Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, see you on the other side! Let's hope 2012 is a great one. I know so many people who have had a tough time of it in 2011; for us, it was an OK year, a year of healing and picking ourselves back up and being able to appreciate life again. 2011 is definitely going out on a better note than 2010 -- last year at this time, I was in the ER with an IV in my arm. This year, I have a non-working stovetop that emits carbon monoxide when it's on but does no harm when off. In the grand scheme of things, a non-working stove is very minor. A stove can be fixed or replaced more easily than many things in life.

I'm wishing all of you a wonderful 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Geekery and Resolutions

Geeky baking! Yay! I bought cookie cutters for... ninjabread men. They kick, they punch, they taste really good. If I ever find myself with extra time on my hands or some kids to entertain, I'm going to build them a gingerbread dojo. That would be fun.

But it's closer to New Year's Eve than Christmas, so it's time to review last year's resolutions. There were only 3:

  • Zero tolerance yarn diet: went well, except for the Swan Island worsted squishiness that happened yesterday. 2 skeins, soft and squishy. And I had to get some yarn from Sanguine Gryphon before they went out of business. Oops. Almost made it...
  • Have at least one project in thicker yarn going at all times: well, not at all times, but I've knit several non-sock projects in thicker yarn. I can do better, though.
  • Colorwork: Tried, the sock didn't fit. Waaaay too tight to make it over my foot. I'll try again.
So, all in all, it could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse (see yarn diet).

This year's resolution is going to be pretty darn straightforward -- and it's going to be just a single one, though it combines two elements:

  • Don't buy yarn or fiber and knit enough to get all the freaking yarn out of the bedroom. It's a bedroom, not a secondary stash room. Get the yarn out!
That's it, really. Should be feasible, right?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Racing the Clock

With only a few days left until 2012, I am trying to get some WIPs out of the way. My wrist was giving me trouble, but now that it's better, I'm knitting away (responsibly, I assure you). And for the first time, I'm caught up on a sock club! This is one of the April offerings from Cookie A's sock club, Orange Pekoe.

Pattern: Orange Pekoe
Yarn: Hazel Knits sock yarn
Needles: US 1/2.25 mm
Comments: No changes, knit as written. Love the yarn! Crisp stitch definition, no fuzziness even after I washed it, no bleeding. A dream to work with.

The bad news: the yarn for the last club shipment seems to be MIA -- it hasn't shown up yet. Here's hoping it hasn't gotten lost out there, in the cold, hostile-to-yarn world. Let's hope it had something to do with holiday madness, and that it shows up soon!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Cats love Christmas. It's the day they get to play in brand-new boxes, surf on crinkly paper, and generally zoom around the house at high speed.

There are interesting new things to explore, their environment changes, and their humans are happy.

I got some great kitchen stuff, some fabulous librarian swag, a bunch of bat stuff... and I bought myself a gift too. Bat spindle, custom-painted for me by Yorkieslave on etsy. I love her work and her spindles spin like a dream.

Wishing a wonderful Christmas to all who celebrate, and to everyone else, a nice warm weekend!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

End of Semester

I have made it to the end of the semester. Working full-time and taking classes is so much more complicated than being a full-time student. Neither is easy, but working and studying takes some serious changes in perspective -- and the ability to sacrifice free time.

But I did it. The final is turned in, the semester is over, I can get back to knitting and baking and having a social life. Yay!

Friday, November 18, 2011

On a Roll

I have a paper due tomorrow. So what do I do? Finish a pair of socks, of course! These were originally for my sister, but Mr. Batty pointed out that these colors might not be universally pleasing. So she's getting a different pair of socks and these are mine.

They twist in interesting ways. I had a lot of fun with them. Another great pattern from Cookie A's sock club!

The Details:
Pattern: Slide
Yarn: Opal 4-ply Regenwald in Schlange
Needles: US #1, 2.25 mm
Mods: I had to make steeper gusset decreases because my feet are tiny. Otherwise, knit as written.

And this is my brand new project bag. The colorful thing next to the cat. It has happy colorful kitties on it, which is not as attractive as the black cat. According to the black cat, at least.

Love this bag. Got it from Zoey's Boutique on etsy. Very well-made and lined so the yarn just glides out of it. I'm very happy with it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Socks, Again

Guess what? Socks! Again! These are from this year's Cookie A sock club. Sport-weight yarn on US 0/2mm needles, fiddly to work with but goes quickly. I'm really loving these even though pink is not a color I would have picked out in the store. But that's the beauty of a club, right? You get to expand your horizons.

Pattern: Daphne
Yarn: Metamorphosis A Verb For Keeping Warm
Needles: US #0/2.0 mm

And... I signed up for next year's club!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

FO Study Break

I'm taking a break from paper writing and thought I'd share some FO pictures. Now, I have often talked about yarns that look tomato red in pictures but are not tomato red in reality. This is not one of them. This yarn is a bright tomato, fire engine, bright as all getout red. It looks tame because I took the pictures in the shade, but really, it's poke-your-eyes-out red -- and I love it.

Look at the neat cables. It took a good long time, but the end result was worth the effort.

I love these socks. A lot.

Yarn: Opal 4 ply sock yarn in the most obnoxious red ever
Pattern: Kells
Needles: #0 US/2.0mm
Size: s
Fun pattern! Lots of cables! Not necessarily takealong knitting but very rewarding. No mods.

Monday, October 17, 2011

FOs After All This Time

Thanks to work and classes, I haven't had much time to blog. Also thanks to schoolwork and classes, though, I have been knitting for stress relief. Even when not all of said knitting is recognizable. The blob below, for example, is going to be a sweater when it's done. Yeah. I don't entirely believe it yet either, but we shall see.

I also have a couple of FOs! My inner 80's girl is thrilled. I'm usually not a big fan of Inner Child theories, but with these, my inner child is ecstatic. Or rather, my inner teen-ager.

Pattern: Froglegs
Yarn: Morehouse Merino DK
Needles: US 3

And because it's been such a long time, I'd also like to share the... I think it's the April installment of the Cookie A. sock club. The color is much more intense in person. These were fun to make!

Pattern: Boysenberry Yo
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Sole Mate
Needles: US #0

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Not Dead, Just Busy

I have finished knitting waiting to be photographed, works-in-progress waiting to be knit, and nothing is happening. Why? I'm taking a class and have papers due. In addition to work.
What was I so busy with when I was an undergrad, just taking classes, and working no more than 10 hours a week? I have no idea.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Surgery and Vet and Fun

We've been having a fun time at the Batty House! I had foot surgery, which is healing well but preventing me from modeling the socks I knit. The cat has a UTI or something similar and had to go to the vet, which was not a popular move. It's been a rough two weeks.
On the bright side: lots of knitting got done. I just don't know what happened to my resolution to make more non-sock items. My mojo seems to have run out for everything except socks.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Success and Failure

It seems to be a time for mixed results. Irish Girlie Knits came out with a great cowl pattern, Summer Wind, and that one is an unqualified success. Easy to make yet so fun, it's addictive. And I loved working with Tosh Sock, lovely drape for a cowl.

Pattern: Summer Wind
Yarn: Tosh Sock, color: Kale
Needles: US #5/3.75mm
Comments: This is the small size, but my gauge was slightly larger because I was using bamboo needles. Such a fun knit! I highly recommend it.

I won't give you the info on the following creation, because, seriously... have you ever seen a less llama-like object? I don't think I'll ever finish this one. There's a reason all these amigurumi are crocheted.

If you try to knit a llama, you might end up with the llamaduck. Not good.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The '80s Are Back

You can take the girl out of the '80s but you can't entirely take the '80s out of the girl. I think the following are a direct result of two trends I loved when I was at my most impressionable: legwarmers and, shortly thereafter, those awful neon colors -- those awful day-glo shirts and socks and... I had an entire day-glo sweater when I was 14.

I never had leg warmers, though. So now, as I officially approach middle age, I have decided it's time to make up for it. Warmies! For me!

So far, only one is done. Look, I made it extra long, for days when it's really cold out. It scrunches down or it stretches out. Rad!

Something about my color palette at the moment is strange. It's all bright, in-your-face colorful. My first Kells sock from Janel Laidman's sock club last year. She is responsible for the lovely pattern. I'm responsible for the bright tomato red.

Even the heel is cabled.

There is more blocking upstairs and I have to finish a gift. It's been busy around here!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gray, Icky Day

My camera has batteries again! It's been a gray, icky day, but I managed to get the new batteries popped in as the sun was coming out. Now the neighbors are going to think I'm weird for taking pictures of handknits on the deck in the heat and humidity. But I don't mind.

I'm too excited about these socks to let that stop me. They're awesome. I love the fit, the colors, the yarn... everything.

The decreases are on top of the foot. Here's a closer look at the side. Pretty neat, huh? And this is officially my favorite sock yarn ever.

The details:
Pattern: Haleakala, February pattern from the Cookie A. sock club
Yarn: String Theory Caper Sock. mmm, has cashmere in it!
Size: s
Needles: US#0/2 mm
Comments: Knit as written, with the exception of one extra decrease I had to hide because I picked up 2 extra stitches at the gusset for my high instep. These fit like a dream and I loooooove the yarn! I bought more in spite of my yarn diet. It's dreamy.

There is more knitting, but I also want to share these... black bottom cupcakes. Chocolate bottom, cream cheese with chocolate bits on top. Very yummy. Very attractive.

Here's the action shot, with a bite missing:

My only complaint is that they don't taste quite as chocolaty as they could. I think it's the cocoa I'm using. Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa is higher in fat but has a much milder flavor than Hershey's natural cocoa. I'd make chocolate milk or pudding from the Ghirardelli. It doesn't have quite enough of a punch for baking -- it's not very intense and has no bitterness to it at all. I think there's a reason Hershey's has been the standard for a hundred years or so.
Next time I use the Ghirardelli's, I'll try adding some instant coffee granules. That might help intensify the flavor.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back From DC

I hope that you will pardon my absence, my knitterly friends. We spent our summer vacation with Mr. Batty's Dad and his wife, in one of their timeshares in DC. It was great fun. We visited some of the obligatory attractions, like Abe Lincoln, for example. He's huge. Definitely worth seeing.

Across from Abe, you usually see the reflecting pool. Except... there is no reflecting pool! Not sure what's going on there, but they drained it completely. Hypothesis: politicians sending their staff to pick up all the coins people tossed in for good luck in an attempt to balance the national budget. Yeah. I bet that's it.

Because it was not too hot yet, we walked over to the World War II memorial, which is also really neat. I like the more recent memorials; they're not just something you look at, you can walk around, read plaques, watch the water... I like this approach to monuments much better than the old-fashioned 'come and look' -- it's much more participatory, for lack of a better word.

We did a lot of walking, but then, the weather changed... no, it didn't rain, it was 104 F outside, heat index: 117. So we got stuck at the Smithsonian for a couple of days in a row. Every single one of these museums is awesome, and they're free. We had so much time, we'll definitely be back.

Once we returned home, I went on a cleaning spree. Look at my fridge! It's clean! Every shelf, drawer and bottle was removed, washed/scrubbed/dried, then returned. I love my clean fridge. Bonus: we cleaned it before we picked up the cats from their boarding place. It's amazing how quickly you get things done without feline interference.

I was sick for 2 days, so knitting did happen. More on that soon!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Return of the Mojo

After the AC fiasco (87 degrees! Inside!), my knitting mojo seems to be returning. As does my willingness to make a spectacle of myself in front of the neighbors by contorting myself on the blistering hot deck in order to get a better picture of handknit socks.
The pattern I frogged in the last post was Dawnsinger from Janel Laidman's Illuminations sock club. I've signed up for that and her Art and Sole club this year because both offer pattern-only options. Way to work through some of that stash yarn!

The FO below is Charleston from the Art and Sole club. They took a long time because of all the twisted stitches. Twisted stitches hurt my hands but are so pretty.

The sordid details:
Pattern: Charleston
Yarn: Knitpicks Essentials in colorway Prairie
Needles: US#0
Size: small
Comments: Knit exactly as written. Fun but took forever on account of the twisted stitches.

Next: a whole bunch of new projects. Here's my summer knitting yarn pile.

And some roving that made me think of Jaws. You know... people swimming along, cue the shark music, blood in the water... just the kind of inspiration one needs for summer spinning.

We're not going to the beach this year. Maybe it's better that way.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tale of Woe

I finally decided to overcome my fear of colorwork. Things were going well. Sure, I was probably going to run out of yarn (the danger of using leftovers) and I had some twisted stitches (must make sure to wrap the yarn in the right direction when anchoring the main color), but overall, I was very pleased.

Pretty bird design, the colors are working out, everything is reasonably even and likely to get more even with blocking. So I decide to try on the sock.

Yeah. That sock is not going over my heel, ever.

Moral of the story: yes, stranded colorwork is in fact less stretchy than regular knitting. Rrrrrip!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Funky Socks of Awesomeness

They are colorful, they are funky, they are brightening a gray New England day! Warmups, done and ready to be shipped to Germany. Such a fun knit. Very detailed patter, I'd recommend it for beginners.

Watch out for the yarn consumption, though. I couldn't even match up the stripes because I thought I was going to run out. The pattern calls for 5 "welts" but I made 6. This is what was left of two skeins of Regia Color. I usually have tons of leftover yarn!

As you can see, I like living on the edge.

Pattern: Warmups
Yarn: Regia Ringel Color in colorway Clown
Needles: US #0/2mm
Size: European 39
Comments: If you add welts, make sure you have enough yarn! These socks slurp up yarn like you wouldn't believe.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I overdid it...

I seem to have gotten carried away with the sock-knitting, and with twisted stitch patterns in particular. The tendons in my right forearm are complaining, so I'm now on knitting hiatus and trying to keep the typing to a minimum. There was a bit of spinning yesterday. Maybe I can do that for a bit, it doesn't seem to hurt too badly.
There's nothing sadder than unrequited love. I love twisted stitches but they don't love me back.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Single Sock

You know what my goal was for 2011? 11 sweaters. You know what I've been knitting? Hats and socks. Mostly socks. The moral of the story: when I want to knit sweaters, I should sign up for a sock challenge on rav.

I'm currently at that awkward stage where I have several projects going, and there's one finished sock for all but the pair I'm working 2aat. This is Haleakala, the February shipment of Cookie A's sock club.

It introduced me to Caper Sock, the most luxurious sock yarn I've ever held in my hands. It's soft and squooshy and feels amazing -- I'm knitting slowly because I don't want to run out of this yarn, ever.

The sock is fun to knit. Not particularly difficult, but interesting construction. I've already cast on sock #2. My feet are tiny, so I may be able to get a second pair of short socks out of this skein. If not... well, there's always fingerless mitts.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cake and the Blob

It's another gloomy day in New England, not rainy or cold but very sleep-inducing. Also not a good photography day. So what's a knitter to do? Bake, of course!

Meet the Raspberry Buttermilk Cake from Smitten Kitchen. Except mine is made with blackberries. This year, Trader Joe's has had some amazing blackberries, and I've been eating them for weeks. Time to try baking with them. This is before...

...and this is after baking.

I've only tried one crumbled-off piece so far, but I think it's going to be very good. Next time, I'll most likely reduce the amount of sugar to 1/2 cup instead of 2/3 because I think it's a bit too sweet. But I often find baked goods too sweet as written, so YMMV.

In terms of knitting, I've been working on a couple of things, including this shawl. I picked it up again after months of inactivity -- fixing a lace row that's over 600 stitches long didn't sound appealing. But it's fixed and I'm working on it again.

See how bleached-out the colors are? Yeah, it's a gloomy day in New England. I'll go eat some cake now, cake makes everything better.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Funky 80's Socks

My sister likes funky socks. I thought I'd look for the brightest self-striping yarn and found this -- Rebia Ringel Color in glorious 80's colors. Perfect! I knew I had a winner when I found a pattern that also reminded me of the 80's.

Taken in the evening, no flash to show off the structure. The weather is miserable, it's raining the entire week. But these Warmups make me happy!

Only thing you may want to know is that they take up lots of yarn in those welts. I knit 6 instead of 5, and this is how much yarn I have left over from one ball.

Usually, I'd try to match the stripes in the second sock, but with this amount of yarn left over, I'm cutting it close as it is. Whatever color shows up first gets used for the caston.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Is there a reason not to take pictures of finished objects early in the morning? Right after you've woken up but before you've had any coffee?

You betcha!

Yes, the picture is dorktastic, but I quite like my Quincy hat. Here's what it looks like. A bit too much light, but you can see the structure.

It was fun to make and took about one skein of Ariosa. Ariosa is soft and squishy and a dream to work with. Just don't use it for a project you intend to frog a lot or pull on, like tight cables. I was sewing the provisional caston with the live stitches on my needles, and the yarn ripped twice. It's loosely spun -- more like roving than yarn, really. But it is very soft.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guess What?

I know this is going to come as something of a surprise, but... I've knit more socks! Who'd have thought?
They're portable, in terms of speed they're relatively fast, and they're cheap to ship. Most people love receiving hand-knit socks.

This pair is for my dad. Can't send mom a pair of socks and send him nothing. That would be cruel. I hope the stripes aren't too wild for him.

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in colorway Aslan (I love this yarn!)
Needles: US 1/2.5 mm
Pattern: Zopfmustersocken
Comments: I tried the short row heel as written, but it was too shallow for my dad's instep. He wears a European 42/43, but his feet are skinny and he has a high instep. So I knit a heel with a flap instead. Eye of partridge heel: sl1 (k1, sl1) to end, k2. ws: sl1, p to end.

And for a preview of what I'm knitting now... yes, you're right. Socks! Socks from Janel Laidman's sock club in knitpicks yarn from stash (toe up! 2aat! taking forever!)

And socks from Cookie A's sock club, in String Theory Caper Sock. The picture doesn't do the yarn justice. The color is a bluish-green-brownish yarn, and it's sooooo soft. One of the nicest yarns I've ever felt.

Now the big question is: am I knitting anything besides more socks? Stay tuned for the answer to that burning question!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Sock Love

I told you I'd been busy! Here is a pattern I love, and I love the end result even more. Meet Hyacinth, the first installment of last year's Sole Mates sock club. Janel Laidman's designs rock. So much fun to knit! And gorgeous from all sides.

Here's the front

Front and back together

From the side

And a closeup of the back/heel section. Sometimes, I'm a bit skeptical about bobbles, but you have to agree that this is some awesome bobble action!

It took me almost a year to knit these. I started during good times, kept knitting through sad times, and have knit my way all the way into better times. They're for my mom.

Pattern: Hyacinth
Size: Medium
Yarn: German mystery yarn
Needles: US #0
Comments: Fun knit! Highly recommended. Loved working on this, knit as written.