Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Bear For All Seasons

My birthday is in October so I sometimes get a little Halloween silliness among my presents.  Several years ago, in a package from my parents, I received this bear wearing a cute jack-o'-lantern sweater.

At the time I was in graduate school, studying physical oceanography at Oregon State.  The package with Teddy came to my campus address.  As part of my graduate research assistantship, I was responsible for upkeep of a string of coastal-based radar sites that measure the surface currents in the ocean.  The technology was relatively new and the sites could be temperamental.  We wanted a continuous record of the currents so it was a problem when a site went down.  Sometimes things could be fixed through a remote log in, but frequently I found my day's plans upended with an unexpected trip to the coast to cycle power on a system.  Believe me, driving an hour or two each way just to push a power button and head back home gets old really quick.

I doubt I'm alone in my tendency to anthropomorphize flaky computer systems, and I often felt the sites would wait until I turned my back to crash.  Theorizing that the computers got lonely, I set Teddy to watch over them when I wasn't there.  He looked so cute perched on top of a monitor, supervising everything.

Then, of course, Halloween was over and his jack-o'-lantern sweater was suddenly out of season.  This was Oregon State, home to the orange and black Beavers, so I tried for a little while to say it wasn't a Halloween sweater, but a Beaver sweater.  Even I didn't really fall for that.

There was nothing for it.  I knit him a fall sweater, then a Christmas sweater, and so on.  Soon Teddy had a seasonal wardrobe that he'd change into as the year cycled.

I'll have to confess he's spent most of the last few years in a box, ever since I finished grad school.  But last Christmas he came out in his Christmas sweater and he didn't get quite forgotten after the holiday was over.

A few weeks ago I joined Nerd Wars on Ravelry.  This is a competition among knitters representing various fandoms.  I joined Team UU (Unseen University), the team for Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. I love these novels. They’re a great mixture of fantasy, science fiction, and social satire. Plus they’re just plain laugh-out-loud funny. If you haven’t read them, get ye to your library today. While some characters do appear in multiple books, this isn’t a series in the traditional sense. There’s no need to read them in order from the beginning. Start wherever you like.

In Round 1 of Tournament 3 of Nerd Wars, the Nerd Culture challenge was to make a costume, for yourself, a pet, or a doll. Our Team Unity project was cheese. Death is one of my favorite characters, so I chose to make a Death costume for my teddy bear.

Death of Teddies

A recent reaping of a wizard at UU happened to occur while the wizards were at their cheeseboard (hardly surprising, given the wizards’ fondness for their cheeseboard). Death was feeling peckish so he used his scythe to help himself to a chunk of cheddar - you can see a cheddar crumb still attached to his scythe. He really needs to clean that.

Death of Teddies is available as a free pattern download from Ravelry until November 15, 2011.  Teddy's seasonal wardrobe of sweaters will each be posted free for one month over the course of the next year.  In October 2012 I intend to release an ebook for sale with a pattern for a knitted bear along with his entire seasonal wardrobe.
So download Death of Teddies now, before he's gone.

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