Sarah Jane Humke

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

Thrum-roll Please January 14, 2018

So yeah, I made another pair of thrummed mittens.  I bought a new coat and needed some mittens that matched them better than my old ones.  I also wanted to make a few changes to how I made the mittens to make them work better for me.

The first pair that I made a few years ago were too short, both for the length of my hand and the wrist.  I was perpetually getting icy wrists and cold fingertips.  So I made this pair longer in both directions.

I also added neon yellow.


The mitten on the right is turned inside-out so that you can see the safety-yellow thrums. The mitten on the left is how it will look on my hands.

The roving is from Yarn Geek Fibers and is 22 micron Polwarth. The yarn is from Fiber Curio and Sundries and is and 80/20 Corriedale/Tencel DK weight that I held double to make it thicker (I wanted these puppies to be really warm!)

If you are looking for a thrummed mitten pattern, there are a number of them online for free.  These were sort-of Frankenknit using the parts of several patterns that I liked various aspects of.


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.


I don’t have any drool left and I smell like sheep October 19, 2008

Oh My God.  I so don’t know how to describe today, it was seriously just too overwhelming.  I guess that the best way to do it is to start at the beginning, right?  

I left the muggle in-law’s house today at around 5:30-ish.  The sun was still a ways from being up, let alone useful, so I took it easy initially on the speed.  There are a LOT of deer in New Jersey and New York and I am in a very pretty rental.  On my way out of the neighborhood, I saw a very bushy, foxy fox finishing up a wild night out on the town.  I took that as a good omen.

I had a little discombobulation following the lovely Georgina Philipa Smith’s (GPS) directions for a bit, but she got me settled and on my way out of New Jersey.  As the sun got brighter, I got to see more of the fall color.  It got pretty nauseatingly bucolic.  Mountains covered in red and gold and green.  Stone houses and the smell of wood smoke.  And then I got to the bridge.  I never really looked at where Rhinebeck is in New York.  I would have known if I had paid more attention that it is in the Hudson River Valley.  I went over the Hudson River on a VERY tall bridge at the perfect time of the morning in the middle of the fall color season on my way to Rhinebeck. I have to admit, I started manically laughing and whooping.  It was just one of those moments where it was just really good to be alive!

Photo taken while driving

Photo taken while driving



Not long after that I arrived at the fairgrounds and went to find my workshop.  It was on Selecting the Right Fleece and it was taught by Letty Klein who has judged fleeces for several years.  I was a really great class, she was very good at describing the things to look for to us in a detail and manner that made them make sense better than just reading a book could.  As I was going into my workshop I spotted Lily Chin going to teach hers!  I felt like I had just spotted crochet royalty!

After my workshop, I started going through all of the other buildings.  There were a LOT of vendors there.  Hundreds.  And there were thousands of people.  It was truly amazing.  I tried to take some pictures, but I am total crap about it.  

I mean seriously LOTS of people

I mean seriously LOTS of people

So, I did a lot of shopping which, for me, means a lot of looking and not a lot of buying.  For a while.  Then I found some really lovely wool/alpaca and wool/silk rovings at a fiber guild stall, then some more rovings at another stall and, well, you get the idea.  First trip to the car. I then came back and promptly bought both a long sleeved t-shirt and a sweat shirt with last years design on it.  What can I say?  I liked last years better and the two shirts together cost less than just a t-shirt alone of this years.  

I then hit the fleece sale.  This was one of those moments where things got a little crazy.  

A whole lot more than 3 bags full!

A whole lot more than 3 bags full!

No, those aren’t all mine (honey, you can start breathing again, I’m serious).  I got three but wanted twenty.  Easily.  The whole room smelled like sheep and there were all these beautiful fleeces (and I’m sure that there were even more beautiful ones earlier but I wasn’t willing to wait in line for them to finish the judging).  

I didn't get naked, it was too cold.

I didn't get naked, it was too cold.

They were of all different colors, from an almost rust red to black and all shades of white and cream.  My hands were constantly straying into new bags even as I waited to pay for the three that I already had.  Wool will do that to you.  Especially when there is so much of it and it is all displayed in a way that just BEGS to be grabbed and fondled.  

Almost heaven

Almost heaven

From there I went to the alpaca barns.  I want one.  They not only produce my favorite fiber (so long as it is clean!) but they are cute as all hell to!

Don't you just want to cuddle us?

Don't you just want to cuddle us?

 I didn’t make too much of a show of myself.  Really.  And, for your information there were lots and lots of people rubbing yarn and wool on themselves.  Lots and lots!  Ok, so maybe they weren’t being quite so loud about it as I was, but hey…

Every time that I would turn a corner, something new would surprise me.  Even just the fall colors looking out across the parking lot took my breath away.

On my way to the Ravelry party I saw this awesome house.  All that I could think is that these people are angry with their neighbors.


This could be a fun roving color combo.  "Angry House Owners"

This could be a fun roving color combo. "Angry House Owners"

 The Ravelry party was super fun.  It was, however, super cold as well.  I had broken down a bought a pair of “hybrid” mittens during the day (handmade, 100% alpaca, $18, don’t worry I will take a picture to explain the hybrid bit, just not now it is 1:30 in the morning and I am quite tired) so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it was still pretty bad.  They had awesome goodie bags for us (once again, will picture later) and yummy treats and cupcakes and stuff.

It was packed!  I don’t think that the Ravelry folks expected quite so many people to come.  They had a LOT of great door prizes to give away and yours truly won one!  It is a very cool sock kit from Classic Elite Yarns.  This might give me the inspiration needed to learn how to knit socks!  As it drew closer to nine o’clock, I grew both colder and more aware of the two plus hour drive back to New Jersey in the dark.  So I reluctantly left and drove home, exalting in the floor aimed heating the entire way.