Sarah Jane Humke

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

Some fun links April 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 9:55 am

I love this collection of tote tutorials (I personally need another tote bag like I need a baby chimp with diarrhea, but if you have some spare fabric lying around…)

Ladybug Square. Cute!!

An innovative way to stop sheep rustling!

Holy Crap this looks dangerous and fun (in a shopping way!)

I will so have to make one of these someday!

I love this (my cousins never did let me play with their rockin lego collection!)

Anybody going to be in St. Paul in September???  I wish I was going to be!!!

Amen Sister!

Shaun the Sheep tutorial!

Deb Robson’s Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook is to be released in May.  It’s nearly May!!!  Yea!

Have a great day y’all!


In the between time April 27, 2011

So, in the past month I have been to both The Netherlands and Wales.

And I’ve blogged about neither of them.

Part of this is that I was total crap about photography on both trips.  On the trip to Wales, I’m pretty sure that my camera never even came out of my backpack!  I don’t know why I was so negligent about taking photos, but it felt wrong at the time.  That and on the Wales trip, I did all of the driving (not that that always stops me, but in the UK, it DOES!).

Anyway, I had a great time in The Netherlands staying with Marleen and her family.  She fed me many, many great meals…

…I slept under a starry sky each night…

and I got to help her with her workshops and stand at Breidag, which was a blast.

My pack mistressing skills put to the test!

Stall set-up is sooooo glamorous!


This was what the stall floor looked like most of the time.

Marleen’s stand had some lovely neighbors to the back.  Malia (on the left) has just opened a new craft/knitting store in Amsterdam called Penelope Craft.  The next time that I am over there, I am going to totally check it out!  She had a thorough selection of Knitpro needles and accessories as well as books and yarn and I expect great things from her bricks and mortar store!

It wasn’t all just yarn and knitting, there were a few windmills too…

And there was shopping and fun and watching kids do insanely acrobatic things on trampolines and at gymnastics practice and a little knitting and yarn and stuff.  Here’s a look at my suitcase on the way home.

What you are not seeing in this picture is the 1.5 Kilo box of chocolate sprinkles that I brought home with me!!!  Also, almost the entire right hand side of the suitcase is goodies:-)

On the way home, I “figured-out” a way to get the knitpro interchangeable needles off the wires to go through security without having to find the little caps for the ends (which I didn’t have handy) for my wip (which is Marleen’s kaleidoscope vest just so you know) by using a simple little safety-pin.

Here’s a closer picture:

I’m sure that someone else has figured this out by now, but it came to me independently as I was using the safety-pin to unscrew the needles.  Yet another reason to have a couple of safety pins floating around in your baggage!

A few days after I got home, I received this in the mail:

I got #81 out of 1000 of the Fyberspates Limited Edition Royal Wedding Yarn!  This is super cool because, as Veronica explained to me while at Wonderwool Wales, 1981 is the year that Charles and Diana got married.  She managed to score #429 (4/29 aka April 29th, the big day!).  So yeah, we were/are  pretty dorky, but it is still cool!  And, it’s a super pretty yarn to boot!  I’m not sure if I am actually going to knit with it or just keep it as a souvenir of the wedding.  Way nicer than a mug in my opinion:-)

I was home for about 4 days before I took off again (and this time with the car!) for Wonderwool Wales.  Had a great time.  I do enjoy this show a lot as it is spread-out.  There is space in the aisles between the stalls for people to walk, and space for the event to grow too.  It’s held at the Royal Welsh Showgrounds in Builth Wells which has a LOT of other buildings and space for the event to grow.  I didn’t take a single picture of the whole weekend or of any of the goodies that I bought (not a lot btw).  Veronica and I had a lovely weekend.  Our B&B was in a wonderful village full of restaurants that were a little higher class (and cost) than we were looking for.  We ended-up going low-brow with some pretty decent pub grub from a pub just down the street.  We escaped prior to the Karaoke starting.  The next day we drove over to Stratford-upon-Avon and visited a bunch of the Shakespeare properties.  One I hadn’t yet been to was the Mary Arden’s house, which purported to have sheep(!)  and other animals.  It did, indeed, have sheep and other animals and it was a perfect day to see them.

Since then, I’ve been keeping busy.  I’ve finally gotten around to washing the collection of greasy fleeces that I had marinating in the attic.  I started with the Shetland fleeces, moved through a really, really rank Leicester Longwool, and have been playing with a fun colored BFL.  It takes a lot longer than it did in the States for a few reasons.  In the states, I had a top loading washer and a BIG hot water heater.  Here, I have a not-very-practical front-loader with no good “spin-only” cycle and a teeny-tiny hot water heater.  It’s so teeny-tiny, it makes the lovely jacuzzi tub that we have upstairs sort of silly as you can’t get it filled-up with hot water before it runs out and starts giving you straight cold water.  Anyway, I’ve been doing it in a group of garden trugs that I bought specifically for this purpose in that great big tub upstairs and, now that it is warm and sunny, I’ve been drying them outside on some mesh driers out of the reach of Malcolm, the fleece lover.  This has made for a rather stinky upstairs at times though luckily it was nice enough to open the windows for the worst of it.

For some reason that I cannot figure out, we have a large dog bed in this bathroom.  For a reason that I do know, the dog bed has become the defacto fleece sorting pen.  Some of these fleeces have been sandy/peaty and there is white carpet in the bathroom.  Weezy likes to sort of bury herself amongst the fleeces while I am working on them.

See, very professional!  The net bags are mostly from the US, but I picked-up a couple here too.  I’m not sure that I will ever take a bath in that tub again….

Another thing that I’ve been working on in conjunction with the hubby is a pair of baby blankets for the neighbor.  Her niece just had twins this morning and she asked if I would make blankets for them.  I took a big pile of books over for her to look at and she picked-out the pattern that she liked and the yarn and then I made them.  I used stash yarn and they were pretty standard crochet squares.  The hubby sewed them all together for me as I made them and then I crocheted the border on.  They went quite fast, I think we worked on them for about a week and a half total.  Good thing too as I finished them yesterday afternoon!

I couldn’t have gotten them done so quickly if the hubby hadn’t done the sewing-up.  That’s the part of all projects that I detest and usually the reason that the project takes so very long….


The best kind of birth control April 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 6:52 pm
Tags: , , ,

When I was in my early 20’s, my mother made a joke about the fact that my dog, Micheal, was the best form of birth control* she could have ever wished upon me.  It was probably closer to the mark than even she realized at the time.  I mean, think about it.  I was already working full-time plus (averaging around 60 hours a week for YEARS) and having a dog, well, having a dog settled me in so many ways.  I bought a house because I had trouble finding a decent place that would allow pets.  This house came complete with super nosey older neighbors (so not a lot of “sleepovers” if-you-know-what-I-mean).  No partying all night for me, he needed to go out to pee pretty regularly.  However, Micheal’s biggest claim to birth-control status was his ability to act like an obnoxious teenager at the absolute worst possible times.  His favorite trick (and only trick outside of sitting) was to check every single square inch of the fence to find weak points, which he would then push and push at until he was able to escape.  This is a very annoying trick, sort of like the teenager that escapes out the bedroom window in the middle of the night.  He would then run around the neighborhood getting into trouble.  Pretty much everybody within a 6 or 7 block radius knew both of us, usually because I’d wave at them as I chased Micheal through their backyards cursing him out in every language that I knew.

Micheal pulled some pretty cute stunts in his time.  Once, he snuck into a neighbor’s house via their dog door.  I knocked on the front door to ask them if I could come in and get my dog and they said, “we don’t have your dog!” while Micheal wagged his tail right behind them.

However, most of the time it was a lot less cute and a whole lot more annoying.  Many times I chased him around the neighborhood for hours in the dark only to give up to go to bed exhausted at midnight and he would start barking and howling in the middle of the street right outside my house.  This is sort of a doggie equivalent for getting a call in the middle of the night from the cops that your kid was found drunk at a party outside of town.  If this is how much trouble and expense a DOG is, then I wanted nothing to do with a baby.

Today I had a very bad walk with the dogs.  Meara found some seriously nasty poo to roll in and when I threw her in the ditch to rinse her off (as I usually do when she rolls in poo) she swam to the other side and wouldn’t swim back.  When she finally did after much cajoling, she promptly ran away from me like I was the devil, making me feel like shit.  Then Malcolm did a very bad thing which I won’t elaborate on (he didn’t hurt a sheep) but by the end of it I was nearly crying and out of breath and so angry and screaming that he went to the other person on the walk as he was scared by me.

I came home, still very, very upset and one of my first thoughts was, “I would make a terrible mother.”

My next thought was, “Ohshutthefuckupwiththatlineofthought he’s a dog!!!“.

I don’t know why I, so often, find myself extrapolating experiences out and finding fault with my ability to mother children that I do not have. I mean, I know people who have the best behaved dogs on the planet that I would never in a million years want to have children (and visa versa, but that’s another story altogether!).  A friend of mine once told me that kids were, in some ways, a little easier than dogs (she had 4 kids and 4 dogs).  Eventually, the kids grew-up, but dogs stop at around 3 years old (when compared to children).  You cannot reason with a dog like you can with an older child.  Dogs do not have an extremely good sense of cause and effect (except, for some reason, when treats are involved, then they become bloody geniuses!).  Dogs are centuries of breeding for specific tasks (usually some sort of hunting or herding) and we anthropomorphize them into becoming substitute humans.  They are animals with their own agendas, not always in sync with ours, and usually fueled by instincts that they can no more control than we can control our need for oxygen.

Still. Pretty decent birth control if I say so myself.  Having pets has made me think, perhaps more than I should, about the level of responsibility that comes along with being fully accountable for another life.  And dealing with the messes that that other life can create.

*Micheal would also kick all men who entered the house in the nads as a way of greeting.  This is also a pretty effective birth control come to think of it!


Avoidance April 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 2:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I am trying to avoid housework.  This has taken me to such a level that I decided to catalog all the different breeds of sheep fleece that I have currently, both processed and raw.  It wasn’t as big of a list as I had thought it would be…


Blue Faced Leicester (colored)-Raw Fleece

Cheviot-Both raw and tops

Corriedale (black)- tops

Falkland- Tops

Finnish Landrace (asst. colors)-Cleaned wool

Hebridian- Tops

Jacob (asst. colors)-Cleaned Wool

Leicester Longwool- Raw Fleece

Merino-Processed every way imaginable

Navajo Churro- Cleaned Wool

Shetland-Raw Wool and Tops

Wensleydale Longwool-Tops


Remind me if you see me at Wonderwool Wales trying to get any of these breeds please:-)

(BTW, plan on washing the raw fleeces next week!  Should be fun!)