Hibernation

Earlier this year I asked the question: when do you decide to frog? I really hate frogging, not just because it is a pain to back out of a pattern but also because I hate all the wasted effort it represents. Nevertheless, I have these two projects that I only work on grudgingly and that have gotten shuffled to the side every time I want to start something new. Knitting on them doesn’t make me happy (and since knitting is a hobby) I don’t even want to make myself continue with them. but, ugh. I hate frogging! I came up with a compromise. I decided to hibernate the projects and that I would revisit them in Late Spring and reconsider them.

In typing this post, though, I decided I need to frog the Summer Steps and start again on bigger needles. I like the pattern, I like the yarn. I think I will like the whole thing better when it is wider and it knits up faster.

Do you make compromises like this with yourself? Do you find that putting off a decision can be helpful to resolving an issue?

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Nerdy Little Valentine ( A week late, but nonetheless heart felt)

Ladles and Jelly Spoons, I am a huge nerd. Let me provide you with some evidence. My sister introduced me to a book series, (possible spoilers ahead) in which there was a character that I fell in love with and that met an untimely ending. So far, only kind of nerdy. Well, then I decided that I needed to do something in honor of this character. A little nerdier.

I decided to make a shawl in honor of him. This might be where I crossed the line into weirdo nerd territory. (Or, maybe not? At least I didn’t write slash fiction starring the character and me?)

The pattern I picked is the dreambird, which is a lovely piece constructed out of short rows within short rows. The pattern itself seems intimidating, as it is something like 9 pages long, but once you get into it, it isn’t bad. There’s a nice rhythm to knitting short rows. Plus, the pattern introduces you to a short row technique known as German short rows which all you to avoid short row gaps without wrapping. I’m only about 20% done with this pattern but I’m happy with it so far.

Where do you get inspiration for your knitting? Has you taken it from books? Which book characters would you knit something in honor of?

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Duolingo Addiction

I’ve been starting and ending my days with language practice in Duolingo. Do you know this app? It provides games for language learners (for a few languages, mostly Indo-European and all with bigger speaker numbers). If you like playing games (check) and are goal oriented (check) and you like the boost of completing a task you’ve set for yourself (check), then this app might benefit your language skills (provided you want practice in one or more of the languages available). I think it is benefitting me. it’s at least provided me with some structured procrastination. (Sure, this won’t get me hired, but it also won’t hurt…or so I tell myself.) I can’t help myself, so I signed up for Spanish, French, German and Danish. Surprisingly, I tested into a German level almost as high as my Spanish level. I’m not sure if I should be disappointed in my Spanish or proud of my German. I suspect that I should be a bit of both.

Is there a language you would like to learn? Would you try if you could play games to do it?

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Disastre!

Recently, I started Spring Cleaning. I know, it isn’t even Spring yet. But, I have to get started early because I’m going to have at least one existential crisis while I decide what to keep and what to give away.

And, what I found while I was cleaning is that I had a moth infestation. (How does one get moths in December?)

(null)

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When do you decide to frog?

I might not have gotten exactly to zero with my queue or busted as much of my stash as I would have liked last year, but I made a strong effort and I got a lot accomplished. There are only three things left in progress on needles. I have startitis in my bones so having only three live projects (and one of them a blanket!) is really good for me. Here’s the thing with the three projects that are left, though. I can’t get excited about them (or I haven’t thought about them in a long while). The blanket is wonderful and it will be perfect in my apartment when I’m done with it. Of course, at the rate I’m knitting it by the time I’m done with it I’ll probably live in another city on a different continent. The other projects I can’t even really picture what they’ll look like when they are done. One of them is a pattern I like, but it is just taking forever and I don’t feel like I get a lot done when I sit down and work on it. This is disheartening because it is an easy pattern, just short rows and knit stitches! But, it’s on 1s. And, it’s taking for-ever. Not in love. The other project is a beaded beauty. But, I am also not in love with it. When I picked out the beads they were meant to go on a different yarn. But, that yarn had some breakage issues and that absolutely broke my heart. The yarn I have the beads on now is perfectly lovely and it will be a tremendously glamorous piece when I’m done. That is, if I ever finish it. And, now I’m wondering: When do you frog? When something has been on needles for over a year and you can’t seem to find a rhythm with it, is it worth it to keep on?

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Ola! Oral Language Acquisition!

I spent much of my summer at the Institute on Collaborative Language Research (CoLang for short) which is a biennial summer language program for linguists, language revitalization experts and speakers of any and all languages. While at CoLang I met an awesome woman named Hali Dardar, who was working with Houma Language Project. Houma is a language of Lousiana, it is endangered, and the speakers are looking for ways to change that for the better. At CoLang, Hali put together the first draft of an excellent guide for language investigation, specifically, language investigation in small groups with some native speakers and some learners. Since this summer she has continued to work on it and it now has a kickstarter! This book that she has put together is a guide to language discovery for small groups. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in practical language acquisition in small groups working with native speakers, I recommend you check this out! It is full of awesome activities that will allow you to get to the heart of the language; its moving bits and pieces.

Or, if you yourself are interested in what linguists do when they go to the field, you may want to check it out, too. A mere 15 bucks would get you a copy of the book!

This was originally posted at Stacks Exceed Life Expectancy.

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Knitting Designers I loved in 2014

This year has meant more knitting than it has meant spinning. Since I have had a spinning wheel, it is usually the other way around. But, this year has seen a substantial amount of stash-busting (but not nearly enough!). All of these designers had patterns that fit with my stash. Some of them even provided yardage which made it easy to knit with handspun! There are three designers I’ve discovered this year and I would like to share their work with you. (And, a bonus designer I discovered awhile ago that I fell in love with again this year!)

1. Anthony Casalena

I discovered this LA-based artist on instagram. I love his shawl construction and this year I knitted two of his patterns (tre o molti and astoria) and I bought a third. What I liked most was that his patterns are easy to follow and are great with showing off yarn. They’re even easy to adapt to hand spun; for example, the tre o molti came with yardage for each section making it simple to group similar colors of my hand spun and slot it into a section. I just had to make sure I had enough yardage (and that it was the right weight) and I was good to go! I think I missed a section, though, in my pattern reading, which just means I’ll have to knit the pattern again. That’s cool, though, I certainly have the hand spun for it.

2. Marc Smollin

I don’t know how I discovered this artist. I knitted his megalodon out of some really special yarn in my stash (some handspun, some lesceister longwool from The Ross Farm and some bamboo I bought while on vacation in Hunstville, Alabama with a friend.) The pattern was fun and had a nice rhythm to it that allowed me to do other things while knitting (like practice Tseltal or listen to audio books or read) and that made me happy. It also included a stranded color section that was easy to follow and was a nice introduction to that technique. I’m so pleased with this shawl and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have it done in time for winter. Nothing makes you cheerful on a dark morning like that neon green bamboo yarn!

3. Josh Ryks

I also found this artist on instagram. Possibly because his work is liked by one of my favorite local yarn dyers, 716 Knit? (Her colorways have Buffy inspired names!) I just finished his Scarfy Shenanigans, which we released as an MKAL over twelve days in December. The pattern has included a lot of texture, some short rows, a fun cast on (that I’d never done!) and it has been a joy to knit. I love watching it develop as the days progress! Ryks’ patterns are all textured, geometric and fun, so I look forward to knitting more of them in the future!

4. Laura Nelkin

Laura Nelkin is my bonus designer as I didn’t discover her this year. I discovered her in 2012 through her craftsy class Knitting with Beads. But, I actually got around to finishing that class this year, adding an Accola to my collection (I had a terrible time with the yarn I picked to knit with it but the end result is so beautiful! I wear it every chance I get because it is just so spectacular!) I also started her April MKAL this year, a pattern called Magnify. And, while I haven’t finished it, I recently picked it back up and I’m once again in love with it. When it is done, it will be a stunning piece because of the bead placement and construction. Nelkin really hits beaded lace patterns out of the park!

I had a lot of fun knitting this year and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for my needles. (Will I cast on the Celestarium I bought yarn for? Will I complete it? Only time will tell!) What patterns did you enjoy knitting in 2014? Who did you discover?

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Endangered European Languages

Go Euro (which unsurprisingly a travel website aimed at getting people to travel in Europe) recently published a blog post on the endangered languages of Europe. They teamed up with the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger and they profiled the 24 most endangered languages in Europe. To be endangered, a language has to be in a situation where it is not being passed on to children. This could be a severely endangered situation where the language is still spoken by grandparents and older generations with middle generations understanding it but not speaking amongst themselves or a critical situation where the youngest speakers are grandparents or older and they may only use it infrequently. In both of these situations, the language will no longer being learned and used by the youngest members of the community. Europe has over 200 languages but not all of them are officially listed as language of the EU. The populations of speakers run from handfuls to 100,000 or more speakers.

Go Euro has created a number of really great infographics to show you where the languages are spoken and give you a sense of how many speakers the languages have left. In their profile, they’ve included a number of lovely photographs and language samples where they are available.

Tourism can be a tool a language revitalization. By setting up language schools and promoting the use of the languages in the local economy, these endangered languages can become cultural capital that brings in visitors and tourist dollars. This, in turn, can encourage speakers to hold onto the languages as now cultural capital can lead to actual capital. While models of revitalization that encourage tourism are not without their problems, this is something we can all keep in mind when we’re traveling! What is the local language? Is it endangered? Can we hear it while we’re traveling? When we travel, we try the local cuisine, listen to local music, look for local art and participate in local festivals and holidays when we’re lucky enough to be there when they’re on, why not listen to the local language?

Follow the link to see to learn a little bit about the endangered languages of Europe.

Go European Languages,Go!

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Cold Sheep Revisited

At the end of the last year I realized that my yarn stash was eating my life. (More accurately, it was eating the corner of my bedroom where it lives.) The logical solution to this problem, other than to de-stash, was to only knit from the stash this year and to go until at least my birthday without buying yarn. No caveats.

I did both of these things. (Although, I did ask for yarn for my birthday and was gifted some gorgeous limited edition yarn from Expression Fiber Arts.) The only yarn I bought all year I bought at the end of July at Madtosh Crafts in Fort Worth, Texas. (You can’t spend almost two months in Texas less than an hour away from the home of Madeline Tosh yarn and not go check their store!) I bought yarn for a specific project, Celestarium by the Twist Collective but instead of casting on right away I decided I should clear out my knitting queue.

Now that the year is almost over I have three things left in my queue and no desire to knit on any of them. Even worse, I don’t feel my stash has reduced at all. This is possibly because it hasn’t. I have kept up spinning and I’ve added to my roving stash, which means I’ve been making yarn even if I haven’t been buying it. Additionally, I have received a few gifts from traveling friends who have been awesome places with knitting traditions. (Icelandic and Swedish and Estonian yarn, oh my!) What’s more, I’ve realized that yarn isn’t the only thing I horde. I could use a serious de-stashing of, and it breaks my heart to say this, skincare products and makeup, books (particularly ones I know I will never read (again)), and clothes (I own so much clothing and some of it isn’t even my style anymore! Why do I hang onto it?) I feel like many areas of my life could benefit from some Cold Sheep* love.

When it comes to next year’s New Year’s Resolutions, it looks like it might be the case that they look a lot like this year’s. Even though I was successful keeping them.

With one month of 2014 left to go, How has your year fit with your plans for the year?

*Yes, I do realize the expression in English is “cold turkey”.

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Roving Database

Last Fall, or perhaps that Fall before, I took Felicia Lo’s class on Craftsy on spinning. It was delightful and I learned a lot about technique and spinning with color. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make intensely colored yarns. I love color. And, I want it to always be super saturated. Go hard, or go home, Color! With an eye to that, I’ve spent the last year cultivating a stash of intense colors and making plans of how to spin them (together, of course).

I was just sitting down to update the database after this year’s Fall festivals. Looking through the database I noticed that I have not been following my plans. Things that were earmarked to be spun with something else were spun from the fold and navajo-plied. This is obviously okay as it means that I was creative in the moment. Sometimes, the way something looks in a braid isn’t how it looks when it is passing through your fingers and onto a bobbin. This was the case with a braid I bought last year from Winderwood farms.

Winderwood Farms

I thought this was a variegated braid in the bag. It was three long strips of color. While that was unexpected, it gave me an opportunity to try spinning from the fold. What I thought was going to be stripes of color ended up being more like swirls and stripes of color. I had planned on plying it with something else, but it seemed best to just keep it to itself! It was so lovely.

And, now I find myself looking at the database and wondering if my plans are the best plans. We shall see if I stick to them as I pick what I spin next.

database

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