Horti Honey's Blog of Yarn, Plants, and Life

Sarah Humke examines life through fiber tinted glasses….

Slacking* March 29, 2015

Spring is usually busy, but this year is even more so than usual for me.  First up, it was my brand new niece’s baptism last weekend.  I decided to make her a Christening Shawl/blanket for the event.  I then decided that it should really be hand-spun Shetland laceweight.  With wool from Shetland of course!  Well, I’m sure that you all can see exactly where this is going…

I ended-up finishing casting-off at around four o’clock on the Saturday before.  I blocked it on my bed that evening.

slacking 4Luckily it was one of those super easy things to block and all I had to do was kind of pat it into place and let it dry for a bit.  I have a heated bed so that helped to move things along a bit:-)  It was dry and ready for the baptism that morning.

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Thanks to my SIL for taking this photo. I wasn’t able to take many photos with my niece IN the blanket as I was supremely busy that day with the lunch for the family after church.

I was amused by two facts during the baptismal sermon.  First, I’m not in church all that often and that Sunday I was sitting in the front row of a pretty full church.  The second was this:

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Yep, the whole sermon was about sheep and goats:-)

For those interested, the shawl/blanket is a strongly adapted version of a traditional Shetland Christening shawl pattern.  I skipped the edging and added a picot cast-off in its place.  The yarn was spun from about 284 grams of the Jaimeson and Smith Shetland Supreme combed roving.

I just happened to finish it when I was helping out my friends Ellen and Wanda at their booth for their shop Fiber Curio and Sundries at Fiberpalooza in Winterset, Iowa on Saturday.  I took absolutely zero photos as my hands were busy the entire day long either setting up or knitting the shawl.  However, it was a really fun event to both attend and sell at and I had a good, though very long, day.

Thursday and Friday were involved in the final classes for my Annie’s Project course.   I think that now is a good time to share with you what the business I was taking this business planning class for is.  I am getting sheep.  Or to be quite precise, I am getting about 20 or so Shetland ewes.  It’s a bit of long story, and I’m not a hundred percent sure that all the parties would like me to share it, but I can say that it’s kind of one of those things where karma has come full circle.  I have booked my flights out to Montana where the sheep currently reside and will drive back with them.  So there is a lot to do on the ground here to prepare for them.  Fencing for one.  These ladies have not been in fences a lot in their lives, which could be either a good or a bad thing.  Currently I am working on an area that will be somewhat permanently fenced for when they first get here and probably for parts of the winter as well.  I am going to purchase some electric netting so that I can move them around and graze the different areas of the farm and keep the grass and weeds down.

This is honestly, a kind of dream come true for me as I have wanted some ever since I visited the islands in 2010.  I adore their wool, I find the sheep to be appealing in their durability and size and I enjoy the variety of colors that they come in.  I have hesitated to write about it here as I wasn’t sure that it was really going to come to fruition.  But now with plane tickets booked (thank you frequent flier miles!) and making plans for fences and trying to find a livestock guardian animal, it is all starting to feel very, very real.  If anyone knows of someone looking to re-home a donkey in the Iowa area, please let me know.

Dusty got “sheared” one of our warmer days.  It wasn’t a perfect job as he wanted to chase cats and I didn’t want him to chase them but it worked out ok.

Before

Before: “Look at those cats making fun of me!  Must chase them!!!!!”

See what I mean by "shearing"?

See what I mean by “shearing”?

After

After: “The cats are laughing at me.”

I would have saved it to spin had I given Dusty a bath prior to his spring shearing.

I would have saved it to spin had I given Dusty a bath prior to his spring shearing.

I’ve been destashing a lot of mini skeins of sock yarn on Ravelry.  If you are interested (and the link doesn’t work) just go to the group “Mini Mall” and the thread called “Random Sets”.  I still have a lot of sets available and am willing to mail wherever you want in the world (with a few small exceptions:-).

On top of all of this has been seed starting and garden planning (in that order, it doesn’t always go in the order it should have you know!).  This year we are having a fifty foot by seventy-five foot garden.  Should be exciting!

Oh, and I got a full-time job finally.  I start in April and it will involve a lot more commuting than I am used to.

*For the irony impaired, I haven’t been slacking.  Quite honestly I’ve been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger!!!

 

Jimmy John’s Philosophy February 18, 2014

Today I was sitting in Jimmy John’s waiting for my sandwich reading one of the many signs that they have posted around the shop.  This one in particular caught my attention as it was made up of “I believe” statements (For full text, go here).  There was one statement in particular that caused me to pause.  It was simply, “I believe… that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.”

For the very first time in my life, I honestly considered a tattoo.  I guess that it was a good thing  both tattoo shops I passed on my way back to campus were closed still (this was in campus town, there are lots of tattoo shops there, they generally are open at night).

You see, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to “grow-up”.  Being around so many college students it’s difficult not to consider it as they are all faced with some fairly meaningful questions that they feel that they must try to answer as they embark on their “adulthood”.  I often get asked for advice and even though I often feel ill-prepared to give it, I do have to say something.  Many times, what I advise boils down to something like this:

  • Enjoy what is in front of you right now, don’t rush ahead to the next thing.
  • Try to get out and see as much of the world and meet the people in it as you can before you settle down.
  • Don’t settle for less than what you deserve in a relationship.
  • Always write thank you notes.
  • Try to take the high road whenever possible, but always have a strategy in place in case that doesn’t work.
  • Don’t worry about age or grey hairs.  Worrying will cause you to look your age and have grey hairs!

 

In other areas, I have done my part and assimilated another knitter (with Elise’s help).  This is the epic ten foot plus scarf that she made whilst knitting everywhere, including in class (I am SO proud!).

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I promise that normally her eyes don’t glow red.  I think it was the power of a completed project that caused that, or it could have been my camera flash!  Next I will get her on Ravelry…..

 

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!

 

 

Random randomness. June 2, 2013

Random has been sort of my catchword of late.  It feels as though my life has become a host of things unrelated to one another except through me.  I could make a concept map to explain this, but I’ll save y’all the horror:-)

I’ve not posted here in a while.  Partially this is because, quite frankly, I was tired of writing.  I write a lot in grad school and by the time I make it home, all I want to do was sit and watch something that didn’t tax my brain powers at all and have dinner.  And knit or crochet, of course. This makes all forms of communication other than texting (short and usually grammatically incorrect, thus fits into the stupid qualifications) rather difficult to find the motivation to engage in.

There were also other things going on that were really too sad to talk about for a while.  My lovely Meara died quite unexpectedly in the middle of December.  This threw me for a lot longer than I even realized.  It may be corny to mourn a dog, but she had been my nearly constant companion for over a decade.

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School got a lot harder this past semester than it had been the previous two.  More graduate level classes as well as T.A.’ing a class that was pretty time intensive.

I have been knitting. Lots of socks:

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These are my “Eye of Jupiter” socks. I used the vanilla pattern from the Yarn Harlot and the yarn I dyed last semester at a Workspace class. They are inspired by the “Eye of Jupiter” paintings that Starbuck painted on BSG.

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Yes, these are my first Monkeys. Knitted mostly on the way to and back from Columbus, Ohio for a conference. Done in Socks that Rock lightweight, unknown colorway (mill-ends grab-bag).

This is how I roll when being driven:-)

This is how I roll when being driven:-)

It wasn’t all socks, there were shawls:

Damask by Kitman Figueroa knitted in Swans Island Pure Blends Collection in Seasmoke.

Damask by Kitman Figueroa knitted in Swans Island Pure Blends Collection in Seasmoke.

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There was a LOT of sock yarn blanket work done! I’m actually running into a real threat of running out of unique sock yarn leftovers! Hence the reason I am suddenly feeling the urge to actually knit socks! I have a lot of sock yarn, but a lot of it is really nice stuff that needs to get knitted into something else and have leftovers used rather than just instantly becoming labeled “leftovers”.  If anyone has any little balls of leftover sock yarn, I will certainly take them off your hands.  I also have a lot of “mini-skeins” that I am willing to trade for new yarns. Just give me a shout!

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Photo taken this afternoon. Trust me, it is a fair bit larger than it was in the first photo!

Photo taken this afternoon. Trust me, it is a fair bit larger than it was in the first photo!

Of course there were baby goats too!  This was a set of twins born to a doe not really interested in them. When I put these photos on Facebook I said,  “You know that you are at an Ag University when this is your Saturday night…”  So, so true! Both of them ended-up in good homes and are happy and healthy (no, I did not keep them long-term in my house. They were there for a weekend!)

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Amongst all of this, I actually did some school work! One of my favorite assignments this past semester was a presentation I did for a technology class on how to incorporate Ravelry into the classroom. I had fun making the display:-)

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Yep, that’s the sockyarn blanket, project bags from various Ravelry meetups, and mini skeins of sockyarn!

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I’m wearing buttons from various meetings and events I have attended. There is also a “concept map” about fiber in the background that I made for another class.

My brother got married in April and he and his fiance (now wife, obviously) decided to do it in St. Marteen. At an all-inclusive resort. Yay!

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Seriously, this was taken in the middle of the day with no editing. That was what the sea looked like from our hotel!

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Happy, happy!

There was a visit to the farm by my roommates dog, Dusty (so NOT a farm dog:-))

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A poster abstract I had submitted got accepted to a national conference. Thus the trip to Columbus, Ohio a couple of weeks ago.

Most of the ISU group at the AAAE National Conference.

Most of the ISU group at the AAAE National Conference.

This was the row of Iowa State posters. We took up an entire row. I'm not sure that any other school did that:-)

This was the row of Iowa State posters. We took up an entire row. I’m not sure that any other school did that:-)

My poster. It was about an energy workshop held for teachers.

My poster. It was about an energy workshop held for teachers.

I even had to go out and get a suit for this conference! Haven't had to look "professional" in a long time!

I even had to go out and get a suit for this conference! Haven’t had to look “professional” in a long time!

This week I found a sewing machine at the side of the road waiting to be hauled away by the garbage collectors. I couldn’t let it happen just for the cabinet alone!

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There is a little spot in the cabinet where you can slide the foot peddle into it and there is a lever that opens out so that you can control it with your knee!

It’s an antique Necchi, which when I did a little research, I found out is an Italian brand that was really mostly known for their industrial machines, but that they also made really excellent machines for the home as well. These still go for $100’s of dollars in working condition, which this one is. They are known as very tough machines.  Yay for me being a garbage hound!  I did replace the power cord, as the one on it looked like it had been melted time and again and made me very nervous.

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So that is a really brief synopsis of what has been going on in my life.  Of course there is a lot that I have left out.  Like how many times I fell on my arse this very long and very snowy winter (a lot). Or how many pages of papers I graded (many hundreds, if not low thousands). Or how many text messages I’ve sent and received (ummmm, don’t want to talk about that….). It’s been busy, but I am hopeful that the summer will allow time for more blogging again.

 

Now, with knitting content! September 3, 2012

I’ve not written a lot about my knitting and crocheting lately for a couple of reasons.  First is that a lot of my crafting lately has been for others, others who sometimes read the blog.  It’s not like they aren’t already pretty sure what they are getting already (cough… baby blankets) but still, I like to at least pretend that there is a little suspense in it otherwise why would I even bother wrapping them?  Oh, wait, often I don’t wrap them…  Hmmm…  Anyway, I am finally working on something that I know the recipient doesn’t read this at all.  Yes, this is the beginning of Christmas knitting!

I’m knitting a pair of plain socks with 72 stitches cast-on in Regia City Color sock yarn.  Details are here in Ravelry.

I have a sweater that has been sidelined for the moment due to gauge issues.  That and I’m a little bit too chicken to continue.  The yarn is really nice and the sweater isn’t for me so I’m kinda doubly afraid of messing it up.  Oddly, I don’t usually ever have this issue with high-end lace yarns, but then gauge isn’t as important when making a shawl (usually) as when making a sweater.  Any suggestions about how to get over this fear and just get on with it would be greatly appreciated!  Especially since the sweater is deadline knitting with a date that is fast approaching!

However, the sock is my easy to transport knitting for the moment.  I worked on dishcloths all summer long as I just couldn’t bear to even think about wool too hard let along touch it in daily temps of over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  With an un-air-conditioned car.  Working in greenhouses.  Yeah, it was a sweaty summer for me!  Anyway, handling wool when it’s that hot on a regular basis just wasn’t happening much this summer.  I guess that a little work got done on the sock yarn blanket while in my A/C’ed apartment, but not much else.

I’d forgotten how fast socks can go!  It’s really remarkable how much I’ve gotten done in a short amount of time.  I may become a sock knitter yet! (May the knitting Gods help us all!!!)

 

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!).