Sarah Jane Humke

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

Slacking* March 29, 2015

Spring is usually busy, but this year is even more so than usual for me.  First up, it was my brand new niece’s baptism last weekend.  I decided to make her a Christening Shawl/blanket for the event.  I then decided that it should really be hand-spun Shetland laceweight.  With wool from Shetland of course!  Well, I’m sure that you all can see exactly where this is going…

I ended-up finishing casting-off at around four o’clock on the Saturday before.  I blocked it on my bed that evening.

slacking 4Luckily it was one of those super easy things to block and all I had to do was kind of pat it into place and let it dry for a bit.  I have a heated bed so that helped to move things along a bit:-)  It was dry and ready for the baptism that morning.

dlsvkrt 11

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slacker 8

Thanks to my SIL for taking this photo. I wasn’t able to take many photos with my niece IN the blanket as I was supremely busy that day with the lunch for the family after church.

I was amused by two facts during the baptismal sermon.  First, I’m not in church all that often and that Sunday I was sitting in the front row of a pretty full church.  The second was this:

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Yep, the whole sermon was about sheep and goats:-)

For those interested, the shawl/blanket is a strongly adapted version of a traditional Shetland Christening shawl pattern.  I skipped the edging and added a picot cast-off in its place.  The yarn was spun from about 284 grams of the Jaimeson and Smith Shetland Supreme combed roving.

I just happened to finish it when I was helping out my friends Ellen and Wanda at their booth for their shop Fiber Curio and Sundries at Fiberpalooza in Winterset, Iowa on Saturday.  I took absolutely zero photos as my hands were busy the entire day long either setting up or knitting the shawl.  However, it was a really fun event to both attend and sell at and I had a good, though very long, day.

Thursday and Friday were involved in the final classes for my Annie’s Project course.   I think that now is a good time to share with you what the business I was taking this business planning class for is.  I am getting sheep.  Or to be quite precise, I am getting about 20 or so Shetland ewes.  It’s a bit of long story, and I’m not a hundred percent sure that all the parties would like me to share it, but I can say that it’s kind of one of those things where karma has come full circle.  I have booked my flights out to Montana where the sheep currently reside and will drive back with them.  So there is a lot to do on the ground here to prepare for them.  Fencing for one.  These ladies have not been in fences a lot in their lives, which could be either a good or a bad thing.  Currently I am working on an area that will be somewhat permanently fenced for when they first get here and probably for parts of the winter as well.  I am going to purchase some electric netting so that I can move them around and graze the different areas of the farm and keep the grass and weeds down.

This is honestly, a kind of dream come true for me as I have wanted some ever since I visited the islands in 2010.  I adore their wool, I find the sheep to be appealing in their durability and size and I enjoy the variety of colors that they come in.  I have hesitated to write about it here as I wasn’t sure that it was really going to come to fruition.  But now with plane tickets booked (thank you frequent flier miles!) and making plans for fences and trying to find a livestock guardian animal, it is all starting to feel very, very real.  If anyone knows of someone looking to re-home a donkey in the Iowa area, please let me know.

Dusty got “sheared” one of our warmer days.  It wasn’t a perfect job as he wanted to chase cats and I didn’t want him to chase them but it worked out ok.


Before: “Look at those cats making fun of me!  Must chase them!!!!!”

See what I mean by "shearing"?

See what I mean by “shearing”?


After: “The cats are laughing at me.”

I would have saved it to spin had I given Dusty a bath prior to his spring shearing.

I would have saved it to spin had I given Dusty a bath prior to his spring shearing.

I’ve been destashing a lot of mini skeins of sock yarn on Ravelry.  If you are interested (and the link doesn’t work) just go to the group “Mini Mall” and the thread called “Random Sets”.  I still have a lot of sets available and am willing to mail wherever you want in the world (with a few small exceptions:-).

On top of all of this has been seed starting and garden planning (in that order, it doesn’t always go in the order it should have you know!).  This year we are having a fifty foot by seventy-five foot garden.  Should be exciting!

Oh, and I got a full-time job finally.  I start in April and it will involve a lot more commuting than I am used to.

*For the irony impaired, I haven’t been slacking.  Quite honestly I’ve been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger!!!


Two Fiber Festivals July 13, 2012

This summer I have gotten the chance to attend two fiber festivals near where I live.  The first was Shepherd’s Harvest which is held in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  This was the 15th year that Shepherd’s Harvest had been held and it shows.

There were 3 buildings of vendors…

a building of sheep and goats…

and one of Llama’s, who were also having a show at the same time.

Some of the Llamas were even being sheared.

There were lots of cute, fuzzy butts…

And tons of adorable angora bunnies for sale. (I really wanted to bring some home with me!)

They had classes and talks…

and llamas wandering around with packs on their backs.

There were fried pickles and Walleye for sale…

and exhibits of photography and yarn making prowess.

There were also sheepdog demonstrations, and this one unlucky guy in the cone of shame.

There was even a wool yurt!

Of course, there were lots of things for sale and I got a few of them:-)

This is a Wensleydale fleece that I got:

This is some very fun yarn that I found…

I also got a cone of this sock yarn in grey…

and a whole pile of mill ends of sock yarns in a bunch of different colors!

There was a lady there selling prairie settler style bonnets.  Given that I will most likely be doing period spinning soon, I thought I should get one.  They are not flattering and I can completely understand why Laura Ingalls was constantly ditching hers.  You have NO peripheral vision in them!  I would get totally paranoid that someone was sneaking up on me. However, they probably really did the trick of keeping the sun off of faces and necks, which was their purpose.

I also got a few things which didn’t get photographed, most notably the book Knit, Swirl! by Sandra McIver (which I didn’t photograph) and a few gifts for friends.  I also got something very cool for free.

Yep, I got a case of the giant pickle jars from the folks selling fired pickles.  I put the Mountain Dew can next to them for perspective as they are really big.  I love jars and I just couldn’t resist asking if I could have them when I saw them waiting with the garbage.  I know, I’m a weirdo:-)

The second fiber festival that I’ve been to this summer was the Iowa Sheep and Wool festival.  It was held in Adel, Iowa on a wickedly hot weekend, which I hold partially accountable for the reason that there weren’t that many people there.  A bunch of the members of my guild were there.  Many of us brought spinning wheels or drop spindles to demonstrate in the spinning and weaving demonstration area.  (We’re wearing the hot, purple shirts)

One of our guild had a stand there where she was selling wool from her sheep among other things.

There were sheep and goats there, but I only got a picture of one with a great smile!

There were also a passel of collie puppies getting introduced to sheep.  They were cute in only the way puppies of any breed can be.

I didn’t get a lot of stuff here and what I did get, I forgot to photograph.  It was just so stinking hot that you really didn’t want to touch a lot of fiber because it stuck to your sweaty skin.  This is a much smaller festival than Shepherd’s Harvest, but it is also about half the age.  It is also much closer for me to attend.  It was only about an hour away from my apartment in Ames.  I’ll definitely go next year, but I will pray for cooler weather!


Farm Report May 19, 2012

I know that I haven’t been on here very much of late.  A lot of this is due to the aforementioned work + travel.  Some of it is because it is spring and that means GARDENING!!!!  I’ve not been able to have much of a garden for a few years now and I never really got the hang of gardening in Florida (the seasons were backward, instead of being too cold it was often too hot, etc., etc.)  Anyway, I am glad to be back in a place where I understand what the seasons are doing and know when to plant things.  Thus far we’ve planted: A lot of onion bulbs, radishes, beets, 8 cabbage plants, a lot of potatoes, 28 tomato plants and 10 pepper plants.  Still to be put into the ground is: 3 kinds of winter squash, zucchini, lettuce, strawberry plants, lots more onions (I went a little crazy buying them!), some more tomato plants (ditto), some more peppers plants, sweet corn, pole beans, bush green beans (we really like green beans), pumpkins and maybe some gourds (not sure about them yet).  A lot of the viney and large plants like the zucchini, squashes and pumpkins aren’t going to be planted in the “garden”.  They tend to take things over and make a big headache for everyone.  So instead, they are going to have mounds made in various places around the farm (including by the ditch near the road) where we will plant them and let them grow to their little hearts content.  Our main worry has been, will a raccoon find this tasty?  If yes, it needs to go in the garden at the front of the house, if no, it can go in the back 40.

The old board is there because that was a particularly muddy spot under the mulch for a while. No big horticultural secret or anything.

The pots contain herbs for the most part (with the exception of some geraniums [I LOVE geraniums!]).

Do you have any idea of how hard it is to take pictures of onion plants? Not the most photogenic plants in the world, especially when mulched liberally!

We’ve planted a LOT of tomatoes of many different varieties, some of which are heirlooms tomatoes. However, the bulk of them are Roma or Roma type tomatoes.

My mint boxes.

We’ve also had a second explosion of baby goats!  Around May first, there were 5 new kids on the block born to 2 mothers.  The triplets were born to a  goat who has looked uncomfortably pregnant since about February and the twins were born to one that no-one knew was pregnant.  Surprise!  The triplets were all born super healthy and doing good but the twins were sort of a different story.  There was one boy who came out huge and all red and one boy who was super tiny and the more normal white and red.  We all pretty much figured that the little one wasn’t going to make it (he was about half the size of the other twin) but he’s more feisty than we gave him credit for and he’s been doing well.  He’s actually a master of finding hiding places in the old equipment dad has stored out in the grove.

He may look familiar, but he’s ALL boy!

I may be little, but you’ll never find me in a game of hide and seek!

Really? Did you HAVE to headbutt me?

Our own Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. (The little guy is muddy, they are all outside now…)

The one female of the 5. Yep, 4 boys and 1 girl…

One of the triplets. Without checking “under their tails” they are remarkably hard to tell apart!

It’s fun getting to watch little ones play again!


One of the other things that has been going on is the push to get the corn planted.  We’ve had perfect weather this year and thus dad was able to get the entire crop into the ground in under a week.  This is a new record for him I think.  So, to that end, I don’t have any pictures of dad planting the corn as most of it happened while I was in Ames.  Sorry, you’ll just have to look forward to it for next year:-)  So, I give you a picture of corn shoots just out of the ground.  I haven’t found a way to photograph it yet, but at this stage, when you look out over a field, it looks like green fuzz.






What are you looking at?? May 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 5:32 pm
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I’m sorry that I’ve not been on here much.  My internet at my apartment in Ames sucks big-time and the past few weekends I haven’t had a lot of time at the farm for stuff on the computer.  I promise that I have several posts that I hope to get up this coming weekend with lots of pictures of what I have been doing and where I have been going.  Suffice it to say, it is spring and I am busy!

However, I don’t have the time to do a proper blog post right now, but I am going to leave you with some fun goat pictures.




In which I sound cryptic and mysterious (when I’m really not) April 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 9:21 pm
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Quiet.  That’s not what my life has been lately.  Unfortunately, not a lot of what has been going on with me has been blog-able.  Work has finally kicked into full-gear and truth be told, I don’t feel like I have a lot of time to myself anymore.

However, I’ve not forgotten you, my determined blog reader!  I have an idea for a sort of series of blog posts about things that I see as I am traveling all around Iowa.  Hopefully, interspersed amongst them will be posts about the normal tidbits of my life.

Spring is speeding forward at record speeds here.  There were parts of the state that got into the 90’s today!  It’s the first of APRIL!  Mom and I are planning a garden and I’ve gotten some onion sets and seed potatoes to get started in the ground.  My brother moved the goats out into the pasture this weekend.  The little ones kept trying to go back to the shed where they lived as they had never known anything else.  However now they have figured out that grass=good and are staying put.  I’ll try to get some pictures for you next week.

Otherwise, my life is still one big transitional mess with a bunch of stuff going on that I cannot talk about (yet).  Suffice to say, I have some things that I am working on but nothing that has been finished or finalized.

Sorry.  I’ll get back on here a bit more when I have more to say:-)


Heartbroken February 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 9:16 pm
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There are times that being a farmer really sucks.  No, strike that, when being a human really sucks.  Those times that make you realize that life is way to short and way to precious and can be taken from you in an instant.  This is one of those times for me.  You see, early this afternoon Red died.  It was extraordinarily sudden, even for a young animal.  At morning feeding she was her normal loud, hungry and insistent self and by noon she was seriously ill and shortly after she died.

I never thought that I would fall in love with a goat.





Edited to Add:

The vet decided that Red died from Enterotoxemia or “Overeating Disease”.  It was unusual that a kid as old as she was succumbed to it as this tends to be a disease of very young kids and lambs.  There is some great information here about it.  The rest of the kids are being vaccinated against it make sure that none of them die as well.  Red had gone to the vet on a prior occasion for diarrhea several weeks ago but had not had any symptoms right up until her death.


Tricraftual February 8, 2012

I realized that I’ve not really written about what is on my needles, wheel or hook lately.  I’ve actually been pretty good about giving all of my current projects some attention each day.  It’s just worked-out that one is good for waiting time, one is good for watching TV, and one is good for when the other two bore me!

First up is my Kaleidoscope by Dutch Knitting Design.  I’m pleased with the fact that I am past the armholes and they are, you know, holey and that I can actually get my arms through them!  It is going to sound silly, but I’ve never cast-off in the middle of a row and then cast back on again, so the holiness of the arms is a bit of a miracle!   However, once I was past the slightly scary armholes, I was on to the super easy-to-remember lace section which has made this a good purse knitting project.  One row of easy-peasy design knitting and then a row of purls back.  The rest of the body is pretty much made like this, so it will be purse knitting until it doesn’t fit easily in my purse anymore.  It’s being knit out of Noro Silk Garden Sock in colorway S321 and should use two balls of it.

It's upside down. Which sort of makes sense since it is knit top down!

Next up is yet another crocheted baby scrapghan.  The baby that this one is for has already finished her gestation and is fast on her way to holding her head up and rolling over on her own, so I’d best get my butt in gear!

Finally I get to the spinning.  I am doing something that is probably a tad on the crazy side (not fully over there, just edging that way!).  I am spinning the lovely merino/cashmere/nylon blend from BugSnugger that I picked-up at Sticks and String.  I got three-four ounce braids.

Without flash

With Flash

I have divided each of the braids into three sections lengthwise, which I rolled into balls (nine balls).

Balls. She made wooly balls.

I plan on spinning each of those balls separately so that I can do as many or as few plies as I need for the specific projects that I have in mind for this wool.  It is spinning super fine and I got about 66wpi when I measured it so I may need all nine plies if I am to make a worsted weight out of it.  I don’t plan on making all worsted, but maybe some as well as some fingering.  We’ll see how much I end-up with when I am done with it all!  So far I have spun one of the balls and have made good headway into a second.

So very fine...

This bobbin is holding one ball's worth of spun singles.

A post about what I’m working on wouldn’t be complete without an update on my “Forever Stole” which is what I have decided to call it since it is taking me FOREVER to make.  This project, oddly enough, is the one that I take when I know I am going to be in a spectacularly mis-lit location.  It is white, which makes it easy to see and it’s small and portable.  And it’s still chugging along.  Forever….

This isn't a fantastic photo of this stole. However, it was windy and fraking freezing and the damn thing kept wanting to sail away so this is what you get! I will get a better one at a later date I am sure...

And of course, no blog post these days is really complete without a Red photo!