Sarah Jane Humke

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

Doctor Strangelove April 6, 2012

Today I made an appointment for little Miss Sweetie Pie to get spayed next week.  Since it is warming up rapidly, I want to get her out of my room!!!!! She is a teensy bit destructive and annoying and I am tired of being scratched and bloody (it’s how she shows her affection… purr, purr BITE!). However, I can’t put her outside in her current state as I’m sure that she would be preggers faster than you can say, “What’s your sign baby?”.

What are you lookin' at?

In other news, I will be attending my first fiber festival since being back Stateside.  It’s called Shepherd’s Harvest and it’s held in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  My mom is going with me and is thinking about taking a weaving class while there.  I’ve never gone to this festival before and I’ve never gone to a fiber event with mom, so this should be interesting on several different levels!  I heard about it because Deb Robson tweeted that she is going to be there and I plan on catching her talk on Saturday night.

I have been hooking and knitting, but that crazy thing called “having a full-time job” has seriously cut into my crafty time.  (Not that I am complaining, I am very happy to have gainful employment, it just means that the crafty doesn’t flow quite a quickly as it was!)  I finished this scrapghan this weekend.

It’s a little different from my usual version in that I experimented with fringe.  I think that it adds a bit of a playful aesthetic to it, but I doubt that I will do it again.  It just got in the way a lot and was really time-consuming in the end.  It’s going to be raffled off by the Ackley American Legion Auxiliary in the coming months as a fundraiser.

Remember this?

I thought for sure that it was headed for the frog pond because I couldn’t find any more of the red yarn.  I looked in Michael’s and JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby and not one of them carried this particular shade of red.  Guess where I found it.  Wal-Mart.  I detest going into that store, but it’s really the only thing sort-of local and while I was in there looking for something else I just moseyed down the yarn aisle and there it was, bright as day, just sitting there!  It’s a good thing I really didn’t want to rip it out as now I have enough yarn to finish the blanket!  Woot woot!  And, I am planning on taking a little weekend trip out to Chicago to see Sarah and her crew in the next few weeks so hopefully I will have it finished by the time I get there and can give it to the little guy in person.  Just in time for summer…


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 Exodus to Iowa September 24, 2011

On Tuesday at around 2am GMT we awoke to get the proverbial “show on the road”.  The cats were all duly corralled and crated and the car was loaded with baggage and animals.  Driving to Heathrow at that hour of the day is quite easy which is probably a good thing as we had a car full of cats!  We get down to the Heathrow complex and the first one to get dropped-off is Malcolm.  Since he is so big, he had to go cargo in a special custom crate.  The paperwork to go back to the US was laughably easy compared to the ream of paper that I had to manage on the way into the UK.  Anyway, Malcolm’s crate was waiting for us as was promised by the shipping company with everything set-up for him.

The funnels run to little hoses that go down into his 2 water dishes attached inside.  Mal wasn’t happy about us leaving him like this and to tell the truth, I wasn’t all that in love with it myself as the lady at the desk seemed to have never shipped a live animal before and was very unsure of what was going on.

However, we still had 5 more to get checked-in so we kept on going.  At this point, it is a little after 4 am GMT.  We get over to the airport terminal and decide to park and load everyone’s crates onto trolleys and push them into the terminal.  We get a primo parking spot and took a moment to run the 2 little dogs downstairs and let them pee on the grass before making a little caravan of trolleys and rolling suitcases into the airport.  I’m glad that it was so early as it wasn’t nearly as busy as it could have been.  Had it been busy, getting into the airport would have been hell.  As it was, it was just a serious pain-in-the-butt.  So we arrived as instructed by United at around 4:30am GMT only to find the desk where we had to check-in closed.  Doh!  So, we just sort of camped-out for a bit, trying to calm the animals as much as we could in an international airport.

Finally the guy that was running the desk shows-up and issues us all the stickers and paperwork that we need and instructs us to go to desk Y at 6:30 to check the pets in.  I get my baggage, in all it’s duct-tapped glory, dropped-off and now it is time to wait.

I decided to get the security stuff going a little early, so I went over to Desk Y at 6:15.  Mind you that my flight was leaving at 7:55am.  So we get over there and I am glad that we started a little early as we had to take each pet out of their crates and they swabbed the inside of the crate with one of those wands that have a little bit of white fabric looking for explosives.  The guy doing it was nice enough, but the room wasn’t secure at all and the pets could have easily gotten away from us into the main airport.  However, no bombs were discovered (they clearly didn’t check Weezy’s butt!) and I left the pets there to go through security myself.

Once through security I discovered that the gate for my flight had already been called.  I had just enough time to find a diet coke in a WHSmith and hustled my butt down to the gate (which was a loooooong ways away [are there any close gates at Heathrow? I swear that some fold in the time/space there makes every single gate at least a mile away from security]) where I barely sat down and they started boarding.

It was a pleasant surprise to find that the 747 that I was on was sparsely populated.  I had the entire middle row of 4 seats to myself.  This is probably a good thing as the cough that I had been fighting for the past several days was kicking my ass at this point, with me hacking helplessly every few minutes.  Had the plane been full, I feel that they might have put me in a bubble or something.

The flight was uneventful, marked only by the random meals that they served us every few hours and the one truly horrid movie that they showed us (the rest were ok, there was just one humdinger of a bad one in the mix) which I didn’t catch the title of to warn you off.  My voice was mostly a horse croak by the time I was on the airplane, so the flight attendants all had a hell of a time hearing me in the cabin.

The plane landed more or less on time and I toddled-off down to immigration to get my passport stamped and then to the luggage carousel where the bags were already circling.  I then located the pets, all in a row of crates waiting for me in the over-sized luggage area.  This was great, except for the fact that I couldn’t find a porter anywhere to help me move them!  So I walk away from the 5 little pets to try to snag a porter and they all start yowling.  Weezy was the worst with her high-pitched yips making it sound as though I am murdering her a little bit more with every single step I took away from her.

Finally a porter is located and we load-up all the pets onto the big carts that he had and we go over to the CDC “desk”.  I say “desk” but really it was a door with a doorbell next to it which the porter kindly pushed for me.  Out came a rangy woman with short hair who gave all the pets a cursory look and asked me where I had flown from.  When I replied London, she waved me away stapling a slip of paper to my customs form.  When I asked her if she wanted to see their rabies vaccination stamps in their pet passports, she said that since I was from a rabies free zone it wasn’t necessary.  All of the work that I did to make sure that the dogs were all up to date on their rabies and I didn’t even have to pull-out a single piece of paperwork to get them into the US.

Retrieving my bags and pets in the luggage area took all of 20 minutes.  Unfortunately, I had figured that it would take a couple of hours given the experience that I had on the way into the UK.  Thus, when the porter rolled me through the rest of customs and out into the lovely Chicago morning I was earlyI called my brother only to find out that he was running late. The porter kindly rolled me out to the dog relief area where there was another dog playing that had just flown from Korea.  We parked my bags and all the carriers near the small fenced-in “relief” area and I got Meara and Weezy out.  My brother had said that he was about 40 minutes out, which translated to more like an hour plus by the time he got there.

The two of us got the pets loaded into the cargo van and off we went to find the United cargo terminal which had already called the farm twice.  I had been told that there would be an up to 4 hour processing time for the Malcolm cargo, but like the rest of the pets, he was through within minutes and waiting for me to come get him.  When I got there, they brought him to the loading dock on a forklift with a pallet underneath.  It was funny to see this dog being carried around on a forklift.  I took Mal out of the crate before my brother and one of the cargo guys loaded it into the van so that I could let him pee on some grass nearby.  A more grateful look has never been seen coming from Malcolm nor a longer pee.  However, his time in the crate was only coming to a middle, as it was deemed unsafe to allow him to walk around the back of the van as he could easily have fallen when turning corners or coming to a stop.

The drive home was quiet, marred only by the increasingly frequent barks of my cough.  Since it was pretty loud in the cargo van, and my voice was little more than a croak at that point and as my brother isn’t exactly loquacious at the best of times there wasn’t a lot of chatter.  Meara and Weezy sat on my lap the entire time looking out at the countryside unfolding around us and eventually falling asleep.  The cats pretty much kept quiet, too exhausted and freaked-out at this point to do much more than the occasional yowl.

We crossed the Mighty Mississippi in the afternoon.  Some day I am going to have to explore the area around there some more as it looked quite interesting.

We made it home after nightfall where mom had dinner waiting.  The dogs were happy to be out of the van and eventually the cats got settled into my brother’s basement with a full complement of cat food, water and liter to keep them happy.  All three cats hid as soon as released from their kennels, which is totally normal.  The dogs and I then went back out to the farm for the night.

One of the things that I was happy to see was the performance of the quickly improvised water dishes that we made for the pets.  On the way to the UK the airline had only required 1 water dish per crate.  United required 2, one with the water frozen in it and one that was empty for filling right before the flight.  Unfortunately, we found out that pet travel dishes are not a common thing in UK pets stores for some reason.  We were told, “order it on the internet” which didn’t help us at all as there was no time.  So, off to B&Q (a home improvement store much like Home Depot) we went and finally came up with this:

On the right is the store-bought water dish and on the left is the improvised one out of a pasta sauce container.

We used cable ties to secure an adjustable hose clamp to the side.  Our thinking was that if the clamp was too big for the container we could just adjust it down to fit.  Alas, these clamps fit the sauce containers perfectly straight off the shelf so no adjustment was needed.  If anything, I think that the rigged water bowls worked maybe a little bit better than the manufactured ones!

Things are going ok here.  The dogs have been up quite early every morning.  The first night they were up at 2am, the next 3.  Last night they allowed me to sleep until 5am.  One doesn’t think about animals having jet lag but mine have absolutely been dealing with it and thus so have I.  Hopefully someday in the near future they will allow me to sleep until 7am once again.  I think it will be heaven:-)  The dogs are also adjusting to new rules and to other animals.  There are farm cats roaming outside the house that Malcolm thinks have been sent to torment him.  Standing on the back of the couch, he whined to get at those audacious cats for an entire day and a half.  My dad isn’t terribly keen on having the dogs here, so we have to stay out of his way as much as is possible.  Weezy is absolutely baffled by the fact that someone doesn’t love her and want her on their lap!  She sort of looks at my dad with a cocked head as if to say, “What is wrong with you?!  I am adorable! Love me! Love me! Love me NOW!”  Meara rolled in stinkyness two days in a row which I then had to shower-off of her.  Today was the first day that I’ve managed to not have to bathe her.  I’ve been taking them on mini walks several times a day out into the grove and back.  The fields all around us still have their corn and beans in them so there isn’t really a wide open space that I can let Malcolm really run yet.  However, they started chopping corn in the field across the road so I think that by the weekend we will have a place for him to run.

I’m happy to be home, but it’s also been rough.  I’m looking forward to a time when I have a job and a place of my own again.  I know that transitions are always difficult and that I will get through this eventually, but it doesn’t make the here and now any more fun.


Moving Home September 6, 2011

The time for me to leave England is drawing near.  This September I am moving back to Iowa where I grew-up to be closer to my family and to get to live in the Midwest of the US again.  I have wanted to move back for at least the last 10 years, just couldn’t do it for one reason or another.  The time has come where I don’t really feel like I can put off this move any longer for a variety of reasons.  I will be moving back to the States alone as my husband is staying here along with Jiji the cat.  I will be taking the other 6 members of the family home with me.

This move is a major reason for the silence of this blog for a while.  It was hard to write anything without mentioning it in one form or another as it has been influencing what I’ve been doing for the past couple of months.  I’ve spent a lot of time researching and generally getting things ready for this.  There is a lot to do, including scrubbing an absolute TON of clay pots and giving away the plants that resided in them as well as buying all the needed crates for pet movement (Mal’s is HUGE) and checking on the various rules and requirements.  In some ways the trip back to the US is easier.  The pets need a lot less paperwork.  However, it is more expensive, something a tad more than double.  The reason is that on the way here the numbers that we were dealing with were all in US dollars, on the way back they are all in GBP.  Really, the numbers aren’t all that different, just the value of the currency.  Well, that and I didn’t have an absolute skyscraper of a dog when we moved here!

Here is a picture of Malcolm’s travel crate taken apart and nested with the back-end of our full-sized car for comparison:

I think that it is better to travel as a pet nowadays than as a person.  I mean, the pets have to have 2″ above the height of their natural standing position as well as being able to turn around and lay down comfortably.  Yeah, next time I’m booking myself as dog:-)  Malcolm isn’t really all that big, just tall.  I had to get the biggest pet crate that they make for him because of those long, long legs of his, no other reason.

So, in the next two weeks I will more or less be fueled by Dr Pepper Zero.  Since I have done this all before (an international move) I have a pretty good idea of what needs to happen and when.  There are a few new issues though on this route.  To go into the US all of my stuff needs to be packed by a professional moving company, not me.  The US government trusts a bunch of ill-paid foreigners as to what is in my container over me, their citizen.  To say that this is annoying would be an understatement.  I packed everything on the way here and made it with only 2 items broken.  One was a piece of furniture that was shoved into the container a little harder than it should have been and the other was a clay pot that was tossed in at the very end of the loading when we realized that we had loads of space still and it wasn’t secured at all.  All the dishes and breakables made it through unscathed.  I actually pity the poor guys that they send out here to pack my belongings as I will likely ride them like ponies about packing my breakables:-)

I will, of course, try to post some updates as the move is forthcoming.  The way that this is looking like it is going to shake out is that the household items will be packed and shipped early next week.  The pets and I will travel early the week after to Chicago.  I’m attempting to do the opposite of what I did moving here, meaning that I would like to be back in Iowa for a long as possible before my container arrives.

One of the things on my (in my opinion) very long to-do list is to pack my suitcase for what I am going to be wearing for the next 7-8 weeks.  In Iowa.  That could put me out as far as mid November!  I could have Indian Summer weather (highs up into the mid 80’s) down to full-on winter weather with sub-zero temperatures.  I just keep telling myself that clothes are a lot cheaper in the US and if I have to I could buy a few things to tide me over if I need to.  Already I am wearing most of my heaviest clothes (long wool coat, heavy wool sweater, hiking shoes) onto the plane with me to avoid packing them.  I am going to be a mess by the time I get to Chicago!  Of course, I will take a lot of the clothes off as soon as I get on the plane, but still, I am going to be a sweaty beast by the time I get to my economy seat!





Catching up March 3, 2010

So, I haven’t really blogged in a while and I have lots and lots to share with you.  So, here is your disclaimer: If you are at work or otherwise at a point and time that you cannot download fifty bajillion and a half photos…. wait to read this post, ok?

All right, got the “official” stuff out-of-the-way, now on to the fun stuff!

So, I left you hanging in Chicago didn’t I?  So I guess that would make a logical place to start!  The snow was quite deep by the end of the storm.  I have heard both 12″ and 14″ bandied about as the amount that fell so I will leave it at a heck of a lot of snow!

This is what it looked like a couple of sunny days after the fact…

I received a couple more packages while I was in Chicago, one was a package from my lovely in-laws and the other from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.  I just realized that I forgot to take a photo of the Silk Thread II that I ordered for my Evenstar shawl before I balled it up (sigh) but I did take photos of most of the lovely presents from the in-laws!

The Sexy Red Namaste bag "Hermosa" that the in-laws gave me for my birthday!

I used that bag as a carry-on on the flight home.  It was a case of “perfect present, prefect timing” on that one!

The in-laws also realized just how many post-it’s a knitter goes through and sent me a bunch!  They also got me a subscription to Vogue Knitting as well as a card game to play with the hubby.  A throughly lovely birthday package I must say!

Now, since I didn’t take any photos of the Silk Thread II before I balled it I give you, urm, balls!  Now, you will note that these are in fact balls, not the cake-like “balls” that a yarn winder makes.  The reason for this is hand-hurtingly simple.  Pure silk is too slippery to stay in a nice cake, so one must wind it the old-fashioned way.  By hand, into a ball.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silk Thread II in Winter Solstice

I also got a skein of Socks that Rock from the Raven clan in Grawk (I liked the skein that I got for Tini at Rhinebeck that I had to get another for myself!)

LOVE the colors of this! They are soooo subtle yet really quite clear to see!

I did a couple of other things while I was in Chicago while waiting for my packages.  I went to a pub and watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics with a group of friends and friends of friends.  I went to another bead store called Bead in Hand and (hopefully) got enough beads for the Evenstar.  I visited Loopy Yarns and I would highly suggest to anyone visiting Chicago to go there!  It is easy to get to from the “L” and it had a FANTASTIC selection of yarns!  It was like a treasure trove of all the best brands and colors!  Plus, they have a fun electric ball winder (I could watch that thing all day!).

My trip home was uneventful except for the worst case of jet-lag that I have even encountered.  I was still off time zone a full three days later!  Being up at 4 am completely awake and ready to rock is an odd and disruptive thing to deal with!

On the 21st of February we met up with some friends of ours in London to go see the Chinese New Year celebrations in Trafalgar Square and throughout London’s Chinatown.  It was incredibly crowded, so crowded that it was difficult to see the big screens that were showing what was going-on on the main stage, let alone the stage itself.  However, had one rather interesting experience there… I got handed a red balloon by a police officer in uniform!  The London Police were one of the main sponsors of the event and thus, there were cops handing out balloons!

I just loved this little girl with her bright coat and red balloon on her dad's back watching the show.

The streets of Chinatown were decked-out for the party!

A "dragon" going from shop to shop begging for...cabbage?

After getting some yummy Chinese food at a great restaurant just outside of Chinatown, we wandered over to get some gourmet ice cream at Fortnum and Mason which is a very, very, very nice department store that sort of specializes in food and food related products.  They have an ice cream parlor in it where we all got huge sundaes.

Literally, chocolate overload!

Afterwards we went to the Green and Red for a few drinks before the hubby and I headed home to some lonely pets.

This past weekend we drove up to Coventry to enjoy a mini ravelry day at the opening of Yarn Gathering, Jo Watson’s new yarn shop.  Jo is organizing the Knit Camp this summer that I am so very excited about and last Saturday was a way to meet some of the folks that are helping her put it together as well as a few of the tutors!  It was a very fun time and I would highly suggest that if anyone is in the Coventry area that you check out her store.  It has a really solid selection of yarns (and more coming in from what I’ve gathered) as well as one of the best book selections that I have seen in this country!

Everybody outside for the "opening"!

The ribbon cutting ceremony.

I go into a yarn shop and come out with... books.

There were lots of people there.

Jon from Easy Knits was there with his crew.

There were sandwiches and yummy cake to munch on next door in the social club.

I got a few things…

Some lovely yarn.

The 2 yarns on the right are from the Easy Knits booth up in the social club.  The Blue one is an alpaca/silk mix sock yarn while the red and yellow one is a BFL superwash sock yarn.  The blue/green yarn on the left is Malibrigo sock yarn which is a 100% superwash merino in the colorway Solis.  I also got some books:

"The Haapsalu Shawl"

"Whimsical Little Knits"

"A-B-C Surprise Jacket pattern"

and some dpns for making hats.  No pictures of those as they are, well, dpns for hats.  Use your imagination if you must!

Yesterday I made the swatch of the Evenstar shawl.  I’m tired of waiting for my yarn to come so that I can finish my Clapotis.  Here is the swatch:

Isn't it PRETTY!!!?!?!?

I’m both looking forward to and dreading starting the shawl as, well, that swatch took nearly 3 hours for me to knit.  Now, mind you, a goodly amount of that was looking-up stitches that I had no idea how to do on YouTube, but still, it wasn’t the easiest piece of knitting that I have ever done in my life.  Still, I want to do it and finish it in time to wear to Knitcamp (a shawl makes sooooo much sense in Scotland in the summer!).

Coming up I have some book reviews and cute photos of pets.  I know you can’t wait!


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!


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!