Sarah Jane Humke

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

New Additions to the Library July 2, 2016

I recently added three new books to my fiber library that I am so excited about I just had to share.

First is the book Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions by Donna Druchunas and June L. Hall.  First off, can I get a WOW just for the book itself.  Beautifully bound, well photographed and high-quality printing makes this book stand out amongst knitting books in general.  Now I’m a sucker for a knitting book that isn’t all just patterns.  I find that often the stories shared in them are just as inspiring as the patterns.  As far as I am concerned, Lithuanian Knitting sets the standard for the “Not just a knitting pattern book”  genre.  The writing is excellent as well as the selected patterns.  I cannot suggest this book strongly enough if you are interested in the history and the continuing relevance of knitting in a country known for its knitting traditions.  Get it, you won’t be disappointed.

Books 2

The second book is Icelandic Handknits by Hélène Magnússon.  This is another beautifully presented book with excellent photography and lovely printing and binding.  There isn’t as much introduction to this book, but I love the little stories within the patterns spread throughout the book.  Reading this one has made me even more excited about my very short time in Iceland in the autumn.

Books 1

The final book that I have added to my library is The Book of Haps edited by Kate Davies and Jen Arnall-Culliford.  I’m rather a big fan of most things Shetlandic, so when I saw that this book was coming out, I decided I really must get it.  It starts with a brief history of shawls and haps and how the terminology changed throughout the years.  It then moves on to patterns for various types of haps inspired by the various locations of the pattern writers.  Every single pattern is beautiful in its own way.  Some weave WAY off the path of what you would consider a “hap”, but all the patterns are completely wearable and totally lovely.

books 4


Where’s my stuff? October 3, 2011

So, all of my stuff was loaded into a container and left the London Thamesport on the 29th of September on the good ship (at least I hope it’s good!) Hoechst Express which is owned and operated by Hapag-Lloyd which is a German shipping company.  The ship is “expected” on the 20th of October in the Port of Chicago.  So if any of my peeps in Chicago see my container make sure the driver knows that they are headed to IOWA, not Ohio or Idaho:-)

To tell you the truth, I was a little surprised that my container was landing in the same city as I did.  I know that Chicago is a port because of the Great Lakes, but I still didn’t think of it.  I figured that my container was going to head into one of the big East Coast ports and travel by semi-truck cross-country.  Oddly enough, knowing that it is only going to be driven from Chicago makes me feel more… I don’t know, secure about it?

I wish that the Hapag-Lloyd site had a little map showing where the ship is now but I understand on many levels why they wouldn’t want that information out there:-)

I’m glad to have an idea of when my stuff is supposed to arrive.  I’ve been itching for my spinning wheel of late as well as my collection of ugly acrylic yarn to make scrapghans.  I stopped at the Hobby Lobby in Waterloo last week and had to physically restrain myself from getting some of their newest ombre and variegated yarns.  They were just so… special.  Hobby Lobby has their own brand of yarn called I Love This Yarn which is really quite nice to work with.  I now understand why some knitters are so hateful towards acrylic yarns as it does sometimes squeak when you knit with it but for crochet, I feel that it works better than wool blends.  Anyway, I have collected ombres and variegated yarns for years as they add a lot of color to my scrapghans and granny square blankets really quickly.  Hobby Lobby comes out with new colors a few times a year as well as special seasonal colorways (these can be most exciting!).  Going into this store can be a dangerous act from which my accounts usually suffer.  I was extremely restrained in that I only got 2 balls of cotton yarn and it was on clearance!  I figure that I need to start working on Christmas presents now that I am here and dish clothes are quite popular amongst my friends.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that it is interesting to me which things I am missing.  I’m also missing my shelf of books “to be read” as I’ve been doing a lot of reading of late.  I would’ve packed more books except for the fact that they weigh so much!  I wish I could have lined the inside of some of the animals crates with some books (in plastic baggies of course!) as they were well below 50lbs:-)  I’m not missing my clothes all that much…yet.  I have a feeling if I don’t have them by the time that snow flies I might be a tad antsy for some sweaters and sweatshirts.  The clothes that I packed are almost all causal, basically an assortment of long and short-sleeved tees and jeans.  But I can see it being a pain even in a few weeks as I only have one sort-of dressy outfit with me and I can’t wear the same thing to church every week!  I wish desperately that I had Mal’s normal wire crate.  The wooden one that was used to get him over here is much too big to be in my room and he really needs a place to be.  Once a dog has been crate trained they feel safer in their crates than they do roaming about and will settle down quite quickly often once they are inside it.  I miss my couch and ottoman as it is a really comfy place to sit.  I wish that I had packed more good writing paper as I hate using my fountain pens on normal paper (I know, such a snob!). Really, it’s been kind of surprising what I’ve been missing!

Anyway, go Hoechst Express go!  (Safely of course.)




The Package October 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 11:58 am
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Thursday I returned from a really good day at Ally Pally (I’ll write more about it later) with my friend Jon of Easyknits (LOVE the new Twinkle yarn btw) and there was a large package waiting for me in the entryway.  The return address was the retail store of the organizer of Knit Camp.  This wasn’t completely shocking as I had heard of other folks having received their zoodies.  What was surprising was the size of it and that it was much heavier than a single item of clothing would be.

So, I opened it.  Inside was the expected zoodie as well as some other stuff.  Books. Yarn. Fiber.  I’m not completely sure, but in all probably about equal to the amount that the organizer had said that she would reimburse me for Knit Camp.  And its not bad stuff; whomever filled this box did so with some consideration.  All of the yarns are in colors that I would use and like, the fibers likewise.  The books, well, I’m not sure if the person who filled this box checked my Amazon wishlist or not, but the two books were both on there.  This box was thoughtfully filled with me in mind, not just chucked full of junk.

So I’m calling it even, at least financially.  I know that I will never see the money and I would never take it now so long as there are folks so much harder off than I am because of this event.  So, it’s ok.  Not good, not great, but ok.

I do have Knit Camp to thank for a number of things.  I met a ton of new people who share my illness for the wool.  I learned just how much I could take, and still stay smiling (hint: it’s a lot).  I saw just how much someone who is having a good time and is happy can make the folks around them have a better day just for being around them (thanks yummy-mummy for that!).  I questioned the career that I have chosen for myself since it generally doesn’t involve being around people a lot, and I think that I’m pretty good at helping folks (thanks modeknit for that kick-in-the-pants!).  Not to sound all new-age-y on y’all, but I grew as a person.

There it is.  As far as Knit Camp and I are concerned, I’m done.  Knit Camp took up most of my summer, I’ll be damned if it is going to take up my autumn and winter as well!  I will still assist the tutors and employees in any way that I can to help them get what’s owed to them of course.  However, if y’all have some pictures of me there, I would love to see them!  I only took a handful of photos the entire week (it’s hard to take pictures and run at the same time!).


Totally Gratuitous Swag Shots From Shetland October 4, 2010

So, since it seems that my proper Shetland posts are going to take a dogs-life to be written (we crammed a lot into a week!) I figure that I can give you some swag shots to keep y’all happy:-)

Now, as you all know, the whole trip was arranged by Jamieson and Smith, the Shetland Wool Brokers.  So it only makes sense that I got a lot of J&S wool!


This is 3.5 Shetland fleeces from Oliver’s Special Stash for handspinners.  I’ve not taken them out yet as I don’t really have a good place to put them where the Malcolm dog won’t try to eat them.  I would like to take them out of the plastic bags photograph them and store them in a pillowcase or a cloth bag of some sort, but I am rather short of bags at the moment.  So they will stay in the plastic for the moment…

I also got some processed wool from them.  This is 500 grams of Grey Shetland tops.

And I got two of these 500 gram balls of white Shetland Superfine from them as well.  It’s really dreamy to work with…

I also got a skeins/balls of yarn (ahem!).

Firstly, I got enough yardage of J&S 2 Ply Jumper Weight in shade 81 to make Jared Flood’s Girasole Blanket, which I had gotten a signed copy of the pattern at Knit Camp.

I also got an arse load of the J&S 2 Ply Lace yarn, which I am a big fan of.  I got enough in the white to be able to do a fairly large shawl in it and a much smaller amount in the denim blue for a lace scarf.

Sorry about the seriously crappy photo.  It looks like those pictures that people post on ebay that have been done with a scanner.  However, one of the absolutely great things about the ladies at J&S is that they package your yarns and fibers like the apocalypse is coming and they want the yarn to survive it! Thus, it is packaged so well that there is really no good reason to take it out.  Except that it doesn’t photograph well:-)

Anyway, I also got a fair amount of their 1 Ply Cobweb lace yarn.  This I got in Optic, which is a tad lighter than the natural colorway.

I also gave into the siren song of the Aran yarns, buying this cone in a lovely shade of green.  Trust me, the color is much prettier than the photograph!

I also couldn’t resist a cone of the new J&S Shetland Supreme Laceweight.  I got the 2 Ply in Black.

One of the things that greeted us when we got to the hotel on Shetland was lovely goody bags from J&S and Liz Lovick.  Inside was a shade card from J&S (and I bought the other one later from Jamieson’s [though that was the only thing that I got from them!]).

Also in this goody bag was a lovely shawl pin/bookmark from Liz.

The charms on it could all be removed to be used at stitch markers.  Definitely designed by a knitter!

Our hotel was right across the street from The Spiders Web which sells hand and frame knitted items from on the island.  I got a few things there, mostly as gifts for people at home.  However, I did get one thing there for me, a hand-bound blank-book covered in Fair Isle knitting.

Next to the Spiders Web was a little shop selling all sorts of odds and ends, lots of collectibles and things like that.  However, in it there was a totally random adjustable sweater blocker, which I got despite knowing how much of a pain in the butt it was going to be to get home.

One of our favorite shops in Lerwick was the Peerie Shop, which also had (imho) the best cafe in the town at the back of it.  It was filled with quirky, gifty sort of things, but the thing that made it stand out in my mind was the amount of sheepy goods in it compared to other similar shops elsewhere.

I bought this really cool mug with all different breeds of sheep on it, including “Shorn Sheep” and “Mountain Bike Sheep”.  It’s very cute and is now holding pens and pencils by my couch in my room.  It makes me smile whenever I stop to look at it.

The shop also were selling some cotton bags with their store logo on them for a pound.  I couldn’t resist what with their logo being primarily a SHEEP!

While we were out and about there were lots of places with postcards of sheep for sale…

(Yes, I am getting quite a collection of sheepy postcards!)

Lerwick also had an awesome little bookstore with a really nice knitting book section.  I got a couple of books there.

Fair Isle Knitting Patterns: Reproducing the known work of Robert Williamson by Mary Macgregor

And Heirloom Knitting’s Shetland Hap Shawls: Then and Now by Sharon Miller

I also got another small book about Unst’s lace knitting traditions called A Stitch in Time: Unst’s fine lace knitting by the Unst Heritage Trust at the Unst museum.

The Shetland Soap Company makes lovely soaps right in Lerwick where I got a few bars.  They had these wee mini bars that will be perfect for making my yarns smell nice without taking up a lot of space.

And last, but definitely not least, is my new sheep pen:-)


When in Chicago… February 9, 2010

you get snow.  Lots of it.  This morning I awoke to an odd scraping sound from outside the window of my friend Joel’s flat (God, I sound more English when I write than when I speak [oh and Darren, not one person {and most everybody I’ve been around this trip has known me since I was a teenager} has said that I sound more British when I am speaking than before I moved to the UK.  So there!  Ha!! Told ya so!!]).  Ok, now where was I?  Oh yeah, scraping outside the window.  My first thought was that Joel’s upstairs neighbor must be planing the wood floors (was around a woodworker everyday for ten years, what can I say?).  But then I realized that the noise wasn’t coming from up so much as out so I peeked out the window and saw, much to my surprise (and not delight) about 3 inches of snow on the ground.  The scraping sound?  Why some poor dude who drew that short straw shoveling the sidewalk.  It is still snowing and it is around 3:30 in the afternoon.  There is now at least 4 inches of snow out there now and the sky keeps on looking like a winter freaking wonderland.  I am so glad that I am not flying out today as the airports here have something like 500 flights canceled or something like that.

However, I do need to leave the flat and I am using my very best procrastination skills to avoid it.  I mean, it’s one thing to trug somewhere in a freezing Chicago winter to do some shopping and have your hands freeze off while carrying it all home, but it is completely a different thing when you add snow that is deep enough to go over the top of your all-terrain shoes and get your socks and pants wet and cold.  Had I known that this was expected (and, of course, it is always expected in Chicago in February) I would have packed my welliebobs.  Alas and alack, I didn’t, so now I will have to suffer with wet socks.  Le sigh…

Anyway, enough about the snow.  Yes, I am once again in Chicago.  I think that this may be two of the closest back-to-back trips here that I have ever done.  I spent the first part of the trip at my friend Sarah’s place.  Her little guy has grown quite a lot since I was here last.  Walking was still a novelty this past August and now he’s full-on mobile.

(Ok, I know I said that I was going to stop writing about the snow but I have to break in on this.  It just started actually snowing harder than it was before!!!  Holy crap!)

Anyway, this balls-to-the-wall mobility makes Sarah’s job of making sure that he lives to 18 so that she can take up a new hobby rather more, urm, difficult, to say the least.  He can open doors.  He can climb.  And boy can he break stuff.  The kid could be a savant in the art of breaking stuff if Sarah didn’t keep such a close eye on him.  However, he’s adorable and at 1.5 years he can get away with it ok still:-)

A lot of the first few days here were spent shopping (I had nearly filled-up my extra big duffel bag by day 2!) and eating at Jimmy John’s and Chipotle.  It was fun, but how Sarah manages to take a shower, let alone do something like grocery shopping amazes me.  I mean, I was exhausted and I’m not even the mommy, I’m only the sherpa auntie!!

All of this chasing and sherpa-ing left me little time to photograph the little guy, so forgive me, there aren’t any gratuitous cute kid pictures.

However, I will throw in a cute Meara photo free of charge!

Your bonus Meara photo, taken when I was packing to go to Chicago.

A few days before I left for Chicago, I went on a bit of a shopping spree.  Since I could have it shipped here, it actually made sense for me to buy things via the internet for once.  Here’s a few of the things that I picked-up:

Some "light" ficton for the plane ride and an African Violet book that I've also wanted for a while.

Some "light" fiction for the plane ride back along with an African Violet book that I have been wanting for a while. All from a used bookstore

Some books that I ordered on-line.

A couple of the books that I got on-line.

I found these two books in a used bookstore in Joel's neighborhood. I've been looking for both of them. SCORE!!

Some more on-line purchases.

Like I said, I went on a bit of a shopping spree....

Handy, huh?

The 2 yarns on the left are Zephyr in peacock and vanilla and the cone on the right is 2/14 ALPACA SILK, all from WEBS.

The top yarn is Misty Alpaca sock yarn in Reaggeton and the bottom yarn is Lace Wool in autumn, both from WEBS

The sock yarn on the left is Frog Prince Imagination and the 2 on the right are Lumberjack Stroll Tweed, both from Knit Picks.

Some pretty beads from Caravan Beads. I think that these are destined to be a lot of stitch markers!

Garnet and Freshwater pearls, destined for really nice stitch markers!

Miyuke seed beads destined for the Evenstar shawl

Some more Miyuke beads destined for whatever shawl I make with the autumn yarn above

Fun Czech beads also destined for stitch markers

These are AWESOME for traveling. They have the detergent and fabric softener all in one handy, non-spillable sheet.

Finally found fun scoops that would fit in my flour and sugar canisters at home! Gotta love Homegoods!

A Lands End fleece top that was a birthday gift from Sarah. I love Lands End stuff so it is a PERFECT gift.

Another cool gift from Sarah. They have Angora in them!!!

Monkey slippers bought on clearance from Target. Oh how I miss Target in the UK.....

I got a lot of other stuff too, stuff that isn’t too exciting to photograph.  Like a half a dozen bottles of vanilla as well as 2 vanilla infusion kits (one was a gift from Sarah, the other I bought), about a dozen different Knit Picks needles, a couple packs of underwear, a few Eddie Bauer long-sleeved t-shirts (LOVE THEM!), and Eddie Bauer fleece vest (ditto) and stuff like that.  Oh, and a BUNCH of cotton yarn.  Cannot find cheap cotton yarn over there to save your life!

So, not really been doing a lot to speak of.  Nothing cultural at all.  Thought about going to the Art Institute today but that got put on the back burner thanks to the snow.  Mostly been hanging out with Joel the past few days:

Ladies, he's single.  Crazies need not apply.

Ladies, he's single! (Crazies need not apply)

When he’s not at work of course…

When he is at work, I hang with Yo-Yo, his large and in charge cat.

(In Barry White voice) Yeah ladies, I AM large and in charge...

Ok, one last totally random picture.  This is, I think, probably the coast of Nova Scotia from the airplane.

Doesn't that just LOOK cold?

Oh, sorry, I lied.  Two more, of Joel’s fun neighborhood.

Since these folks couldn't seem to work on the "reduce" part, they definitely took to the "reuse" part!


I (Heart) Mailman June 16, 2009

There is really nothing much better than getting real mail and the past 2 days have been most excellent for that here at The Old Chapel.  Monday I received my graduation pictures from Florida.  Still haven’t gotten my diploma yet, but that’s ok.  Anyway, I had ordered a package with four 5X7’s in it to share with the family.  I’m keeping one and the other three are going to get sent out as soon as I can get to the post office.  I also got a lovely letter from my friend Sarah Jane.  It is always just so good to get an actually snail mail letter.  Don’t get me wrong, e-mail and phone calls are nice as well but there really isn’t anything to compare to an actual hand written letter mailed to you with actual stamps.

Today, I got a package from my friend Tini in Germany.  She sent me a couple of books that she thought that I could use:



I know, I'm such a big fan of Debbie's and I didn't have this book!

I know, I'm such a big fan of Debbie's and I didn't have this book!

She also sent CHOCOLATE!!!!


Always accepted into the Chapel!

Always accepted into the Chapel!

 And to top it off, she sent the note written on the back of a Tori Amos postcard.  Does this woman have my number or WHAT?!?!


There is a package going out to her today so check out her blog to see what I sent her!

So, I did a bit of a stupid.  I sort of knit a few too many rows on my sock before I stopped to count it and now I am going to have to frog, well, a lot of rows.  Here’s what it looks like currently:


Oh well.  Now I get to learn about frogging with knitting!

Edited later to add:

Holy crap!  There were stitch markers in that package as well!  Tini mentioned them in an e-mail and I went, “Huh?  Stitch markers?  Better go check the packaging again.” and voila! there they were!  Such a cool package!


Three little stitch markers sittin' in a row

Three little stitch markers sittin' in a row


Shopping and other kinds of show and tell May 12, 2009

So, of course, I get asked right about the stuff that I picked-up at Maryland Sheep and Wool.  Ok, so I got a few things (I took a large camping sized duffelbag that was full on the return).  Here’s a sample of some of the things that I got in Maryland.


These are balls of roving that I got from a company called Bartlettyarns.   It isn’t the finest wool in the universe, but it has very cool inflections of natural colored wool through them.  Plus, it was really, really reasonably priced.


I’ve wanted to get this book ever since I heard that it was coming out.  And look!


It’s signed by the author!  


The folks from Wild Fibers were there and they were selling back issues for a great deal, 4 for $2o!  For those of you that have never heard of this magazine before it is sort of like the National Geographic of the fiber world.  Each issue takes you to new places in the world where the various types of fiber come from or originated at.  It is a very cool magazine and if you have a chance to check out an issue, I highly suggest it!


These are some pottery plant label stakes that a company was clearancing out at $.75 each.  There weren’t a lot that I was interested in but of course I managed to find a few that I could use.



These bags contain one pound each of processed fleece from Navajo-Churro sheep named (respectivaly) Isabella and Zora.  The Navajo-Churro is a very old breed which is considered “rare” in breed terms.  I got these directly from the breeder of the sheep, Walks F Acres.  I like to buy from a sheep breeder like this as I can find out about the sheep themselves and I feel like I am supporting a small business as well as help to maintain a threatened breed.  Plus, the price was really reasonable.


I got these two roving balls from the Brush Creek Wool Works.  They are a lovely blend of blue with various yellows and greens and red with yellows and blues.  I’m not sure what type of wool these are but I am pretty sure that they are some sort of Merino blend.

There are also a few things which just aren’t that fun to take pictures of.  I got some plastic cards one which came with a little wooden tool in order to figure out what type of yarn I am making when I am spinning or to just figure out what kind of unlabeled yarn I have laying around.  It’s called a Wraps per inch (or WPI) tool.  I also got a yarn classification card that has a bunch of information about the different types of yarn available.

There are some things that I mailed here as I was pretty full suitcase wise.  When they get here I’ll show pictures of them as well.