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.


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Live Connection

The lyric, “Somehow a vital connection is made” has been stuck in my head for about a week now.  This is possibly because a lot of things about recording and data management have fallen into place for me in the last week.  The lyric is from Connection by Elastica, whom I have loved from the first minute I first heard a song of theirs, and I leave you now with this link to a live performance from 1995.


Live Connection

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Health Care and Language

Being able to speak to your doctor and understand what they are telling you is an important part of getting good health care.  However, it isn’t always the possible to find a doctor that speaks the language you are most comfortable in.  Can you imagine not being able to explain what is wrong with your doctor?  Or, the not understand what is wrong and have an idea of why you should be taking certain medicines?  Below are two links to programs that are attempting to remedy this situation by offering patients access to medical care in their native language.  The first is a link to a story about a hospital in California that is offering access to interpreters trained in Indigenous languages of Mexico and Central America and the second is a link to an NGO working in Guatemala that is training doctors in Mayan languages and offering Midwifery workshops in Mayan languages.

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What does the World Call its Game?

A friend of mine showed me this image today and with FIFA World Cup fever in full swing, I thought I would pass it onto you.  What do people call that game that you play with a black and white ball, two goals, 90 minutes and 22 players?


Soccer Map

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Review: Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust.

In Search of Lost Time is still my favorite novel. And, I have to say, while Within A Budding Grove is certainly a suggestive and metaphorical and lovely title, I feel that the more recent translation’s title is more keeping with the letter and the spirit of the original: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower. While it would be an oversimplification to say that this section is all about looking for a little play, that wouldn’t be entirely wrong. This book follows the teenage years of our narrator. He falls in love for the first time. And, he’s a total creeper about girls. I mean, seriously. He’s creepy and then he tries to recruit his friend (who is totally devoted to his own mistress, possibly because he’s trying to not be gay, I don’t know, I don’t want to put anything on a character, especially a character that could charm the pants off of me but, I’m just saying, his devotion to his woman is either a little touching or a little too much) to help him with the ladies…well, I’m getting away with myself.

In this section of the novel, our narrator moves to Paris and spends a lot of time with the young Gilberte Swann and then later, after some distance has grown between himself and Gilberte with Gilberte’s mother, Mme. Swann (formerly Odette de Crecy, whom I hated for all of Swann’s Way.) I like Mme. Swann, I have to say. She grew on me. He spends the rest of the novel at Balbec, in the town by the sea where he meets Robert, marquis de Saint-Loup-en-Bray (not going to lie, this is the possibly gay one with the mistress that I just find so charming.) Saint-Loup is a Guermantes and he is visiting his mother at the seaside before going off to do his military duty in another town on the coast. He’s lovely. His mother is lovely. We’re introduced to more of the Guermantes extended family and we’re also introduced to painters, ambassadors and long and beautiful sentences about the countryside, art, women, life, everything.

I listened to this book while driving two and from Iowa over winter break and I have to tell you that ISOLT is not a car book. The observations made by Proust through the narrator may really get at the heart of things but they require concentration (which you don’t have to spare in the car) and can also be quite tedious (if you’re stuck sitting in the car for many hours.) While I did enjoy the audio book presentation (Neville Jason is a fine reader) I just can’t get behind listening to this in the car.

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