Sarah Jane Humke

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

Strangers in the Dark February 4, 2012

Tonight I finally met the farm’s resident skunk.  Before you all start sending sympathy emails and comments, let me assure you no bodily fluids were exchanged.  He went one way and I went the other…quickly.  I had also just let all the dogs out and Red was heading towards me with her early evening feeding like a tomahawk cruise missile locked-in on a convoy of tanks.  To say that there was a mad scramble to get everyone back in the house before they noticed the little black and white Mephitis mephitis would be a massive understatement.  That Malcolm didn’t see our malodorous visitor is something of a small miracle as he was right beside me when I spotted it and he probably has better eyes than I do.

Everyone safely back in the house, I led Red back out to the feed lot (she had followed me all the way into the house looking for her dinner) checking carefully for monsieur Pepe Le Pew.  He had decided to return to his quarters and we were able to finish dinner without the addition of a putrid perfume.

I hope we remain strangers.


Finished! January 31, 2012

I have been working on Althea by Dutch Knitting Design otherwise known as my friend Marleen Van der Vorst.  I started this at Woolfest on either the 24th or the 25th of June.  Well, that’s not exactly correct as I started this yarn as a different pattern but quickly decided to use Marleen‘s pattern instead.  I hauled this shawlette to Knit Nation with me where very little got done on it.  However, I felt that I needed to show Marleen the progress that I was making on one of her patterns.  Then I am pretty sure that I didn’t show it to her at all.

This project rode in my checked baggage on the airplane home, only to be ignored for weeks on end in favor of Christmas projects and spinning.  I packed it into the big white van and it rode to Florida with me to deal with the house and not one stitch was added to it.  Finally (finally!) it got packed to go to Sticks and String this past weekend with me which is where we made a connection.

I know everyone always says this, but it’s amazing how fast a project goes when you actually work on it!

At the beginning of the weekend, it still looked more or less like this:

By the end of last night it looked like this:

The finish was exciting on this one.  I had this tiny ball of only 3 grams left over and that was after deciding to not do the last row of patterned knitting!

I gave it a bath in Soak last night and pinned it out early this morning.  My blocking board is packed somewhere in the storage unit along with my pins so I sort of had to improvise.  That’s ok, I’m pretty good at improvising!  This is a cedar chest that is under about 10 layers of blankets with a non-slip rug pad under them all.  This princess and the pea set-up is to keep Malcolm and the rest of the crew from scratching the top as they look out the window.  On top of all these blankets is a massive towel that my mom sewed out of 3 smaller towels way back in the day to put on the seat of a couch (which we no longer have).  I usually use it as a dog towel, but it was pressed into service as a pinning base today.   There was no way I was getting a picture of this shawl today without Sweetie Pie in the picture in all of her adolescent glory.  She’s actually waiting for me to throw her toy so that she can go fetch it.  For real, this cat plays fetch.

I didn’t have my fancy quilting pins (in storage as well) so I used a random pack of safety pins.  They worked ok!  The little gold ones were the best for pinning out the points.  When I have all of my blocking supplies together I will give this puppy a much stricter blocking, but this works for now!

And here is what it looks like now, blocked and fully finished!  It turned out much larger than I expected.  I knit and knit and knit on this and it took 97 grams out of 100 in the skein and I, for some crazy reason, thought that it was going to be a lot smaller than it turned out to be.  You would think that by now I would have a goodly grasp on the idea that more yarn (usually)=More knitted item.  I’m actually quite pleased with how large it is.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one aspect of Marleen’s patterns that I just love!  She makes them in these little booklets that fit perfectly inside the plastic bags that they come in.  This means that you can just turn to the proper page in the pattern and pop it back into the bag.  My patterns usually end-up looking (quite frankly) like a hot mess by the time that I am done knitting the project.  They’ve been folded and refolded and stuffed into a bag so the ends are all curly, you get the idea!  This particular pattern has more than a few miles on it.  It’s been stuffed into my purse for weeks on end (never a good thing!), packed into suitcases and carry-on bags, the works.  It still looks wonderful all protected by the plastic bag even after a LOT of abuse.  The pattern contains both charted and fully written-out directions as well as multiple color pictures of various aspects of the garment.  How many times have you knit something and wished that you could see how it was put together, not just on a super skinny model?  Well, Marleen’s patterns have them!  I know I sound all gushy about a pattern, but really, when you see something like this done the way it should be done it’s hard not to get a little verklempt!

So here, with no more ado, are the glamor shots of the finished and blocked shawl!

Obviously no pictures of me wearing it as it is difficult (to say the least) to take a flattering shot of yourself by yourself from behind.  However, it goes all the way down my back to the top of my jeans.

Pattern: Althea by Dutch Knitting Design

Yarn: Supreme Sock by Yarn Addict in Earth.  50% Merino, 50% Silk. 97 grams used.


When the tornado quiets… January 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 10:34 am
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…this is what it looks like.

Normally this adolescent kitten is intent in destroying anything and everything in her path.  At the very least, moving it to the floor or under the bed. But when she decides to take a little down time, she’s still one of the sweetest things on the planet.


How was your day dear? December 28, 2011

“Normal” person’s answer:

I got up, went to work.  The commute was hell.  Hated on my boss because he was acting like a dick.  Ate lunch at that new Mexican place on the corner.  It was terrible.  Everything smelled like fish except the fish which oddly smelled like chicken.  Went back to work for another 5 unproductive hours because the new chick in the corner cubicle was singing along to the new Justin Bieber single over and over.  Loudly.  And out of tune.  Drove home in even more hellish traffic.  Made dinner in the microwave and watched tv.


My answer:

Got up.  Took Mal for a walk (spaz-out) in the field while it was still frozen.  Helped my mom with cleaning until I threw a massive fit (don’t ask).  Started a fire (on purpose).  Went to town to the vet to get more meds for Sweetie Pie, the kitten refugee in my bedroom, as her sinus infection has come back.  Helped my dad get an escaped calf back in the pen.  Then, after dad left, managed to get that “red-haired bitch of a heifer” (his words, not mine) into the shed without any help.  She had attacked both 4-wheelers and cars previously.  He had been trying to catch her for 3 days.  Assisted the vet while he reinserted a prolapsed uterus into a doe goat who had just given birth.  This had me straddling the front end of the doe holding one of her hooves way up in the air (we needed gravity on our side with that thing!).  Watching this whole operation, I seriously reconsidered my urge to have children.  I then tried to graft her (big) doe kid onto the Christmas mother.  Failing that I warmed-up a half a cup of colostrum replacement and poured it into a Pepsi bottle with a big nipple on it and gave the little red baby its first meal.  During all these goat ministrations, I managed to get a pretty awesome assortment of really gross shit all over me making it so that the dogs really wanted to make love to my pants when I got inside.  Showered.  Looked up both prolapsed uterus and colostrum on the internet for spelling.  Oh, and in the midst of all of this, I answered about 2-3 dozen caucus calls, mostly from Mitt though a few were from Newt too.


How was your day?



(And yes, I will have baby goat feeding pictures tomorrow!)


A short walk on a cold winter day December 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 11:33 am
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I took Malcolm and Micheal down to the creek today for their walk.  Meara and Weezy were originally excited by the idea but quickly changed their minds when they understood just how cold the wind was.

The snow from yesterday has stuck around making the cold seem appropriate.  It also causes the landscape to appear a tad less harsh.

The creek is only partially frozen.  There is still moving water in parts of it while it is completely frozen over in other areas.

The sun tried valiantly to overcome the winter gloom.

Malcolm wears his “please don’t shoot me hunters, I’m a dog” vest every time we go further than the front yard now.  There are often many shots heard from deer hunters in all directions.  There “shouldn’t” be any hunters on the land we are walking on, but I feel better with him geared-up like this.  Plus it makes him a lot easier to find in this brown/white landscape!

Sweetie Pie wanted to know where the heck we had been when we got back!


Thanksgiving November 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 5:02 pm
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May you all have had as much nose-licking good food as you want this Thanksgiving!



First Snow November 14, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 2:27 pm
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Last week we got our first snow here.  We had missed getting any white stuff until this point with folks both East and West of us getting slammed pretty good while we still had lovely weather.  Like our neighbors to both directions, our snow was very wet and heavy.  It did cause some issues in places like Des Moines, but here it was nothing more than a pretty, transient nuisance.

True to form, Malcolm loved playing in the snow.  This snow was a little more slippery than he was used to thus there were a few spectacular wipe-outs (none of which were caught by the camera!).  Nevertheless he still got his fun in!




The snow only really lasted just the one day leaving behind it’s less glamorous though less fickle cousin, winter mud.  There’s been a lot of paw cleaning lately!