Sarah Jane Humke

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

Book Review: Sacred Hearts January 13, 2010

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So, this is the first fiction book that I am reviewing.  I’m not sure that I’m going to make a habit of it or not, we’ll just have to wait and see I guess.  However, this was another Christmas book (thanks mom!) and I have read both The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant as well.  I love books that teach you about history using a fictional character to tell the story in a human way and this book doesn’t disappoint.  The story in this book is a bit of a harder sell than the other two books I’ve read of hers simply because it is mostly about the politics of convent life in Italy in 1570.  There aren’t the rich descriptions of the day-to-day life of the city because the nuns, for the most part, were cut-off from it.  Letters and the occasional visits from family were the most that these women got.

It’s not surprising that Sarah Dunant went in this direction with this book, in the previous books, she makes it clear just how many well-bred women ended-up in nunneries against their will due to dowry pressures.  However, the setting of the book causes it to drag in places.  I found myself thinking, “enough with the descriptions of the kinda boring nunnery, move on the story already” but in the end, she does manage to pull through the story.

So, if you are looking into a historically set book about nunneries in the 1570’s (and really, who isn’t these days!) I would totally suggest this book:-)

Three yarn balls up (no knitting content at all, or it would have gotten four!)


Book Review: Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts January 4, 2010

Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts

So, here is another Christmas present book I’m reviewing (y’all had better get used to this, I got a lot of books for Christmas!).  So, disclaimer time, I love Martha.  I have been reading her magazine since I was a teenager.  Not all of the articles have always pertained to anyone except, perhaps, the very wealthy, but there is always at least one article in them that I find interesting.

So, with that caveat in place, I love this book.  There are detailed instructions for many different crafts including beading, paper folding and cutting, tin punching, soap and candle making, scrapbooking and nature crafts.  All of the instructions have a list of materials that are needed as well hints on ways to not, uh, mess-up the crafts in question.  I am really looking forward to making some bath fizzies as well as really perfecting my stitch markers for knitting with the jewelry making instructions.

There is, however, one glaring omission and that is all of the needle crafts.  There is nothing in it about crochet, knitting, embroidery, cross stitch or the like.  I have heard rumor that there is another book coming out that is going to be based around these solely and I sure hope that there is as there was nary a mention of them in this book.

Most of the crafts in this book were reasonably simple though a few did require power tools to complete.  There were a whole raft of crafts that I think could be done with children, so a good book to have if you do crafts with kids a lot.  It is also just a generally well written and well laid-out book in general.  So, all in all, 5 balls up (assuming that there is a needle craft book on the way, if not, then it’s only 4 balls!).


Wassup!?! January 3, 2010

One of the managers where I am currently working will quite often greet us worker bees with this odd-for-an-Englishman greeting.  Every time he says it it makes me laugh as it sounds so….. odd, coming from his mouth.  Just think about it for a little bit….

Not a lot has been going on in my life of recent to tell you the truth.  I can’t say that I’m really knitting anything right now other than a sock I have been half-heartedly working on for several weeks (and haven’t gotten past the ribbing). Most of the reason is heartbreak.  One day, after having had Malcolm for only a very little while, I ran over to the neighbor’s house for something.  I wasn’t gone for very long but when I came back, the little project bag that I had been keeping the lace stole in was on the floor, yarn like cobwebbing everywhere and both needles on the circulars were broken.  Mal, who lived up to his name in Latin, had removed the project bag from another bag, opened the closed drawstring top, and proceeded to try to eat my lace stole.  Long story short, I think that it is salvageable, but I’m just yet up to opening that bag and working on it yet (and I need to get a new pair of needles!).

This is the last picture taken with the stole before the unfortunate event. It was taken a couple of months ago when the hubby and I went into London to meet-up with some friends. At least the stole has been very well traveled!

I finished a scrapghan right before Christmas for the neighbors and I have another crocheted blanket in the works, but nothing that I can write about as it is for a gift.

However, I may not be knitting right now (and my poor spinning wheel is gathering some serious dust too!) but I certainly will be this summer!  I am now officially registered for classes at both Knit Nation and UK Knit Camp!!!  Here’s a rundown of what all I’m going to be learning about:

Knit Nation

SPINNING FOR LACE with Janel Laidman, ESTONIAN LACE SAMPLER with Nancy Bush (!!!) and

THE WONDERS OF WOOL: UK with Clara Parkes (double !!!).  I got into all of the classes that I wanted and I’m really looking forward to taking my Ashford Traveler on the train and tube that first morning and watching the looks on peoples faces!
Yesterday I did the sign-ups for Knit Camp and, once again, I got into everything that I wanted.
Knit Camp
The Baby Surprise Jacket with Jared Flood, Rare Breed Wools for Spinners with Deb Robson, Intro to the magic loop with Angela Davis, The Aestlight Shawl and Traditional Shetland shawl construction with Gudrun Johnston and I am also signed up for the tour of the New Lanark Mill on Wednesday afternoon.  I decided on the self-catering option for the accommodations as I am usually a pretty light eater for breakfast and lunch and since it is a University town, I figure that there are probably a fair number of cheap eats in the area.  If there isn’t, please don’t correct me, ok?:-)  Part of the reason that I am so looking forward to all of these events is that I have friends coming to my little(ish) part of the world for both of them.  Tini is coming all the way from Germany for Knit Nation and will be staying with us while she is here (since we are well within commuting distance!) and Malin is traveling from Finland for Knit Camp!   If nothing else, I am looking forward to seeing both of them again!!!
In other news… The department store that I have been working for has asked to extend my contract to work for them until the end of January.  I have decided to take it as it will not interfere with my planned trip to CHICAGO on my birthday.  Yes, the hubby gave me a trip to Chicago for Christmas so that I could go for my traditional time with my friends there (he’s so awesome!).  I’m really looking forward to the trip if for not other reason than to buy a few packages of Stovetop Stuffing which I love dearly but isn’t available here except at the costly American Food Store.  So yes, the travel for this woman (and her knitting projects) is not yet over!

Book Review: Crazy Aunt Purl’s Home is Where the Wine Is January 1, 2010

This was one of the books that I got as a Christmas present this year and I am so glad that I did. (However, I do really wish that I could get onto whatever list it is that they send you free copies of books that are coming out soon [especially yarn/fiber related books!] for you to read and review.  Anybody have an idea on that? [I would be willing to do giveaways!])

Laurie Perry’s skills as a writer have gotten even stronger since her last book Crazy Aunt Purl’s Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair which was laugh out loud funny itself.  Actually, it was more like laugh-until-you-nearly-pee-your-pants funny and her newest book is even better.  I guess that you would call it laugh-until-you-pull-a-muscle-in-your-side-and-then-pee-your-pants funny.  The hubby looked in on me several times while I was reading it trying to discern if I was laughing really hard or crying.  Seriously folks, this woman takes all that is the worst about being a single woman (and sometimes just being a woman in general) and makes you look at it, and I mean really look at it, and realize just how ridiculous it all is sometimes.  Her story about getting ready for a vacation to Hawaii literally made me laugh until I cried and anyone who has ever tried to get in shape will recognize themselves in her descriptions of her forays to the gym.

I’ve been a fan of Laurie’s Blog Crazy Aunt Purl ever since I read her first book a few years ago.  Since then, I’ve told anyone who would listen to me prattle about something like this (read: Happy Hookers crochet group) how great of a blog it is and how everybody should go out and get her books.  Or at the very least, check them out from the library.  Laurie is sort of like a much less whiny Bridget Jones (the one aspect that I always disliked about Bridget was the whiny tone she gets into often) with the much more realistic issues of cat litter (an issue that I have cussed and discussed several times myself), Target shopping (ditto) and yoga farting (haven’t hit that one yet).  I love the fact that she too has been on a date where the other participant spent more of the time on their cell phone than on conversation with the person sitting right in front of them.  At the end of this book there are knitting and crochet patterns which are mostly small projects that a beginner (or the obsessive, in the case of the rug) could easily do.

All in all, this book gets five (yarn) balls up (get yer minds out of the gutter!).  Way to go Laurie and please, don’t make us wait as long for the next one!!!