Sarah Jane Humke

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

Easier in the Rearview January 6, 2014

A true-ism that has been forcing it’s way to the front of my mind a lot lately is that things always seem easier after you’ve done them. Especially if you’ve done them a few times.  Often, it is the thought of something more than the actual thing that keeps us from doing it.  It may be the idea of failing or just plain nervousness about doing something unfamiliar, but still, it is the thought of doing it more than the actual doing it.

Take, for example, pressure canning.  The first time that you do it it is a scary, scary thing.  You are sure that you are going to blow up your house or kill everyone with your canned green beans.  Then, after you’ve done it a few times, it quickly becomes easy. Commonplace even.  Still, to the outsider, it looks scary and intimidating and they are amazed that you do it and survive.

Making jams and jellies was kind of fun by comparison.  I mean, nothing is going to blow up.  The worst things that can happen are (in a rough order of worst to least worst) you get burned by bubbling sugar laden jam/jelly/marmalade/fruit butter (hurts like a sonofabitch, but it’s not blowing a hole in your  upstairs neighbor’s floor), scorching the bottom of your pot or pan (total pita to clean and if stainless, possibly ruining a pan if not), over-boiling your pot by having a seemingly volcano-like eruption of sugar and fruit all over your stove top with burners all a blazing making it smell like a orchard burning in August, and what seems like the worst thing at the time, your preserve not setting making what you just made to be pear vanilla sauce rather than the pear vanilla jam it was supposed to be.

Knitting can be like that too.  For a long time I resisted becoming a sock knitter.  I knit lace by the yard like a  less literate Charlotte saving my own personal Wilbur.  This was all fine until you needed to travel with these projects.  Most of the time it was ok, but there were times where needles came out and caused all kinds of havoc to my gossamer webs.  There are few things more disheartening than to pull your knitting out on the plane/train/automobile only to find the needles in one area of the project bag and the knitting in another.

In the past year or so, I’ve started knitting socks with a seriousness.  Since a lot of my time is spent on the bus, small projects are a must.  Since I have the Monkey pattern memorized now, that tends to be my go-to pattern if it isn’t a self-striping yarn.  Then it’s just a type of vanilla pattern similar to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s (You can tell the kind of evolution taking place here as I no longer say that it is, in fact, her pattern as I have changed things as needed to suit my sock making needs. EZ would be proud.).  I now have the Kitchener stitch memorized (who’d have thought that would happen!) and turning heels no longer makes me stuff the poor little sock in the project bag and leave it to be moth bait for a good long time before I garner the fortitude to finish it.  I’m not saying that I am a socky guru or anything, but I do now consider myself a sock knitter.

This hasn’t been limited to my personal life either.  There are a number of things I never thought that I would be able to say or do that now are pretty natural to me.  For example, I got an A in a Statistics class this pass semester.  Never in a million years thought that I would say that, nor that I would admit to feeling reasonably comfortable using a piece of software for it that is, well, not the most user friendly piece of work I’ve encountered.

So tell me, what things have been easier in the rearview for you?


Make do With What’s on Hand July 12, 2013

So, today I nearly finished my most recent monkeys, but I had left my sewing-up needle at home.  However, I really wanted to get the almost completed monkeys off the needles so I could cast on another pair.  What to do?

So, I thought about what I had around me.  I was at the ISU agricultural mechanics shop out at the 450 farm.  So, I procured a couple of little pieces of leftover  mig  welding wire, transferred the stitches onto them, and voila! Rough and ready stitch holders!

Make 1

The rest of the sock isn’t visible as this pair will be a future gift for someone who might actually read this.  Yes, I am working on the Christmas presents already! 🙂  If you want to see them, pictures are available on my Ravelry page.

However, I have started on another pair, this time for me, thus I can show them to you!

Make 2

And this is one day later!

And this is one day later!


I’m totally adoring that green, grey and teal together. Can’t wait to wear these!!!


Practically a Sock Knitting Factory June 24, 2013

Ok, so that might be overstating it a bit.  But I do feel like a MACHINE of knitting prowess! Here are the latest and greatest Monkeys!


This was some beautifully dyed yarn.  I know it’s hard to see it, but this yarn had reds, rusts, oranges, greens, browns and even a tiny bit of pink in the mix.  It’s Socks that Rock Lightweight, unknown colorway.  It was a lot of fun to knit.

However, I am going to be hoping off the Monkey train for a little bit.  I’m making some socks for a male friend of mine and I’m not sure that the Monkey is the way to go. Both for the yarn and the person. Here’s the yarn:

Joel 1

Yes, it is very rainbow-ishious. And yes, he chose it:-)

Today I caused a (very) minor traffic jam on campus. You see, I took some stale buns down to Lake LaVerne to feed the fish and geese and swans. Anyway, first came the fish, then the geese and finally, the swans.  However, the geese are afraid of the swans so ran into the street.  They are not afraid of cars however, and would simply honk back as drivers tried to get through!  Oops!


The monkey parade continues! June 23, 2013

Ha! You thought I was done?  Puh-leeze! I am still monkeying it up out here!  I’ve got a sock and a little over a half done.  It’s been a busy week y’all!

Parade 4

It got pointed out to me in the comments that I had sent out the knit-signal but I hadn’t given y’all an address that you could send sock yarn leftovers to if you wanted to.  So, here it is:

Sarah Humke

PO Box 1453

Ames, IA 50014-1453

I’m not too worried about anyone stalking me to a PO box.  It’s a little post office and if you were hanging around long enough, they would notice!

I also got a rocking sunburn on the back of my neck this week working at home (note the mesh seed corn cap, I am nothing if not an authentic farm girl!)

parade 3

Guess that makes me a well-educated redneck:-)

In all seriousness, this was kind of a rough week. Another member of my family passed away.  This time it was Micheal.  I haven’t talked about him too much on here of late as he has been living with my parents for the past four years or so and had pretty much adopted mom as his own.  I found him as a little mangy puppy abandoned at the greenhouse.  He had feet way too big for a puppy that small.  As soon as he was big enough, he became an unrepentant escape artist.  Micheal just wanted to be out sniffing and exploring.  He was 15, pretty old for a dog his size and mix of breeds.  He was mostly blind and almost completely deaf, but he still wagged for me when I went home on Tuesday.

Parade 1

parade 2


Micheal was my first dog that was my responsibility alone.  Like a first child, I made many mistakes with him,  but he was too good of a dog to let them get to him.  Because of his protectiveness, I was seldom scared living alone in an old house by the woods.  He loved men and would whack them in the balls whenever one came over by way of greeting (I think it was because the guys then usually bent over and got down on his level, he wasn’t malicious about it, he was just saying, “hello”).  But it was the women in his life he was protective of.  First me then my mom.  Micheal was perfectly happy and friendly unless we were scared of someone, then he was between us and them, always.  He was a good, good boy and he will be missed.


More socks! June 16, 2013

Yes, I finished blocking the latest pair of monkeys!  I hung the blocked socks outside to dry in the sunshine today.


And then I started another pair…


I promise, sooner or later I will in fact blog about something other than monkey socks!


Getting Serious June 15, 2013

I don’t talk on here a lot about beauty products and regimes mostly because I typically don’t have any.  That is until lately that is.  You see, I’ve decided it’s time to start getting serious about my skin.

Over this past winter, I started using a moisturizer on my face consistently every night after my shower.  I know, big whoop.  But for me, it kinda was.  I generally don’t use moisturizer regularly.  However, I’ve decided to up my game a little bit.  I am starting to use a proper facial cleanser for my face as well as moisturizer with sunblock in it in the mornings.  I’m scarcely outside anymore, but I know that doing this will help my skin in the long-run.  I’m thankful that I was never one of those women who tanned for a hobby.  Even in high school when my friends were all doing it, I was sitting in the shade reading.  Some of those women today look 10-15 years older than what they really are because (I think) of those golden brown tans that they worked on so diligently.  I’m not naming any products at this point because I’m not sure how I like some of them still.  I have really sensitive skin, but sometimes it takes a bit before reactions start.

There are a couple of other things I’m getting serious about other than just my skin care.  Obviously, I’ve been knitting socks a fair amount lately.  I just finished my second pair of Monkeys and am getting ready to cast-on my third.  Here are the just finished ones in their bath.

serious 2

There was 19 grams of yarn left, which seems to be about average for a pair of Monkey’s in Socks that Rock Lightweight for me.


I’m also getting serious about learning to sew more.  I now have two sewing machines (the Necchi and an IKEA one) and it seems pretty silly to have them and not use them.  I’ve found a few “easy for a beginner” patterns that I plan on trying out this weekend, I’ll let you know how it goes!



On Becoming a Knitting Cliché June 6, 2013

So, yeah…  I get the addictive nature of the Monkey socks now.  I already want to cast-on the next pair and I’m not done with this pair yet!  It’s sort of like when I was still smoking (yes, I used to smoke. I quit. It’s bad for you, don’t start it!) when I would want another cigarette before I had even finished the one I was smoking. Knitting Monkeys is kinda like that…


I even have the yarn for the next two pairs balled up at this point, just waiting to get cast-on.

Both are Socks that Rock lightweight in mill ends colors (aka, I don't know the colors:-))

Both are Socks that Rock lightweight in mill ends colors (aka, I don’t know the colors:-))

It really is a sickness. Get used to seeing Monkey’s on here for a while!

In other news, I now have a place to live come the end of July.  Yay! I’m not going to be homeless!  Also, it allows dogs (note on the plural there) so I will be able to have both Weezy and Malcolm living with me next year.  I have a feeling that this means that the bromance ongoing between my father and Malcolm will cool a little bit and hopefully I’ll be able to get Mal back down to his proper weight.  Maybe in working on doing so, I will bring me back to down to my proper weight as well!

This has been a really scary year so far weather-wise across a huge chunk of the US.  For the folks in Oklahoma, it’s been heartbreaking.  It feels as though every time we turn around, there’s another round of severe weather heading their way, making the clean-up from what they’ve already gotten even more difficult.  There’s a really great knitting pattern book that’s been put together to aid the folks devastated by the tornadoes in Oklahoma.  It’s called k*tog and it contains 20 patterns including: 4 patterns for socks, 4 patterns for scarves or cowls, a vest, a cardigan, 2 hats, 4 shawls, a baby cocoon, some toys and a pair of fingerless mitts.  It’s $20 and ALL of the proceeds from it go to the folks in Oklahoma.  Honestly folks, even if you only knit a couple of the patterns in it it’s still a great deal. I mean, $20 for 20 patterns. Go, get it here if you haven’t already!

This weekend is the Iowa Sheep and Wool festival in Adel, Iowa.  I will be attending and taking a class on Saturday morning about Angora rabbits. How to care for them and how to spin their wool. Should be… fluffy:-)  I will be doing some stuff with my guild as well which is always fun!  If you are in the area I would strongly encourage you to come and check out the wooliness!