Author Archives: K Anderson

Regenerative Organic Agriculture

I had to post this as a phrase, or term, I want embedded in my mind. For almost a decade words, phrases, and acronyms like “organic”, “all-natural”, “GMO”, “BPA”, “rBGH”, “certified”, “soy lecithin”, “cow’s milk protein”, “high-fructose corn syrup”, along with additives, preservatives, and other words I can’t pronounce have tumbled around in my mind over many a shopping experience. While easier to avoid at local farmer’s markets, not so much at many regional grocers.

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Well this week certainly encompasses the true nature and meaning of the Greek for “passing away the winter” – paracheimazo. (Hence, the name for my blog – cheimazoknits – as I love winter and one of the better things to do while stuck indoors is creating knit items meant for staying warm.)

While the midwest is in the grips of a polar vortex plunging temperatures to record below-zero readings, I’m finally finishing this afghan I started a couple years ago.

This pattern comes from the Boye book titled “I Taught Myself Knitting” and is the “1. Homespun Ripple Afghan” which is pictured on the front cover. I bought this book at least 10 years ago, or more, so it’s definitely outdated but the pattern is classic.

Having started this blanket, I was a beginner and not using continental knitting, so the first two skeins were painstakingly slow. Mostly due to my inexperience but also due to the “old shale pattern” which contains an increase/decrease row which tends to slow things down.

Initially, I was not very impressed with the Lion Brand Homespun as it seemed to easily separate and would often split. Undoing stitches was difficult due to the increase/decrease rows and the yarn itself lends the rows to camouflage themselves, making it difficult to tell which row I should be working (but is nice, however, for masking mistakes 🙂 )

Now, a year or more later, I’m finding the yarn not as difficult to work with as my knitting style has improved greatly. Because there are 114 sts on the needles, one row alone takes a bit of time, but is a great reason to learn continental knitting if you haven’t done so yet.

Right now I’m still working on the 4th skein and will use a total of 5. The old shale pattern looks something like this (creates the rippled effect):

  • Row 1:  purl
  • Row 2: k2tog (3x);  m1,k1 (3x);  k2tog (3x) – this is done in a combination of 18 sts
  • Row 3: knit
  • Row 4: knit

To work the entire afghan:

  • CO 114 sts
  • Knit 6 rows
  • Then start the above pattern, repeating those 4 rows until length desired.

NOTE: for each of the 4 rows, create a border using k3 at the start and end of EVERY row (it’s a good idea to place knit markers here, plus at every 18 sts after the first).                   To clarify: place stitch markers after the first 3 sts, then after every 18 sts, then before the last 3 sts – this should take you to the 114 total.

  • Knit 6 rows to end

Additionally, to help you remember which row you are working on, put a stitch marker in the bottom corner of the blanket for the side which begins the first of the 4 rows (the purl row). I didn’t do this until later but it’s quite helpful now.

 

Dairy allergies – the first round

My journey down this path stemmed from the birth of my daughter. She was born with an allergic reaction to cow’s milk protein. While it took a number of months to diagnose this as a baby, it took about 4 years before she was able to readily digest it without issue.

For any mom searching out there about how to calm a fussy, crying baby I want to tell you the symptoms we experienced in hopes that I can save you some of the anxiety and stress associated with this.

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Fiber

As noted on the sidebar, I really like trying to support local farms and I enjoy seeing the mills and testing out the yarn. I’ve found alpaca to be (surprisingly) the softest and SO smooth and easy to work with. The honeycomb stitch (also featured on the sidebar) is with my first test using llama fiber. It’s not as soft as alpaca and varies in thickness throughout (this is common among wools).

The thing I’m finding out, however, is that the stitch/pattern/project can work well with some fibers and not so much with others. From linen to wool, alpaca and llama – whatever you choose, you’ll want to find a compatible stitch, pattern, and project.

 

More to come…

 

Needles

 

Needles: whether using aluminum, bamboo, or some type of pressed composite – the make-up of the needles will affect how easily different yarns will move from needle to needle. Yarns tend to slide easily on aluminum but these are also heavier. Whichever you choose generally sums up to being that of personal preference but there are a few pointers to consider:

  • some needles have finer/sharper points than others. This isn’t something that’s documented on the needle packaging (nor have I seen much about this on various sites) so take a look when purchasing to see if there’s a difference between brands.
  • double-pointed needles (DPNs) come in various lengths so depending on the size of your project you may want a longer or shorter set
    • the new(er) Addi “broken” DPNs are really awesome to knit with, I just haven’t decided to spend the money on them, yet – try them out at a local yarn shop if you can
  • circular needles come in various lengths – so again, depending on the project – if you’re just starting out with hats, you’ll likely want 16″ as you can make newborn to adult sizes with these
  • there are interchangeable circular needles – where you can change out the cable length between, removing the need for multiple needles

 

I’ve done a lot of hats for my daughter and in newborn/toddler sizes but this is the first year I’ve tried a few for myself. The little newsboy hat was my first crochet project. The cream colored hat was my first with a newly-discovered yarn from Loops and Threads and makes a nice thick hat.

The brown was my first slouch hat and the yarn came from a local fiber mill – it is a worsted weight alpaca. If you’ve never used alpaca I would strongly recommend it – the threads seem loosely woven but it was surprisingly very clean and smooth to work with! The pattern comes from Sarah Keller at knotanotherhat.com – Carbon Copy.