I just made a bear. This is not some strange new euphemism—I honest to goodness made a teddy bear this weekend.
Mom and I have been craft buddies for a long time, which is to say that as far as I know, I’m the only one of her girls who’s taken any serious interest in the traditionally girly arts of working with needles and string. The craft cycle usually goes something like this: I get a harebrained idea that I want to make something difficult with a crafting skill I haven’t yet learned. Mom supports me by buying or lending me supplies and by teaching me what my impatience will allow her to. After about a thousand hours of work poured into the project, I realize I’ve made a major goof that will make the project turn out bizarrely unless I undo everything, at which point I either give up or accept that my project will look ridiculous and forge ahead anyway.
Take, for example, the first afghan I ever crocheted. Anyone who’s ever been a beginning crocheter knows that it takes a little practice to get used to seeing where the stitches are that you’re supposed to be working on. You’re bound to produce a few funky potholders that look like they would be more at home with the mutants of New New York.
In my case, however, I didn’t have the patience to start with potholders. I wanted to start with an afghan. Twenty or thirty rows in, I realized that the afghan had developed a very definite hook arm on one end where I had been dropping stitches as blithe as you please every other row. Mom took one look at it when I asked her how to fix it and told me I’d have to start over.
The afghan still has the weird hook.
I could tell you any number of stories about crocheting projects gone haywire, or sewing endeavors that didn’t quite work out as planned, but I think it’s sufficient to say that Goodwill could be kept in business by the number of projects I’ve abandoned on their steps in hopes that some more-skilled crafter will see some potential in my deformed craft-children and take them home to fix my mistakes.
And then there was knitting. My mom doesn’t knit, so it’s a craft I’ve had to teach myself. It began in the same way all my craft-tastrophes begin, with a cockamamie idea to start with a project that grossly overreaches my n00b skills. The difference? I didn’t fail.
Knitting turned out to be the craft that had been calling to me my entire life. The slender needles and the simple, versatile principles were standing in the background calling to me, shaking their heads in despair whenever I misheard and went for the crochet hook or the sewing machine instead. The wrestling match to cast-on, bind off, knit the purls and purl the knits was not a sanity-threatening woman-vs.-craft cold war between my fingers and needles, but a woman-vs.-herself fight to train my hands for a new stance. It was exhilarating. My afghan came out looking reasonably similar to the picture on the pattern, and I fell in love the way I have with no craft before or since.
So when Mom and I stopped to poke around a craft store on our way to the bus station, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I walked out with a bag full of needles and yarn and instructions on how to knit and dress your own teddy bear. (The why of the teddy bear making sense is another post in itself, but trust me…the bear thing is not completely random.) Having copious amounts of time on my hands at the moment and severe writer’s block, I just couldn’t help diving in, so… I present you with my iteration of wizard bear!
She’s not quite craft fair or gift quality. There are some, shall we say, “creative” things going on where knitting gave way to stitching, so she’ll probably end up being another of the inanimate objects I talk my writing projects out to. Like Alan Turing’s Porgy. This means, of course, that if I ever become a famous writer (I can dream…), she will have an honored place in the annals of literary history and therefore needs a decent name.
Which is why I’m opening the floor for suggestions. I’d call it a contest if I had a prize to give away, but I don’t think my thanks and praise for entertaining suggestions would really qualify as a prize. So how about it? What should I name this slightly-deformed, lady-wizard bear who is destined to spend her days listening to me whine about writer’s block?