Sarah Jane Humke

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

Adventures in Moving: Day 3 September 14, 2011

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6:30am Milo the insane cat wakes me up with scratching and meowing at the bedroom door.  She is definitely freaked out by this move.  Hopefully the movers will be able to clear the spare bedroom completely today so that I could open up the attic for her to go up into.  The attic is her favorite place in the world and where she feels safest.  And where I know she won’t be tempted to dart out the front door in a frenzy of fear.

9am Movers are here again.  I feel as though they will finish quite early today as they are whipping through what is left quite quickly.

10:30am Ventured out from the bedroom hole-up during the guys break.  The house feels unnaturally hollow and echo-y.  Malcolm luxuriated in being able to really stretch out and pranced about a bit to celebrate. I forget that he’s not ever seen the house empty.

11:30am Realized that one of the big problems with wrapping everything so thoroughly is that it is going to be wickedly difficult to tell what’s what at a glance and also how heavy it would be.  Also, how fragile it will be.  They are putting my massive clay pots into boxes.  Hmmm.

Noon  Now I get why people always talk about losing items during a move.  This is the first move that I’ve not packed for myself and already I am missing several things.  I’m sure it will only get worse.

12:45pm The movers are gone.  The fit the last of the items into their big truck and left.  The house seems very, very big suddenly.  Malcolm’s crate is gone, so he is a free range chicken for a while so to speak.


Tomorrow I am planning on heading into the city to see Jon of EasyKnits one more time and to kind of, I don’t know, say goodbye to London.






Woolfest Week August 17, 2011

Malin, Barbro and Tini all flew to London to join me in an adventure up to the Lakes District to attend Woolfest in June (BTW, there is a picture of the 4 of us in the photo gallery on the Woolfest site:-)).  The day that everyone flew-in was pretty laid-back.  Lots of knitting and a little bit of drum carding!

Tini making batts

Thursday we left bright and early for “The North” (that’s what all the signs say when you are heading North here).  The car was well packed and the journey took less time than expected due to lack of traffic.  I kinda decided that the ladies needed to visit Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s home.  A visit to the Lakes District isn’t really complete without it in my opinion because of all the work that she did in preserving the area and the famous Herdwick Sheep breed.   

On the way to the cottage, we saw some of these lovely rare sheep doing their thing in a field with a handy parking area so we could stop and take some pictures.

I also caught a shot of the elusive Malin on holiday:-)

We then went to find our cottage, which was sort-of on the other side of the mountains.  However, it was a great deal for the 4 of us so we weren’t in the mood to complain too much:-)  When we got there, after a really lovely drive through the District, we found fresh scones with clotted cream and a bottle of wine in the fridge to greet us! The cottage had 2 bedrooms, a sitting room and kitchen and a bathroom.  Really, it was just about perfect for the 4 of us for the weekend!

The sitting room (you can't see the fireplace but there was one!)

The Kitchen

Bedroom #1 with the beautiful stone wall

Bedroom #2

That night we went down the road to a local pub and got fish and chips for dinner then came back and knit around the fireplace until bed.  The next morning we were all up bright and early in order to get into the festival first thing.  We got there before it opened and waited in que with a lot of other lovely fiber folks from all over the country.  One of them took a lovely photo of the 4 of us.

All of us were wearing the mini shawls that I had been knitting in the weeks prior.  From left to right:  Barbro in her Alyssum designed by Marleen knitted in Noro Kureyon Sock, Tini in her Peacock Shawlette by Kitman Figueroa in Wollmeise Twin (that ironically she had given me a few years prior!) Me in my Simple Things by Mary-Heather Cogar in Skein Queen Entwist  and Malin in her Holden Shawlette by Mindy Wilkes in Easyknits Twinkle.

Once we were inside, it was a mad rush to the fleece tables.  Now really, how often do you read about a mad rush to fleece tables??  Oh how I love wool festivals!  As you can imagine, there wasn’t a whole lot of picture-taking going on as the fleece area was decimated pretty quickly and we were all surrounded by 2-3′ bumpers of bags of raw wool:-)  I got (ahem) rather a lot of fleeces and the ladies got a few too.  I think that at one point we had 20 fleeces in the back of the car!  Here is a picture of us on the 2nd day at one of the fleece sorting tables:

Special thanks to Knit Magazine for sharing this photo with us. You can also find us on page 47 of issue #40:-) (Yes, we are everywhere looking like we are having fun!)

After we had done a thorough going through of all the fleeces we started taking in the actual event.  Not a lot of pictures of this either as there was a lot of fondling of yarn and wool and oohing and ahhing over the different types and colors of yarns and equipment for sale.  We met-up for lunch as we had brought sandwiches and fruit because I remembered how long the ques were at the food places years past.  After lunch, we all moseyed off in our own directions again, meeting-up randomly throughout the venue.  At the end of the day we all went to the Spin-in where we had dinner and met a lot of new folks.

That night we pretty much crashed at the cottage, admiring each others purchases and (trying) to pack all the fleeces into bags and such.

Saturday was a more leisurely morning as we didn’t feel the need to be at the grounds first thing.  We drove in and stayed until a little after noon, meeting up with some friends and checking out some things that we may have missed the first day.  That afternoon we went to the main Lakeland shop in Windermere for a late lunch and to do a little shopping.  On our way back to the cottage, we found another perfect spot to take some photos of Herdys with a parking spot nearby.

When we got back to the cottage, Malin realized that she had dropped her Holden shawlette on the ground during our Herdy stop.  So, into the car Malin and I went to rescue the shawl.  However, we decided to take a different route back that I had vetoed the first time it was suggested by the GPS unit as it just looked kinda crazy.  It was.  Malin was taking pictures of it all and even did a video at one point to capture the full insanity of it.  To say that it was some of the more interesting driving that I have ever done (and I have done some interesting driving in my life!) would be a gross understatement.  There was a warning of a 30% incline and decline on this road before we even got to the fun parts:-)  This road over 2 mountain passes was a single lane track for the vast majority of it with Herdwicks roaming on all sides and water flowing freely to boot.  There were numerous times where I wasn’t sure where the road went because we were doing 30% up and a corkscrew at the same time.  Oh, and since we were on top of the mountain was really, really foggy at some points!  I didn’t take any photos (that would have been suicide [no rails between us and 100′ drops]) but Malin did and when she has a chance to sort through them and send me some, I will post them here…

Anyway, the rescue party made it over the mountains and found the shawl right where it was thought to be and took the much less exciting route back to the cottage again as it was starting to get dark.

The next day we got up fairly early as we needed to get Tini to her flight home and we still had a full car to pack!  However, Malin and I are pros at packing my Toyota and we managed to get all 20+ fleeces plus baggage for 4 women into the car while still being able to see out the back window.  There was yarn in every nook and cranny though!  We drove back to the London area with plenty of time for Tini to make her flight out of Luton.  The rest of us then went back to the Old Chapel and unpacked the car, much to the amusement of the hubby.

The next day we drove down to the University of Southampton’s Knitting Reference Library.  This was seriously cool, as they have a large collection of knitting books and patterns from about as far back as written knitting patterns go.  Barbro did an excellent blog post about it here but I also took some pictures.

The older magazines were amongst the most interesting

It's interesting to see how Vouge Knitting has changed!

Some of the ads were so cute!

Love the graphics on some of the covers

The ads for wartime knitting sort of blew my mind. Some of them admitted that folks couldn't get their product but said that when they could again they should use their coupons to buy their wool because it re-knit the best!


There were lots of war-time patterns.  Many of them showed how to best re-use wool from a worn-out sweater or dress.  By the end of the war, these patterns were using fabric sewn in to make up for the lack of both yarn and fabric available.  Malin has an excellent picture here showing how the magazines also had to get smaller over a very short period of time due to paper rationing.


This is how we spent most of the afternoon:

The collection is pretty big and quite well-organized.

All of these are knitting or knitting related books

More knitting related books and magazines (in the archival boxes)

One view of the pattern collection

Another view of the pattern collection. It may not look that impressive, but most of those boxes were full and heavy with a LOT of old patterns.

The next day the 3 of us went into London on the train.  First we went to the Camden Markets, which I had never been to before.  Then, in the afternoon we went to Jon of Easyknits house for some retail therapy and Pimm’s!  I didn’t take any photos of all of this (sorry) but Barbro was a regular little Robert Capa so you should check out this blog post of her’s.

That night we came home on the train with many more goodies and very, very tired.  The next day was sort-of a free day.  Malin and Barbro’s flights left in the afternoon, so that left the morning for some kool-aid dyeing and fleece skirting in the courtyard and packing of course!  That afternoon I dropped the ladies off at Heathrow for their flights home with full (though not overly heavy) bags and lots of pictures on their cameras.


It’s going to be another busy summer (I think). December 3, 2009

So, the UK has gone from having zero (or seriously close to zero) major knitting get-aways to having two in one year.  Not even in a year, in a summer!  First up is Knit Nation which is being held the 29th, 30th and 31st of July this year in London.  It’s three days of shopping and classes with the likes of: Cookie A, Judith MacKenzie McCuin, Clara ParkesNancy Bush and many more.  The Ravelry team is going to be giving a talk as well in addition to an awesome market place being in the works.  It’s being held at the Imperial College in South Kensington which is right by the Victoria and Albert museum as well as a bunch of other stuff.  I have signed up to take a Spinning for Lace class with Janel Laidman on Thursday, the Estonian Lace Sampler class with Nancy Bush (OMG!!) on Friday and a half-day class with Clara Parkes on Saturday called the Wonders of Wool (UK).  Since it is “just” in the city, I plan on taking the train with my friend Tini who will be staying with us for that weekend as well.  It should be interesting taking my Ashford Traveler on the commuter train into the city that first day:-)

I’m glad that Knit Nation is so close that I don’t have to worry about accommodation as it leaves me more money to spend a few weeks later at the UK Knit Camp 2010 which is being held in beautiful Stirling, Scotland.  This knitty adventure is going to be a bit longer than Knit Nation as it is going on the 6th through the 13th of August.  It’s being held on the campus of the University of Stirling and the accommodation is really reasonable.  To stay in one of the dormitories for 6 nights, it is 150  pounds.  That’s a really good deal for a room anywhere in this country, especially in the summer!  The classes that they are offering are pretty amazing, with instructors like Jared Flood, Annie Modesitt, Lucy Neatby, Norah Gaughan, Franklin Habit, and Ysolda Teague all teaching there.  There are also going to be excursions to local mills and whiskey distilleries as well as much fun and craziness had by all I am sure.  Just imagine, dormitories all filled with fiber freaks!  I have a feeling it’s going to turn into a huge, more-or-less, slumber party at some point!  Sign-up for classes for this yarn porn week open in January, though you can book your space to sleep now.  My friend Malin is planning on coming over for this one and I plan on driving up there so there is sure to be lots and lots of adventures!

So, it seems that the UK has sort of gone from zero to sixty in the span of a year in terms of knitting camps.  Hopefully this will become a regular thing that all of the British knitters can enjoy!


Not Go-ing September 28, 2009

Tonight, after watching Micheal the monster mutt wrangle the goats into their pen for the night (that never ceases to amuse me) I came back to my brothers and taking advantage of the seemingly stable internet for once, decided to watch Brenda Dayne of  the podcast Cast-On taking her turn on the 4th Plinth.  It occurred on the 19th of September at 1 o’clock pm (for those of you who would like to look it up for yourselves).  I can’t even remember where exactly I was on the 19th of September to tell you the truth, but I remember thinking (since I knew at least it was Saturday) that I hoped that it had gone well and that she had good weather for it.  Now, I wish that I could have been there!  The weather looks as though it was absolutely fabulous and there was a good bunch of knitters there in Trafalgar Square knitting in support including Lucy Neatby!!!  Holy crap!  How freaking cool is that?!?!  Anyway, be sure to check it out when you have the chance (and good internet!).

Watching her work with needles that she got from Rachel John made me really want to get home and start using the gigantic crochet hook that I got from her back at the UK Ravelry Day back in June.  It looks as though it could use up a lot of yarn in a hurry (and I have a lot of yarn ready to be used up!).

Fall has finally come to this part of the world. My friend Sarah was looking for good ways to use up a lot of basil in a hurry, a sure sign that cold has arrived.  It has not only gotten chilly, but also quite windy here in the Midwest.  The sound of at least a million corn leaves angrily rustling is always an amazing sound to hear.  The wind has dried things out quite a lot so the sound of the corn has more of a raspy edge to it than it even did a few weeks ago.  The wind is so strong that it kept me awake most of last night with its unfamiliar sounds in my brother’s house.  Even Micheal was on edge because of it, waking up several times to bark at the phantoms of wind.

I honestly haven’t been doing a whole lot here in Ackley to tell you the truth.  I read a complete book and have worked on my knitting quite a lot.  Otherwise, I’ve been more or less a bum, which suits me fine.  After the last couple of weeks of non-stop go go go it’s nice to, you know, not go.  Especially since I know that I have a few more weeks of go-ing left before I am home again.


Gone. August 22, 2009


Moving into security in Heathrow


My bags in the back of the shaggin wagon

My bags in the back of the shaggin wagon


I’m sitting here cooling my jets in the Dusseldorf airport feeling very glad that I didn’t have enough cash to get the Glenmorangie Scotch that I wanted to get.  Despite assurances that from the airline representative that I had called specifically to make sure of this, I was made to go through both passport control as well as security here once again.  The security here is much tighter than in the US and took quite a lot longer, helped along by the fact that I had forgotten to ditch the last two of the buy 3 Dr Peppers for a really good price that I had picked-up in a Heathrow airport WH Smith.   Luckily, the flower bomb perfume that I got fit nicely into my plastic baggie after I had divested it of it wrappings.  My flight from London had been late but my flight to Chicago is even later!


The sturdy beast that ferried me to Chicago

The sturdy beast that ferried me to Chicago



Mile-high lace knitting.  Note the empty scotch glass!

Mile-high lace knitting. Note the empty scotch glass!


The next day in Chicago:

I’m in Chicago now with the dulcet tones of Sesame Street playing in the background.  I arrived safely and with a minimum of fuss even given a middle seat on an extremely crowded flight.  I think that I have finally found the key to international flying: Scotch on the rocks.  A few of these made the entire process that much more enjoyable!  Anyway, I have had a Mountain Dew and a good sleep (not normally two things that are conducive to each other but without the MD I would not have been able to make it to 9pm last night) but yesterday they were just what was needed.  Tonight is a party of my friends that are here in the Chicago area and SJ and I are sitting here trying to figure out what we are going to do today.  I suppose that we had best get on with it then….


My friend and her little guy with the spoils of travel around them

My friend and her little guy with the spoils of travel around them


Travel Plans August 8, 2009

So, it is now really real.  My travel plans are pretty much in carved in soap stone at this point.  This means that they are booked but could change due to the varagancies of the Travel Gods.  Or weather.  I mean, it is autumn in the Midwest not exactly an area known for it’s weather consistancy.  Still, I don’t think that I should have too many problems the time of year that I will be there.  So, here is the plan as it stands today:

August 21st London to Chicago via Dusseldorf

August 26th Chicago to Iowa

August 28th to October 4th  Iowa to Alaska back to Iowa

October 5th Iowa to Orlando

October 10th-ish Orlando to Key West with the hookers

October 15th Orlando to White Plains, NY

October 16-18 RHINEBECK!!!

October 18th White Plains, NY to London via Dusseldorf


I should start calling this the “Traveling Insanity Tour ’09”.

 Anybody who wants to meet-up with me on the way just give me a holler in the blog comments!


Almost fraking done! August 1, 2009

So, the Flower Power blanket, otherwise known as the blanket for Cesar and Pam, is very nearly done.  I finished sewing it together this week (thank the Gods) and am working on putting the edging on it.  I’m so happy that this project is done I could (and have) done a little dance.  It’s not that I didn’t like making it.  I really liked crocheting this one up.  Well, except for that whole unexpectedly ran out of the yarn that I needed for the center of the flowers when I’m several thousand miles away from a place that sells it thing.  That kinda sucked (thanks again Lily!).  Honestly, it wasn’t even the sewing.  It was the headaches that I got from the sewing.  I know that I should go see an eye doctor but I just can’t bring myself to go through all of that until I am back from my big trip to the states.


Speaking of the trip.  I realized that I haven’t yet put up an itinerary for where all I am going and roughly when (I don’t even know all of it yet!).  So, here it goes:

I start off flying from London, Heathrow to Chicago on the 21st of August.  I will be staying in Chicago from the 21st until the 26th when I take the California Zephyr (Amtrak train) to Osceola, IA where my mother is going to be picking me up.  I will then be staying in Iowa until the 28th or the 29th when my parents and I are leaving by car for Alaska.  We will be gone on this part of the trip for anywhere from 4-6 weeks, not really sure yet.  So when we get back, sometime in the end of September or beginning of October, I will then make my way down to Florida for a few weeks.  There is a trip in the planning for Key West with a bunch of hookers the weekend of the 10-11th of October.  The next Friday, the 16th, I’ll be making my way up to Rhinebeck for the NY Sheep and Wool festival.  On the 18th, I fly from White Plains to DC and then back to London, Heathrow.  I will have been gone approximately 60 days.  I will also be spending a LOT of time on United Airlines (gag).  I wish that I could take Amtrak a little more (luggage restrictions and all of that are easier) but it really wasn’t feasible at all.  Now, a few things in this itinerary…  I plan on being at the Ravelry party on Saturday night so if anybody wanted to meet me this would be a good place to do it.  I may or may not make it to the Ravelry meet-ups at Rhinebeck as I always mean to and then get too excited about everything going on and totally forget.  Maybe I’ll have more control this year (snort!).  I’m also thinking about taking a class at Rhinebeck if I get in early enough on Friday.  Annie Modesitt is teaching several classes this year and, shockingly, they aren’t sold out yet.  (I think that this is sort of a Sock Summit “shadow”.  It will be interesting to see if the crowds at Rhinebeck are thinner this year because of it as well since so many people only have enough money to do either one or the other…)

I have at least finished one thing this week.  The traveling baby blanket that I made out of leftover Cottontots is completely finished, even the ends are woven in.  I plan in taking it over to my neighbor sometime next week for her church to use as a fundraising tool.  Here it is:


Today has been…rough.  I couldn’t sleep last night at all.  I was still perky and awake when the birds started singing this morning.  At around 7am I took the dogs out for a good walk.  I wasn’t tired for any of it and the Hubby got up and joined me.  I then abruptly became really tired and more or less passed-out for about 4 or 5 hours.  Ugh.  Then I got up and made banana bars and managed to overbake them.  I won’t say burnt as they are really only just a tad too brown.  Still, it was annoying.  Then I made banana bread (are you seeing a theme here?) where half of the batter went into a normal sized loaf pan and the other half went into 4 tiny little pans.  The little ones turned out ok, the big one, not quite so.  I’m not sure what happened there but I guess I’ll just have to try again!

Last night while I wasn’t sleeping, I designed and ordered some mini “business” cards with Moo.  I saw a lot of these at Woolfest and thought that they seemed much cooler than traditional business cards.  I decided to get some for myself as I noticed that at gatherings of fibery folks I was always asking what folks Ravelry names were and then forgetting it before I had even gotten home.  I put my electronic contacts on these cards and then an assortment of photographs on the other side of them.  I figured that I will probably be meeting a lot of folks on my trip and pulling out one of these cute little cards was way easier than trying to record things on napkins or scraps of paper that always get lost.  I totally suggest checking out the site as you can order 10 normal business sized cards for free.

One cool thing that happened today was that I finally got my actual paper degree from UF.  It looks quite official and fancy.  I was surprised that they put a little thing on the actual degree that said “Cum Laude”.  How cool is that?!!?  Now I just need to find a frame for it!