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!


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!).



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.


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!


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!


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.


A Fine Day June 27, 2013

Yesterday I went down to Lake LaVerne and I remembered the camera.

First the fish started feeding (can’t really photograph them all that well).  Then the geese came.


These guys were literally eating out of my hands.  In fact, one kinda tried to hop onto my lap!




Then came the swans (they feel that they have to check out anything that the geese are into).



Swans are more elegant at a distance don’t you think?


There was also a turtle in all of this, but I didn’t manage to capture a photo of him.

Also yesterday there was good mail.


A letter from Tini and a little skein of sock yarn! Yay for the sock yarn blanket!

Still knitting on socks myself.  Still the Basket Weave Rib Socks.


I’m to the heel flap now. Have never made a pair of men’s socks before so it feels like it is taking forever.



Mail Call! June 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 8:51 pm
Tags: , , ,

I adore getting mail. Not flyers or bills or anything like that. Real mail. Letters, packages, postcards really anything that comes from a real person.  So, today was lovely going to the mailbox to find this.


A package from my friend Tini in Germany with provisions for my sock yarn blanket!


Yay for mail!!!!



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!


2nd socks and dog pee… January 21, 2011

Since I am pretty sure that she doesn’t read this (at least not in anything close to real-time) due to having an extremely active toddler in the house, I feel that I can post pictures of these without any major repercussions.  It might even be a good thing given how the UK and US postal services have done me this season*.  I will put pictures of her presents up and then I can point to it when she never gets it and say, “this is what you were going to be getting!”  Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying that I have finished another pair of socks!  Yea!  Considering that the first pair took me nearly a year to complete, this is moving along quite a lot faster with only about a week for this pair!  They would have been done faster, but I kept having gauge issues for some reason on the second sock.  It kept ending-up significantly smaller than the first one.  Perhaps I was more stressed?  Anyway, here they are (and don’t worry Sarah [if you are in fact reading this], I washed them after modeling them!).

See! Proof that I washed them!

Pink Socks

Yarn: Wetterhoff Sivilla, 30% Silk, 70% Wool.  From my Finnish friends:-)

Pattern: Sock Recipie: A Good, Plain Sock by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee except for the cuff which is the Prestige Cuff from SWTC Socks a la Carte.

Since finishing the socks I decided to plug away on my sock yarn blanket for a bit.  No photos as it is only a little larger than it was the last time I photographed it, but it is still taking up some time.

I know, I’m just soooooo exciting.

Part of the reason that I am sooooo exciting of late is the dogsitting that I am doing.  It makes it rather difficult to just hop in the car and go somewhere more involved than going to Tesco for groceries.  There are feeding schedules and all sorts of stuff to deal with, not to mention a lovelorn Malcolm whining a LOT because Kali won’t… well, I’m not sure what exactly he wants her to do (they are both responsible pets if-you-know-what-I-mean) but she doesn’t do it while in the house.  Because there are new animals in the house there has been jealousy pees and lots of barking whenever anything happens.  It’s been exasperating to say the least because all of these animals have known each other for years!!!

There you have it, a brief look into the über boring life of mine.

*I mailed seven packages to the US (various parts) on the 20th of December.  I knew that they weren’t going to get there by Christmas, so I used the post type that the postmistress said could take up to 2 weeks to get there.  They are still not there, not a single one of them has been delivered as of today.  {Note to self: Try slightly faster shipping method next time so that they will get gifts in same season at least.}


I (Heart) Mailman June 16, 2009

There is really nothing much better than getting real mail and the past 2 days have been most excellent for that here at The Old Chapel.  Monday I received my graduation pictures from Florida.  Still haven’t gotten my diploma yet, but that’s ok.  Anyway, I had ordered a package with four 5X7’s in it to share with the family.  I’m keeping one and the other three are going to get sent out as soon as I can get to the post office.  I also got a lovely letter from my friend Sarah Jane.  It is always just so good to get an actually snail mail letter.  Don’t get me wrong, e-mail and phone calls are nice as well but there really isn’t anything to compare to an actual hand written letter mailed to you with actual stamps.

Today, I got a package from my friend Tini in Germany.  She sent me a couple of books that she thought that I could use:



I know, I'm such a big fan of Debbie's and I didn't have this book!

I know, I'm such a big fan of Debbie's and I didn't have this book!

She also sent CHOCOLATE!!!!


Always accepted into the Chapel!

Always accepted into the Chapel!

 And to top it off, she sent the note written on the back of a Tori Amos postcard.  Does this woman have my number or WHAT?!?!


There is a package going out to her today so check out her blog to see what I sent her!

So, I did a bit of a stupid.  I sort of knit a few too many rows on my sock before I stopped to count it and now I am going to have to frog, well, a lot of rows.  Here’s what it looks like currently:


Oh well.  Now I get to learn about frogging with knitting!

Edited later to add:

Holy crap!  There were stitch markers in that package as well!  Tini mentioned them in an e-mail and I went, “Huh?  Stitch markers?  Better go check the packaging again.” and voila! there they were!  Such a cool package!


Three little stitch markers sittin' in a row

Three little stitch markers sittin' in a row


Goodies in the mail! May 12, 2009

I finally got some stuff in the mail that I had been waiting for.  One of the things came in these boxes:


For those of you with sharp eyes, you might notice that the tape on the boxes matches that of a box I recieved prior to settting off for the States.  Here’s another picture to give you some better size perspective.


They are some BIG boxes from the folks at the British Wool Board.   

And inside these boxes…


were some really big paper bags full of…


greasy fleecies!  Yep, it was two large boxes full of unwashed sheep’s fleeces.  To say that the dogs were interested would be a slight understatement:-)  Most of what I got were colored fleeces.  And, considering that I still haven’t spun the fleeces from Rhinebeck, well, Houston, we may have a problem here!

I also got the box that I mailed back here from the US as I was having space/time issues (namely I ran out of space in my suitcases this time).  In it were some yarns that I picked-up at Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I got one 4oz. skein of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock yarn in Bark and a mill-end skein that weighed in at 6.4 oz in the pink.


I also got a great hank of yarn from Seacolors Yarns in a soft greenish blue.  This farm/yarnery was featured in the book Shear Spirit which I wrote about right after I came back from Rhinebeck as I had gotten a copy signed by the author and photographer there.  The yarn that is produced is dyed in seawater and is specifically done in order to exhaust the dye bath as well as be as friendly to the environment as possible.  Plus, the yarn is just so super cushy it makes you want to bounce on it!


I also got some more rovings.  These are rather rambunctiously dyed and were named Alabama Winter II and Color 09-02.  They were from the Little Barn folks who had some really fun rovings for sale.


So, you can see that the postman has had a time of it of late bringing me packages.  I’m pretty sure that he’s sick of my face at this point.  Can you really blame him?  Those big boxes are heavy as hell!  Now I just need to find a decent priced drum carder……