Sarah Jane Humke

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

Learning. Always learning. March 2, 2015

This weekend I took a class through my guild.  It was a class that I have wanted to take for some time now and finally had the opportunity to take it.  Since I have had a loom in my possession for some time now, I thought that it was high time that I learned how to use it.  Thus, a beginning weaving class.

This is what my loom looked like prior to tying on my warp.  I forgot to take pictures of the actual winding of the warp, sorry.

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And these are what it looked like with my warp tied on.

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Front of the loom

 

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The backside of the loom

After a little while weaving, the front of the loom looked like this:

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And a little while after that, it looked like this:

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And after two days of instruction and weaving, I ended-up with this:

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I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  It’s obviously not perfect, but considering that it is my first woven piece since a few of those woven potholders in grade school, I think it turned out pretty well.

In non-weaving related news.  I am also working on a birthday hat.  I can now show it as I have actually knit on it in front of the recipient:-)

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It is being knit from some 3-ply hand-spun Shetland wool yarn I made specifically for this hat.

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I also had a wonderful surprise in the mail today.  I received a package from Baton Rouge from my bestie Elise.  Inside was a birthday card as well as these:

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If I ever have an office again, the I Want to Believe poster is going up in it, just to freak-out the muggles:-)

 

 

 

8 seconds January 16, 2014

There are days that I feel like I’m on a treadmill and then there are days that feel as though I am on an elliptical machine. In my universe, an elliptical machine is the devil.  Probably invented sometime during the Spanish inquisition by the same man who invented panty hose, SPSS, and stiletto heels.  I cannot use these machines at all.  I have tried two times and the second time I was asked to please leave the gym I was trial membershiping and not come back. I somehow fell off the elliptical  backwards and nearly took out a woman on a machine behind me. This is what happens when I am on one.  It’s like my feet and hands and the machine all work really effectively against one another in order to get me off of it as quickly as possible.  Seriously, I think I would have better luck bull riding than I do exercising on one of these machines (bull riding you only need to stay on for eight seconds!).  Anyway, that is a long winded way of saying that it’s been a little nutso of late and sometimes I feel as though I’ve gotten thrown on my ass in gym full of people.

First off, I finally finished some socks that I started over a year ago.  I worked on these socks in my Psych 230 class (that I thoroughly enjoyed despite myself) but messed-up the toes and had afterthought heels planned that I never got done.  Since I was already ripping them back, I took them all the way back to the heel spots, put in traditional heels and reknit the feet and toes(correctly).  I realized how many socks I had under my belt from the time that I started knitting this particular pair until I (ahem) finished knitting them.  It’s interesting to me how things like Kitchener stitching the toes and turning the heels has really become something kinda second nature to me now.  Anyway, these turned out really nicely and very nearly identical despite, well, everything!

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I also mailed off some (very late) Christmas packages.  I know that this might sound odd, but I honestly prefer to get packages late as it extends the surprise and the number of days that you get to open packages!  I LOVE opening packages!!!!  Anyway, I thought I would share with you how I apply postage to the USPS flat rate boxes.  These two boxes are both the medium size and currently cost $12.35 to mail anywhere in the Continental United States.  I usually start off with a few higher denomination stamps, but the rest are generally valued at around $.05.  I have some as low as $.005 (yes, one-half of a cent of postage. Even the postal workers stopped at that one.) and a few in the $.30 range.   But a lot (and I mean a LOT) are in the $.03, $.04, and $.05 range.  The reason for this is simple.    There used to be a lot more stamp collectors than there are currently.  Many of them are dying or no longer collecting and their collections aren’t worth any more than the postage that the stamps are worth.  However, most people don’t want to fool around with six stamps just to mail one letter, so when sold on ebay or other websites, go for less than full face value for perfectly good postage.  Some of the stamps that I am using are from the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Most are newer, a lot from the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Still, the bulk of the stamps on these packages are older than I am.  Both of them have the same general theme; Old, dead, (mostly) white men.  One went to Alabama, so it got some Civil War stamps thrown into the mix (I thought that it still fit the overall theme!).  When I was mailing off Christmas boxes that were going to be reasonably on time I used a general theme of Christmas Stamps.  It was very festive in a USPS kind of way (which, really, is kind of an awesome kind of way!).

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I received an early birthday present from my roommate Elise this week.  I have been eyeing these sheets for months and when I finally made up my mind to buy them at the store, they were out.  She was there and they had them back in stock and she got them and gave them to me right away because it’s bloody freezing in my room and they seem like a good idea in January.

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Anytime you can snuggle down in a bed made-up in flannel sheets covered in dogs wearing clothing and a heated mattress pad, you know that you are on the right side of any battle that the world may throw at you the next day.  Plus, bonus cute knitting project bag that the sheets came in!

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Speaking of birthday presents, I made one for Elise’s birthday on Monday.  Since she saw me knitting it and had requested it specifically (and it’s cold outside) I gave it to her a few days early.  It is a “Jayne Hat” inspired by the one worn on the short-lived Sci-Fi show Firefly by one of the characters.  I used three shades of Vanna’s Choice that seemed to be there best representation of the colors on our TV screen.  The exact colors used are here in my Ravelry page as well as the actual pattern I used.  It was an easy knit and fast.  I’ve gotten used to making things out of fingering weight yarns so knitting something out of worsted felt as though it was just falling off the needles!

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Another knitting project I made was a pair of thrummed mittens.  These were made in response to the news of the impending polar vortex to descend upon our little piece of heaven here in Iowa.  I actually managed to get them finished prior to the big chill actually getting here, so that was actually a new feeling for me!  Once again, knitted in worsted weight wool, these just flew.  They are far from perfect and if I made them again I would make them a little bigger (like one more completion of the thrumming round) but they work and work well at keeping my hands warm which was the whole purpose.  Details of the pattern and materials are here on my Ravelry page.  I’ve had so much fun showing them to people and then turning them inside out and explaining that they are like Uggs for your hands:-)  I know, I’m easily amused.

This was my whole outfit to take the dogs out during the worst of the polar vortex.

If I had been a good girl and updating like I should be, these would have all been a separate post.  But I am naughty and haven’t been.  Though I really need to write more here.  I am doing a lot of academic writing which I sometimes feel as though it is killing my natural writing voice.  Academic writing is extremely dry and formulaic.  I feel that it was designed for people who are not very good writers to be able to get information about their study (or whatever they want to talk about) out without exposing that they suck at writing.  I’m not saying that I am a Neil Gaiman of blogging or anything like that, but I can at least (generally) communicate what I am trying to say.  Often in academic writing, the language is very dense and obscure and there is a ham-fisted approach to using big words in order to camouflage the fact that there is little or no real results from the study (or whatever) that the author is writing about.  It seems to be elitist and it’s no wonder that people who are not in academia often misinterpret what these papers mean.  There’s a whole ethical discussion that I could get into about this (we are supposed to be doing research for the good of the state/nation/world but we often don’t put our results in a language that a lay person could read and understand) but in short it hurts my brain to write too much of it at one go.  I understand that results need to be in a format of sorts, but does is really need to be this????

Also, I start saying things like, “My personal self-efficacy belief as to my ability to maintain ownership of my animal-based fiber headcovering has quickly plummeted.”  That was in response to losing my wool hat.  Seriously.

 

Two For the Price of One July 3, 2013

Today you get what would normally be two blog posts only in one, compact edition. Yay! It’s like a 4th of July sale at Menards!

Your first lovely blog post is called: I Shall Swim in the Pool of Victory

I finished the socks for Joel finally. The knitting was done this morning (I just couldn’t go on anymore last night) and I worked-in the ends and Soaked them and put them on the sock blockers to dry tonight.

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I had plenty of the multicolored yarn leftover, so the grey toes were unnecessary, but you and I both know that had I not done that, I would have run out of yarn!

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So, details. These were knit with Sheepish Creationssock yarn, in an unnamed colorway.  Merino/nylon, 440 yards / 4.0 oz (407 m / 118 g). The grey toe yarn was a little over 10 grams of Pingouin Machine Washable 4 ply Sock Wool that I bought at The Knitting Hut in Woburn Sands (God, I adore Ravelry for this reason. This yarn was from a pair of partially knit socks from way back. However, I’d put all the info into Ravelry [as of course the tags are long gone for the yarn] and all I had to do was look it up!). The pattern is called Basket Weave Rib Socks (free pattern) and they are designed by Sarah Ronchetti.  I would make this pattern again, but only to do it with a solid colored yarn with good stitch definition. I feel like the pattern got a little lost in these…

These will be going off to Joel once they are dry and packaged up. Because, everyone needs wool socks when it’s over 100 degrees outside:-)

My second blog post is titled: Call Me the Grill Master!

Yes, I bought a very little, very cute little grill.

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I’ve not done a whole lot of grilling these past few years.  Really, it didn’t make sense when the hubby was a vegetarian!  But now I am alone and most definitely a omnivore so I splurged and got a grill.

First thing I grilled on it?

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Why Brats of course!

 

 

On Becoming a Knitting Cliché June 6, 2013

So, yeah…  I get the addictive nature of the Monkey socks now.  I already want to cast-on the next pair and I’m not done with this pair yet!  It’s sort of like when I was still smoking (yes, I used to smoke. I quit. It’s bad for you, don’t start it!) when I would want another cigarette before I had even finished the one I was smoking. Knitting Monkeys is kinda like that…

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I even have the yarn for the next two pairs balled up at this point, just waiting to get cast-on.

Both are Socks that Rock lightweight in mill ends colors (aka, I don't know the colors:-))

Both are Socks that Rock lightweight in mill ends colors (aka, I don’t know the colors:-))

It really is a sickness. Get used to seeing Monkey’s on here for a while!

In other news, I now have a place to live come the end of July.  Yay! I’m not going to be homeless!  Also, it allows dogs (note on the plural there) so I will be able to have both Weezy and Malcolm living with me next year.  I have a feeling that this means that the bromance ongoing between my father and Malcolm will cool a little bit and hopefully I’ll be able to get Mal back down to his proper weight.  Maybe in working on doing so, I will bring me back to down to my proper weight as well!

This has been a really scary year so far weather-wise across a huge chunk of the US.  For the folks in Oklahoma, it’s been heartbreaking.  It feels as though every time we turn around, there’s another round of severe weather heading their way, making the clean-up from what they’ve already gotten even more difficult.  There’s a really great knitting pattern book that’s been put together to aid the folks devastated by the tornadoes in Oklahoma.  It’s called k*tog and it contains 20 patterns including: 4 patterns for socks, 4 patterns for scarves or cowls, a vest, a cardigan, 2 hats, 4 shawls, a baby cocoon, some toys and a pair of fingerless mitts.  It’s $20 and ALL of the proceeds from it go to the folks in Oklahoma.  Honestly folks, even if you only knit a couple of the patterns in it it’s still a great deal. I mean, $20 for 20 patterns. Go, get it here if you haven’t already!

This weekend is the Iowa Sheep and Wool festival in Adel, Iowa.  I will be attending and taking a class on Saturday morning about Angora rabbits. How to care for them and how to spin their wool. Should be… fluffy:-)  I will be doing some stuff with my guild as well which is always fun!  If you are in the area I would strongly encourage you to come and check out the wooliness!

 

My birthday (a little late) February 7, 2013

You know you had a good time on your birthday when you don’t get to blog about it until a week later!

My day started normally enough until I got to the office where a very interesting box awaited me on my desk.  Given it’s dimensions, I was a tad apprehensive that my day was going to devolve into something Kill Bill-esque…

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…until I opened it up.  It’s a beautiful tapestry that my friend Guang had his folks bring back from China for me:-)

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When my friend Elise arrived, so did flowers…

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doughnuts and a massive chocolate cake.

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I also got another box in the mail when I went to the post office later.  It was a wrapped box…

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…and it contained this.

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It’s a Nexus 7 tablet.  A very kind friend sent it to me as a really big surprise.  A big surprise is certainly was!

That evening Elise and I went to Welch Ave. Station for dinner and drinks.  This is a college bar here in the Iowa State campus town that has been around FOREVER.  My free birthday drink was their Pissed off Japanese Minnow Farmer.  After that, well, things got a little interesting.

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Yeah. That’s me. Putting away tequila shots like a full-on college student.  Which I guess that I am!

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Believe it or not, after about 10 shots I still was able to walk out of the bar on my own two feet.  I didn’t get sick nor was I hung-over in the morning (in case you were worried).  I think the pizza, fried cheese balls, and cheesy bread that we had eaten earlier in the evening mitigated the potential for alcohol damage.  Don’t get me wrong, I was a rather cheerful Sarah leaving the bar that night, but honestly, I was walking better than Elise was and she’d not had a drink that night!

Today I received a package from my friend Tini in Germany.

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In it was a sweet birthday card, 2 cutie sheep figurines, some lush spinning fiber, a bit of leftover sock yarn for my blanket and a little notebook that I am going to use to keep my spinning notes in, and a bunch of Tyvek bracelets like what you get when you go to a club or an event.  They are for marking yardage and such on skeined-up yarn that you are then going to wash.  Brilliant!

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This evening I got yet another birthday present from my lovely roommate Des.  It’s the book Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis. Such a beautifully done book!

Weezy approved!

Weezy approved!

Thank you to everyone who made my birthday so wonderful.  Special thanks to Elise and Guang for a fantastic night out!  If this is what 35 is like, roll on 40!

 

What I got January 30, 2013

So, I was asked to share what I got at Sticks and Sting this year.  I assure you it is modest in the most!  SAS2012yarn

The yellow yarn on the left is a custom dyed skein of Superwash Merino 3 ply yarn that came with my goodie bag (but that I forgot to photograph!) by Dreams in Fiber.  The middle blue and white merino/nylon superwash yarn is also by Dreams in Fiber and the colorway is “The Box”.  The bundle on the right is by Blue Ridge Yarns and it’s called Footlights in the colorway “Pansies”.

Yeah, I was that restrained.  But you see, I have this at home.

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All those skeins in the plastic baggies on the top shelf? Wollmeise. The rest is an assortment of Blue Moon Fiber Arts and other various sock yarn companies.  I assure you that this isn’t all of my sock yarn, just what I’ve brought with me to Ames!

In other news, we had snow blow-in early this morning.  I fell on my arse twice in the parking lot just trying to get to Curtiss!  I was both wet and sore by the time I got to my office this morning.  Most, most annoying since I had even “prepared” by wearing my snow boots and was all decked-out for the weather. It is not supposed to happen if you prepare for it!!!! (Sarah’s Law)

 

 

 

 

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!