Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

WIP’s and FO’s July 27, 2009

So, I haven’t shown y’all a lot of what I’ve been doing of late and I think that it’s about time that I rectified that.  

First off, I finished the cabled embrace scarf.  It turned out nicely but I was just sooooo glad for it to be done already!  It wasn’t difficult once you got the knack of the cables.  I finished it one of the nights that Jiji was so sick and I was staying up with her.


I’m working on another scrapghan while sitting watching Buffy and Angel on DVD.  Yes, it’s another biggin!

Hanging from the 2nd story walkway

Hanging from the 2nd story walkway

The grey sock gets worked on sporadically.  It just feels like a good travel project of late (since everything else has gotten so big by comparison) and I haven’t been doing a whole lot of traveling.


The Feza scarf is still getting worked on but I feel as though it is at the point that the Cabled Embrace scarf was for some time.  Basically, it seems as though the yarn ball isn’t getting any smaller no matter how much I work on it.  It’s a pity that the black hole of yarn that this “extra” yarn is coming from isn’t in existence all the time!  One ball of yarn for any project.  then of course, yarn store owners would just charge a lot more for that one ball I suppose….


I quickly crocheted a strap in recycled sari silk to replace the the strap that came with our Nikon camera.  Neither of us were comfortable with the length of it nor really the material.  It’s turned out fine until I went to wash and block it a little bit.  The water turned a bad shade of purple and smelled bad.  So I washed it more properly with Soak and it still smelled bad and there was even more purple in the water.  Now this yarn sort of smelled vaguely like straw when I got it.  That’s ok.  I like the smell of straw.  The smell after it got wet was nasty chemical yuck.  Between the idea of having a purple neck after sweating while having the camera on me and the thought that whatever made that nasty smell isn’t coming out of the yarn I am having to put this project on the backburner.  I’m thinking about trying it again only in some Noro Silk Garden, I’ll let you know how this turns out..


Last but not least is the Cesar and Pam blanket.  This one is still in sewing-up stage as I can only sew for about a half hour or so before I get a splitting headache.  Time for bi-focals maybe? Anyway, it’s because of this that this blanket is moving so damn slowly.  I’m not sure why I don’t get these headaches when I’m doing the other stuff but I suspect that it is because I don’t have to stare at them quite so much as I do when I am sewing.  As lovely as this blanket is going to be I am going to be SO GLAD when it is done (which needs to be before I go back to Florida).

I used an old photo here as Meara is SO DAMN CUTE!

I used an old photo here as Meara is SO DAMN CUTE!

I have still been spinning the Romney/Rambouillet fleece.  I am getting finer and finer to the point that some of the two-ply is pretty close to laceweight! 


That’s about it for now. 

(BTW  Listen to episode #84 of Cast On with Brenda Dayne as both the hubby and I are both mentioned on it.  How cool is that?!?!)


Narrow Boats July 26, 2009

Yesterday, the Hubby and I went to the Linslade Canal Festival.  It was a lot of fun seeing all the different organizations that had stalls set up to educate the public as well as sell everything from alpaca blankets (no I didn’t get any even though it was a really good price) to food to stuffed animals and pretty much everything in between.  There were also artisans there selling their varied wares as well.  There were folks who did the traditional painting that is found on the narrow boats (think Swedish flowers) as well as folks who made baskets and chairs and even a boat-bound blacksmith!


Lamas on call!

Lamas on call!


Turning a leg for a stool with a foot powered turning device.

Turning a leg for a stool with a foot powered turning device.


There was even a New Orleans style band playing on the bridge!

There was even a New Orleans style band playing on the bridge!


Gardening on the go

Gardening on the go


The floating blacksmith

The floating blacksmith


Boats were, of course, everywhere

Boats were, of course, everywhere







One of the funniest things that we saw was a bucking sheep, much like the bucking broncs that you see in western themed bars except that is was a wildly grinning ewe.



(Man, I totally dig this country!)

It was a fun few hours out and cheap as well as the only thing that we had to pay for was parking.


Bloomin’ Bathrooms! July 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 5:31 am
Tags: , ,

I just thought that I would share with you the windowsills in the bathrooms in the house.  

The first is the upstairs bathroom:



The second is the downstairs:


Who says it can’t “smell like flowers” when you’re done?


Insulin Anyone? July 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 8:27 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

This has been a seriously rough weekend here at The Old Chapel.  Jiji, the cat that my husband had when I first met him, became quite ill on Thursday night.  She stopped eating and was quite lethargic so I stayed up all night with her trying to get her to eat and drink every half hour or so.  On Friday I took her into the vet where they put saline under her skin and gave me some more to take home to keep her hydrated while we awaited the results of the blood tests that they took while we were there.  That evening Tech Support stayed up with her, both of us thinking it was a death vigil as her condition had worsened despite the massive amounts of fluids injected into her.  On Saturday we got the results from the vet and they were really surprising to us.  Jiji seems to be diabetic, which accounted for all of the symptoms, even ones which we didn’t perceive as such like the fact that she had lost a lot of weight over the past year.  We had to take her straight to the local ER vet (I am NEVER bitching about how far the ER vet in Casselberry was every again!) where they put her on a drip IV and started trying to get her blood sugar back down into a safer range.  She spent Saturday night there and we were able to pick her up again Sunday afternoon and bring her home.

She’s getting better slowly.  We know that she has more energy as she’s been bitching about the diet food that they put her on and rambling about the house some more.  This disease means that she will get twice daily shots just under her skin for the rest of her life, which she is dealing with admirably.  

I’m just happy that this isn’t being written with tears streaming down my face…



Things I Miss July 21, 2009

The other night I was asked by someone at the Click and Clack knitting group that I was at what I missed about the US.  The first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “parking lots”.  Yes, parking lots.  I know that that sounds kinda trite but it isn’t like I don’t miss my friends and family, it’s just that parking is a daily issue that is even more of an annoyance since getting the new car.  Anywhere you go you have to plan out a parking strategy in advance, there is no swinging into a mega sized parking lot outside of a mega store where you can get everything that you may or may not need.  The parking spaces are also sized quite differently since space is at such a premium.  Instead of being able to park a Hummer  you could park a hummingbird.  The smallest parking spaces labeled, “Compact Cars Only” in the US are still larger than the normal sized parking space here.  It just makes it more time consuming and frustrating to do, really, anything, that isn’t at home or within walking distance.

Odd things tend to hit me.  I miss JoAnn‘s with a vengeance on a regular basis.  It’s exasperating how difficult it is to find fabrics or buttons or beads that are cool.  There just isn’t any selection like I am used to anywhere and you have to visit multiple shops (see the above parking issue) to get everything that you need for a project.  Admittedly, it helps keep some money in the bank account but it still frustrates me.

Another issue that is seriously looming is the lack of clumping cat litter here.  We just put the final grains of Tidy Cat from the last of the buckets that I stockpiled before moving into the litter box and there is really no reasonably priced clumping cat litter that we have found here to replace it.  The word on the street is to use chicken crumble as it clumps together pretty well and is reasonable inexpensive but it just seems so wrong.  

I miss Target with a vengeance.  Markets are all good and well until you have to schlep 30 pounds of cat and dog food hither and fro while you finish your shopping since the car is a Sherpa’s life away.  Maybe it is a good thing that we can’t find clumping litter here as it would end-up making my arms rip off!

Boring roads that aren’t very twisty-turny are an odd thing to miss but I do.  It’s nice to be more worried about the wildlife that I may hit (including humans on SOBT) than driving off of the road constantly.   I miss store clerks asking if they can help you when you walk into a store, not just look at you like you are annoying them by wanting to buy something.  

I miss our vets, they are awesome. (With 6 animals, you do miss the vet.  Really)

Being able to understand people on the phone is a daily issue.  I know that it is in theory the same language but on the phone it sure as hell doesn’t sound like it.  I miss being able to call people without it being a huge issue.

I really, really, really miss my Hookers.  I think that Thursdays are the hardest day of the week for me as I know that I won’t be seeing them at the end of the day.  The other groups are nice but definitely not the same, not even close.  Sure they may talk about penises, but they are just so damn polite about it even when they are being bawdy.  I miss my rowdy band of Happy Hookers more than I could have imagined.


On the positive side, the weather is great!


Most of the time…


Making the Case July 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 1:01 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

One of the things that has been “made” recently has been a Knitpicks/Knitpro case for my Symfonie wood and Nova interchangeable circular needle set as well as for the DPNs.  The set came with a nasty vinyl case that stuck together and smelled funny and was sort of hard to find anything in and was already really full feeling with out the DPNs or the Novas in it.  

So, my lovely husband decided to take up the challenge.  He has sewed a lot in the past and now that we have a sewing machine it really isn’t a big deal.  So I looked around for fabrics that I liked and I found a quilting cotton at Hobbycraft  for the inside and a heavier almost cotton duck at IKEA for the outside.  The hubby and I discussed strategy and he came up with the first one.  It was perfect except that the cotton fabric on the inside was just too thin and literally started falling apart.  

The first case with the too thin fabric

The first case with the too thin fabric

At Woolfest there was a lady selling odds and ends of woven woolen cloth.  Pretty heavy stuff, really quite nice for a pound so we bought it in order to take another try at making this case.  We also got some really cool buttons from the button lady and we were back in business.  Here is what it looks like now…

The current version in wool.

The current version in wool.

The outside of the case all folded up

The outside of the case all folded up


With it's current closure method

With it's current closure method

I’m thinking about making a matching project bag from the leftover IKEA material.






I know he’s awesome and no you can’t have him……


4th Plinth Knit & Spin July 16, 2009

Monday I went into the city and sat in Trafalgar Square knitting with probably about 20 other people.  

For those of you who do not listen to Brenda Dayne of Cast On or do not live in the UK currently I am going to give you a quick tutorial as to why I did this.  There is an art exhibit currently on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square.  Now, the fourth plinth is empty so that the art on it can change.  During different times of the year there will be statues or other interesting things hanging out on it for a few months before something replaces it.  There are 3 other plinths in the square and each of them have permanent statues on them of the standard statue type.

Currently, on the 4th plinth there is a rather extraordinary art project called One & Other (do click on this link, there is live feed 24 hours a day as to what the folks are doing up there!) going on.  What it does is gives normal everyday Brits the chance for an hour on the plinth to do whatever they damn well want so long as it is within the law.  In addition to spinning and knitting last night, I saw a person dressed in a gorilla suit, a guy grilling food and throwing it down to the people below and a woman trying to raise awareness about the discrepancy between funding for mens’ sports versus womens’.  People are chosen for this honor by the use of a lottery that is supposed to chose by random selection according to your postcode.  What this means is that in theory an equal number of people will be chosen from Guernsey as from London.

Marian Cinnamond taking to the Plinth

Marian Cinnamond taking to the Plinth

There are cameras all around it as well as a net

There are cameras all around it as well as a net

Last night there was a knitter at 6pm up on the plinth and a spinner at 10pm.   The folks at IKnit sent out an e-mail about it as well as Brenda Dayne podcasting about it.  So, with that much armtwisting encouragement there was no way I couldn’t go!  I got there right at 6 and there were a few groups of knitter sitting about but of course no one that I knew.  So, there was an open spot on one of the benches and I asked if it was free and sat down.

Can you tell that I am trying really hard to concentrate on my knitting and not freak out because BRENDA DAYNE is sitting 2 feet away from me?  (In the white top)

Can you tell that I am trying really hard to concentrate on my knitting and not freak out because BRENDA DAYNE is sitting 2 feet away from me? (In the white top)

The knitters that I met were mostly from London, but some were from all over Britain.  Brenda Dayne was there and was in fact one of the knitters on the bench that I sat down on.  Everybody was very fun to talk to and there was even some folks filming for a documentary about rare breeds of sheep and how their wool is used.  For a little while we all went to a nearby pub for a drink (and to get out of the ever increasing chill) and commandeered a corner of it for knitting and crochet.  We then went back at 10 to cheer on Alix as she spun up on the plinth for all to see.

It was a very cool night and it was really an honor to meet Brenda Dayne in the flesh.  

Of course, as usual, I forgot to bring the camera so all photos were taken with the camera phone….

Now, I promised pictures of the yarn that I have spun recently and here they are.

First is the on purpose crazy random chunky yarn that I spun out of some merino tops that I got last year at the Handweavers Studio.  I mixed them together on the drum carder and just had some fun with them.


I think I shall name it "Peacock"

I think I shall name it "Peacock"


Next is the yarn that I spun from a batt that I got while in Coventry for the UK Ravelry day at the Fyberspates booth.  It turned out a lot more mellow than I expected but quite pretty.


You can't really see the sparkles in it at all in the photo

You can't really see the sparkles in it at all in the photo

I’ve also been spinning up one of the fleece from Rhinebeck like crazy as well.  I’m not really pleased with how it is plying in a two ply so I may try a three ply or even Navajo ply it.



My WIP’s are coming along.  The sock gets worked on whenever I can’t bear to work on the scarf anymore (it is starting to get to that part where it has gone on forever and it seems that there is still most of a ball of yarn left).  The blanket for Cesar and Pam gets sewn on whenever I can but it gives me a headache if I do it for too long so it is moving slowly as well.