Sarah Jane Humke

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

Finally! Pictures from Maryland Sheep and Wool! May 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 12:54 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yes, I finally got the hubby to release the photos from the cameraphone onto the laptop!  It is a win-win day for all of us.  Please remember that I didn’t have a “real” camera with me so there aren’t as many photos as I would have normally taken.  Also, it was pouring down rain a lot of the time that I was there.

DSC00098

This was the spinner’s auction that happened on the first day of the festival.  I didn’t get anything as the only thing that I was really looking for was a drumcarder and the ones for sale went for nearly as much as a new ones go for.  I didn’t get anything.

DSC00099

This is typical of the main building.  Most of the time it was so wall-to-wall people in this place that there was no moving with out feeling like you were mowing people over.  Part of the reason that it was so very crowded was that it was raining pretty hard at this point.

DSC00100

This is a picture of a felting booth.  Not only is there lots of yarn and wool to buy but there are also lots of finished objects on sale as well.  

DSC00101

This is sort of a picture for Terri.  These are felted rocks in amongst the wooden sheep and wool gloves.

DSC00102

More interesting felted objects.

DSC00103

This is of the main walkway outside.  I know I keep showing you pictures of it not raining, but I promise, it rained a lot that weekend!

DSC00105

These were some very patient alpaca that had recently lost their blankets (it’s what they call their fleeces when they have been removed).  Any time it wasn’t raining these guys were swarmed with people.

DSC00106

This is a yurt? I guess by a person selling felted rugs.

DSC00108

There were, of course, lots and lots of sheep around.  Alas, not many of them wanted to hold still so that I could get a good photograph of them but these pictures will give you an idea of what I saw.

DSC00111

DSC00113

 

Chilled sheep

Chilled sheep

DSC00119

It was after I took these photos that I went back out to the car and dropped my phone.  I didn’t realize that it was lost until the next time that I went out to the car and realized that it wasn’t there like I had thought that it was.  I then went to the lost and found and luckily someone had turned it in.  Even though it had gotten throughly wet, it seemed no worse for the ware.  But, because of that there are no more photos of Maryland.  Sorry about that.  I will make sure that I pack the battery charger for the camera the next time that I take a big trip like that….

This poor guy kept getting his head stuck in the bars.

This poor guy kept getting his head stuck in the bars.

 

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:

DSC_0524

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.

DSC_0526

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

And inside these boxes…

DSC_0686

were some really big paper bags full of…

DSC_0688

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.

DSC_0691

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!

DSC_0692

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.

DSC_0689

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……

 

Shopping and other kinds of show and tell

So, of course, I get asked right about the stuff that I picked-up at Maryland Sheep and Wool.  Ok, so I got a few things (I took a large camping sized duffelbag that was full on the return).  Here’s a sample of some of the things that I got in Maryland.

DSC_0561

These are balls of roving that I got from a company called Bartlettyarns.   It isn’t the finest wool in the universe, but it has very cool inflections of natural colored wool through them.  Plus, it was really, really reasonably priced.

DSC_0536

I’ve wanted to get this book ever since I heard that it was coming out.  And look!

DSC_0537

It’s signed by the author!  

DSC_0539

The folks from Wild Fibers were there and they were selling back issues for a great deal, 4 for $2o!  For those of you that have never heard of this magazine before it is sort of like the National Geographic of the fiber world.  Each issue takes you to new places in the world where the various types of fiber come from or originated at.  It is a very cool magazine and if you have a chance to check out an issue, I highly suggest it!

DSC_0557

These are some pottery plant label stakes that a company was clearancing out at $.75 each.  There weren’t a lot that I was interested in but of course I managed to find a few that I could use.

DSC_0559

DSC_0560

These bags contain one pound each of processed fleece from Navajo-Churro sheep named (respectivaly) Isabella and Zora.  The Navajo-Churro is a very old breed which is considered “rare” in breed terms.  I got these directly from the breeder of the sheep, Walks F Acres.  I like to buy from a sheep breeder like this as I can find out about the sheep themselves and I feel like I am supporting a small business as well as help to maintain a threatened breed.  Plus, the price was really reasonable.

DSC_0562

I got these two roving balls from the Brush Creek Wool Works.  They are a lovely blend of blue with various yellows and greens and red with yellows and blues.  I’m not sure what type of wool these are but I am pretty sure that they are some sort of Merino blend.

There are also a few things which just aren’t that fun to take pictures of.  I got some plastic cards one which came with a little wooden tool in order to figure out what type of yarn I am making when I am spinning or to just figure out what kind of unlabeled yarn I have laying around.  It’s called a Wraps per inch (or WPI) tool.  I also got a yarn classification card that has a bunch of information about the different types of yarn available.

There are some things that I mailed here as I was pretty full suitcase wise.  When they get here I’ll show pictures of them as well.

 

The Graduation and Maryland Sheep and Wool Post May 11, 2009

So, I have been a very bad blogger!  Are you gonna spank me now?  Huh?  Didn’t think so.  I know that I’ve been bad but I actually have a pretty decent reason for it.  I was in the US for the past week+ and I didn’t have a whole lot of internet connection nor time to connect.  And, for the past few days I’ve been catching up on important things like sleep, laundry and all of my page-a-day calenders.  Oh, and puppy cuddling.  Lots and lots of puppy cuddling!

I'm a total lover despite my tough exterior!

I'm a total lover despite my tough exterior!

 

We even cuddle with each other at times.

We even cuddle with each other at times.

It is now all very official.  I am now an alumna of the University of Florida.  I graduated on Friday with 600+ other Ag students.  It honestly felt sort of silly.  The hat, the tassels (I had multiple since I graduated cum laude) the dressing up.  But I’m glad that I did it as it put a very serious period at the end of that sentance of my life.  

 

Out at the MREC in full regalia in the plant ID hell courtyard

Out at the MREC in full regalia in the plant ID hell courtyard

 

Out in front of the Big Sign

Out in front of the Big Sign

 

There were bagpipes.

There were bagpipes.

 

A baby gator on the Jumbotron of course.

A baby gator on the Jumbotron of course.

 

Largest class to graduate ever!

Largest class to graduate ever!

 

Me on the Jumbotron

Me on the Jumbotron

Can you tell I'm pleased?

Can you tell I'm pleased?

 

Cesar and Pam brought me flowers and drove all the way up for my graduation!

Cesar and Pam brought me flowers and drove all the way up for my graduation!

 

Diane, my advisor and friend and I.

Diane, my advisor and friend and I.

 

 

The Commencement Booklet

The Commencement Booklet

 

Proof that I was supposed to be there!

Proof that I was supposed to be there!

Prior to graduation there was my Thursday night hookers meet-up!  It was great being back with the gang again.  We got loud and we more than shut the place down.  I missed these guys even more than I knew.

 

Look at that rowdy bunch!

Look at that rowdy bunch!

 

Jessi came all the way from Sarasota for the hooking and parties!

Jessi came all the way from Sarasota for the hooking and parties!

 

David's got big, um, cameras....

David's got big, um, cameras....

After my graduation party (lots and lots of fun at my favorite restaurant with lots of my favorite people there)

(I don’t have any pictures of this just yet, still working on it)

I caught a few hours of sleep and then I caught a Southwest Airlines flight to Baltimore to go to Maryland Sheep and Wool.  Now, I probably shouldn’t compare the two sheep and wool festivals that I’ve been to of late, but I’m going to.  Maryland Sheep and Wool is always purporting to be bigger than Rhinebeck.  I personally, didn’t see it.  It seemed to be about as big as Rhinebeck and slightly more disorganized.  It was nice that it was free, but I would prefer to pay a little bit than to constantly have t-shirts shoved down my throat.  The fleeces and the food were both a great deal more expensive at the Maryland Sheep and Wool.  The sheep fleeces were going for around the same prices as the lower quality alpaca blankets were at Rhinebeck.  I’m glad that I wasn’t looking for either at Maryland.  Both festivals aren’t particullary organized when it comes to getting their shit together on the internet.  There is really no excuse for stuff going up on the web about a month prior to the festival.  Even if you have to change it later, put it up now to give people an idea to start planning around!  I thought that the facilites overall were better at Rhinebeck.  The one very big thing that Maryland has going for it was just how easy it was to get there.  I have to admit, being off a major interstate is nice.  All in all, I’m glad that I went but I won’t be all that strung out about missing it next year.  And my advise to anyone thinking of doing one of these two sheep and wool festivals is to go to Rhinebeck if you possibly can.  It is a bit of a pain to get to, but it’s so very worth it.

(The photos of this are captive on my phone.  As soon as tech support [aka the wizard] releases them from their small phone sized box I will post them)

I also hung out at Yarn Therapy night on Tuesday night with Terri and Co.  I think that I surprised her a little bit by being there:-)  It was good to get to hang out in the lovely Infusion Tea once again and get some tasty food and drink and see everybody there.  I was bad and didn’t take any photos of that night since I was having so much fun!

I got lots of presents that are seriously cool.  I’m not going to put pictures in here of them as it takes a while to upload things.  Lets just say that these made a serious dent in my suitcase space!

And I also did a fair amount of shopping while I was there.  The Micheals, JoAnns, Hobby Lobby and Sip and Knit were all calling loudly while I was home.  “Sarah!  Sarah!  We have lots of new clearance/sale items/new stuff to check out!  Come visit as soon as possible!”  Then there was the Target and Barnes and Noble voices that were more like the families with bull horns at graduation.  Barnes and Noble was especially bad since I had gotten several gift cards as graduation gifts.

Now I am home and starting on a new adventure.  Catch the next post to find out what it is…..

 

Bluebells and Blueballs April 25, 2009

Ok, so I am not going to say anything about blueballs, I just couldn’t stand not using it.  I accidentally typed in blueballs the first time I tried to type bluebells.  What can I say, that’s where my mind goes!  So, I’m sorry if you found this post hoping for a cure for blueballs or thinking that it was a porn site of some ilk.  No porn here unless you get off on yarny and flowery stuff!

Today the hubby and I went to Leighton Buzzard.  Saturday is market day and the LB market is a tad bigger than the Tring one.  Since I am leaving in a day, there were also some supplies that we needed to pick-up.  The hubby was nice in taking a couple of photos of the market for me.  It’s really hard to get the entire feel for the place since it is down both sides of a street and there are lots of folks wandering around.  We were both wishing that there was some way to record some audio as the sound of it was really cool.  The vegetable sellers trying too woo shoppers in at the top of their voices with deals that change by the minute, the music coming from some sellers stalls and the general din of a market day.

 

Leighton Buzzard Market

Leighton Buzzard Market

 

Lots of spring plants for sale

Lots of spring plants for sale

We went home and dropped off the things that we had picked up and loaded the dogs into the car and off we went again.  This time to the top of the Beacon for a look around.  First we stopped and got some pictures of the fields of rapeseed blooming on the hills.

 

Is this not the coolest commute view you've ever seen?

Is this not the coolest commute view you've ever seen?

 

What an amazing day!

What an amazing day!

Then we meandered on up the hill, huffing and puffing much to the amusement I am sure to the much more fit Brits on the path around us.  Hell, even the dogs weren’t winded!

 

The Whipsnade Lion in all of it's glory.

The Whipsnade Lion in all of it's glory.

Sitting enjoying the view.

Sitting enjoying the view.

 

Ivinghoe Aston from above

Ivinghoe Aston from above

From there is was just a short drive to the closest bluebell walk.

 

Is this not REALLY cool?!?!

Is this not REALLY cool?!?!

dsc_0300

dsc_0307

 

 

 

 

 

 

It smelled as good as it looked as bluebells are in the same family as hyacinths.  It sort of smelled like being in a room where some laundry was drying that had been washed with some very posh washing soap.

dsc_0383

The dogs behaved the best that they have towards other people and even other dogs that they have, well, ever.  It was sort of amazing, they just walked right on by people not paying them the least attention.  Normally, Meara wants to KILL! KILL! KILL! everyone, especially if they have a penis.

Tomorrow I fly to the US for my graduation and then on to Maryland Sheep and Wool.  Oooooo, Maryland Sheep and Wool…….

P.S.  Here’s a little teaser for a finished object that I just got done today…

dsc_01392

 

Soggy Boggy April 16, 2009

It is a rainy afternoon here in the not so lovely (currently) English countryside.  Actually, I don’t know if rain is exactly what I would call what it is doing outside currently.  It’s very misty and really closer to a drizzle than a full-on proper rain.  Let’s just put it this way, the dogs look at me as though I’ve gone daft when I ask them if they would like to go out.  They know what that sound on the conservatory roof means, they aren’t stupid!

So I thought that today would be a perfect day to sort out the attic.  We threw a bunch of random stuff that we had given-up hope of finding a home for up there before we had our guests this weekend and it was rather a mess.  We also had both lightbulbs burn out at the same time and a bunch of internet problems which meant that we were up there a fair amount, in the dark.  So, while I was at Homebase yesterday, I picked-up a couple of el-cheapo energy saving bulbs and put them up there.  Anyway, we had also decided to put the iPod player that Chris had picked-up cheaply while living here before I came up there as well for me to listen to when I go up to commune with my stash.  Thus, on this soggy, boggy day, I sorted the attic.  I know, my life is just riveting.  

The field across the road with the ewes is getting actually pretty thin of sheep.  The day that the ewe has the lambs the farmer comes and moves them to another pasture.  This daily ritual is actually pretty fun to watch as the farmer will pick-up the ewe and put her in the back of his pick-up/landrover.  As you can imagine, the sheep isn’t too keen on being picked up so some pretty hilarious struggles ensue.  The best, however, is the lambs.  For only being but a few hours old, they can be quite wily and quick.  It’s fun to see just how good of a struggle some of these wee little things really put up.  I’m sure that the farmer wouldn’t appreciate me cackling away in my 2nd story window at him trying to catch the little buggers, but since he probably doesn’t read this then I’m not going to sweat it too much.

I am nearly to the point in my commissioned blanket that I cannot go any further without the gold yarn.  I await the postman every day but he just keeps shoving bills and junk mail through the slot.  That is actually one of the things that I have been amazed at since getting here.  The amounts of junk mail and the level of sales calls.  It’s been so long since we had a landline telephone that I had completely forgotten just how many damn telemarketers really can call!

Cast on, a podcast made by an American that is living in Wales, has become my newest obsession.  Terri from Yarn Therapy mentioned it to me, ok, more like told me that I should really give it a listen.  So I have been and she’s right, it is a really great listen even if it is about knitting and not it’s fairer cousin.  Check it out for yourself.  It’s available for free at iTunes.

Today I also made a very grown-up decision.  I am not going to go to Wonderwool Wales even though I really, really want to.  Did you know that Wales has the highest density of sheep of any country in the world?  Neither did I until quiz night at the pub!  Anyway, Wonderwool Wales is the weekend that I am traveling home to Florida to graduate from college (not collage).  I could go on the 25th of April as I fly on the 26th but that just seems, well, fraught with possible serious calamities.  I mean, what could possibly go wrong with a plan that involves me driving, more than likely, alone all the way to Wales and back the night before an international flight?  So, Wonderwool is now on the list of things to do in 2010.  Sigh.  Oh well, can’t bitch too much given that I will be going to Maryland Sheep and Wool!  (I know, I know, I suck.  Love you too!)

Yesterday was a pretty major shopping expedition to Leighton Buzzard.  I got there ok (which is noteworthy as I feel that Leighton Buzzard is a suck of roadsigns and unnecessary traffic circles) and did the big Tesco and Homebase and then I decided to check out the Aldi.  Normally it is closed when I am there but since it was the middle of the day I was good to go.  I hadn’t been in this store before, and the stores that I had grown-up with in Iowa only really had frozen or canned items,  so it came as a huge surprise that it had stuff!  Stuff like clothes and plants and cut flowers and toys and well, you could feel this coming couldn’t you?  Yarn.  Yes, the Aldi had YARN in it.  Just plain acrylic, but it was good quality (think Vanna’s Choice) and cheap.  3 pounds for 5 balls.  500 grams of yarny goodness.  Of course, I had to buy it!  We need to encourage more grocery stores to carry yarn don’t you think?  It is part of our quest for world domination….

 

Yarn! Aldi! Who would've thought?

Yarn! Aldi! Who would've thought?

 

See, even CHEAP!!  I think I love Aldi now.....

See, even CHEAP!! I think I love Aldi now.....

 

 

Another random factoid for you today.  The Union Jack is made up of the crosses of the patron saints of England, Ireland and Scotland but not Wales.  Interesting no?

 

On a Happy Day January 20, 2009

Packing continues here in lovely Apopka.  The yarn room continues to be filled with more boxes and containers than were even in there previously.  It is interesting to see the house seem to gradually empty into a couple of rooms which are completely impassible.  It will be an experience for me once everything is once again out of the house to see it’s bones.  I don’t think it has been completely empty since I bought it.  I spent a couple of weeks cleaning it before I moved in with my friend Liuba as there was a lot of, well, gunk on the walls in the kitchen and stuff like that.  We had it mostly empty while we remodeled it a while back, but not completely empty.  I am going to be sad to leave this house.  I bought it when I was only 21 not knowing just how hard buying a house is supposed to be!  I think that had I known I wouldn’t have done it.  I’m not going to say that this is one of those fantastic stories that you hear about all the time, where someone buys a house down on it’s luck and magically transforms it into a palace.  It isn’t, the house still has serious limitations but I am leaving it a much more livable structure than the one that I bought.  (For example, it has A/C now.  It didn’t when I bought it.  Seriously.  I lived here for a year with no A/C.).  Still, I have spent a third of my life here and it will be hard to say goodbye…..

Wool washing also continues.  Luckily, wool washing appears to be coming to an end.  I am on my last sheep fleece from Rhinebeck, all I have left after that is to wash lovely Chico’s blanket and everybody is clean…  I finished washing the Romney’s fleece and it is even more lovely clean than it was greasy.  It has more silver in it than I even thought.  Now I am working on the Romney-Rambouillet crossed fleece which is another of the white fleeces.  Lots of soaking it in the washer and hauling hot pans of water out to it.  I’m glad that the alpaca fleece doesn’t need hot water since it has no grease in it.

With random balls of yarn that I have found around the house as I was packing, I have broken 1000 on the Ravelry stash list.  That means that I have 1000 different kinds of yarn, not 1000 skeins or balls of yarn.  I have way more than 1000 skeins since many of the kinds of yarn that I have I own more than one ball of it.  Still, it is dubiously a banner day for me!  

I am optimistically hopeful that we may have found a place that will work for us in the UK.  Not only would we be able to live there but the entire zoo as well.  I don’t want to talk about it too much for fear of jinxing it, but I will say that it even has a greenhouse!!!

I’m not going to talk about the inauguration here.  I listened to it on NPR and I am sure that there are LOTS of folks blogging about it.  I’m just glad, in a perverse way, that it is happening before I move overseas.  For the past 8 years I have felt that I had to apologize when I told people over there that I was an American.  I no longer feel that way.  I am happy and proud to be an American and I hope that I stay that way…..

(MSW-101, Birthday-spa day-11)