Monday, January 28, 2008

Good Book

I was supposed to be writing. But I've long subscribed to the idea that a writer must do a lot of reading for his or her writing to be any good. So I spent the weekend reading.

I would've been reading The Friday Night Knitting Club which a dear friend gave me for my birthday (thanks Joanne!) but the library called me last Friday to let me know that their copy of Ann Hood's The Knitting Circle was in and they would hold it for me for a couple days.

I went down and picked it up Saturday morning and read it over the weekend. All I can say is wow! The characters pulled me in and the story was so engrossing I had a hard time pulling myself off the sofa to fix meals! Parts of it were gritty. Some of it heart wrenching. No easy fixes at the end, yet you come away feeling "settled" about everything.

Good stuff.

And I swear I'm going to finish my writing.
Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Knotty-Cable Rimmed Beanie

Knotty-Cable Rimmed Beanie
by Kim Helmick

Worsted weight yarn (~100 yds?)
U.S. #7 - 16" circular needle (or size needed to get gauge)
U.S. #7 double pointed needles (or size needed to get gauge)
cable needle
stitch marker
darning/yarn needle

Gauge = 4 ½ stitches per inch
Hat is knit with the cable band rim first, then stitches picked up along one edge to make crown.

C4F is worked over a total of 4 stitches. Place first two stitches from left needle onto cable needle; hold to front of work. Knit the next two stitches from left needle. Then knit the two stitches off the cable needle.
C4B = worked over 4 stitches. Place first two stitches from left needle onto cable needle; hold to back of work. Knit the next two stitches from left needle. Then knit the two stitches off the cable needle.

Using long-tail method, CO 16 stitches.
Purl one row (WS).

Row 1: Slip first stitch, K4, C4F, C4F, K3
Row 2: Slip first stitch, K2, P10, K3
Row 3: Slip first stitch, K2, C4B, C4B, K5
Row 4: Slip first stitch, K2, P10, K3

Repeat rows 1-4 until strip measures 22" (or length needed to fit around your head.)

Bind off. Stitch together beginning and end of band to form bottom brim of hat.

Beginning at seam (which will be the back of the hat), pick up 80 stitches around edge using circular needle. Place stitch marker at beginning of round.

Knit 30-32 rows or until hat measures 8" from bottom of cable band.
Begin decreasing by:
*K1, K2tog* repeat for one round
Knit around, twice
*K2tog* repeat for one round (May need to change to dpn’s at this point.)
Knit 1 round
*K2 tog*
Repeat last two rows until you have 7 stitches on needles. Cut yarn with 6"-8" tail. Using darning needle run tail through the remaining stitches on needles twice. Pull tight. Run yarn through center top to inside and weave in ends. Weave in loose ends from the cable band.

Pattern created January, 2008 - copyright by the designer Kim Helmick. Pattern may be used for personal use as long as this line appears. Not for sale.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Spindle (& FO!)

I participated in a fun "Homemade/handmade spindle exchange" via a group on Ravelry. The rules were to make a spindle for less than $10, preferrably from things you could recycle from your home. Since I've never made a spindle, it seemed like a good chance for me to learn. Besides, any knowledge acquired along the way might go a long way toward helping me expand from the one store boughten spindle that I own.

The one made for me by a lovely person in NY state arrived on Friday, which also just happened to be my birthday! (BONUS!!!) Here it is:

I'm not sure if the whorl is wooden or not. Part of me believes it may have been fashioned from Fimo (or similar brand) clay and baked. At any rate, I thought it terribly clever to actually paint the dowel as well! (My poor recipient got a plane jane model all around!)

Since this spindle is lighter weight than the one I bought in my "Learn to Spin" kit, I thought I'd give a lighter weight yarn a spin. I think it's going to work splendidly!

After playing around with the spindle on Saturday while watching the forecast, I decided a little knitting was in order owing to the fact I couldn't find a hat to wear in the bitter cold weather that has enveloped our state. Here's the result.

I got inspired by a pattern I saw on However I decided to go with a different cable pattern from a stitch dictionary. Even though it's crappy acrylic yarn which has been in my stash for over 9 years, I think it will do the job of keeping my head warm. If anyone is interested I can type up the pattern and post it. Just say the word!

Happy Spinning & Knitting!
Stay warm!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Who Knew?

Every year for several years I made calendars for family (and sometimes friends) with my photos. These were used as Christmas gifts. As time passed I noted who used them and who didn't. I pared down the list.

This past Christmas I didn't make calendars.

I thought people might be tired of them.

I didn't want to "force" people to look at my photos all year....or even feel compelled to have to hang it up out of politeness.

My SIL was the first to mention how much she was going to miss it. "What type of calendar can I start collecting now when I already have so many lovely ones from you?" she asked.

Simple solution there. My DB's birthday is in January. So I made a calendar. Sent it early with a note: "Open'll see why."

They were thrilled!

Then the phone rang. It was my DS. "Did you not make calendars for us this year?"

"No, I didn't. Well, except that I got one complaint and made them one for JJ's birthday." (Confession comes quickly to me. I'm always ratting myself out. Besides, my brother displays his calendar in a very public place where I'm sure my DS would see it.)


[You know that awkward silence that occurs when you know there's more to be said....insert it here.]

She continued. "Well then I'm registering my complaint. I'm looking at mine from last year with all my stickies and post-its stuck to December, waiting to be added to the new one for 2008."

Ok! I get it. Some people really, truly do like my photos! They actually use the calendar and like getting one. (My siblings are the best!)

So I made another one for her office and ordered it last night.

Just opened my email. A note from my dad begins "I'm sitting here looking at that calendar you sent a couple years ago....I really liked those.........."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It Works!

Bird seed apparently DOES grow birds!

My sister's family were kind enough to make this milk carton bird feeder for an article I wrote for the February issue of Fort Dodge Today (thanks to my sis, Karen for taking step-by-step "how to" photos to illustrate!!)

We brought it home and hung it in our tree and after 4 or 5 days the house finches have discovered its presence.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Girl's Best Friend Anklet

I was fortunate to have quite a bit of knitting time over the weekend. (Playoff games for the NFL......) I started the Girl's Best Friend Anklet pattern available from Knit Picks for a VERY reasonable price. (I think the pattern was $2.) I must say, I am enjoying it immensely. Here it is thus far:

I am using Knit Picks yarn: Pallette in the Rainforest Heather colorway. The pattern calls for US #1 needles to get 8spi and I found that's what I needed to use to get gauge. Hence the Harmony dpns (also from Knit Picks) which you see in the photo.

Here is a close up of the diamond band on the cuff.

It's interesting because once you complete the pattern on the cuff, you turn the sock inside out to knit the rest of the leg, heel, gusset, foot and toe. Thus your cuff is automatically ready to be turned over so that the right side pattern is showing.

As you can see, they are knitting up rather quickly. I finished the cuff and part of the leg on Saturday and got the rest done on Sunday. I'm sure I will have one sock done and be onto the second by the time I go to knitting with my friends on Wednesday.

I will use this pattern again for certain. This color is too close to the one I gave my sister for her birthday last year, so I will knit this pattern in another color for her for her birthday in April. I think she will love them!

Happy Knitting!

Friday, January 04, 2008


Less is more......

I was working on two projects for the paper today. One involved re-conceptualizing and then reshooting the cover for February. I decided to try the "less is more" mentality. This image was the final result.

What do you think? Good cover for February consider the cover story is "Ways to Say I Love You" ????????

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Caucus Night

The Iowa Caucus is finished. I found it really kind of fun, certainly interesting, and even exciting for a couple moments.

I started in the Richardson group. We had 21 people to begin with. We needed 31 to be viable. We ended up having to disband and join our 2nd choice candidate. So I ended up with Edwards (who was my #1 choice in 2004).

Our precint had a record turnout of 201 people at the Democratic caucus.

I took knitting because I'd heard there would be long periods of nothing much happening. It didn't turn out to be true at all. I found a lot of neighbors and friends to chat with. We talked about how the issues were affecting us personally. (Mostly health care system related.)

When I got home (about 8:15 pm) I started in on the Girl's Best Friend sock from Knit Picks in their Pallette yarn. I got quite a ways through it only to discover I'd made a huge error in the pattern. It was ok though, because the gauge was off and I need to change needles anyway.

Off to bed now. Proud to have done my civic duty.

I will caucus again.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My Day

I realized on this first day back to the "normal" schedule (read: "school year schedule") that I spend a lot of time in the van. Driving kids to school. Running errands. Going to do interviews, photo shoots or places to do research (mostly the library, but sometimes other places too). Going to meetings. Going to the coffee shop (sometimes to work as barista, other times to enjoy the libations, once a week for my knitting circle). Driving to appointments (doctors, dentists, orthodontists, etc.) Picking kids up from school. Running the kids to activities. Running the kids' errands. Occasionally doing something in the evening with my husband.

The view above is what I see between 2:45 p.m. and 3:15. I am parked by the junior high school waiting for my DS. I usually use this time to journal. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I knit. Occasionally I get a call on my cell phone that I answer.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Toast!

To the New Year!

(before you call to report underaged drinking.....please note that they are consuming sparkling grape juice!)

I know that traditionally speaking this is the day for taking account of the year gone by and making a plan for the year ahead. I've given up doing so in the traditional sense of annually saying things like "I'm going to lose weight and get in shape this year." Everybody says stuff like that. Most of us don't make it past a few weeks at best. (Some years, it was more like a few days!)

What I do hope for 2008 is this: to live intentionally.

I want to make every effort to live an examined life. By that I mean to take time to reflect on words and consider the bigger try to see the world from a perspective that is not just my own.

Some things I think will help me do this: my journal and my camera. I want to write daily. And take at least one photo per day. I think the two will, at times, go hand in hand.

I want to stay connected to the people who are close to me. And reconnect with ones who aren't. (knowing full-well the messiness of that proposition given the fact that some aren't close due to issues which effect mental and emotional health, but that's a whole other entry!)

I want to knit. Read. Laugh. Cry. Play with children and babies. Listen to and encourage teens. Help others. Pray again. Enjoy nature. Travel. Listen to music. Create.

I know that resolution and goal "gurus" would HATE my list. It's non-specific and sloppy. They're not really resolutions or goals.

I don't care.

Have a wonderful 2008!