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#FriFotos #FridayReads and the Power of Hashtags

Over the last few Fridays, I have participated in the Twitter project #FriFotos (if you are not familiar with hashtags, basically it is a mechanism to sort and display every bit of information that includes this word(s) succeeding the # sign).  So, anyone anywhere can participate on Twitter by linking to a photograph and then typing #FriFotos into the text.  This will display as clickable, and you can see everyone else who has also contributed to the “album” of FriFotos.

For this particular project – geared to photographers and travelers – there is a weekly theme. A few weeks ago, I contributed some photos of DOORS for that week’s theme.  Today’s theme is SKYLINE.  The theme is usually pretty open to interpretation, so you can go the traditional route of cityscapes and twinkly lights or something more natural.  That’s what makes it fun! Here are some of my contributions this week from various travels over the years:

Chicago Skyline
Chicago 2007

El Prado
San Diego 2009

Juneau downtown @ dusk
Juneau, Alaska 2010

Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite 2011

Hashtags are powerful little tools.  They can be quite useful metadata tools, but can be easily manipulated – like so many things on the web – by commercial interests and spambots.  If you do participate in social media circles, however, hashtags are a great way to meet new people with similar interests.  Using #FriFotos are an example again: I share a photograph from this year’s trip to Yosemite National Park.  When I tag it, everyone can see that.  PersonX just got back from Yosemite and has a photo to share that is very similar.  Shared interest and common bond.  Added bonus when I see that PersonX is also into the same kind of music as I am.  New acquaintance and new thread in the web of life – all because of a hashtag.  From there, it can just keep on going.

Another hashtag that I particularly enjoy and participate in each week is the #FridayReads group on Twitter.  While they have been mired in a bit of controversy lately, the fact remains that it is a community of readers who like to talk about books.  Each week, I report which book I am reading and attach the #FridayReads hashtag.  The moderator (@TheBookMaven) calculates how many people participate just for fun, and when you click on the hashtag, you can see what everyone else is reading.  Maybe that book that you have been meaning to pick up? something long forgotten? or an author that you like that has a new piece out?

While the concept sounds so elementary, social media really just comes back to community building and engagement. How do you meet new people? how do you interact? The hashtag for #Socktoberfest on Twitter was really fun this year with several updates and interactions.

As the tweet above suggests, I have been reading up a storm lately… I’m planning a little Reading Year in Review post soon. Stay tuned!

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NaKniSweMo Wrap Up

It is official – another addition to the National Knit a Sweater Month archives – I think this is my 5th one? – of sweaters knit within the month of November. I didn’t challenge myself too much in the technique department, but I did introduce a never-before-attempted form: a cardigan with pockets!  The coziest of sweaters *always* have pockets!

Terra Cardi

Terra Cardi

Terra Cardigan

Terra Cardigan

Terra Cardigan :: reverse stockinette with pockets

Pattern: Rebecca 34 magazine – #13 pattern
Yarn: The Fibre Company Terra in “Nettle” colorway
Needles: Size US 8

As I stated on my Ravlery notebook, all Rebecca patterns need some “hand holding” and this one was no different. The problem with this one was the armholes and the sleeve length. The armholes were very deep in the pattern as written, and I ended up doing some extra seaming to fix this in the end. Also, the sleeves were pretty long to begin with, and got even longer after blocking.  This was my 5th Rebecca pattern, so I always go in knowing that I have to rely on common sense and “knitter’s intuition”.

Since I finished this one the week before Thanksgiving, I have worn it nearly everyday.  It is perfect to pull on as I head to the mail box or out on a dog walk.  I have worked with Terra before (I wrote up that pattern for the Sherbrooke Cowl using it back in 2008) and it is a very nice yarn.  It did stretch a lot in blocking, which worked out because I wanted a longer cardigan.  However, if you are going for a more form-fitting garment, it is worth noting that when you use this yarn.

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Alpaca Festival

Had it not been for Twitter and someone’s small mention of the Maryland Alpaca Festival this weekend… well, I wouldn’t have been able to see these precious faces!  The huge Maryland Sheep and Wool festival in May attracts thousands of tourists – literally people from all over the world – all descending on the fairgrounds of this rural patch.  The Alpaca Festival doesn’t have the same storied history or the huge crowds, but I am not complaining! I got a prime parking spot, and didn’t have to wait in line for anything.  And I got to pet lots of alpacas!

Suri Face

Huacaya Face

Crimpy Curly

I met up with my friend Isel and we had the best time talking to the farmers and vendors, feeling the yarns, and planning some knits. All the farms represented were Maryland farms, so it was a great way to support these local businesses. We both had a good laugh over the two alpacas with pop culture names: Bad Romance and Hot Toddy. Their owner was telling us that they are just over a year old.  They were communicating with each other with these little hums and grunts.

Bad Romance + Hot Toddy

Nuzzles

There are two types of alpacas: the Suri with their silky locks and the Huacaya with the fluffy pillowy hair.  Both are native to the Andrean regions of South America. They are a domesticated camelid, but smaller than the llamas and camels you see – some only about 3-4 feet tall.  Their wild ancestors, the vicunas, still roam in the Andes.  The alpaca was domesticated long ago, with their fiber prized for its silkiness, and hypoallergenic qualities.

Fluffy

Very Friendly Alpacas

Alpaca Cuties

Baby Huacaya Alpaca

Isel dabbles in spinning, so she brought home some roving and some lovely green yarn.  I happened upon some burnt orange yarn that was hard to pass up.  It’ll be perfect for a cardigan…

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Winter is Coming

Winter Sweater Plans

Making plans for winter sweaters is the highlight of my knitting year. With a million pattern choices (and a growing number of great ones everyday) it takes times to find the ones that you really want.  You match them up with yarns in the stash, or take a trip down to the LYS.  While I reserve the right to add or subtract, I am fairly certain that both of these sweaters are going to be on the needles in the coming weeks.  The Super Soul Cardigan by Mary Jane Mucklestone has been in my queue for a good while – I loved the geometric stranding and the pockets on this cozy cardigan.  Once I cast on, I will be using Berroco Vintage DK in navy for the main color, straw for the contrast, and I may pop it up with one more color – a wine red.  Mmm. Can’t wait. I’ve been dreaming of more colorwork (it never really stops…) and this will fit the bill nicely.

Kris’s anniversary sweater (this will be the 8th year and 8th sweater!) is always a cause for excitement. This Brownstone is my first BrooklynTweed pattern. I have some yummy grey Bartlett Yarn 2-ply in the stash that would work nicely… but I will admit that the Shelter that the pattern calls for is calling me too. Maybe I will just do two? I plan on some light modifications. I see this as a nice sweater to add to the growing repertoire! (See Kris’s other anniversary sweater here on Ravelry).

Winter is coming! (yes, a Game of Thrones reference, and stating the obvious seasonal shift), but I couldn’t be more happy – I do love this season most of all.

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The Rights of the Reader

The Rights of the ReaderThe Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a gem. Something that any reader will hold close to their heart. The essays are translated from the original French work by the educator Daniel Pennac. The book is full of amazing quotes. Some of my favorites:

“Time to read is always time stolen. Stolen from what? From the tyranny of living.”

“By making time to read, like making time to love, we expand our time for living.”

I particularly loved Part 3 – “The Gift of Reading” – where he describes a classroom of high school students – the stereotypes of “the loner”, “the prep”, “the goth”, etc. and how when the teacher [him] decides to read aloud to them for the entire class. It is his experiment to get them hooked. He chooses Süskind’s Perfume with its lively descriptions, and the teens, all of them, instantly become hooked.

The last few essays are also great, where he discusses the “Rights of the Reader” (the book is named after this series of essays). He outlines 10 Rights that each reader inherently possesses. He goes on to write short essays about all of them:

1 – The right not to read.

2 – The right to skip.

3 – The right not to finish a book.

4 – The right to read it again.

5 – The right to read anything.

6 – The right to mistake a book for real life.

7 – The right to read anywhere.

8 – The right to dip in.

9 – The right to read aloud.

10 – The right to be quiet.

A perfect book for a literature class – or a continuing education course. I highly recommend it.

View more of my reviews on GoodReads

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There is a sense of liberty and empowerment when a teacher writes a list like this.  As an avid reader, I have exercised my *right* to each of these 10 things, and I imagine that you have too.

The right NOT to read?  Well, I guess that could be the few books that I sat out on for my old book club.  Things that just didn’t float my boat, so I opted out. The right to skip? I exercise this one ALL the time.  Of course, once a text comes to me in book form, I have to believe that dozens of eyes have read the same thing I am reading – so why does it often feel like everyone forgot their red editorial marker?  So yeah, I totally skip.  The right to NOT finish a book? I usually give books a 50 page limit.  If it has come highly recommended by a trusted friend, maybe 100 pages… I just abandoned a book the other day.  Got through Part I with relative ease, and then what? Part II was a mess.  Close cover. No more. I have plenty of other things to keep my engaged.  The right to read it again?  I will admit that I don’t exercise this one that much.  I rarely read a book twice (children’s books read aloud to my nieces don’t count!) but I understand why people do it.  I have often contemplated reading a beloved series again (most recently Harry Potter and The Hunger Games), but I haven’t done it yet.

The right to read anything?  I have a long history of reading cereal boxes and shampoo bottles and ingredient lists and technical instructions just because … just this morning I read the how-to instructions on my new can opener.  The right to mistake a book for real life?  I often think that if a fictional character was REAL, we would be great friends.  Or I get that feeling that an author might be speaking to me directly, so I think that counts!  The right to read anywhere?  ha – yeah, I told you I read shampoo bottles, so you can figure out WHERE I was while doing that.  The right to dip in?  Tied to the right to skip… dip in and read one essay, and yep, that’s all the fix I need.  The right to read aloud?  When something has to be shared, you have to read it aloud. I sometimes whisper the words to myself though, as I am reading along. Or reading aloud for emphasis and memorization.  The right to be quiet?  Sometimes you read something so moving that you simply have nothing to say.  That’s okay too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these – please share your experiences!