Sarah Jane Humke

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

Random randomness. June 2, 2013

Random has been sort of my catchword of late.  It feels as though my life has become a host of things unrelated to one another except through me.  I could make a concept map to explain this, but I’ll save y’all the horror:-)

I’ve not posted here in a while.  Partially this is because, quite frankly, I was tired of writing.  I write a lot in grad school and by the time I make it home, all I want to do was sit and watch something that didn’t tax my brain powers at all and have dinner.  And knit or crochet, of course. This makes all forms of communication other than texting (short and usually grammatically incorrect, thus fits into the stupid qualifications) rather difficult to find the motivation to engage in.

There were also other things going on that were really too sad to talk about for a while.  My lovely Meara died quite unexpectedly in the middle of December.  This threw me for a lot longer than I even realized.  It may be corny to mourn a dog, but she had been my nearly constant companion for over a decade.


School got a lot harder this past semester than it had been the previous two.  More graduate level classes as well as T.A.’ing a class that was pretty time intensive.

I have been knitting. Lots of socks:

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These are my “Eye of Jupiter” socks. I used the vanilla pattern from the Yarn Harlot and the yarn I dyed last semester at a Workspace class. They are inspired by the “Eye of Jupiter” paintings that Starbuck painted on BSG.

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Yes, these are my first Monkeys. Knitted mostly on the way to and back from Columbus, Ohio for a conference. Done in Socks that Rock lightweight, unknown colorway (mill-ends grab-bag).

This is how I roll when being driven:-)

This is how I roll when being driven:-)

It wasn’t all socks, there were shawls:

Damask by Kitman Figueroa knitted in Swans Island Pure Blends Collection in Seasmoke.

Damask by Kitman Figueroa knitted in Swans Island Pure Blends Collection in Seasmoke.

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There was a LOT of sock yarn blanket work done! I’m actually running into a real threat of running out of unique sock yarn leftovers! Hence the reason I am suddenly feeling the urge to actually knit socks! I have a lot of sock yarn, but a lot of it is really nice stuff that needs to get knitted into something else and have leftovers used rather than just instantly becoming labeled “leftovers”.  If anyone has any little balls of leftover sock yarn, I will certainly take them off your hands.  I also have a lot of “mini-skeins” that I am willing to trade for new yarns. Just give me a shout!


Photo taken this afternoon. Trust me, it is a fair bit larger than it was in the first photo!

Photo taken this afternoon. Trust me, it is a fair bit larger than it was in the first photo!

Of course there were baby goats too!  This was a set of twins born to a doe not really interested in them. When I put these photos on Facebook I said,  “You know that you are at an Ag University when this is your Saturday night…”  So, so true! Both of them ended-up in good homes and are happy and healthy (no, I did not keep them long-term in my house. They were there for a weekend!)

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Amongst all of this, I actually did some school work! One of my favorite assignments this past semester was a presentation I did for a technology class on how to incorporate Ravelry into the classroom. I had fun making the display:-)

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Yep, that’s the sockyarn blanket, project bags from various Ravelry meetups, and mini skeins of sockyarn!

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I’m wearing buttons from various meetings and events I have attended. There is also a “concept map” about fiber in the background that I made for another class.

My brother got married in April and he and his fiance (now wife, obviously) decided to do it in St. Marteen. At an all-inclusive resort. Yay!

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Seriously, this was taken in the middle of the day with no editing. That was what the sea looked like from our hotel!

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Happy, happy!

There was a visit to the farm by my roommates dog, Dusty (so NOT a farm dog:-))

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A poster abstract I had submitted got accepted to a national conference. Thus the trip to Columbus, Ohio a couple of weeks ago.

Most of the ISU group at the AAAE National Conference.

Most of the ISU group at the AAAE National Conference.

This was the row of Iowa State posters. We took up an entire row. I'm not sure that any other school did that:-)

This was the row of Iowa State posters. We took up an entire row. I’m not sure that any other school did that:-)

My poster. It was about an energy workshop held for teachers.

My poster. It was about an energy workshop held for teachers.

I even had to go out and get a suit for this conference! Haven't had to look "professional" in a long time!

I even had to go out and get a suit for this conference! Haven’t had to look “professional” in a long time!

This week I found a sewing machine at the side of the road waiting to be hauled away by the garbage collectors. I couldn’t let it happen just for the cabinet alone!

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There is a little spot in the cabinet where you can slide the foot peddle into it and there is a lever that opens out so that you can control it with your knee!

It’s an antique Necchi, which when I did a little research, I found out is an Italian brand that was really mostly known for their industrial machines, but that they also made really excellent machines for the home as well. These still go for $100’s of dollars in working condition, which this one is. They are known as very tough machines.  Yay for me being a garbage hound!  I did replace the power cord, as the one on it looked like it had been melted time and again and made me very nervous.

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So that is a really brief synopsis of what has been going on in my life.  Of course there is a lot that I have left out.  Like how many times I fell on my arse this very long and very snowy winter (a lot). Or how many pages of papers I graded (many hundreds, if not low thousands). Or how many text messages I’ve sent and received (ummmm, don’t want to talk about that….). It’s been busy, but I am hopeful that the summer will allow time for more blogging again.


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.






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:-)


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!


Terms of Endearment February 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 3:14 pm
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These are some of the Terms of Endearment that I call Red as I am feeding her.  This is an incomplete list.  No, I will not post audio of me signing the  showtune-esqe songs that go along with many of these names.


Right said Red

Rubicon Ruminant*

Red Head

Ruby Rustler

The Hunt for Red October (usually reserved for when I can’t find her right away)



Ready Red

Raptor Red

Red Star

Lady in Red

Red Delicious**

Red Meat***

Red Rover

Red Herring

Lobster baby (Get it? Red Lobster!)

Well Fed Red

Righteous Red

Little Red Riding Goat

The Grateful Red

Red Tide

Little Miss Well Red


*This was the point at which I thought that I might have a tad too much education to be out feeding a baby goat at 4 in the morning.

**Which is a little wrong if you think about the fact that she is a meat goat!

*** Even worse, but only saved for when she’s headbutted me in the kneecap!


Random Bits February 4, 2012

I’m really loving these printed bags as well as these.  The second bag would be especially great for an emergency knitting/crocheting kit for the car:-)

This article made me weep, in a good way.

I’ve been watching Round the Twist with Carin as a knitting compliment.  I don’t know if the video aspect really helps it all that much as I pretty much treat it as a podcast.  However, the episodes are reasonably short (around the 20 minute mark) and while she doesn’t have quite the energy that a lot of the podcasts and video casts do with two people, it is still worth watching/listening to.

I got some roving from BugSnugger at Sticks and String and it is perfectly luscious stuff.  Totally check out her shop! (Don’t worry, you’ll hear more about this as I am getting ready to start spinning it. However, I have a manic kitten that is making it nearly impossible to do as she is ATTACKING anything that moves!)

I have a metal candle topper that is sort of like this that I love to death!  I’ve had it for years and years and I got it at either Michaels or JoAnns and it really helps if you burn the jar type candles as it limits the amount of oxygen available to the candle, thus making an even flame.

The Decorah (as in Iowa) Bald Eagle cam is weirdly engrossing.  There are really a lot of Bald Eagles roaming around the Midwest now, a huge change from my childhood when a Bald Eagle siting made the evening news it was so rare.  We have a couple of eagles roaming around this area and I’ve seen them as close as the outside of our grove.   They like to hang around water usually, but are pretty adaptable and will eat road kill as well as fresh kills.

This is just fantastic.  I sometimes don’t agree with what Dan Savage writes, but in my opinion, he has handled this exchange wonderfully.  I do think that he could have been a little more fair to the parents, who are just doing what they think is best for their child but I understand that originally this was a private exchange between him and this 17 year-old girl.  The teen years aren’t easy for anyone and especially for someone whose parents are suddenly ashamed of who she is.  That shits not easy for anyone, no matter how old they are!

A word to the wise: Be careful when snuggling an animal who, in normal situations, shows playfulness or affection by headbutting.  Owww!

Edited to Add: I was such a spaz when I wrote this!  I forgot to mention that EasyKnits is having a fiber (or more likely Fibre since he is in the UK) club called The Spin Love Club.  It is done on a month by month basis, so no need to pony a ton of cash up front for it.  There will be 2 separate braids of fiber for a total of 200 grams and they are dyed differently but in the same color palate so they are fraternal twins.   This could be very, very fun for a 2 or 4 ply yarn to have totally differently dyed wools to start with that are in the same colors!  I’m really looking forward to seeing my first batch of it!



All I Can See is Red Red Red Now February 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 6:11 pm
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Red is starting to get some darker patches on her back and all of her hooves have them as well. It's sort of like socks on a cat, only the opposite.

It's hard to capture her hoppy little run with a photo.

Red's milk moustaches are epic!

Happy girl in the sun.