Sarah Jane Humke

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

8 seconds January 16, 2014

There are days that I feel like I’m on a treadmill and then there are days that feel as though I am on an elliptical machine. In my universe, an elliptical machine is the devil.  Probably invented sometime during the Spanish inquisition by the same man who invented panty hose, SPSS, and stiletto heels.  I cannot use these machines at all.  I have tried two times and the second time I was asked to please leave the gym I was trial membershiping and not come back. I somehow fell off the elliptical  backwards and nearly took out a woman on a machine behind me. This is what happens when I am on one.  It’s like my feet and hands and the machine all work really effectively against one another in order to get me off of it as quickly as possible.  Seriously, I think I would have better luck bull riding than I do exercising on one of these machines (bull riding you only need to stay on for eight seconds!).  Anyway, that is a long winded way of saying that it’s been a little nutso of late and sometimes I feel as though I’ve gotten thrown on my ass in gym full of people.

First off, I finally finished some socks that I started over a year ago.  I worked on these socks in my Psych 230 class (that I thoroughly enjoyed despite myself) but messed-up the toes and had afterthought heels planned that I never got done.  Since I was already ripping them back, I took them all the way back to the heel spots, put in traditional heels and reknit the feet and toes(correctly).  I realized how many socks I had under my belt from the time that I started knitting this particular pair until I (ahem) finished knitting them.  It’s interesting to me how things like Kitchener stitching the toes and turning the heels has really become something kinda second nature to me now.  Anyway, these turned out really nicely and very nearly identical despite, well, everything!

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I also mailed off some (very late) Christmas packages.  I know that this might sound odd, but I honestly prefer to get packages late as it extends the surprise and the number of days that you get to open packages!  I LOVE opening packages!!!!  Anyway, I thought I would share with you how I apply postage to the USPS flat rate boxes.  These two boxes are both the medium size and currently cost $12.35 to mail anywhere in the Continental United States.  I usually start off with a few higher denomination stamps, but the rest are generally valued at around $.05.  I have some as low as $.005 (yes, one-half of a cent of postage. Even the postal workers stopped at that one.) and a few in the $.30 range.   But a lot (and I mean a LOT) are in the $.03, $.04, and $.05 range.  The reason for this is simple.    There used to be a lot more stamp collectors than there are currently.  Many of them are dying or no longer collecting and their collections aren’t worth any more than the postage that the stamps are worth.  However, most people don’t want to fool around with six stamps just to mail one letter, so when sold on ebay or other websites, go for less than full face value for perfectly good postage.  Some of the stamps that I am using are from the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Most are newer, a lot from the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Still, the bulk of the stamps on these packages are older than I am.  Both of them have the same general theme; Old, dead, (mostly) white men.  One went to Alabama, so it got some Civil War stamps thrown into the mix (I thought that it still fit the overall theme!).  When I was mailing off Christmas boxes that were going to be reasonably on time I used a general theme of Christmas Stamps.  It was very festive in a USPS kind of way (which, really, is kind of an awesome kind of way!).

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I received an early birthday present from my roommate Elise this week.  I have been eyeing these sheets for months and when I finally made up my mind to buy them at the store, they were out.  She was there and they had them back in stock and she got them and gave them to me right away because it’s bloody freezing in my room and they seem like a good idea in January.

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Anytime you can snuggle down in a bed made-up in flannel sheets covered in dogs wearing clothing and a heated mattress pad, you know that you are on the right side of any battle that the world may throw at you the next day.  Plus, bonus cute knitting project bag that the sheets came in!

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Speaking of birthday presents, I made one for Elise’s birthday on Monday.  Since she saw me knitting it and had requested it specifically (and it’s cold outside) I gave it to her a few days early.  It is a “Jayne Hat” inspired by the one worn on the short-lived Sci-Fi show Firefly by one of the characters.  I used three shades of Vanna’s Choice that seemed to be there best representation of the colors on our TV screen.  The exact colors used are here in my Ravelry page as well as the actual pattern I used.  It was an easy knit and fast.  I’ve gotten used to making things out of fingering weight yarns so knitting something out of worsted felt as though it was just falling off the needles!

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Another knitting project I made was a pair of thrummed mittens.  These were made in response to the news of the impending polar vortex to descend upon our little piece of heaven here in Iowa.  I actually managed to get them finished prior to the big chill actually getting here, so that was actually a new feeling for me!  Once again, knitted in worsted weight wool, these just flew.  They are far from perfect and if I made them again I would make them a little bigger (like one more completion of the thrumming round) but they work and work well at keeping my hands warm which was the whole purpose.  Details of the pattern and materials are here on my Ravelry page.  I’ve had so much fun showing them to people and then turning them inside out and explaining that they are like Uggs for your hands:-)  I know, I’m easily amused.

This was my whole outfit to take the dogs out during the worst of the polar vortex.

If I had been a good girl and updating like I should be, these would have all been a separate post.  But I am naughty and haven’t been.  Though I really need to write more here.  I am doing a lot of academic writing which I sometimes feel as though it is killing my natural writing voice.  Academic writing is extremely dry and formulaic.  I feel that it was designed for people who are not very good writers to be able to get information about their study (or whatever they want to talk about) out without exposing that they suck at writing.  I’m not saying that I am a Neil Gaiman of blogging or anything like that, but I can at least (generally) communicate what I am trying to say.  Often in academic writing, the language is very dense and obscure and there is a ham-fisted approach to using big words in order to camouflage the fact that there is little or no real results from the study (or whatever) that the author is writing about.  It seems to be elitist and it’s no wonder that people who are not in academia often misinterpret what these papers mean.  There’s a whole ethical discussion that I could get into about this (we are supposed to be doing research for the good of the state/nation/world but we often don’t put our results in a language that a lay person could read and understand) but in short it hurts my brain to write too much of it at one go.  I understand that results need to be in a format of sorts, but does is really need to be this????

Also, I start saying things like, “My personal self-efficacy belief as to my ability to maintain ownership of my animal-based fiber headcovering has quickly plummeted.”  That was in response to losing my wool hat.  Seriously.

 

The monkey parade continues! June 23, 2013

Ha! You thought I was done?  Puh-leeze! I am still monkeying it up out here!  I’ve got a sock and a little over a half done.  It’s been a busy week y’all!

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It got pointed out to me in the comments that I had sent out the knit-signal but I hadn’t given y’all an address that you could send sock yarn leftovers to if you wanted to.  So, here it is:

Sarah Humke

PO Box 1453

Ames, IA 50014-1453

I’m not too worried about anyone stalking me to a PO box.  It’s a little post office and if you were hanging around long enough, they would notice!

I also got a rocking sunburn on the back of my neck this week working at home (note the mesh seed corn cap, I am nothing if not an authentic farm girl!)

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Guess that makes me a well-educated redneck:-)

In all seriousness, this was kind of a rough week. Another member of my family passed away.  This time it was Micheal.  I haven’t talked about him too much on here of late as he has been living with my parents for the past four years or so and had pretty much adopted mom as his own.  I found him as a little mangy puppy abandoned at the greenhouse.  He had feet way too big for a puppy that small.  As soon as he was big enough, he became an unrepentant escape artist.  Micheal just wanted to be out sniffing and exploring.  He was 15, pretty old for a dog his size and mix of breeds.  He was mostly blind and almost completely deaf, but he still wagged for me when I went home on Tuesday.

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Micheal was my first dog that was my responsibility alone.  Like a first child, I made many mistakes with him,  but he was too good of a dog to let them get to him.  Because of his protectiveness, I was seldom scared living alone in an old house by the woods.  He loved men and would whack them in the balls whenever one came over by way of greeting (I think it was because the guys then usually bent over and got down on his level, he wasn’t malicious about it, he was just saying, “hello”).  But it was the women in his life he was protective of.  First me then my mom.  Micheal was perfectly happy and friendly unless we were scared of someone, then he was between us and them, always.  He was a good, good boy and he will be missed.

 

Making me Laugh (Canine Edition) September 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 8:15 pm
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I keep Dog Shaming up on my computer at all times.  It’s amazing just how many different things dogs will eat!  They update it throughout the day so you can keep up with what infractions are going down at all times.

This comic by The Oatmeal made me laugh so hard the dog barked at me.  Which made me laugh harder.

Meara’s utter disdain for the AAAE regional conference proceedings that I have spent so much time today ignoring her in favor of.

What’s making you smile today?

 

College Life-Moving August 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 4:57 pm
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One of the things that I seem to remember about college the first time around was all the moves that I made.  In about a year and a half, I moved 5 times.  Which isn’t even a lot for some students.  I remember one girl telling me that she moved 5 times her first year in school as she couldn’t get along with any of her roommates (at what point do you start wondering if it isn’t actually them and is really you???).  So, this week is my first move.  I know that I will have at least 1 more in the coming 2 years as this move is only until the end of the Spring semester.  I don’t know if I will have to find another place in Ames for the summer because I don’t know if I am taking summer classes or not (I’m hoping towards not, so I can work over the summer and not pay rent).

So, since I have to be ready to move out of my current apartment by Tuesday at 9:30 am I have lots of crates of stuff stacked in my room currently.  I have sorted things that I will need in this new place (Meara’s crate and treats and such, she’s moving with me!) from things that I don’t need (dishes and the like for example, it comes with a fully kitted-out kitchen).  Yesterday afternoon, I went over to my storage unit and wrestled 2 of my (many, many, many, many) bookshelves out complete with the shelves that fit in them.  I’m not certain that they will both fit in the new place, but it was easier to get them both out now rather than just get one and try to get the other one out later.  I’m not taking a huge amount of furniture with me.  It’s a little bedroom and there is already a dresser and a desk there.  Just a twin bed, the bookshelves, a fan, a bedside stand, and Meara’s crate.  I may take a trunk later if there is still space, but that can always fit in the car.  I’ve got black, plastic crates that look like these (though not nearly so colorful) that should fit under my bed to store things like out of season clothes and extra supplies.  For those interested, I got the crates for $1.99 each at a local garden center.  They get their bare-root perennials shipped in them and then sell the crates in the spring and summer.  They are cheap and seriously strong and great for things in the garden or the workshop too!  I will take a picture when I get everything set-up.  Hopefully.

However, before I can enjoy the excitement of moving into a new place I have to finish with the drudgery of getting out of the old place.  I have gone through an entire can of Pledge furniture polish cleaning all the wooden surfaces in the apartment.  I’m about half-way through the second one at this point!  I’ve scrubbed the tub and shower and blitzed the oven interior and even pledged the inside and outside of all the cabinets in the place.  I still need to do floors both vacuuming and mopping, as well as the windows (there aren’t that many of those luckily).  But the biggest issue is getting the couch out!  My roommate left in a hurry (long story, but not bad in any way) and now the behemoth is mine and I have to figure out how to get it out of here…  Sigh.

The next week:

I’m now moved into my new place.  Meara and her new roomie (a little boy dog) are getting along remarkably well.  England was good for chilling her the heck out.  Before England (B.E.) this move wouldn’t have gone well at all with her getting seriously bent out of shape by a strange dog being in her space.  Now, as long as he doesn’t take her bone or try to get on the bed when she’s there, she could really care less.  Which is good.  As I write, he’s camped-out under the desk between my feet and she’s snoozing on the bed in front of the fan.  My new room is a little smaller than the one that I moved from, but I get to have Meara here, so an ok trade in my opinion.  Here’s what the room looks like.

Yes, I use a bookshelf for a headboard for my bed. The lower shelves that are covered by the bed are used for spare blankets and things that don’t get used very often. I can still get to them pretty easily as it is only a twin bed.

I really prefer to be able to look out a window when I am at a desk. I’ve brought a much better chair since I took this picture.

The dresser matching the bookshelves wasn’t planned, but it worked out well. Meara’s crate is at the foot of my bed and now my spinning wheel is behind it (not in this photo obviously).

The desk and dresser both came with the room and everything else is mine.  The room is on the North-East side of the house, so I have good, but not overpowering sunshine.  I really like having morning sun as I think it helps me to wake the heck up!

 

Strangers in the Dark February 4, 2012

Tonight I finally met the farm’s resident skunk.  Before you all start sending sympathy emails and comments, let me assure you no bodily fluids were exchanged.  He went one way and I went the other…quickly.  I had also just let all the dogs out and Red was heading towards me with her early evening feeding like a tomahawk cruise missile locked-in on a convoy of tanks.  To say that there was a mad scramble to get everyone back in the house before they noticed the little black and white Mephitis mephitis would be a massive understatement.  That Malcolm didn’t see our malodorous visitor is something of a small miracle as he was right beside me when I spotted it and he probably has better eyes than I do.

Everyone safely back in the house, I led Red back out to the feed lot (she had followed me all the way into the house looking for her dinner) checking carefully for monsieur Pepe Le Pew.  He had decided to return to his quarters and we were able to finish dinner without the addition of a putrid perfume.

I hope we remain strangers.

 

The Mailman Always Honks Twice February 2, 2012

Today was another very good mail day.  Whenever there is a package too big to fit into the mailbox or one needing a signature, the mailman backs his truck into the drive and honks.  Usually twice.  In a house with 4 dogs in it, this is tantamount to declaring war.  You do not truly understand the saying, “the hounds of hell” until you have seen 4 dogs completely off their rockers from wanting to get outside and rip him to shreds for having the audacity to come onto their turf and honk.  Funnily enough, if they do get outside while he is still here they just bark for a little bit and then wander off and pee on something!

Anyway, we were treated to a full rousing chorus of doggie death threats today as there were 2 packages in the mail for me.  The first was from my friend Tini in Germany (who, by the way, has a bunch of new podcasts up that I keep forgetting to link to [naughty blogger me!]).  In it was all sorts of lovely stuff including a Eiki shawlette made in Wollmeise!

There was a partial ball of sock yarn to add to the blanket.  (Donations to the blanket are always welcome here even though it is on a bit of a hiatus as I still try to figure out where all my stuff is in the storage unit.)

There was also a long knitted tube that Tini gave me a heads-up on before I received it.  It was her gauge swatches from a number of different pairs of socks!  This is being put towards the blanket as well (though it’s almost too pretty to unravel!)

There was a beautiful butterfly pin.  I love jewelery with insects on it.  Someday when I am a famous entomologist (stop laughing!) I want to have something to jazz up my ultra boring wardrobe with.  I want to be the Madeleine Albright of the bug/horticultural world!

There was a solid handbalm (good for someone walking around outside in the middle of the night with wet hands after having made formula for a certain baby!) that smells yummy.

There was a cool lizard bookmark…

And the shawlette came packaged in a fun little clear plastic zippered case that is perfect for little projects!

And last but not least, there was a tiny package of GUMMY SHEEP!!!!  Oh my are these little guys cute!  I don’t know if I can actually bring myself to EAT them:-)

The other package is a bit of a mystery.  It came from Knit Picks and it contained 3 books. Knit Noro Accessories, Weekend Hats, and Interweave Knits Accessories were all on my wish list, so it would have been easy for someone to pick them out.  However, there was nothing in the box to give evidence to who they were sent from.  If it was you, please speak up and thank you!

Funny enough, I’ve been sucked into another Dutch Knitting Design project, this time it’s the Kaleidoscope Vest which was published in (what was then) Yarn Forward Magazine.  I stayed up far too late last night working on this (again) and this is how far I had gotten this morning.

It is an easy knit, but for some reason I frogged this piece before and I don’t remember why.  I think it might have happened around the time of my move, so who knows!  I had a chance to wear Marleen’s sample vest (I think it’s the one she’s wearing in the bottom picture on Ravelry) and it is really cute.  I got lots of compliments that day and I had to explain to many Dutch knitters that no, I didn’t knit it but the person who designed it was right over there…..  I’ve been on a serious knitting jag of late but I feel a spinning jag coming on.  So stay tuned folks!

 

A Day January 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 5:54 pm
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Moon over Iowa farmland

Meara says, "I'm cuter than that stinky goat!".

Mama Cat in full squirted milk action

Half the pictures don't show her tongue! It's amazing how little milk she usually gets on her face with this method of consumption!