Friday, December 31, 2010

Curse you 2010...

...don't let the door hit you on the way out.

2010 has been the worst year of my life, and as an appropriate ending to a dreadful year, I have just returned from 6 hours at the ER. I'll be so happy to see this one go, and I have high hopes that 2011 will be better. It simply has to.

The knitting wasn't bad, really. I never showed you my finished Clapotis. Here she is, blocking.

Pattern: Clapotis
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb, 3.2 skeins
Colorway: Embers
Needles: US #8
Comments: This is my second Clapotis, all for me! Love the colors. Grays, blacks, reds, with bits of purplish goodness. It's aptly named. And look at how gorgeously it pooled!

Started in the old year, to be finished in the new year: first ever 2 at a time toe up socks. Using leftover yarn because of stashbusting. They were fiddly at first, but I think I'm getting the hang of the method. May use it more often on single color designs. Probably won't make a habit out of knitting multi-colored patterns two at a time. Too much tangling.

So... I'll see you in the new year. May 2011 treat us well, be kinder to us than 2010 was, and bring much joy to everyone.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Resolutions Old and New

First, an update on the water heater situation: we have hot water again! Turns out the blizzard had knocked out the pilot light, and it just needed to be relit. I love solutions that don't require us to spend loads of money!

Then, before we get into the serious business of resolutions, let me quickly share a secret FO from the old year, the Christmas stocking for my MIL. Who, by the way, now has 3, so she's all set. They officially have more stockings than people in the house now.

I love this pattern, it's well-written, and the cable detail is fun. I learned something new too: I'd ever done an attached i-cord. It's not hard and makes for a very pretty finish.

Pattern: Glendalough Stocking, available on rav
Yarn: Classic Elite Renaissance, about 2.5 skeins of it
Needles: US #5
Mods: I did the join for the cable band in the middle of the part facing the wall, not at the middle of the heel. That way, it doesn't show at all when the stocking is hanging.
Comments: So much fun! The only thing to keep in mind: if you put the seam in the middle of the part facing the wall, it's more obvious that a provisional caston and the castoff tend to be offset by one stitch. This would be less obvious if the join were at a folded edge.

And now, without further ado: Resolutions!
I actually did well on the old one. Remember, 0 tolerance yarn diet? Well, only 5 skeins of yarn entered the house in 2010. 1 was souvenir yarn, 4 were for my MIL's stocking. That's it. I did sign up for the Cookie A. sock club, but that yarn won't start coming in until 2011.

New Resolutions:

  1. Zero tolerance yarn diet, again. Turns out it's not enough to not buy yarn, I also have to knit faster. So: only yarn coming in should be the sock club yarn. No other purchases.
  2. Have at least one project in thicker yarn going at all times. You can knit, knit, knit sock or laceweight yarn, and the stash keeps not shrinking. DK weight and bigger works wonders for stash reduction.
  3. Tackle colorwork. I'm still not good at it, but I'm signed up for Janel Laidman's colorwork club and colorwork sock club. The colorwork club has already started, so I need to pick up my needles and plunge into this new adventure. I want to feel confident by the end of the new year -- and actually have produced a garment that fits an actual person, not some critter from the D&D Monstrous Manual!
That's it for this year. I was also going to try to knit a sweater a month, but I'm a pretty slow knitter. Then, work gets busy, and there goes the knitting. Instead of making it a resolution, I'll simply say "I'll try" and we'll see where that goes.

Are you making resolutions this year?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Let it Snow

Yesterday, I checked the forecast, and they predicted snow. Every once in a while, they'll do that and be wrong, not a flake to be seen. But this time? This time, we got a proper blizzard. Look what we woke up to. Note that I had shoveled the deck yesterday, twice!

Closeup, with condensation on windows. I'd get better pictures from outside, but I'm not going. It's warm in here.

Lovely, picturesque, the only downside is that our water heater is now dead. No hot water. I hope we can get it fixed soon, or I'll have to go to the gym to take a shower.

And because this is a knitting blog, here's some knitting. First in the "Formerly Secret Knitting" category: bed socks for my sister-in-law. She says they fit and go with her pyjamas. Yay!

Pattern: Heelless Sleeping Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: I think this is Wildfoote. Pretty sure, actually. But not 100% because I tossed the ball bands.
Needles: US #1/2.25 mm
Mods: Cast on 68 stitches. Regular flat toe instead of the star-shaped one the pattern calls for.
Comments: These don't go as quickly as you'd think. The pattern is easy to memorize, though, and it's a great takealong project. No heel, just a tube sock with a toe. Ideal if you can't measure the recipient's foot.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas !

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ! It's not a holiday typically associated with bats, but at our house, we have a bit of a bat theme. So, without further ado: Christmas bats! Sugar cookies, bats, what's not to like?

A bit more traditional: pumpkin pie.

Best of all, the Christmas knits have pretty much all arrived. I'll finally be able to share them! The season of secret knitting is almost over.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Don't want to jinx it...

...but for the first time ever, my Christmas knitting may get done before Christmas! Now please excuse me, I have to go knit. There has been lots of activity, but all of it secret. I'll post pictures as soon as I get back to the not-so-secret stuff.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010: The End of Reggie

I have a confession to make. You probably knew already, but in case you didn't: We're a little bit nuts around here. Every year, Mr. Batty and I make a full-sized Thanksgiving dinner, just for the two of us. That's 10 hours or so in the kitchen, and another week or so to eat the leftovers. But it's a family tradition, and we're sticking with it.

Another part of the family tradition is watching the American Kennel Club dog show. This year, they were broadcasting the agility challenge, which was lots of fun to watch. Dogs running an obstacle course, looking all happy, it was great. What we didn't expect? The cats were fascinated -- and inspired. This is Morgana, intently staring at the TV, watching the dogs run.

Then, both cats started racing around the apartment, jumping over furniture, chasing each other, and generally behaving very much like the dogs on TV. It was the funniest thing. Not since the infamous Humming Bird Nature Show Incident have I seen them so riled.

In the meantime, Mr. Batty and I cooked dinner. The shopping list this year included "veggie broth" because I wanted to be able to eat some of the food too. Except... you can tell both my parents are in the medical field, I have terrible handwriting. Mr. Batty wanted to know what "Reggie broth" was. So, here he is. Meet Reggie the turkey breast! To slightly paraphrase a particularly silly line from Mystery Men: "Golden and crispy, this bird is history!"

Another part of the tradition: Mount Etna, the amazing erupting apple pie. I mean, look at the eruption! The reason for it is that you put 11 cups of apples into a regular-sized pie crust. No matter what I do, it always explodes. There are just too many apples to be contained. It's a mess every time -- and so much fun to watch.

I'm getting the hang of this, though. This year, my pie crust was all buttery and flaky. Maybe next year, we'll manage good-looking?
On the whole, though, dinner turned out very nice. Had to toss the mashed potatoes (PSA: when salting mashed potatoes, add a little bit of salt at a time, or you'll be sorry), but we had these cute little potatoes in the fridge. They worked just fine.

There is much to be thankful for. I like Thanksgiving because it invites us to think about the good things in our lives, whether a year was particularly good or particularly bad. And of course, there's food.

I hope everybody who celebrates had a great turkey day. I'm going to knit now. It's rainy out, and after last night's feast, I'm not quite ready to move around.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It's not a flashy holiday that makes people decorate their homes with elegant displays of lights, glitter, and greenery. It doesn't come with tacky front lawn displays of inflatable reindeer, light-up Santa Clauses, or, I swear I've actually seen this, inflatable Nativities. But I think it's important. And not just because of the food

Sure, I like food. OK, I like food a lot. That's why there are so many cookbooks on my shelf. Food tastes good. But what I like even more is preparing food together with people I love. When I was little, it was often my grandmother and me, with her doing most of the work and me "helping" to the best of my abilities. I was probably more of a hindrance, now that I think of it, but I have very fond memories of grinding nuts or drying the dishes while she stirred the batter and told me stories. It was magical. And at the end of the story, there was often a batter-covered spoon for me to lick -- nobody was concerned about Salmonella back then.

Now, it's Mr. Batty and me standing in the kitchen, preparing enough food to keep us fed for an entire week. It's so much fun, chopping vegetables and talking while the stuffing bakes and the pie crust has yet another accident. It never comes out quite right, but that doesn't matter. Really, none of it has to be perfect. It just has to... feel right.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

It's a Phase

Have you ever taken pictures of your knitting, only to realize that you seem to be going through some kind of phase? Maybe it's all red. Or every piece you've worked on in the past month has moss stitch in it. Or you've only been knitting socks. And the phase wasn't really a conscious choice.

I'm currently obsessed with cables. Everything I'm knitting, from socks to hats to sweaters, has cables in it. It wasn't until I wanted to take pictures of my WIPs that I noticed. Cables don't photograph well with flash -- or if they do, I haven't figured out how, and... it's all cables.

What knitting-related thing have you obsessed over in the past -- or are currently obsessing over? Now that I've noticed it in myself, I wonder what others have found irresistible.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Return to Normalcy

Thank you for your thoughts. I've found knitting to be immensely therapeutic through the whole grieving process, not to mention the support from Mr. Batty, my parents, professionals, and friends.

I'm moving forward in the healing process. It will take a while until I return to normal, but I'm trying to look forward, not back, and to imagine a future that has beautiful things in it. Knitting helps with that. Knitting for my family helps even more. If I posted everything I've been working on over the past two weeks, this post would be incredibly long, so I'll start out with a few pictures and work my way through the WIP pile.

The Hyacinth socks I'm knitting for my mother are coming along -- look, I'm on sock 2! They were in hibernation for a month or so, and I really wish I'd taken notes on things like foot length while I was working on sock 1. Oh, well, lesson learned. Sticky notes are your friend.

Next, my Dad's socks. Here they are, on my Dad. Having him and my mom here during this difficult time has been a godsend. They both deserve socks, gratitude, and so much more than I could ever give for that one.

Gory Details:
Yarn: Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Tweed 4-ply
Needles: US #1/2.25 mm
Size: European 42/43
Pattern: Ganz viel Struktur
Comments: Knit as written, with a star toe and Boomerang heel. I'm now decent at short rows, but it's taken a good long time -- and I still have to look up how to knit stitches together with their wraps in any given direction.

And so you don't think I've been knitting nothing but socks: my sister's Luscious cowl. It's done, I just need to seam it. It's so soft and squishy, I'm sure it'll be warm.

As I said, there's more. Much more. And... some new fiber happened. I've been really good with my yarn diet (5 skeins of yarn in 2010, 1 souvenir yarn, 4 Christmas gift yarn), but I'm starting to think this will have to include fiber for 2011. The yarn stash is shrinking, but the fiber stash? Oy, she has grown!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Towards the Light

After a terrible, sad loss, I am moving back towards the light. Knitting is helping me through my grief, but I haven't had the energy to take pictures of any projects yet -- it's surprisingly hard to replace dead batteries and find just the right light for a shot when nothing seems to matter.
I'll be back with lots of pretty things to show you once the pain subsides.

Friday, October 01, 2010

It's October and the Holidays are Approaching

It's not just the holidays, either. There is at least one birthday between now and December, and let's not forget the... uh... slightly delayed birthday knits that still need to be completed. But on the bright side, it would appear that my knitting mojo is back.

The Dad socks are coming along nicely. This is a German pattern, and my first attempt at a "Bumerang-Ferse" -- whatever you call that in English. Essentially, it's two sets of short rows, first from the outside in to form the heel, two rows of knitting, then more short rows from the inside out to get you out of the heel. It's pretty nifty.

Oh, and if anybody knows a good tutorial for how to fix a dropped wrap & turn, please let me know... I had already knit together the stitch and its wrap on a previous row, but then accidentally dropped it and could not figure out how to fix the unraveled wrap & turn. I fudged it, but I'd like to know how to really fix it.

And... here is my second yarn purchase in 2010: Classic Elite Renaissance. It's time for Christmas knitting, hence the bright, Christmassy color. I actually didn't have any yarn in an appropriate color, hence the purchase; otherwise, I'm sticking with my yarn diet.

And this is the Luscious Cowl by SweaterBabe -- having a great time so far, it's very clearly written, and Ariosa is a soft and squishy yarn to work with. This may take a while, though, because bulky yarn hurts my hands. Oh, and I may run out. I have less than the pattern calls for, so I'm living dangerously.

It's crazy caston month, so stay tuned for more. Baby knits for a friend's daughter (born in August, so I better start knitting if she's supposed to get anything before she gets a driver's license), a birthday sweater, and a cardigan for me.
After months of no knitting, my mojo has returned in full force!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Finally, Knitting

I have a whole lot of catching up to do, so let's get started with some SP goodies! I received the lovely spinnables -- and bat cookie set -- from AKKnitter a while ago. I've never spun yak before and can't wait for cooler weather so I can give it a whirl. And black is always good. There were also some colorful spider web thingies, but they had to be hidden from the cats.

I ended up having to bow out of the swap because of some medical issues, which is too bad, I always enjoy knitty swaps. Thank you for the lovely fluff, AKKnitter, and thank you whoever took up my slack!

In knitting news, I'm knitting socks for my Dad. The pattern is incredibly stretchy. Here it is on my leg -- nice and symmetrical-looking rectangles of stitches.

Without a foot in it, it looks more like this:

Who said only lace looked weird pre-blocking?

Finally, my Clapotis is done. I have yet to take a good post-blocking picture and some action shots. I can't get the colors right in artificial light and am waiting for just the right conditions outside to show off the lovely red/gray/purple colorway.

I'm so glad I read the reviews for this colorway of Lion & Lamb (#66, Embers) on ravelry -- it bleeds like the dickens. I first gave the shawl a good soak in water with lots of vinegar, then rinsed with clear water, and gave it another soak with Eucalan. It still bled in the Eucalan bath, but not absurdly. The colors are still vibrant. The person on rav wasn't so lucky, hers was a faded mess after she washed it. I'm so grateful she shared her experience, I really love this colorway.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Yikes, it's September!

How time flies when you're having fun -- or are incredibly busy!
I have barely done any knitting over the past few months. There has been too much going on at work, in my personal life, and it's just been too darn hot outside. But it's beginning to cool down, and I once again feel the lure of the yarn. Stay tuned -- my Clapotis is almost done, my mom's socks are partway there, and I just started a pair for my Dad yesterday. It still needs to cool down a bit more for me to touch my spindles, but it's coming, it's coming!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Long Time No Knit

For a variety of reasons, I haven't touched my knitting in 2 weeks. Or my spinning. Or much of anything else, really. But I need to get back into it -- there are several close-to-complete WIPs and at least 2 birthday knits that need to get started.
There was a big thunderstorm last night, maybe it's now cool enough to actually pick up the needles.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Surprise... Socks!

Who'd have thought it? I've knit... socks! I'm working on non-sock projects, really I am, but I haven't felt like lugging them around in this heat. The Clapotis is a thick, stifling blanket, and even Geodesic and the lace shawl I'm knitting are too much. So it's socks.

Vampire socks (March '10 Mystery Sock for the SKA on rav, not really called vampire socks). Top of the foot:

Side of the foot (How much you wanna bet yoga was invented by people trying to take pictures of their handknits???)

Both of them together:

And from the back (speaking of contortions...)

I love how these came out. The twisted stitches made my hands hurt, but aren't they pretty?

The boring details:
Yarn: Louet Gems Pearl Fingering in a freakin' bright blood red
Pattern: Belle Vittini
Needles: US #0
Comments: I only did one repeat of the second chart. I love the stitch definition of this yarn, but for some reason can't get gauge with it. My row gauge was off so much, I ended up with an 8" shaft even though I left out 20+ rows of shaft pattern! Still, I love how they look. Lots and lots of twisted stitches, though.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Purple Sock of Awesomeness

I wanted to get a better shot of these, but somehow, the weather hasn't been cooperating. So, without further ado, I will share my not-so-good shot of the purple sock of awesomeness, AKA Hyacinth by Janel Laidman. It's so pretty. This is the instep.

And this... this is the heel.

Yeah. Genius. And so much fun to knit! I'm usually not a fan of intricate cables you can't memorize, but this was fun. There's a definite learning curve -- the design starts out relatively simple, and new techniques get added as you work your way up to the cuff. As somebody who doesn't knit a lot of toe-up socks, I have to say I learned a lot.

Now I have to finish sock #2. Except... it's too hot to knit. Maybe tomorrow...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back in the Red

Not financially, more knitting-wise. I think I am experiencing a red phase. I'm spinning red fiber and knitting no less than 3 projects, all red -- with a fourth waiting for caston. But before I share some of my reds, here is what I found in the mail room when I returned from vacation. There have been some thefts, so I'm lucky to have found my stuff still there.

A new spindle and some of the lovely, squishy St. Seraphina Knits roving. Check her out on etsy, I simply adore her fiber, I'm a ... ahem... frequent customer, shall we say.

Then, there is my first-ever Zebisis spindle. I ordered the one on the right -- dark green with lucky bats on it. I also received the 1 oz spindle on the left and... some lovely fiber. A whole order full. Just because she's nice and generous. I've never spun any kind of silk and am not quite sure how to go about it, but it's so pretty, I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Now, back to my red phase. Here are the vampire socks... one sock is done, and I'm working on the gusset decreases for the second. This won't take long, I have small feet.

Then, the Geodesic cardigan. It's taking a good long time because I decided to knit the 38" size -- I want this to close properly over my chest and not have the arms-like-overstuffed-sausage-look. I've tried on some cardigans recently, and lemme tell you, it's not a flattering look.

I am knitting the 11th repeat of the straight section on my Clapotis. I love it. Has a bit of a volcanic-island-camouflage thing going, but I really like the effect. Oh, and the Lion & Lamb... it's heavenly to knit with. Shimmery and silky. Mmmmm.

There are more socks, but I don't have good pictures of them. Truth is, twisted stitches require good lighting and no flash, and these socks are too gorgeous to show with bad photography. I'll try again when it's nicer out -- it's getting gray and gloomy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nantucket. Part 2

Before we get to the knitting (because, as I said, there has been knitting), here is more Nantucket. The first couple of days were cool and foggy, a lovely spooky atmosphere. We still managed to walk around the beach barefoot. Then again... maybe that barefoot beach walking in the cold is part of the reason I'm currently on antibiotics.

The town of Nantucket is very pretty, I love the narrow streets, cobblestones, and cozy atmosphere. Words like "quaint" and "charming" come to mind.

The thing about Nantucket real estate, though... it's very expensive. I mean, extremely. You're looking at multi-million dollar cottages here. I'm not kidding. Now, they're very nice, but... that's a lot of money. We saw a shack, a converted garage, more or less... and you can get it for an affordable 1.4 million. Cool, huh? Maybe next year...

So my Nantucket real estate dreams are not going to amount to much. But if I could, I'd buy a house like this one. It's an inn, not a private residence, but doesn't it look wonderfully Victorian and spooky? I love it and want one.

Lastly, I have to show you a picture of this garbage truck. It has two remarkable things about it. One, it's incredibly clean. It's the cleanest freaking garbage truck me or Mr. Batty had ever seen. But the most remarkable thing about it is the sigh in the front. It actually says... wait for it... Optimus Prime. How awesome is that?

I'm still wondering what a garbage truck transformer would look like.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Nantucket Vacation, Part 1

After a week of no e-mail or Internet, I am back. We spent the week on Nantucket, our first time on the island, and we loved it. As soon as we arrived, I immediately found my natural habitat... the bed at our inn.

Then, there was yarn. Mr. Batty and I walked to Sheep to Shore, a yarn store with a great selection and a very friendly owner. See the skein of Madeline Tosh sock yarn I'm holding? Its big brother, a skein of worsted-weight in the same colorway, came home with me. This is my one and only yarn purchase since December. I'm on a roll.

Unlike other islands I've been to, Nantucket has a lot to offer to vegetarians. The food was excellent wherever we went, but one of the highlights for me was the tofu scramble below, served for breakfast at the Even Keel Cafe. Yes, it's vegan. It's delicious. Yum.

And... a silly hat. I've seen a knitted version of this on rav. Look, the shark is eating my head! Aaaaaah!

There was much beach-walking and knitting, so stay tuned for Part 2. I don't think the pictures would all fit in one post -- it would take forever to load.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Annual Luddite Retreat

Thank you for all your lovely comments about my sock! I have started sock #2 and will be posting pictures when it is ready.

In the meantime... it is time for my annual Luddite retreat: a week without computers, internet, all the technology that connects us to people around the globe, but also takes up time that would otherwise be used for knitting, reading, reflecting, and connecting with people directly next to us. So... I'll be off for a week, and I'll see you when I get back online.
Stay tuned for more knitting and spinning. I won't be idle.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Look, More Sock!

So far, it's only one sock, but the second one is on its way. It's the March mystery sock for the SKA on ravelry. The pattern ended up being called Belle Vitini, but I think of it as my vampire socks. The burgundy, the lace, the holes... very gothicky, vampire-bitten feel.

No, really, look. They're downright creepy.

I'm almost done with the straight sections on my Clapotis, I've been spinning, oh, and knitting more socks. I don't have time to post pictures of it all right now, but stay tuned. More knitting is on its way.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

No More Finals!

Finals are over. They have been for a week, but I needed the extra time to clear my head... and then there was a business trip to scenic Secaucus, NJ. There's nothing much in Secaucus. Its redeeming feature is being a 10 minute train trip from Manhattan.

But now I'm back, and there has been knitting. Not much, but there has been some. Let's start off with the entrelac socks I finally finished. The stripes line up, I couldn't believe it.

This is my first afterthought heel. I thought unraveling the contrasting yarn and picking up the stitches would be a pain, but it was surprisingly quick and painless. I love how the heel doesn't interrupt the stripes at all. I think this one is a keeper. Not for every sock, but definitely for self-patterning sock yarn.

The "separating stripes" led to some funky pooling. I may knit these socks again with a stripes-only yarn to see what happens.

The gory details:
Pattern: Flechtmustersocken from Der Geniale Socken-Workshop by Stephanie van der Linden. It's recently been translated into English, I've seen it at stores. Very good book.
Yarn: Beryll HappyStrick. Never heard of it before, but it's nice.
Needles: US #0. No surprise there.
Comments: These took me a long time, and I'm not sure why. But they came out OK for my first entrelac socks, and I hope my sister likes them.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Still Kicking

The world is not flat, I haven't fallen off the edge of it. But I'm likely to be more than a little spotty with the blogging until mid-May, when the final project for my class is due. I've been knitting, spinning, and cross-stitching, and there is stuff to see. I just don't have the time to put it up right now.

See on on the other side of finals!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


It's Caturday! It's also homework day and laundry day and grocery shopping day, but the cats are being extra cute.

Morgana has this funny habit of lying on dark patches of carpet. Black is her favorite color because she blends in so nicely. Yesterday, I got a package from a goth store, and my belts were wrapped in black crinkle paper. This morning, there was a black cat on black crinkle paper...

...and a gray and white cat on white crinkle paper.

My cats are using military-style camouflage techniques. They're probably waiting for the stash closet to open, for milk to spill, or for the bag of kibbles to come out. They're lurking, ready to spring.

Speaking of spring, my allergies are acting up, and I haven't had as much energy to knit. But i finished up the increase section on my Clapotis this morning. To me, it looks like gray and red camouflage. And I love the way the colors are pooling. Very nice, even pooling action.

I guess the camo effect would only work in a volcanic wasteland, but you get the picture.