On mountains, and the sad lack thereof in Boston.

My Mountain Hat ContestOn Saturday, I was honored to be chosen as one of the 18 semifinalists in SMC’s “My Mountain” contest for the hat I designed earlier this summer. As a semifinalist, I now need to write up a pattern and send it — as well as the hat itself — in for eventual publishing (and yes, I do get paid for this). I guess it’s time this hat had a name. Thinking back to my childhood in Vermont, I have many mountains in memory, but I’d like to honor one that gets overlooked because it’s small and doesn’t have a ski area on it. But I remember it well from many happy childhood days swimming in the lake at its base, and hiking to the waterfalls along its slopes. So we’ll give this whimsical hat a whimsical name. Hat, I dub thee “Moosalamoo”.

So please, do me and Moosalamoo a favor, and vote for it at the My Mountain contest page. The contest is run through Facebook, but I know of some folks who have voted without Facebook accounts, so never fear! Please also ask your friends and loved ones to vote for me — it doesn’t cost, and it could help me out greatly. I had previously been under the impression that folks would be allowed to vote once per day (like many other similar contests) but actually you can vote for any number of hats but only once per IP (basically, per individual computer) in an attempt to keep people voting only once per person.

Working on Moosalamoo Prototype
At the base of Moosalamoo, so to speak

The story of Moosalamoo is partly told in a previous post — but the reason behind it is yet untold, so I’ll tell it. A friend on Facebook said it “represents [my] personal challenges in life”. That’s a flowery way of putting the point of the contest. The question was “What’s your mountain?” which was meant to be interpreted as a query on some personal (or professional, or spiritual, etc) challenge you have or strive to overcome. As I understood it, the question and the hat design were separate, and perhaps some people’s submissions were just that. I wanted to intertwine the answer to my question with the design of the hat.

Here’s how I answered the question:

“What’s my mountain? You know, the funny thing about mountains is that they don’t typically appear alone. If you’d asked me this 15 years ago, I’d have said my mountain was, ironically, the city. I’m from Vermont, land of beautiful mountains and abundant nature. But I’m an IT guy, and the jobs for people like me are in the city. I went to school In Boston, but I burned out 3 years in and had to take a few years off back in the country to decompress. Later, I steeled myself, returned to school, and got a job in Boston where I’ve since settled down, gotten married, and currently own a condo. So it’s safe to say I’ve conquered this mountain. But like the bear in the song, I see another mountain beyond this one, and it’s actually a mountain this time. I want it so badly it brings tears to my eyes – I want, someday, to leave the city so my wife and I can finish out our lives in the beautiful green mountains of Vermont again. That’s my mountain now. This hat is both mountains together – the pattern of pine trees and saplings is all about Vermont, and the colors are both a reference to the returning 80s fashions in Boston and the cold-weather sports in Vermont. The fact that the yarn is called Boston couldn’t be more perfect.”

So why did I choose that, of all things? I’ve had many challenges in life — I was bullied constantly in middle school but graduated with high honors; I’ve been suspended or expelled from nearly every school I’ve ever gone to but persisted and finished strong; I’ve overcome clinical depression, kicked a prescription drug dependency; I’ve lost loves and loved ones, but married a wonderful woman … and of course, pale next to all of that, there’s the everpresent challenge of being a knitwear designer with a full-time job and a family. So why Vermont? Well, the others just don’t make for good knitwear — imagine knitting a hat about drugs and depression! Besides, that mountain is well behind me at this point. And a hat about knitting? I won’t say it’s too meta for me to consider, but it was too meta for this challenge.

But Vermont? There are all sorts of possibilities there, and rigorously-designed organic forms are sort of my thing these days. Vermont’s a distant mountain, the way the foothills and hills and mountains all layer on top of each other approaching the horizon, but if you zoom way in, maybe you’ll see a little house in the woods, by a brook, and I’ll be there on the porch, knitting the next creation in the lifetime’s worth of ideas currently bumping around in my head. Amanda may be nearby, sketching beautiful inspiration from nature and imagination, and I’ll be further imagining how I can take pieces of her imagery and incorporate them into my next piece, or the piece five or ten projects away.

I hope you come and visit. I’ll put on some tea for you.

8 thoughts on “On mountains, and the sad lack thereof in Boston.”

  1. great story….best wishes with your mountain. I think they have changed the rules and you can vote once/day/IP address ☺

  2. Congrats and good luck. Check Facebook because they changed the voting policy today and you are able to vote once a day per hat, per IP address.

  3. I tried it just to see if it was possible this morning. Evidently you’re not supposed to, but the coding on this app is not perfect. If you ignore the little “like my page” window and just scroll down until you can see the photos, you’ll find mine. It’s all grayed out but it’s still visible. If you double-click on the “vote” button, you’ll see the “gray-out” layer flicker off as the screen refreshes. The second click of your double-click can catch the Vote button before the page refreshes, and you’ll see the counter in the corner go up and the Vote button disappear. If that doesn’t happen, look around for my hat’s new placement after the page refreshes and try it again.

    We’re supposed to tell Westminster if there’s a glitch in their programming like this so they can fix it, but I feel like it’s unfair to make non-FB users sign up on FB, like a page, and then vote. You shouldn’t have to do any of that in order to cast an anonymous vote — so I’m not going to tell them about it :> Frankly, the likelihood is small that anyone else is going to figure out this works and even smaller that it will be abused in any way. I think it just makes the whole thing a little more fair. Not everyone’s networks are on FB.

  4. Hi Alasdair, I just got your Adventures class on Craftsy over the weekend after eyeing it for a while. I watched the first lesson while working on another project just to get an idea of what the class would be like. I look forward to attempting double knitting. I remember the first time I saw a d-k item and since I had only ever knit “normal things” I couldn’t understand how it was possible!

    Anyway, just browsing your blog and I had to comment because I’ve lived in VT since 2000. Also lived in Boston metro area for about 8 years. I hope you are able to realize your dream to return. But in the meantime, come visit!

  5. Justine, thanks! I’m glad you’re taking my class and I hope you enjoy it! I do come back to VT periodically; usually I get my fix by renting a cabin in the woods with my wife for a long weekend. It’s sure better than a cruise :>

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