Sarah Jane Humke

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

Block(ing) party March 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 12:31 pm
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So, I finished knitting the clapotis some time ago and have yet to block it.  I know, I know… what am I waiting for???  Well, to be truthful, I was waiting for today.  Simply put, the weather outside is wretched and it’s nice and warm inside and, well, I don’t have anywhere else to be or anything else to do.  All in all, a perfect day for blocking an enormous scarf on the floor somewhere and trying to keep the cats from eating the pins holding it in place.  Seriously, Milo thinks that my blocking pins are positively scrummy from some reason!

So, here are some photos of my action packed clapotis blocking.  Try not to get too excited or I may have to restrain you.

First I gave the Clap a little bath in the sink with my Soak fine fiber wash.  I was really pleased that there was almost no dye bleeding at all because, lets face it, bleeding generally just sucks!

Then I unplugged the sink and let it drain nicely so that the wet knitting sat in there like a very brightly colored pile of over-cooked ramen noodles.  I let it sit there for a bit like this and then gently smooshed some excess water out of it.

(See what I said about super exciting?!?!  Aren’t you on the edge of your damn seats?)

Then I took it into my office/studio/study/playroom to block on the floor.  I put down towels as we are a fuzzy family and no amount of vacuuming is going to change that.  I mean, we have 2 long hairs, 6 short hairs and one who doesn’t know exactly what he is living in this house.  We are a house of fuzz.  Period.  Anyway, I put two clean towels on the floor and sort of set-up a frame with the blocking blocks that I use (actually pieces from a giant foam checkers set that I picked-up for a song this summer) and pinned the clapotis in place.  I didn’t do a hard blocking with it as I know that it tends to curl as part of its design.  I just didn’t want it to look like a big pile of multicolored hot mess anymore!

I didn’t use a ton of pins like I would if I were pinning lace because I want to avoid an emergency vet office trip with Milo.  Also, I just didn’t really feel like it needed it all that much.

Here’s another photo to give you some perspective on the size of this thing.  It’s easily longer than the loveseat that I am sitting on writing this!

(Yes, that is a bag of clean wool awaiting carding beside the clapotis.  Malcolm got into it the other night (he likes to snack on wool when he can) and thus the little tufts sticking out.  What?  You don’t have bags of wool sitting around your house?)

Ok, I’m now off to bake some cookies.  I will hopefully be able to show y’all a picture of the clap dry and worn in a few days…


Good Day March 23, 2010

So, two things happened today to make it a good day.  First thing was that I finally started my new job.  Thankfully it didn’t rain too much as I am outside all the time, except for lunch.  It was great and everyone was super friendly and understanding about the whole flat tires thing yesterday.  I think that I am going to enjoy this job (especially when it’s sunny out!)

Thing #2 was that I received a much anticipated box from my friend Malin who lives in Finland.

She tried to keep the box Finnish themed and I think that she did an awesome job of it as it looks as though nearly everything in it is from Finland.  Part of the fun of this box were the sometimes cryptic post-it’s that Malin put on everything.  The reason that I say sometimes cryptic is that some of them changed items in transit or were just stuck on the inside of the box.  However, I think that I managed to match them all up ok.

Here’s the goodies!

There were 3 odd-shaped little envelopes in the box.

Inside these little envelopes that looked as though they were made from reused paper was a trifecta of cool.

First, there was needle gauge that I have swooned over ever since I first saw one somewhere.  It’s made by Succaplokki accessories out of recycled plastic.  The post it note on it said, “Since you are living in Europe you should get used to the metric system.”  (Just an FYI, I’ve always prefered the metric system for needles and hooks.  It just makes more sense!)

The long skinny envelope contained a ruler that I think is meant to be a gauge measure.  It’s got this great little tag on it that is exactly one inch square.  Once again, recycled plastic.

The third envelope contained some seriously kick-ass stitch markers made from…..legos.  Yep, now I can play with legos even when I am knitting!  And they had these cute little characters engraved/melted into them to boot!

All of these envelopes had stamping in them.  Anytime a business uses stamping in both a practical and fun way, it earns bonus points from me!

In the box was also a super cheerful measuring tape which the note attached said, “To measure happily!!”  Indeed.

Then there was a whole PILE of Finnish candies and chocolates.  I am getting so spoiled in my chocolate consumption!

Then there was cooly designed notepad with a note saying, “To remember stuff.”

A fun knit-lit book…

A pair of super cute toothbrush holders for the hubby and I.  I had commented on Malin’s when we were at Rhinebeck.  Serious points for remembering!!

A tiny ruler on a key chain “For measuring on the go”.

An AWESOME photo album with a woven cloth cover.  I think that I am going to use it for pictures from Knit Camp:-)

There was also, of course, yarn.  First there is some 100% merino yarn that Malin spun herself from an indie wool dyer in Finland called Handu.

I love the tag that came with it.  I think that the dyer made it so that when you finished making the yarn, you could reuse the tag to tell about it.

By the way, that yarn is SUPER squishy!

Then there is another yarn that Malin described as, “A very typical Finnish yarn in a very typical color.  Aren’t we fun? 🙂 7 Brothers is the name…”  I think that I may have Finnish blood in me as this yarn is so typical for me!

The last yarn is actually 2.  It’s a mix sock duo called Waste None and it is also from a Finnish indie dyer called Lai-la-lai Yarnz.  This dyer exhausts the dye baths with some odds and ends of sock yarn and then pairs them together.  The colors are so me once again with red and grey.  I find the idea of putting two different colors together like this fantastic!  I think that I may have to try Franklin Habit’s Looking glass socks with this yarn.

And last but not least was the card that Malin wrote a little note to me on.  It featured some Finnish Grey Landrace sheep on it.  Cute cute!

To say that today sort of balances out yesterday would be an understatement.  Thank you Malin!  The box had great timing!!!  And I now have the pimpiest knitting kit of anybody that I know:-)

Oh, one last cute photo of the pups busy helping me write this post.

I love the leg sticking out the back!


LongDogMal of the Deathwa Clan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 2:53 am
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All those Joss Whedon fans out there will know what this is in reference to!


First Day at the New Job March 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 5:56 am
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It’s been that kind of day.


Random Thursday March 18, 2010

1.)These were the top search terms to find my blog this past week:

brenda dayne,  alpakka yarn tampon,  sarah mengel knitting,  london trafalgar square empty plinth,  woman knitting

I especially like the alpakka yarn tampon one.  Does make one think though.  I mean, if they now have cashmere toilet paper at Waitrose….

2.) I’m really diggin this new add for tampons (it must be a tampon kind of day!)  I like that it just totally spoofs on all those “fresh feeling” ads that we all know and love.

3.) Speaking of videos, I realize that I never posted a link to this lovely one by Pringle of Scotland.  Check it out, then watch it again.  I swear it gets funnier the more you watch it!

4.) This has been the longest that we have gone without precipitation here since last summer.  It is finally raining (it’s been at least a week) and I feel something akin to relief.  How sad is that?  At least part of it has to do with the plants needing water outside and me being lazy….

5.)  I have a new job that requires steel toe shoes.  Oh yeah, Sarah’s gonna rock the industrial look!

6.)  I am so done with spring cleaning.  However, that doesn’t mean that Spring cleaning is done with me! But at least my studio/office/playroom looks great!

My room as seen from the door.

7.) Cats and dogs sleeping in rare English Spring sunshine.

Weezy and Milo enjoying some afternoon sun.

8.) Tonight is fish and chips night at the pub.  Sort of helps to make up for the fact that I am missing hooking with the hookers…..


Black Hills March 16, 2010

On Saturday the hubby and I, accompanied by Meara the wonder dog, set off for Henley on Thames.  The purpose of this trip was to visit a new yarn shop, and to procrastinate on our spring cleaning for at least a few more hours.  What we found when we got there was an absolutely lovely shop with a great selection of different yarns that aren’t found in every yarn shop in the UK.  There are few things that annoy me more than when I go into a yarn shop here and find the same 5 brands of yarn, 3 of which I could pick-up at any John Lewis!  Black Hills Yarns had a fantastic selection of their own brand of yarn, which is 100% undyed New Zealand wool in lovely natural colors as well as quite a few other small brands of yarn with fibers including mohair, silk, angora, cashmere and possum.

I picked up a few things, mostly dithered about which color of the laceweight I should get (I ended-up getting green over my usual red as I have enough red laceweight at this point to make a lace house cosy!).  The shop is small (as most of them seem to be here) but well laid out and attractive, with good natural light at the front to make it easier to see what color exactly you are buying.

The lady working in it was quite helpful, going so far as to phone her boss to find out the answer to a question that she didn’t know the answer to.  In addition to yarns, they also sold finished sweaters/jumpers as well as washed wool and silvers for spinning.

I didn’t get any (this spring cleaning really showed me how much I really need to spin up some of my stash!) but I did fondle it a bit so can attest to it’s softness.

I got a few yarns (go figure!)…

Little Wool Co. 100% wool laceweight in "Moss"

Magic Merino For Socks by Touch Yarns in "Earnscleugh"

Jamie Possum DK. These are going to be a scarf for a Kiwi friend of mine this coming Christmas!

As I mentioned, we’ve been spring cleaning around here.  We are planning on holding the 2nd annual Easter Egg hunt for grown-ups around here as well as probably having a couple of visitors from Stateside coming to stay.  We both hate cleaning, but the results are so worth it!  However, while cleaning, the dogs did their best to distract us with their insane cuteness.

Do you really have to run that sweeper? Really?

I really like the pillowcase! It's like my own personal sleeping bag and pillow all in one!


Book Review: Knitting Around March 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 1:50 pm
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So, as I am sure that some of you astute readers of mine have noticed, this is one of the books that I got last month when I was in Chicago.  I think that I now have all of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s published books.  Knitting Around is part knitting book, part personal history with both parts deeply interwoven by EZ’s distinctive writing style which is one part instructional and many parts conversational.  Reading any EZ book is like having a talk with a good friend about life and knitting.  The patterns are all written in the EZ style, meaning that you can adapt them twenty ways to Sunday and more than likely, no two of any pattern will ever approach being the same.  The reason for this is simple, EZ wanted knitters to master knitting and not patterns, a goal I am fully behind.  As a person who approached knitting from a crochet background, it has always irked me how slavishly knitters seem tied to their patterns.  But EZ tried to break that habit with some very unconventionally written knitting books.

I mentioned at the beginning that this book is part personal history and that was (quite honestly) the part that I found most interesting.  She predates her own birth to tell us about the family that she was born into, giving us an interesting picture of the family that she was born into.  Then, going through her childhood as the oldest of 3 daughters, she tells the tale of her life through the war and her courtship to a German man.  EZ then moves into her life as an immigrant to the US and the difficulties that she and her small, then larger family faced.  Finally, we come to the schoolhouse, which is still the centerpiece of Schoolhouse Press, the business that her daughter Meg still runs to this day.  It’s a fascinating story and one that makes me glad for purchasing the book, even if I never knit a single pattern in it.

I give Knitting Around 4 and 1/2 yarn balls.