Sarah Jane Humke

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

New Additions to the Library July 2, 2016

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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

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

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!!!

 

Homework. Yet Again. March 3, 2015

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am taking a class through Annie’s Project.  It is a program that is designed to help women engage in farming in a different way.  In the past, women were there to raise the children and cook the meals and often to help with farm work when needed, but were often left-out of making important decisions about the future of the farm or even what their part in it is.  Since a lot of women inherit farm land, it is important for them to be able to make wise decisions about how it will be used and who will use it.  Also, an increasing number of women are taking-up farming or taking-over family farms.

I still don’t feel comfortable telling you all what kind of operation I am planning with this class.  I will share it with you all eventually, I promise.  However, this class has been excellent for me to clarify what still needs to be done, what I’m not going to be doing (which is often as important as what you are going to be doing), and figuring out what my strengths and weaknesses are in this endeavor.  Sometimes, being able to simply look at something in black and white is really motivating.  It has helped me look at nearly everything I do as either forwarding my goals and dreams or not.  Which is important.  Really important.  But it’s easy in the day-to-day to forget the big picture or lose sight of the bigger goal.

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The class comes with two handy things.  One is a workbook that we are working through to develop our business plans.  The sustainable in the title isn’t an environmental statement, rather it is about if a business is able to sustain itself.  The other is a lovely faux-leather notebook that I keep calling my Trapper Keeper.  It was prefilled with handouts and resources that could help us outside of our class and workbooks.  I have been keeping my records in it and since it zips closed they have stayed in it:-)

In other areas, the hat is finished.  Yay!  I’m not totally in love with it as it turned-out smaller than I had intended.  But I will see what the boyfriend thinks before I start in on another (I have enough of the hand-spun to make another:-)).  I am now working on the Christening blanket/shawl that I spun 1200 yards of hand-spun laceweight for.  It’s not going to be exactly like the pattern as I am working it in the round rather than on two needles and sincerely don’t feel like purling every other row for hundreds of stitches.  However, it is turning out nicely so far.  We’ll see if it continues to behave….

 

Learning. Always learning. March 2, 2015

This weekend I took a class through my guild.  It was a class that I have wanted to take for some time now and finally had the opportunity to take it.  Since I have had a loom in my possession for some time now, I thought that it was high time that I learned how to use it.  Thus, a beginning weaving class.

This is what my loom looked like prior to tying on my warp.  I forgot to take pictures of the actual winding of the warp, sorry.

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And these are what it looked like with my warp tied on.

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Front of the loom

 

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The backside of the loom

After a little while weaving, the front of the loom looked like this:

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And a little while after that, it looked like this:

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And after two days of instruction and weaving, I ended-up with this:

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I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  It’s obviously not perfect, but considering that it is my first woven piece since a few of those woven potholders in grade school, I think it turned out pretty well.

In non-weaving related news.  I am also working on a birthday hat.  I can now show it as I have actually knit on it in front of the recipient:-)

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It is being knit from some 3-ply hand-spun Shetland wool yarn I made specifically for this hat.

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I also had a wonderful surprise in the mail today.  I received a package from Baton Rouge from my bestie Elise.  Inside was a birthday card as well as these:

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If I ever have an office again, the I Want to Believe poster is going up in it, just to freak-out the muggles:-)

 

 

 

I value my fingers February 23, 2015

So, in case you haven’t guessed, it’s winter around here.  There’s not a whole lot going on that I haven’t already talked about.  Or maybe I should really put it this way, there’s not a lot going on that I feel that I can talk about yet.  Yes, that means that there are plans and ideas taking shape but none of them are solid enough yet to write them down here.  Though once they are, well, y’all are never going to hear the end of them!  But for this moment, I’m keeping quiet.

What is going on is more spinning and knitting.  Just because it’s cold enough to freeze nose hair outside doesn’t mean that I actually hibernate.  Also, nearly everyone I love in my life is born in the winter, thus making the life of a knitter who loves to make gifts a little more stressful.  I really need to work on working on birthday presents in July more!  The one that I can show you presently is still in its yarn state, which is hand spun so I still get some credit for it.  It’s for the boyfriend for his birthday (which is this week *ahem*) and he’s already seen it so no spoilers here.

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It’s a 3-ply yarn that ended-up being somewhere between a heavy fingering and a light DK weight.  It’s spun from some Shetland tops that I purchased while I was there from Jamieson and Smith.  It’s lovely, lovely stuff.  Very squishy.  Not overly soft, I would describe it as having a slightly crisp handle.  I gave the boyfriend a number of choices of yarn for his hat.IMG_0091

But in the end, he had exceptional taste (if I do say so myself) and chose the tops.

There are other projects that I am working on in the background that I cannot show on here as they would be spoilers.  One of the bad things about knitting for gift giving I guess:-)

The sock yarn blanket has grown some.

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This is what it kind of looks like while I’m knitting it…

It now covers my entire full-sized bed.  Sorry that the pictures are kinda crappy.  Did I mention that it’s winter outside?  It’s currently 15 degrees Fahrenheit (which is 16 degrees below freezing) outside and the snow looks either grey and dismal or yellow and cheerful, neither of which lends itself to photographing a giant knitted blanket on.  I suppose I could try to get creative about how to show it, but that takes time and I personally value my fingers and toes.  So crappy photos it is!

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One of the things that I have been doing that I can tell you about (even though I have no photos) is that I am currently taking a class through something called Annie’s Project.  It’s run through the Iowa State Extension Service (love me some Extension!) and it is specifically for women in agricultural endeavors.  The reason for it being specifically for women is that often women have different goals and a different experience with farming than men do.  It has been immensely helpful for me to just figure out where I should be putting my energy.  My class is specifically about business planning, but there are classes about succession planning and in-depth business classes past what we are learning.  It’s reason number 432 of why I love the extension service!

 

Early Birthday Gifts January 19, 2015

I’ve received two early birthday presents this year.  The first was a set of Knitter’s Pride Karbonz double-pointed needles.  My honey got them for me as I have been knitting a lot of socks lately and, as a result, have broken more than a few of the wooden needles.  I already have a couple of sets of these and really, really like them.  I am a big fan of carbon fiber in knitting needles!!

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The second gift is a lovely shawlete from my wonderful friend Tini.  I wouldn’t have opened it early except that the post office had already taken care of it for me!Bd2

I am a lucky, lucky woman!

 

Chugging along January 6, 2015

I know, I’ve not been on here much of late.  Alas, there hasn’t been a lot for me to write about lately.  Winter is a time to hunker down, stay warm,  and plan for spring here.

Christmas was nice.  Lots of lovely and thoughtful presents.  I got a lot of books that will hopefully help me prepare for the coming year (I would like to get a few sheep and some laying hens).  I spent a lot of time with both my family and my boyfriend’s family.

New Year’s brought specken dicken at the Ackley Civic Center and colder weather.  No big parties or fancy nights out. That’s not really how I roll:-)

This past week I’ve been doing a big cleaning and rearranging.  Trying to make my space more useable and pleasing to be in.

I did, in fact, finish a bunch of knitted items before Christmas.  One, in particular, I am especially proud of.  I finished a pair of socks for the boyfriend made from hand-spun, 4-ply sock yarn.

Joel's Socks
This is a 80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, & 10% Nylon blend that was custom dyed for me by Diane Pals of Bugsnugger.  It’s a lovely blend that I took my time spinning.  I have more yarn like this and I will probably be knitting another pair of socks from it but they will hopefully go to the Iowa State Fair before going to their final home.

I also knit a pair of “normal” socks out of Kroy and Opal.Joel's Socks 2  I used the red Opal to finish off the socks as there wasn’t enough of the Kroy in the 100 grams for a pair of size 12 mens socks.

Here are the socks together:

Joel's Socks 3

There was also a scarf for my mother made from some of the ruffle yarns as well as an infinity scarf from Debbie Bliss Angel for my sister-in-law.  There were also another pair of socks for my boyfriend’s mother.  So, I was fairly busy in the days leading up to Christmas!