Sarah Jane Humke

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

Great (Cat) Balls of Fire!!! November 2, 2009

A couple of nights ago the hubby and I were setting up for an invigorating game of scrabble (I know, we are the most boring couple on the planet!!) and we had lit a few candles on the dinning room table.  Now, I’m not sure what Jiji thought that I was doing up there, but food (her usual motivator to do anything that requires, you know, moving [Jiji is our personal incarnation of Jaba the Hut {but without the hot, ill-fitting metal bikini clad Carrie Fisher on the end of a chain}]) wasn’t part of the package.  So, she hops up on the table to nose around and, well, not to put to fine of a point on it, sets herself on fire.  Now, something that I learned from watching the fire woosh up her side is that cat fur does not have the same flame retardant/resistant properties as wool!!! She wasn’t hurt at all, just had a bunch of her hairs singed which caused her to clean herself for hours after we brushed the cat fur charcoal off of her so that she wouldn’t ingest it.  Ahhhh, the smell of burning cat fur right before bed….

Tomorrow night is Yarn Therapy here in lovely Ivinghoe Aston.  I know I haven’t mentioned it too much of late but it seems that everyone decided to join a knitting group while I was traipsing around the US and Canada.  So, to that end I will be in the pub two nights in a row as tonight is Quiz Night!  Woo hoo!  On the first Monday of each month we have these down at the Village Swan.  Neither Tech Support nor I are any good at them usually, sort of a cultural relevancy issue mostly.  What I mean is that people who are famous here are quite often not the same famous people as in the US.  That, and we didn’t really learn Prime Ministers in the US:-)  Anyway, it’s a fun night for us as we usually learn a great deal about recent the history of our village from one of our team mates as well as it being a really good time to pump people for information about, well, stuff around here as most everyone in the village without small children tend to attend.

I also want to give a great big shout out to my friend Terri Pike who got a huge mention on Cast-On today!!  Go check out her very cool website with tutorials on how to felt.  Just remember Terri, we were on Cast-On first 😉

I am sending to the pond once again, the gray sock.  Not only does it not fit my feet but while traveling home from the US an entire needle slid out dropping all of the stitches which, pretty bad on it’s own, was then compounded by the motion of the baggage being moved around and such making all of the dropped stitches run like wussies back down the foot of the sock until they came to the heel.  This sock is not only being frog-ponded but it will have the added pleasure of being put into the time-out corner as well!  Since that left me sans a sock to knit on, I got out the Krafty Koala sock yarn that I got at Woolfest this spring.  It’s called Tui Sock and is a Merino/Cashmere/Nylon blend in the colorway “Undergrowth”.  To say that I nearly had a yarngasam just balling it (get your mind out of the gutter!) would be an understatement.  This stuff is so soft and smooshy I really would love to knit a pillowcase out of it.  The color is a dark green with just hints of blue-ish in it.  I will post a picture when I find a time that I can stop fondling it.  Until then, I have some yarn to molest 🙂


Insanity Wrap-up October 27, 2009

I’m sure that some of you have noticed that I haven’t been on here in a while.  That is because, my dear readers, I have been asleep or catching up on things that needed catching up on here in The Old Chapel.  Mostly sleeping though to tell you the truth.  I turned into sleeping beauty without the spinning wheel (or being a teenager for that matter!!!).  The hubby had to leave for France the morning after I got home which was probably good for him in all reality as I was a very boring person to be around for the first few days back, I don’t even snore (I just always look a bit angry when I sleep for some reason [I think it’s really a look of concentration, I take sleeping very seriously!]).

Anyway, I realize that I haven’t posted about the tail-end of my trip so here it goes:

While in Florida still, I had sort-of a crazy last day getting to see everyone that I hadn’t seen up to that point.  I was booked for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Wednesday.  It was sort of insane but very fun to get to see everyone.

On Thursday I flew out from Orlando to White Plains on AirTran.  Everything went well though I lost my sunglasses somewhere in transit (it was ok, the weather in New York was less than sunglass weather!).  I met my roommate Malin at the White Plains train station after a few navigational delays and we headed North towards Rhinebeck.  Once again I am super happy that I used Ravelry as a way to share room/rides as Malin and I hit it off amazingly well.  Well, I guess that isn’t too big of a surprise since we both traveled thousands of miles to go to a sheep and wool festival (crazy likes crazy).  The drive-up to the Hudson Valley was not as pretty as in years past as we had first rain, then sleet, then (I kid you not) snow.  As I have not driven in falling snow with insane New York drivers passing me like I’m road kill in a while (read: ever) it was a sort of disturbing drive for parts of it.  Also, because of the weather, the beautiful fall colors the area is known for were obscured.  However, we made it to our hotel without incident and went shopping.  Yes, you read that right, we went shopping.  Malin had never been to a T.J. Maxx or Marshalls or any store like that before so we went to the Marshalls nearby and she liked it (a lot).  I got a few things for home as well.  We also went to Target where I checked-off a bunch of things on my very odd list of things to get in the US including 2 extra value sized bottles of Pepto (it’s really expensive here).

On Friday Malin and I both had workshops that went all day.  It was nice to be there before the whole festival opened up as it gave both of us a chance to see just how really big the place is.  We checked-in and went off to our individual workshops.  This year they had fun goodie bags for all of the workshop participants with a pen and a button that featured Leicester Longwools, this year’s breed of sheep on it along with some candy bars and coupons for various booths.  My classes were both with Annie Modesitt who is an awesome instructor.  She’s a really fun teacher that I highly suggest that taking her classes is a must to anyone even if you think you already know everything!!!  Annie battled the noise in the building all day long and mostly kept her temper about it (I would have been about 10 bajillion times more bitchy.  I would have turned into a fire breathing knitting Godzilla of doom!!)  Malin’s class was a little less, uh, good.  The instructor for the class was ill  (a very common thing I found as I traveled, the flu was early this year) so a replacement was found a half an hour prior to the class starting.  Now, trying to set up a class on designing lace patterns on the fly cannot be easy.  I’m hoping that the committee will refund the folks in that class their money like they discussed.  Though, from what I gathered, the lady that stepped-in to teach it did as good of a job as possible on such short notice.  Anyway, at the end of the day I bought two of Annie’s books and had them signed by her.  If you haven’t already checked them out, I would totally suggest it.  They are: Knit with Courage, Live with Hope and Confessions of a Knitting Heretic.  They can both be purchased in the normal channels or via Annie’s Website.  The first class of the day I also got a copy of one of her awesome flip books detailing how to do “Grandma” knit and purl increases.

Friday night we went out to eat with a bunch of the other Rodeway Inn Raveler’s at the restaurant that is right by the hotel.  It was surprisingly nice with several birthday parties and, I think, a wedding reception going on.  The group was super fun and the food was excellent.  I got a calamari pizza that was surprisingly tasty, even cold the next day!  We left the restaurant full and pleased and really ready for bed!



Most of the "Rodeway Gang" on Friday night.


Saturday was the opening day of Rhinebeck.  Malin and I got up early and got a great parking spot close to the 4-H gate.  I can definitely say that this year wasn’t as busy as last year was.  There was only really a couple of hours that you had to fight the crowds off whereas last year it was the majority of the day.  I think that the fact that it was not the nicest weather this year had something to do with it all.  It was overcast and cold and constantly feeling as though it was going to to break into a storm at any minute for most of the day.  However, it was still the glorious insanity that is Rhinebeck and lots of goodies were bought and even more were fondled and oohed and ahhed over.   A few really fun things that we both did were knitting on the big sock (they are trying for a Guinness World Record [it’s a FREAKING big sock]) and getting to meet and have her new book “The Knitter’s Book of Wool” signed by Clara Parkes.



Still some lovely fall colors despite the rain





Goats are always fun!



One of the parking lots



The Saturday Ravelry Meet-up


Yes, there were even kangaroos there!!!


Aflac!!! Aflac!! A couple of the actual Aflac ducks.

By the end of the day, we were both pretty zonked so we stopped at the grocery store that is near the fairgrounds for some provisions and headed-out towards the Ravelry party in nearby Red Hook.  We got mildly lost (didn’t bring the parking instructions) but it was ok as we were really early still.  The parking lot at the nearby school was pretty empty when we got there and we were on the first bus.  The party was great!  With-out the parking hassles, everything went so much smoother this year compared to last.  The food was yummy the goodie bags were, well, goodie and the company was fantastic.  Malin and I were on the first bus in and the last bus out!!!  Woot woot!! Party girls!!!!  Major props to the Ravelry crew for putting together such an awesome event once again!


On Sunday we didn’t get up nearly as early nor were we out the door as fast.  Since we were checking out of the hotel, we needed to make sure that we packed everything and had it all loaded in the car for that afternoon.   Even with the later start, we got an even better parking spot on day two!  It was significantly colder than it had been on Saturday.  We kept hearing rumors about bad weather in the city which made us both nervous about getting home in a timely manner.  Plus, we were both pretty exhausted.  We went around to a few of the places that we weren’t able to get to easily on Saturday.  It was so quiet that The Fold (home of Socks that Rock) didn’t have a line.  At all.  It was amazingly quiet.  We got a few more things and watched some of the Sheep to Shawl competition and did some of the food tastings and left around 1pm.



Some of the ladies in the Sheep to Shawl competition


Blue Ribboned entries.


There was a guy there doing these awesome pumpkin carvings!


The drive back down to White Plains was pretty uneventful.  It was rainy and blowy but otherwise, no big surprises.  I dropped Malin off at the train station and made my way back to the White Plains airport where I dropped my car off and struggled to get all three of my very large bags into the airport.  I had just gotten into the door after a massive struggle when a very kind lady asked if I needed any help.  She didn’t work there, she must have just seen the look of near desperation on my face.  This kind stranger got me to the United check-in area where something even stranger faced me.  A really nice United gate worker.  He took one look at my face and had me just chill and breathe for a few minutes.  (I must’ve really looked like hell is all that  I can think!)  He then checked me in for my flights and even helped me carry my bags over to security!!!  Going through security was a breeze and I was left to chill in the airport as I was a couple of hours early.
However, as the time approached for my flight to start boarding, there was no notice anywhere.  I went over to the United counter and there was a sign saying that my flight to DC was delayed an hour.  This is seriously not good as I only had about a 50 minute transfer.  Speaking with the girl behind the counter, it pretty quickly became apparent that I was going to be spending the night somewhere that was not in the air London bound.  So, when the puddle jumper finally arrived, I got on it with a sense of resignation knowing that I either A.) would have to run like a bat out of hell for my gate or B.) would have a night in DC.  It was the latter as I missed my flight by about 10 minutes.  So, I walked over to the customer service area and amazingly my luck held as I got another very nice (though harassed) United employee who set me up for the night in a really nice resort hotel on the Potomac.  Luckily, the pub in the hotel was open until midnight so I was able to get some excellent food before going to bed.
My flight left the next morning at 9:30am and since my luggage was still in the bowels of Dulles airport, checking in was a cinch.  Everything left on time and we arrived at Heathrow a little bit early.  Really, the whole thing wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the hubby hadn’t taken the day off to hang-out with me.  I was more upset by that than anything else.  As it ended-up, I got in at around 9pm and it takes a good hour plus to get home from that airport.  The hubby had to leave for a business trip to Paris the next morning at 5am so we didn’t get a whole lot of time to spend together.



My nice room courtesy of United Airlines


See, really can't complain.

I then proceeded to sleep for the better part of the week while he was gone with at least 3 animals touching me at all times.




Milo giving me some love while I sleep

It’s good to be home.



The Glory of Love September 25, 2009

As I was driving back from the “20/30 Something Knit Night” tonight at Crazy Girl Yarn Shop (more on that later) I was listening to a Des Moines “Lite” Music station.  Now, this would not be my normal choice for music stations but it seemed that everything else that I could get on the radio was either really twangy country music or heavy metal.  Now, I have nothing against either genre of music.  I been both to a Garth Brooks concert as well as one put on by Metallica.  Anyway, neither were really what I was in the mood for and the “Lite” station fit the bill the closest.  On comes “The Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera and I find myself not only enjoying it but singing/yodeling along to it!!!  I’m not even sure when or where I learned the words to this particular song but here I was busting out with some, “I am a man who will fight for your honor.  I’ll be the hero that you’ve been dreaming of.  We’ll live forever, knowing together that we did it all for the glory of love!!!!”.  I mean, I was born in 1978 and this song was a big hit in 1986.  So did I actually somehow absorb the lyrics to this when I was 8?  How many brain cells has this song occupied for 23 years of my life???

So, besides the self-surprise at my proclivity for 80’s power ballads, my night was really nice.  Like I said, I went to the 20/30 Something Knit Night at Crazy Girl Yarn Shop in Cedar Falls with the lace stole in hand.  It was a relaxing evening with the ladies there.  I like the fact that you can buy a bottle of wine there or bring one yourself if you would like.  The Crazy Girl shop is really in a lovely space with brick walls and an impressive wall of Cascade 220.  Leslie, the owner of all 3 of the Crazy Girl shops was there as well as the lovely Bel who I got to chat with quite a lot as she has lived in the UK in the past.   It was a fun night and if you are in the Cedar Falls area on a Friday night, I would totally recommend checking it out!

While I was in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, I also got some shots of the gigantic parts for the wind turbines that they are putting up all over the area.  I think that I have mentioned how happy I am that these are being put in and just how cool (I think) that they look in the landscape.  Anyway, these photos will give you an idea of the scale of these puppies!

I liked this photo as you can see the car for scale next to one of the pieces of the bases of the wind mills as well as one of the actual blades.

I liked this photo as you can see the car for scale next to one of the pieces of the bases of the wind mills as well as one of the actual blades.

A bunch of the blades sitting on what used to be the track.

A bunch of the blades sitting on what used to be the track.

They are using a defunct greyhound racing park as sort of a staging area for the parts and personally, I can only think of a few things more karmically appropriate for the space.  It’s not that I am against dog racing in general, it’s just that the sport is so very wasteful of animal life.

And folks remember, please, spay or neuter your pets!


Not yet home on the range September 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 10:20 pm
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So we are on our way back to Iowa in a big way.  This is probably our last night on the road as we are in Rapid City, SD.  We decided not to go to Yellowstone or Glacier National Parks as we have visited both of them in the past and, well, to tell you the truth, we are a little jaded now when it comes to nature and wildlife.  After spending the last couple of weeks avoiding hitting either we are sort of ready to not have to worry so much about it for a while.

So, we spent a lovely day in Seattle.  Mom and Dad took a tour of the city and I took the hop-on, hop-off bus tour thing.  It was sunny and borderline hot out the entire time that we were there.  I went to the top of the needle and could see for miles and miles.  I did all of the usual touristy stuff and mostly just enjoyed a really fabulous day walking around the city.









Honestly, being in such a crowded city after having spent so long out in the wild was more than a little disconcerting.  I am not a city person by nature but it was at the same time nice to be around people again.

The next day we took off to the East.  It was amazing seeing the effect of the rainshadow once we got over the mountains.  You could actually see where the last of the rain fell and then it just turned dry.  Very cool.

The cloud is where the rain stops coming over the mountains.

The cloud is where the rain stops coming over the mountains.

So we have been driving through “Big Sky Country” for the past 2 days.  It has a sort of desperate beauty to it but it is definitely not a place that I would chose to live.  I’m looking forward to being in a place that I don’t have to pack each night.  Oh, and have dependable internet!


Wild horses monument.

Wild horses monument.

Actually got some lace knitting done today.  I-90 is one of the overall smoothest roads that we have traveled-on on this trip!


Travel Insanity Tour (Alaska) Day 13 September 11, 2009

Today we drove from Anchorage down to Homer and then on to Seward.  It was sort of rainy and windy most of the day.  We saw the water down there and took a few pictures.  It was a lot of driving and not a lot of stopping to tell you the truth.  Here are some of the photos I took today…

Tidal flats outside of Anchorage

Tidal flats outside of Anchorage

One of the many glaciers that we saw today

One of the many glaciers that we saw today

What a great view!

What a great view!


Land's End, Homer Alaska

Land's End, Homer Alaska

The pebble beach at Land's End

The pebble beach at Land's End

Our hotel here at Seward is right on the water by the marina.  I will take pictures tomorrow when it is light.  It’s probably more interesting then anyway:-)

Travel Knitting:  A couple of rows of the lace stole.


Travel Insanity Tour Day 2 August 30, 2009

6:15 am  Wake-up call.  Don’t want to get out of one of the most comfortable hotel beds that I have ever encountered.

7:15 am Have eaten and exited the city.  Was unable to procure Mountain Dew.  Survival of this trip is looking doubtful…

7:30 am  The speed limit in Canada is going drive me nuts.  It is so slow after the 75 mph speed limit in most of the Northern US.  We are going 110 km/h (about 68 mph).  Still pretty boring landscape but at least there are hills now.

8:00 am Doh!  Where in the hell did the hills go? 

8:15 am There she blows!  Oil wells.  At least it isn’t more wheat and oats fields.

8:30 am  Doh!  Where did the damn oil wells go now?

 8:50  am Soundtrack for the rest of Manitoba:  Yoav “Beautiful Lie” (kind of a hollow sounding song, good for this hollow landscape),  Norah Jones “Above Ground” (the whole feeling of this song is of anticipation),  Tori Amos “God”, “Big Wheel”, and most of the album “Scarlet’s Walk”.

9:00 am Entering Saskatchewan province.

11:00 am  Soundtrack for most of Saskatchewan: Anything that comes up on my Ipod that is inoffensive enough to play with my parents listening.

9:30 am-2:30pm Driving. Driving. Driving.

2:00 pm  Still in Saskatchewan.  Feel as though will never leave at this province.  Endless prairies make the job of driving very, very boring.

2:30 pm-on  Soundtrack: Whatever I couldn’t listen to with my parents listening.

3:45 pm Found Mountain Dew!!!!  There is a God!!!

4:00 pm  Finally in the province of  Alberta.  Staying in a city known for it’s really big Easter Egg.  I suppose that if you have to be known for something, at least it’s not crack use or anything bad!


*No pictures today as it was just as boring as yesterday as far as landscape goes.  Hopefully, it will get at least a little more exciting tomorrow.  Either that, or I can take a picture of the egg!

Travel Knitting:  Most of the 2nd dishcloth.  I did a lot of the driving today…



What is it about being with our parents for extended periods of time that turns us back into surly teenagers?


Laced-up August 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 11:10 am
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So, in between trying to get everything as ready as I can for Tech Support while I am gone and trying not to spaz out from excitement I have been knitting on the never-ending stole.  


The Lace is ready to go!!

The Lace is ready to go!!


The hubby was originally kinda sad that he wasn’t going to get to see the end of the it but now he’s not too worried about it.


S-L-O-W Stuff

S-L-O-W Stuff


2 days of fairly concentrated knitting = about 2.5 inches of lace.


Gratuitous cute Meara picture (she's ready to go too!!!)

Gratuitous cute Meara picture (she's ready to go too!!!)


This is actually a great travel project!!  I mean, 2 skeins of yarn + 2 months = 1 project!!!  Woo hoo for lace!!!!