracks in the snow

There is also a roller that goes down the trail first flattening out the snow.  It is quite a process these volunteers do to keep the trails in great shape


Back at the resort Luke was learning from his grandpa Steve Peterman the ins and outs of pinball.  Luke was joining the guys for his first time in the woods grouse hunting.  Steve was beaming with three generations of his family coming to the resort with him hunting and spending time together


Steve had already left when I took this picture Sunday morning but here is the other 2 generations of the family spending a priceless weekend together


Still colors around the woods to enjoy for another week


This is always one of the prettiest maple trees in the resort




We had a snowy weekend in cold it was beautiful








We had the first snowmen of the winter visit


We had a very busy weekend at the office.  We were a stop on the Northwoods Art Tour.  Eric Peterson came up to join us and had a great set up outside the office with his awesome wood items he makes.  Eric makes the neatest swedish butter knife around.  


Eric kept the fire going for the weekend and it was the hang out spot


He spent the weekend demonstrating our magnesium fire starters and they were flying off the shelf

I realized after the three days of the tour I did not take any pics of the tour inside the office except for one


Hundreds of people through our door over 3 days and this was the only picture taken at 3 o’clock Sunday when the wine came out with the hat machine

Good weekend had by all and lots of socks, scarves, gloves, soaps and fun were enjoyed


One sock machine might have a new home as well.  Amanda Hixson is fostering Stanley for a few weeks to see if they get along.  Her husband Chris has already been bitten by Stanley but he did not draw blood.  Amanada is returning in 2 weeks for our first crank in at the resort with 15 sock makers to try out Stanley and get some lessons.  Stay tuned to see if Stanley has a new home


Sun came out after the weekend



Cabins open this coming weekend and some I am allowing 1 night rentals on that open on Saturday. Call for details or check out the website



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The colors are amazing

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The playground in full color

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Mack loved having his boys home this week.

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Even more he enjoyed a visit from his buddy Barb

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Barb brings him pig ears and he remembers!

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The guys took out the big pontoon.  Missing pic was the smaller pontoon towing this big one over as it decided it was not going to start.  We had to push it from behind up on to the trailer in a stiff wind.  Steve had to back up into the lake with his truck

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Next up was taking out the big swim dock.  Water temp was 52 degrees.  Steve could not feel his feet when he was done

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Troy enjoyed being on shore for this one

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The sock machine has been busy.  The Northwoods Art Tour is going on at the resort this weekend.  We are a stop on the tour.  The sock machines will be out in the office demoing socks. 

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We have a couple cabins open this weekend starting Saturday.  Check them out on the website just click on availability


The colors are getting brighter and brighter.  This weekend may be close to peak.  I have 3 cabins open with 2 night minimums.  We are offering specials on Muskie and Holiday for smaller groups at 180/night Fri and Sat and 165/night mid week.  Great cabins for a large or small group.  They will be 245/night up to 6 or 275/night up to 10



Taking out one of the pontoon boats I caught Jimmy and Fritz out muskie fishing in the shoreline

I did not stop and ask how it was going but Jimmy would say “Hey I am not at work and all is good”


Cruising the bay to Hilltop


One pontoon out and 3 left in for a couple more weeks


I paused to take some pics down the creek at Hilltop



The sock machine is whirling keeping up with Christmas gift shopping.  Lots of miles put on my pedals the last few weeks keeping the socks stocked in the sock shop



Give a call if you want to head down this path this weekend and enjoy the colors


It was a beautiful day in the northwoods and time to head down a trail and quit working


We headed down the Bearskin for a quick tour of the bridges


Mack along for a jaunt away to work off the bacon someone made for him this morning


Mack’s comment “I am enjoying the view and I did not mention the carmel apple you need to work off”


Nothing like the Bearskin in the fall


Back to the resort it was time to do some fire pit beautification.  Troy and Steve are working on installing a few new fire rings around the resort.  Bayview got the first one


Sunset at Birchwood