Sarah Jane Humke

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

Off My Needles May 27, 2011

Holy crap, that knitting just FLEW by!  I love it when a pattern (in this case Simple Things by Mary-Heather Cogar) and a yarn (Skein Queen‘s Entwist in A Christmas Carol from the Knit magazine sock club) come together so very perfectly.  At least in my opinion.  The shawlete is a tad on the colorful side, but it will match pretty much everything that way!

This is the shawlete hot off the needles, not even blocked yet.

I had to run outside to take pictures of it because A.) no one would believe me that I finished something so fast otherwise and B.) the sun is going down and it is difficult to take pictures in the dark.

The amount of yarn worked out perfectly after I did 2 more repeats of the garter eyelet ridge than called for in the pattern.  I had exactly 10 grams left over, perfect for my sock yarn blanket!

I plan on making this pattern again as it is lovely for watching TV or traveling.  Really it’s almost stupid-proof.  And it makes variegated sock yarns look great.  Since there’s not a lot of lace to get lost, it could handle the deeply colorful nature of this yarn.

I will try to post blocking photos tomorrow (because y’all are just on edge for some hot blocking shots!).


Travel Tips and Hints March 27, 2011

So, I travel a fair amount.  More than some, less than others.  I almost always travel for leisure, in fact I think that I have only ever been on one business trip ever!  Anyway, I’ve decided to compile this list of tips and tricks that I have learned so that you don’t have to!  If you have a great travel tip, please let everyone know about it in the comments section!

Things to Pack

*Travel Panties (and socks):  When you have worn-out panties (or socks) that have holes in them, or worn-out elastic, or whatever, set them aside.  I quite often toss them in the empty suitcase.  When you travel the next time, just throw them away after you have worn them.  It’s not a lot of weight or space, but it does keep you from having to haul back dirty underwear (and socks).

*Thrift store clothes:  Buy some clothes at a local thrift store in your size (and that you would actually wear).  When you are done wearing them, leave them at the hotel on the bed, preferably with a note saying (in the local language) that whoever would like these clothes can have them.  This saves a LOT of space on the way back if you are a big shopper.  It is especially good for jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts, bulky items that take up a lot of space in a suitcase.

*Soak sample packs:  This is a great rinse-less delicates wash that can be really useful when on the go.  It’s sold in little sample packs that are great for one or two loads if you don’t do the whole “travel panties” thing.

*Shout travel wipes or tide pen: Cause it’s easier to treat stains now rather than later.

*Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets:  My mom found these before our big Alaska trip and they work great. If you are going to be on a longer trip where you are going to be doing laundry, these are the ticket!  You just toss one of the sheets in and it has the detergent, fabric softener and anti-static for the load already embedded in sheet.  Genius!  No more detergent getting spilled and making a mess of the car!

*No Whites:  This one I got from my friend Malin at KC last year.  Don’t pack any whites, then you don’t have to do a load of whites!  So simple yet so easily not thought of!

*You get what you pay for:  If you are going to be doing a LOT of traveling, invest in a good bag for goodness sake!  The Hubby’s folks bought him a good TravelPro roll-aboard a few years before we were married.  If that bag got frequent flier miles, it would be in the pilots seat!  It’s still in really good shape, you couldn’t tell that it’s over 6 years old at this point (and used to get lived out-of for probably 45 weeks of the year for years!).  I also have a TravelPro and am really pleased with it.  Another bag that I have that has stood the test of time really well is a Boyt bag that my mother gave me when I was 12.  You read that right, 12.  It still looks really new.  If you are going to travel any significant amount, just get a good bag.  If nothing else, it’s better than shleping a busted bag around a foreign city! (Ask me how I know that one:-))  Another bag company that we’ve really liked is Reisenthel.

*Personal Med Kit:  Take a zippered bag and put in it a selection of OTC drugs for sicknesses that you get.  I get sinus infections, thus I have a sheet of Sudafed pills in mine.  Also, antacids, sleeping pills, ibuprofen, etc.  I also throw in a little tiny sewing kit for good measure.  It sucks to get sick when you are traveling.  It really sucks if you can’t get any meds.  A few packs of pills are light and will save your bacon if you do get ill!

*A light wrap: I usually carry a light pashmina-type wrap with me on the airplane.  It can be used as a scarf sure, but it is great as a little blanket if you get chilly.  Plus they are usually really light.

*Underwear, Socks and toothpaste:  Put a pair of socks a pair of underwear and your toothbrush and paste in your carry-on.  If your bag gets lost, you’ll thank me!

*Print-outs:  Print out the details of hotels, flights, etc that you have booked prior to your trip.  You may not be able to easily get to the info on your computer or smartphone once you get in the cab from the airport…  Also, a copy of the front page of your passport is a good thing to have on hand in case it gets stolen or lost.

*TP: I always carry a little plastic clam-shell that contains a mini-roll of TP.  It’s Charmin to go, but other companies do similar things.   It’s saved my ass many a time! (Yes, pun intended!)

*Plastic Baggies: Just throw a few extra Ziplocs in the suitcase when you leave.  I really love the Jumbo Hefty zipper bags (2.5 gallon!!).  They are good for putting that bottle of exotic booze, perfume, or whatever it is that you want into.  I’ve saved myself a damaged suitcase and clothes many, many times by doing this.  They don’t take any space, and when you get home, just leave them in the suitcase for the next trip!

*A flashlight:  This one I’m a little OCD about.  I usually have 2 or 3 of them in my purse on a normal day (including a headlamp, yes I know I am a serious dork!).  As good as the LED technology is now, there is no excuse not to have at least a little key chain light in your bag.  This is more for safety than anything, dark streets, dark hotel rooms are all a great way to trip and fall.  In a power outage, you’ll be the most popular person around!

*A Collapsible shopping bag:  Handy to have when you hit the markets in a new city.  Carrying a crappy, ripping plastic bag with something breakable in it as you are sightseeing around a city is NO FUN.

*Scale: If you are staying at a hotel while you are traveling, a luggage scale can save you a lot of money at the airport.  Especially if you like to shop:-)

*Earplugs: Screaming baby + 6 hour flight.  You’ll thank me!

(I know that this sounds like a ton of stuff, but most of it is quite small and a lot of it you wouldn’t take on every trip.)


*Hotel: Take a matchbook, business card, whatever with you when you leave the hotel.  If the crap hits the fan and you cannot, for whatever reason, remember where you are staying (believe it or not, it’s easy to happen) you have a name and address.  However, do not keep it in the same place as your room key in case of pick-pockets.

*Carry-on packing: Remember to pack for how long you are going to be traveling for.  A flight of a couple of hours doesn’t need as much stuff to keep you entertained as an over-seas flight.  Don’t pack 3 books, a 2 knitting projects and a selection of magazines for a 2 hour flight!!!

*Allergies: If you have an allergy, make sure that your travel companions know about it.  If you are unconscious in a foreign hospital, you want someone other than you knowing that you are allergic to morphine.

*Sleep:  If you don’t sleep well on planes (I don’t) , don’t try to force yourself with sleeping pills unless you absolutely have a serious meeting the next morning.  Otherwise you will end-up cranky and feeling unwell.

*Sleep Part II: Take a 3 hour nap after a red-eye flight then get up and have a full day.  Your clock will be pretty much reset.

*Driving: Don’t drive in the UK if you’ve taken the red-eye and have never driven here before.  It’s dangerous.  Trust me.  I would be wary of driving in Europe in general (cannot say for anywhere other than N. America and Europe) as the laws are quite a bit different from the US.  Spend a day on foot or public transit before hitting the road.

Tips for Knitters

*Needles on Airplanes:  You can, you can’t…. who the heck knows?!?!?  Here in the UK it is different from airport to airport and even airline to airline in the same airport.  So, take your knitting, but don’t take your favorite needles, don’t take metal needles and don’t make a big deal of it.

*Don’t take big, long, straight needles.  They freak people out.  Take dpn’s or circulars.

*Leave the knitting in the bag during take-off and landing.  That sometimes freaks out the flight attendants.  I think that they are afraid that you will stab yourself if there is an accident during take-off.

*Have knitting on the needles when you go through security.  That makes them freak out less:-)

*If you are really worried about having needles taken away, put them in with a bunch of pens and pencils.  They look more or less the same.

*Only carry-on the needles that you need for the project.  Put the rest of them in your checked-baggage.

*If you’re still really nervous about knitting on the plane, take up crochet!


Please feel free to add your favorite travel tips and hints in the comments!  I’ll hopefully blog tomorrow about Amsterdam…..


Up to March 17, 2011

So I figured that I’d share with y’all the totally rocking day that is this Thursday for me.

What I’m up to:

+Packing travel knitting for The Netherlands.  (Spending a week+ with the designer seems like a good time to knit one of her patterns if-you-know-what-I-mean.)

+Filling-out a scholarship application. (I probably shouldn’t try to let more people know about this, but I’m just way too fair. [I also always tell people if they are under charging me at stores {over as well, but that’s another story}])

+Printing boarding passes for above trip.

+Wondering if I could get a sheep to hold still long enough to put some knitting on it and take an arty photo for the above scholarship.  All of the sheep in the field across the way are incredibly pregnant, thus probably aren’t moving too fast….*  Seriously people, this is what happens when you leave me alone too long.  I start harassing sheep.  The dogs are happy since at least I’m not harassing them which is the norm.

+Preparing to foray into the city tomorrow to hook-up with my favorite indie dyer and designer.  (Honestly folks, he’s not paying me very much for all of this attention. [seriously though, he doesn’t even bribe me all that much!]).  I have stuff for him, he has stuff for me.  It’s like a highly non-secret drug deal.  So which of us is Charlie Sheen in this scenario then?

+Getting pissy at iTunes seriously twisted view of an international world.  I got some iTunes gift cards from the Hubby’s Grandma for my birthday (all of mine are dead, thus it would be weird if they came from mine. [and iTunes cards from the afterlife will also probably not work with the UK iTunes!]) and they are from the US (she lives there, it makes sense).  I cannot use them on my UK iTunes account and will probably have to make another account in the US iTunes to be able to use them.  I’m sure that there is some logical reason for this (just like I’m sure that there is a logical reason why I cannot buy gift cards for family and friends in the US with my British issued card on-line, but could if I were in person.) but it sort of defeats the whole “the internet is everywhere”-ness of iTunes.

+Drinking insane amounts of Finnish Mountain Dew and probably giving myself an upset stomach and headache later (I don’t care right now as I’m totally buzzing from caffeine and sugar). Just for the record, I don’t think that there is anything different about Mountain Dew from Finland, I was just clarifying that this Mountain Dew was some that I had gotten while I was there.

+Doing laundry.  I know, not exciting or funny, but it is going on in the background much to the hubby’s relief (he was starting to wonder if his pants [trousers, for you dirty-minded Brits!] were going to revolt).





*I realize that chasing expectant ewes could induce premature labor.  I would never do that without the ewes permission.  Do not chase sheep unless you are a trained herding dog.


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 Day 5 September 3, 2009

6:30am  Good Morning! 

7:00am Family is up and ready to go to breakfast.


The Cabin at the sweet B&B we stayed at.

The Cabin at the sweet B&B we stayed at.


7:30am  Breakfast with our wonderful Swiss B&B hosts.

8:00am  Checked out the signpost forest across the road from the  gas station that we filled-up the car at.



8:15am On the road again still heading NW.

9:30am  Stop at a spot with an easy hike to a pair of waterfalls.  Am glad to actually get out of the car and walk for a little bit even if it wasn’t at all a challenging hike.  As out of shape as I am that’s really saying something.


Totally worth the walk!

Totally worth the walk!



Soundtrack for the morning:  Lime and Violet podcasts,

11:30am  Stop for lunch at a pretty campsite and rest stop on the edge of Teslin Lake.  I walked down to the edge of the lake and looked around for a few minutes.


2:30pm  Get to Whitehorse.  Try to find a brewery that was advertised as being there.  Were unable to thus causing a fracas in the car resulting in me driving the rest of the day.  Again.

4:30pm Get to  Kluane lake.  Amazingly blue water.

5:30pm  Arrive in Destruction Bay, Yukon Territory.  This is where we are spending the night.  Have dinner.  Get most if not all of the chill cheese burger on my face and hands.  Anyone who has ever watched me eat a sub will understand the totality of the mess that I created.  Make waitress chuckle at the mess that I have created of myself.  However, manage not to get any on clothes which is a major plus.  That, and the food was good!


This is all of Destruction Bay

This is all of Destruction Bay


The Alaska Highway looking back towards where we traveled today.

The Alaska Highway looking back towards where we traveled today.


Da' Bay!

Da' Bay!


7:00pm  Am sitting in the laundromat washing 2 loads of clothes.  I hate hauling around dirty clothes and this is as good of a place to do them as any.  Especially since I have good internet.



8:00pm  Holy crap, I think I just saw a wolf!  I took a walk down by the lake and there was a pond caused by the lake being cut off by a gravel bar.  I saw an animal by the edge of the water and assumed it was a deer of some sort initially.  Finally it heard me since I was completely down-wind from it.  It then perked-up it’s ears and really looked at me.  The way that it did that suddenly made me realize that it was definitely not a deer or caribou or anything of that nature.  I stared at it for a minute before I finally realized that maybe, just maybe, I should take a picture of it.  By the time that I got my camera out it had turned to walk away.  I got a few snaps of it but it is hard to tell with out trying to zoom in on it a lot (which I don’t really know how to do).  However, when I came back to the hotel, I asked the guy at the front desk if there were wolves in the area and his reply was, “Oh yeah, sometimes you’ll see them down by the water”.  And no folks, I had not had my scotch for the night yet.


The pond where I saw the animal that I think was a wolf.

The pond where I saw the animal that I think was a wolf.

 Travel Knitting today:  1 complete small dishcloth.  This is becoming the trail of dishcloths!!


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?


Travel Insanity Tour Day 1 August 29, 2009

8:00 am The sun is up in the sky over Central Minnesota.  We left this morning even earlier than planned as my parents woke up and subsequently awoke me as well.  Since we were all up at the absolutely ungodly hour of 2:55 we decided that it we had just as well get on the road rather than sitting around.  So, by about 3:30 this morning we were headed due north. 

In the pre-dawn hours we passed a huge windmill farm just South of Mason City.  I could only see the actual windmills on the ones closest to the road but I could see the blinking lights going off into the distance in both directions.   They have put a lot of them up just to the Northwest of Ackley.  I personally think that this is an awesome development for the state and the nation as a whole.   Honestly, I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want the windmills in their backyards.  They are super cool to just watch and hell, they are a lot better than having a coal-fired plant go up!

Anyway, we are definitely in a more Northern region finally.  A lot of the fields here feel as though they are carved out forest and I am sure that there is a perpetual battle to keep them out of the forest’s greedy clutches.  Autumn has definitely started here already.  The solidago (goldenrod) is in full bloom and the sumac is already bright red in places.  We’ve passed half a dozen Outlet malls and more silos and grain elevators than I could count.  Fargo is 140 miles.

9:00 am  An apology to my husband.  If I have ever done the level of narration on the boring-ass scenery that we are passing in a car trip as my father has been doing, I am so sorry. Please feel free to kill me or, alternatively, listen to your Ipod as I have been doing so far.  Please God, do not let my Ipod die…

10:00 am  Anyone who thinks Iowa is flat obviously hasn’t traveled all that much.




The photos are Northern Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba.  Yeah, it was a really boring day....

The photos are Northern Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba. Yeah, it was a really boring day....


10:30 Ipod freezes up.  Oh. Shit.

11:00 am  Got my feet tangled in my purse strap as I was getting out of the car at the rest stop and fell flat on my face.  Welcome to North Dakota!

11:45 Finally get Ipod unfrozen.

1:00 pm  Soundtrack for North Dakota:  Tom Petty (duh), Mary Chapin Carpenter  (anything that she’s sung) and the Allison Krause/Union Station album “Lonely Runs Both Ways”.   I didn’t listen to much in Minnesota as I was honestly scarcely awake since while in Iowa I was driving while everyone else was sleeping .

2:00 pm Young, cute and intensely polite Canadian border guard must think that the family is quite the group.  Mom declared her smokes and I declared a bottle of scotch. 

3:00 pm Soundtrack for Manitoba.  Diana Krall, all of her stuff.  I was driving and desperate to listen to something as I was falling asleep from the warm sun and boring drive (see pictures above) and needed something to keep my mother from pursing her lips at.  Bonus, she’s Canadian (Diana Krall, not my mother, she’s Iowan).

5:30 pm  Finally make it to hotel in Brandon, Manitoba Canada.  Thank God.  All I want is a shower or bath (ummmmm, bath) and a scotch on the rocks.  I could care less about eating tonight as I still feel stuffed from the past week of food.  

6:30 pm  Have had bath (ummmmmm, bath) talked to hubby and uploaded boring photos to computer.  While in bath realized that I now look like a 5 year-old as have bruises and scratches all over my knees and hands.  2 on my knees are from today and one is from Chicago O’Hare baggage claim.  Wish I could still pull-off the pigtails look.

Travel Knitting:  A couple of rows of lace (some of the road was kinda bumpy so it wasn’t all that easy), finished one dishcloth and got a significant start on another.