Sarah Jane Humke

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

Getting to Know You (all over again) July 2, 2016

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Right now I am having to get to relearn my entire flock.  After shearing, all the animals look completely different.  Like, I can’t tell who they are without reading their eartags.  A few I can tell, of course.  The boys; Herbert, Greyson, and Buddy all have horns and (now) all have bells.  When we change to fresh grass, it sounds like a demented windchime being tossed in a storm.

getting 1

Buddy giving me the, “Are you really going to photograph me in the nude?!” look

getting 6

Herbert is back in jail for too many escape attempts.

But the ladies are more difficult, as many of them look very similar to one another without their big coats of wool.  One way I can tell is, ironically, by their lambs.

getting 4

Others I just have to try to read their name tags.  I really wish I had taken a photo of each sheep just prior to shearing so that you could see the shocking difference in coloring that is under those big balls of wool.

getting 5

getting 2

This is Jolly.  I can tell by the coloration on her face and belly. Before shearing she was a reddish color, now she appears to be brown with a white belly.

Even the lambs are in on this color changing thing.  About half of them are starting to clearly change colors from those they were born with.  The ones born the same colors as their mama’s seem to be keeping those colors, especially the black lambs born to black ewes.  This lamb isn’t a particularly good example of this, but does show another new thing in the flock.  The lambs are now all eating grass and looking adorable as they chew their cud!

getting 3


Slacking* March 29, 2015

Spring is usually busy, but this year is even more so than usual for me.  First up, it was my brand new niece’s baptism last weekend.  I decided to make her a Christening Shawl/blanket for the event.  I then decided that it should really be hand-spun Shetland laceweight.  With wool from Shetland of course!  Well, I’m sure that you all can see exactly where this is going…

I ended-up finishing casting-off at around four o’clock on the Saturday before.  I blocked it on my bed that evening.

slacking 4Luckily it was one of those super easy things to block and all I had to do was kind of pat it into place and let it dry for a bit.  I have a heated bed so that helped to move things along a bit:-)  It was dry and ready for the baptism that morning.

dlsvkrt 11

slacking 7

slacker 8

Thanks to my SIL for taking this photo. I wasn’t able to take many photos with my niece IN the blanket as I was supremely busy that day with the lunch for the family after church.

I was amused by two facts during the baptismal sermon.  First, I’m not in church all that often and that Sunday I was sitting in the front row of a pretty full church.  The second was this:

slacking 5

Yep, the whole sermon was about sheep and goats:-)

For those interested, the shawl/blanket is a strongly adapted version of a traditional Shetland Christening shawl pattern.  I skipped the edging and added a picot cast-off in its place.  The yarn was spun from about 284 grams of the Jaimeson and Smith Shetland Supreme combed roving.

I just happened to finish it when I was helping out my friends Ellen and Wanda at their booth for their shop Fiber Curio and Sundries at Fiberpalooza in Winterset, Iowa on Saturday.  I took absolutely zero photos as my hands were busy the entire day long either setting up or knitting the shawl.  However, it was a really fun event to both attend and sell at and I had a good, though very long, day.

Thursday and Friday were involved in the final classes for my Annie’s Project course.   I think that now is a good time to share with you what the business I was taking this business planning class for is.  I am getting sheep.  Or to be quite precise, I am getting about 20 or so Shetland ewes.  It’s a bit of long story, and I’m not a hundred percent sure that all the parties would like me to share it, but I can say that it’s kind of one of those things where karma has come full circle.  I have booked my flights out to Montana where the sheep currently reside and will drive back with them.  So there is a lot to do on the ground here to prepare for them.  Fencing for one.  These ladies have not been in fences a lot in their lives, which could be either a good or a bad thing.  Currently I am working on an area that will be somewhat permanently fenced for when they first get here and probably for parts of the winter as well.  I am going to purchase some electric netting so that I can move them around and graze the different areas of the farm and keep the grass and weeds down.

This is honestly, a kind of dream come true for me as I have wanted some ever since I visited the islands in 2010.  I adore their wool, I find the sheep to be appealing in their durability and size and I enjoy the variety of colors that they come in.  I have hesitated to write about it here as I wasn’t sure that it was really going to come to fruition.  But now with plane tickets booked (thank you frequent flier miles!) and making plans for fences and trying to find a livestock guardian animal, it is all starting to feel very, very real.  If anyone knows of someone looking to re-home a donkey in the Iowa area, please let me know.

Dusty got “sheared” one of our warmer days.  It wasn’t a perfect job as he wanted to chase cats and I didn’t want him to chase them but it worked out ok.


Before: “Look at those cats making fun of me!  Must chase them!!!!!”

See what I mean by "shearing"?

See what I mean by “shearing”?


After: “The cats are laughing at me.”

I would have saved it to spin had I given Dusty a bath prior to his spring shearing.

I would have saved it to spin had I given Dusty a bath prior to his spring shearing.

I’ve been destashing a lot of mini skeins of sock yarn on Ravelry.  If you are interested (and the link doesn’t work) just go to the group “Mini Mall” and the thread called “Random Sets”.  I still have a lot of sets available and am willing to mail wherever you want in the world (with a few small exceptions:-).

On top of all of this has been seed starting and garden planning (in that order, it doesn’t always go in the order it should have you know!).  This year we are having a fifty foot by seventy-five foot garden.  Should be exciting!

Oh, and I got a full-time job finally.  I start in April and it will involve a lot more commuting than I am used to.

*For the irony impaired, I haven’t been slacking.  Quite honestly I’ve been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger!!!


Two Fiber Festivals July 13, 2012

This summer I have gotten the chance to attend two fiber festivals near where I live.  The first was Shepherd’s Harvest which is held in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  This was the 15th year that Shepherd’s Harvest had been held and it shows.

There were 3 buildings of vendors…

a building of sheep and goats…

and one of Llama’s, who were also having a show at the same time.

Some of the Llamas were even being sheared.

There were lots of cute, fuzzy butts…

And tons of adorable angora bunnies for sale. (I really wanted to bring some home with me!)

They had classes and talks…

and llamas wandering around with packs on their backs.

There were fried pickles and Walleye for sale…

and exhibits of photography and yarn making prowess.

There were also sheepdog demonstrations, and this one unlucky guy in the cone of shame.

There was even a wool yurt!

Of course, there were lots of things for sale and I got a few of them:-)

This is a Wensleydale fleece that I got:

This is some very fun yarn that I found…

I also got a cone of this sock yarn in grey…

and a whole pile of mill ends of sock yarns in a bunch of different colors!

There was a lady there selling prairie settler style bonnets.  Given that I will most likely be doing period spinning soon, I thought I should get one.  They are not flattering and I can completely understand why Laura Ingalls was constantly ditching hers.  You have NO peripheral vision in them!  I would get totally paranoid that someone was sneaking up on me. However, they probably really did the trick of keeping the sun off of faces and necks, which was their purpose.

I also got a few things which didn’t get photographed, most notably the book Knit, Swirl! by Sandra McIver (which I didn’t photograph) and a few gifts for friends.  I also got something very cool for free.

Yep, I got a case of the giant pickle jars from the folks selling fired pickles.  I put the Mountain Dew can next to them for perspective as they are really big.  I love jars and I just couldn’t resist asking if I could have them when I saw them waiting with the garbage.  I know, I’m a weirdo:-)

The second fiber festival that I’ve been to this summer was the Iowa Sheep and Wool festival.  It was held in Adel, Iowa on a wickedly hot weekend, which I hold partially accountable for the reason that there weren’t that many people there.  A bunch of the members of my guild were there.  Many of us brought spinning wheels or drop spindles to demonstrate in the spinning and weaving demonstration area.  (We’re wearing the hot, purple shirts)

One of our guild had a stand there where she was selling wool from her sheep among other things.

There were sheep and goats there, but I only got a picture of one with a great smile!

There were also a passel of collie puppies getting introduced to sheep.  They were cute in only the way puppies of any breed can be.

I didn’t get a lot of stuff here and what I did get, I forgot to photograph.  It was just so stinking hot that you really didn’t want to touch a lot of fiber because it stuck to your sweaty skin.  This is a much smaller festival than Shepherd’s Harvest, but it is also about half the age.  It is also much closer for me to attend.  It was only about an hour away from my apartment in Ames.  I’ll definitely go next year, but I will pray for cooler weather!