Sarah Jane Humke

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

I’ve missed you too… July 13, 2012

The past 6 weeks or so have been unbelievably hectic for me.  I am, for all intents and purposes, living in two places.  I feel like I am moving on a weekly basis as I pack-up clothes and kit and go from the apartment to the farm, farm to the apartment.  Between these commutes, I have a LOT of driving for my job.  Nearly 400 miles a week at one point.

But my work has only been part of what has kept me from the blog.  Another part has been applying and getting accepted to graduate school (again).  I am working on my Master’s degree in Agricultural Education.  The specific degree that I am seeking is a non-thesis one, which will allow me to get my teaching credentials so that I can teach at a high school or 2 year college when I am done.  I started off taking a class already this summer in Ag Mechanics.  I have already had classes in nearly every other area that I needed for this degree except for agricultural mechanics.  So, that’s how I ended-up becoming a Briggs and Stratton Master Service Technician this summer.  Also, I did a lot of welding.  I really love welding, so that part wasn’t too bad, especially since we were getting to play with practically brand-new Miller welders!  I found out that I have a gift for a type of oxy-acytelene that I had never gotten to play with.  But small engines?  Argh!  I usually can’t even get a lawn mower started!  However, I did well in the class despite my issues with engines in the past and now I probably could diagnose a problem even if I still can’t get it started:-)  Also, I now have a rockin’ welding mask to call my own as well as a bunch of other necessary safety equipment.

Since I will be starting to go to school full-time in the autumn, I also had to find a new place to live as my apartment lease is up at the end of July.  I have found a place where I can even take Meara with me(!!) that is near the Vet Med college at Iowa State. So, in addition to my weekly ‘moving’, I am actually moving at the end of the month.

I’ve also been gardening, but the massive heat wave that we’ve had here has made it pretty difficult to do.  Since I am working in greenhouses and we’ve had multiple days where it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside when I am at home the very last thing on this earth that I want to do is to go outside into the heat.  For anything.  So the garden got a little neglected and weedy.  The worst is the back garden which is the thistle patch from HELL right now.  However, the tomatoes have started fruiting and we are staring down a tomatopalooza coming in the next couple of weeks as the Roma tomatoes all start becoming ripe.  Also, a onionpalooza, but that isn’t as scary to me.

I’ve done a little knitting and crochet lately.  Mostly it seems like I am working on baby blankets.  There are a passel of babies being born to friends of mine in the next couple of months so I need to get hooking!  I’ve also been doing a little knitting on my sock yarn blanket for which I have been faithfully collecting new and different types of sock yarn.  If anyone out there is looking for a trading partner for mini skeins of yarn for a sock yarn blanket, give me a shout.  I have a LOT:-)

But I haven’t forgotten about y’all in all of this insanity.  I have a massive backlog of photos that I need to sort through and show you.  Hopefully, I will get started on that this weekend.  Since I don’t really have that started yet, I give you a gratuitous Sweetie Pie shot.


The End is Near April 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 11:49 am
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I feel like I’ve been working on this blanket for little Matthew forever, even if it really hasn’t been all that long.  It’s just that it’s, well, boring.  With my normal scrapghans, I can change color whenever I feel like it, thus alleviating the boredom of non-stop half-double crochets.  However, with this blanket, there’s no such relief valve.  It’s either Hot Red or Bright Yellow 24/7 and it’s making me want to rip my eyes out.  However, I have decided that the end is neigh for this unholy blanket of boredom!  I am adding one more yellow stripe to it and then it’s going to get another thick red end and I am done with the hooking.  However, I hope that I can still find the fabric to be sewn onto one side of it.  I put it back into my storage unit when I decided to frog it a few months ago.


Anyway, it is going to be done and done one way or another by the end of next week.  I am declaring it so!

In other news…  Miss Sweetie Pie is back from her big visit to the vet to become a grown-up cat.  Which, in case you didn’t know, in the case of a female cat is called a Queen.  So, I guess you could say that her crown has been taken?  However you want to say it, she has been spayed and is recovering nicely.  She spent a night at the vets and was quite ready to come home today.  She’s moving slowly, but doesn’t seem to be in any pain and the stitches are the dissolving kind, so all that’s left is to keep an eye on her for a few days.

One thing that is amusing is that she is clearly annoyed with the shaved part of her tummy.  Each time she seems to get fixated on it I keep telling her it’s her, “Summer Haircut”

She’s not buying it.


Doctor Strangelove April 6, 2012

Today I made an appointment for little Miss Sweetie Pie to get spayed next week.  Since it is warming up rapidly, I want to get her out of my room!!!!! She is a teensy bit destructive and annoying and I am tired of being scratched and bloody (it’s how she shows her affection… purr, purr BITE!). However, I can’t put her outside in her current state as I’m sure that she would be preggers faster than you can say, “What’s your sign baby?”.

What are you lookin' at?

In other news, I will be attending my first fiber festival since being back Stateside.  It’s called Shepherd’s Harvest and it’s held in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  My mom is going with me and is thinking about taking a weaving class while there.  I’ve never gone to this festival before and I’ve never gone to a fiber event with mom, so this should be interesting on several different levels!  I heard about it because Deb Robson tweeted that she is going to be there and I plan on catching her talk on Saturday night.

I have been hooking and knitting, but that crazy thing called “having a full-time job” has seriously cut into my crafty time.  (Not that I am complaining, I am very happy to have gainful employment, it just means that the crafty doesn’t flow quite a quickly as it was!)  I finished this scrapghan this weekend.

It’s a little different from my usual version in that I experimented with fringe.  I think that it adds a bit of a playful aesthetic to it, but I doubt that I will do it again.  It just got in the way a lot and was really time-consuming in the end.  It’s going to be raffled off by the Ackley American Legion Auxiliary in the coming months as a fundraiser.

Remember this?

I thought for sure that it was headed for the frog pond because I couldn’t find any more of the red yarn.  I looked in Michael’s and JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby and not one of them carried this particular shade of red.  Guess where I found it.  Wal-Mart.  I detest going into that store, but it’s really the only thing sort-of local and while I was in there looking for something else I just moseyed down the yarn aisle and there it was, bright as day, just sitting there!  It’s a good thing I really didn’t want to rip it out as now I have enough yarn to finish the blanket!  Woot woot!  And, I am planning on taking a little weekend trip out to Chicago to see Sarah and her crew in the next few weeks so hopefully I will have it finished by the time I get there and can give it to the little guy in person.  Just in time for summer…


Random Bits February 4, 2012

I’m really loving these printed bags as well as these.  The second bag would be especially great for an emergency knitting/crocheting kit for the car:-)

This article made me weep, in a good way.

I’ve been watching Round the Twist with Carin as a knitting compliment.  I don’t know if the video aspect really helps it all that much as I pretty much treat it as a podcast.  However, the episodes are reasonably short (around the 20 minute mark) and while she doesn’t have quite the energy that a lot of the podcasts and video casts do with two people, it is still worth watching/listening to.

I got some roving from BugSnugger at Sticks and String and it is perfectly luscious stuff.  Totally check out her shop! (Don’t worry, you’ll hear more about this as I am getting ready to start spinning it. However, I have a manic kitten that is making it nearly impossible to do as she is ATTACKING anything that moves!)

I have a metal candle topper that is sort of like this that I love to death!  I’ve had it for years and years and I got it at either Michaels or JoAnns and it really helps if you burn the jar type candles as it limits the amount of oxygen available to the candle, thus making an even flame.

The Decorah (as in Iowa) Bald Eagle cam is weirdly engrossing.  There are really a lot of Bald Eagles roaming around the Midwest now, a huge change from my childhood when a Bald Eagle siting made the evening news it was so rare.  We have a couple of eagles roaming around this area and I’ve seen them as close as the outside of our grove.   They like to hang around water usually, but are pretty adaptable and will eat road kill as well as fresh kills.

This is just fantastic.  I sometimes don’t agree with what Dan Savage writes, but in my opinion, he has handled this exchange wonderfully.  I do think that he could have been a little more fair to the parents, who are just doing what they think is best for their child but I understand that originally this was a private exchange between him and this 17 year-old girl.  The teen years aren’t easy for anyone and especially for someone whose parents are suddenly ashamed of who she is.  That shits not easy for anyone, no matter how old they are!

A word to the wise: Be careful when snuggling an animal who, in normal situations, shows playfulness or affection by headbutting.  Owww!

Edited to Add: I was such a spaz when I wrote this!  I forgot to mention that EasyKnits is having a fiber (or more likely Fibre since he is in the UK) club called The Spin Love Club.  It is done on a month by month basis, so no need to pony a ton of cash up front for it.  There will be 2 separate braids of fiber for a total of 200 grams and they are dyed differently but in the same color palate so they are fraternal twins.   This could be very, very fun for a 2 or 4 ply yarn to have totally differently dyed wools to start with that are in the same colors!  I’m really looking forward to seeing my first batch of it!



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!)