Sarah Jane Humke

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

Thrum-roll Please January 14, 2018

So yeah, I made another pair of thrummed mittens.  I bought a new coat and needed some mittens that matched them better than my old ones.  I also wanted to make a few changes to how I made the mittens to make them work better for me.

The first pair that I made a few years ago were too short, both for the length of my hand and the wrist.  I was perpetually getting icy wrists and cold fingertips.  So I made this pair longer in both directions.

I also added neon yellow.


The mitten on the right is turned inside-out so that you can see the safety-yellow thrums. The mitten on the left is how it will look on my hands.

The roving is from Yarn Geek Fibers and is 22 micron Polwarth. The yarn is from Fiber Curio and Sundries and is and 80/20 Corriedale/Tencel DK weight that I held double to make it thicker (I wanted these puppies to be really warm!)

If you are looking for a thrummed mitten pattern, there are a number of them online for free.  These were sort-of Frankenknit using the parts of several patterns that I liked various aspects of.


Chugging along January 6, 2015

I know, I’ve not been on here much of late.  Alas, there hasn’t been a lot for me to write about lately.  Winter is a time to hunker down, stay warm,  and plan for spring here.

Christmas was nice.  Lots of lovely and thoughtful presents.  I got a lot of books that will hopefully help me prepare for the coming year (I would like to get a few sheep and some laying hens).  I spent a lot of time with both my family and my boyfriend’s family.

New Year’s brought specken dicken at the Ackley Civic Center and colder weather.  No big parties or fancy nights out. That’s not really how I roll:-)

This past week I’ve been doing a big cleaning and rearranging.  Trying to make my space more useable and pleasing to be in.

I did, in fact, finish a bunch of knitted items before Christmas.  One, in particular, I am especially proud of.  I finished a pair of socks for the boyfriend made from hand-spun, 4-ply sock yarn.

Joel's Socks
This is a 80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, & 10% Nylon blend that was custom dyed for me by Diane Pals of Bugsnugger.  It’s a lovely blend that I took my time spinning.  I have more yarn like this and I will probably be knitting another pair of socks from it but they will hopefully go to the Iowa State Fair before going to their final home.

I also knit a pair of “normal” socks out of Kroy and Opal.Joel's Socks 2  I used the red Opal to finish off the socks as there wasn’t enough of the Kroy in the 100 grams for a pair of size 12 mens socks.

Here are the socks together:

Joel's Socks 3

There was also a scarf for my mother made from some of the ruffle yarns as well as an infinity scarf from Debbie Bliss Angel for my sister-in-law.  There were also another pair of socks for my boyfriend’s mother.  So, I was fairly busy in the days leading up to Christmas!



Brrrrrr November 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 10:59 am
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It has gotten cold here.  Not as cold as some places but colder than others.  Cold enough to cause some urgency in the winter preparations.  The apples have been moved off of the porch as it is just to close to freezing even with the dehydrator out there running 24/7.  Inside the house, heat is turned on and spaces are rearranged for winter once again.

The nesting instinct comes over me in these early winter days.  Wash the bedding, clean the corners, spin, knit, crochet.  coddle the houseplants and tender herbs brought inside.  Winter clothes and coats are shaken out once again and summers fleeting fashions are carefully put away for another year.  It is the time of settling in and getting cozy.

Fall causes me to want to bring in the harvest in a most unbecoming squirrel-like manner.  I honestly get disturbed when I drive by homes with unpicked apple trees or green tomatoes left to freeze on the vines.  I want to gather it all in and transform it into something that will keep.  This causes many long days in the kitchen canning apples or pears or pumpkins originally sold with jack-o-lantern intent.  I slave away, trying to get as much out of the apples or pears or pumpkins as I can until all that is left are some peels and cores that have been boiled for juice that get fed to the cattle along with their silage.

But the first days of truly cold weather, of winter?  They are different indeed.  My focus turns away from food preservation to the inside, to the home.

Stay warm everyone.


Autumn Harvests October 24, 2014

Fall is a busy time around here.  The farmers are in the fields hurrying to get the corn and soybeans harvested before winter comes.  The combines and tractors run 24/7 in years that there is a lot of rain or bad weather.  Everybody is trying to get their homes and yards ready for the onslaught of colder weather.  Leaves and temperatures are dropping, adding urgency to everyone’s preparations.  The weather people on TV and radio begin whispering that dreaded word: snow.

Here it’s been both the same and different.  I’ve spent some time doing this:

The view from the driver's seat.

That’s a picture taken while I was combining.  It’s one of those jobs that is very boring but very important.

I’ve also been making a lot of these:

autumn 7

Those are pears in medium syrup.  Yes, the pears that Elise and I picked when I went to Kalona are finally ripe.  I have two crates finished and two crates still to go.  I’ve put up about eighteen pints and half a dozen quarts so far as well as a bunch of different jams and such.  I’ve also put away a few gallons worth of pear juice for making pear jelly later on in the year.  Last year, the pears from this tree were very small and difficult to work with because of the drought.  This year, they are huge by comparison and very, very juicy.  One of the interesting things that I have learned from working with so many pears this year is that pear juice is very fragrant when being cooked.  It really smells lovely, though not especially pear-like.

Autumn 4

The above photo is of apple and pear juices.  As you can see, they look very similar.  Different batches of both juices will be different colors of pinky-gold.  Thus, it’s really super important to label them.  Here’s how I label my canned goods:

autumn 6

I’m fairly simple in how I label my canned goods.  What’s in there and the month-year.  I don’t write down the day it was canned as it just takes up space and time and isn’t usually all that necessary.  Some people do in case there is a “bad batch” of something, but for me, often having the day on it would only narrow it down to two or three batches (and that’s if I’m not in the full-swing of canning that day!).  Sometimes I don’t put what’s in it if it’s something like plain green beans or my standard sliced pickles.  Everything else though, gets labeled to avoid confusion.

Before I started in on the pears, I was working my way through the rest of the apples.  One of the jams I tried for the first time was a lovely cardamom and apple jam.  The flavors blend remarkably well and the cardamom adds an exotic kick to the more plebeian apples.  I’ve also seen one for pears with cardamom which I will try, but I’m a little worried that the more delicate flavor of the pears will get overwhelmed.  So we’ll see about it.  In the photo, you can see the cardamom pods still in the jam.  I also do this with vanilla pods when cooking with them.

autumn 8

I’ve not been doing a whole lot of knitting or crocheting.  I’ve been working on some Christmas socks when I have free time and a crocheted blanket when I’m sitting watching tv shows.  My sweater in progress has been sidelined for the moment as the holidays are approaching and that knitting needs to take center stage.


Terms of Endearment February 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 3:14 pm
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These are some of the Terms of Endearment that I call Red as I am feeding her.  This is an incomplete list.  No, I will not post audio of me signing the  showtune-esqe songs that go along with many of these names.


Right said Red

Rubicon Ruminant*

Red Head

Ruby Rustler

The Hunt for Red October (usually reserved for when I can’t find her right away)



Ready Red

Raptor Red

Red Star

Lady in Red

Red Delicious**

Red Meat***

Red Rover

Red Herring

Lobster baby (Get it? Red Lobster!)

Well Fed Red

Righteous Red

Little Red Riding Goat

The Grateful Red

Red Tide

Little Miss Well Red


*This was the point at which I thought that I might have a tad too much education to be out feeding a baby goat at 4 in the morning.

**Which is a little wrong if you think about the fact that she is a meat goat!

*** Even worse, but only saved for when she’s headbutted me in the kneecap!


A good day for laundry January 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 12:30 pm
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Early yesterday the sun disappeared, the temperatures started to drop and the wind picked-up considerably.  About the time that it got dark, it also started snowing.  We didn’t get a lot of snow, but what fell has been blowing around all day.  It’s reasonably cold out (it was around 8 degrees Fahrenheit [-13 Celsius] when I fed Red this morning) so the snow isn’t sticking to itself at all.  It just gets blown around again and again, usually down the back of my coat for some reason!  (Suppose I should put on a scarf! I am a knitter after all!)

This is not snow falling. This is snow failing to stay put!

Because it is so cold and windy outside, it is a tad more brisk than it normally is inside.  This is an old (by American standards) house and it is reasonably good about staying warm, but no house is perfect especially when facing a full-on Arctic attack from the North-West.

Thus, it’s time to do laundry!  The washer and dryer in this house are in the kitchen (it’s a pretty big kitchen [it was designed to be able to fit a bunch of LARGE hungry men in from the fields for lunch]) and the kitchen is right below my room.  Are you seeing a pattern here? 🙂  Since the dryer is downstairs and heat rises… well, let’s just say that clean clothes aren’t the only benefit that I get from this today!



A short walk on a cold winter day December 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 11:33 am
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I took Malcolm and Micheal down to the creek today for their walk.  Meara and Weezy were originally excited by the idea but quickly changed their minds when they understood just how cold the wind was.

The snow from yesterday has stuck around making the cold seem appropriate.  It also causes the landscape to appear a tad less harsh.

The creek is only partially frozen.  There is still moving water in parts of it while it is completely frozen over in other areas.

The sun tried valiantly to overcome the winter gloom.

Malcolm wears his “please don’t shoot me hunters, I’m a dog” vest every time we go further than the front yard now.  There are often many shots heard from deer hunters in all directions.  There “shouldn’t” be any hunters on the land we are walking on, but I feel better with him geared-up like this.  Plus it makes him a lot easier to find in this brown/white landscape!

Sweetie Pie wanted to know where the heck we had been when we got back!