Thursday, October 19, 2006






















Meet The Ambassador of Obscurity.

As I enter the den, with Green Gansey Sleeve Number Two in hand, my husband glances away from the television and inquires, "Do you know what a kraken is?"

I assume the Spock-like expression I am known for, while the little librarian runs around inside my head. Hmmmm...I should know this...it sounds like a medieval creature...dragons, four legs and two wings...wyverns, two legs and two wings....not Midgard, that's a serpent...kraken, kraken...four wings, and no legs maybe...?

I finally admit that it sounds familiar but I can't say for sure.

Dave announces that the television has just informed him that a kraken is a type of multi-limbed, mythological sea creature.

I nod. "I was thinking in the general neighborhood of mythical creatures, but I wasn't sure."

Dave looks stunned. "I am amazed that you didn't know that," he says flatly. "You are the Ambassador of Obscurity."

"The Ambassador of Obscurity?" I echo, amused.

"Uh-huh...you know things like how to spin yarn and what kind of sheep has how many microscopic crinkles in a piece of its wool ... and what kind of seashells make purple dye ... and why flamingos are pink ... and how to make haggas ... and stuff like that."

I mull this over for a minute. Then I laugh. "Thanks," I say. "I like that title. In fact, I like it a lot."

Naturally, I start thinking of things like diplomatic immunity.

If I wrote to the White House (using fancy vellum paper with a kraken in the crest, of course), and proclaimed that I was the Ambassdor of Obscurity, would the President give me a salary and an office of my own? Does he know that Obscurity isn't a real country? Could I declare our house and yard to be the Land of Obscurity? Do you get your own Lear jet with an Ambassadorship? What about a yarn allowance? Could I tear up speeding tickets? Would I get to meet Larry King? Do I get a pool boy (and a pool, for that matter)? Could I go to New Zealand, and steal one of those million-dollar fleeces, and laugh maniacally in the face of justice?

I don't know...maybe an Ambassadorship would go to my head. I would make my secretary hold all my calls so I could sit in my office and knit all day on Tuesdays. I would send my earnest, over-achieving young pages out to buy me more yarn and diet root beer, and to make people neuter their dogs. I would make Members of Congress attend twelve-hour meetings with excruciatingly detailed Powerpoint presentations (including the micron counts of various fleeces) explaining why we should provide free sheep to people in Mongolia so they can get their economy rolling, and why we should give free spinning wheels to women in Africa so they can earn money to build schools and clinics in their villages. I would spay all the alley cats in Washington and set up a huge feeder for them outside my office window. I would drink expensive cabernet and go slinking around Washington after dark, letting the air out of tires belonging to Senators I don't like. I would knit a giant Noro Kureyon scarf, in colorway number 88, for Abe Lincoln's statue (he must get cold sitting on that big marble chair). I would...

Huh...?

Oh... krakens. Dave is telling me more about them, and I learn that legend says that, while mainly ocean-going beasts, they also are rumoured to exist in Canada's huge lakes and waterways, and that science says that they are one of the mythological monsters who might actually be based on sightings of a real animal -- giant squid -- in the days when a giant squid was, indeed, a whole lot longer than, say, the Santa Maria. I consider the evidence and decide that krakens probably had something to do with the fate of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The librarian in my head is typing all this frantically for future reference.

Then another, far more urgent, question pops into my head...

What kind of hat does the Ambassador of Obscurity wear?

This is critical information.

I really do require a hat for this Ambassadorship.

I must take this seriously. People keep telling me that I should try out for Jeopardy or at least go to New York for the weekend and hail taxis until I get the Cash Cab, but with my kind of luck I could stand on the curb 24 hours a day with my hand in the air, for seventeen weeks in a row, in the rain, and not have that kind of luck.

I do have old college friends who were so traumatized by their experiences twenty-five years ago that they refuse to play Trivial Pursuit with me to this day.

But back to hats.

What sort of hat does an Ambassor of Obscurity Wear?

Indeed, what would the whole dress uniform look like? It would, of course, have to be something requiring exhaustive attention to construction, fiber choice and historical detail. Each component of the garment would require an obtuse legend about its source. Absolutely no epaulets or sunglasses, though. I would prefer an entire Ambassador of Obscurity wardrobe, of course, both for state dinners and art openings in the DC area. Something involving tunics, leggings, cloaks (all knitted, of course) and great, tall boots. And a sword. Gotta have a sword.

Mambocat needs time to contemplate this hat design.

In the meantime, she will answer another searing question from Xeres from Australia:

Dear Mambocat:

I guess my original question was relating more to your phenomenal sounding output than to the vagaries of the weather. You are ALWAYS knitting. Enquiring minds wonder how many sweaters you have yourself….and when you’ve filled your wardrobe and that of your hubby’s. who else are the lucky recipients? Do you give them away?
Just How Many Sweaters Does Mambocat Knit In A Year?

How much knitting do you do? How many sweaters do you have?


--Xeres from Oz





Dear Xeres:

Mambocat is, indeed, always knitting. Mambocat never leaves the house without a knitting project, in case she gets stuck waiting in a line somewhere for more than forty-seven seconds. Mambocat also keeps a project in her car and at her workplace at all times for any available break which can be applied to the time-honored craft of knitting. There is also the omnipresent sock-in-progress residing in Mambocat's purse. In short, I knit the way other people smoke.

The majority of Mambocat's knitting moves on to other folks. Mambocat actually keeps relatively little of her knitting to herself, although much of her output remains in relatively close contact, and visits frequently, through friends and family members. Mambocat actually cranks out a wide variety of garments besides sweaters. Although cabling is one of Mambocat's very favorite knitting things, she also does a fair bit of lace and colorwork. Mambocat's hubby prefers vests, but is delighted with pullover sweaters as well. Mambocat's Mom is a big fan of vests and accessory shawls.

Mambocat would actually have to count her sweaters, but she does possess a winter wardrobe which is disproportionately large when compared to her summer wardrobe. Leading psychologists believe that this is an alarming symptom of Weather Denial Syndrome, considering the climate Mambocat actually lives in. The most commonly recommended treatment for this disorder is relocation of the patient either to Bangor, Maine ... Seattle, Washington ... or Jasper, Alberta. At the moment, relocation is not a reasonable option for Mambocat, so she considers the fact that her sweater wardrobe will be well-preserved as a retirement trousseau ... at least by the time she actually retires and gets to relocate someplace where summer is virtually nonexistent.

There is another interesting theory in the world of psychology that Weather Denial Synrome, with its accompanying symptoms of compulsive knitting no matter what sort of climate the patient lives in, may have its roots in the fear of "nuclear winter" implanted in our subconscious during the Cold War. To this day, American Baby Boomers, who spent a great deal of time involved in "duck and cover" exercises as school children, really do feel quite anxious whenever the possibility of nuclear war is mentioned. As we all know, we no longer fit under a fallout-resistant school desk, and, therefore, will not survive in the event of nuclear war unless we have a large stash of thick woolen sweaters somewhere handy at all times.

So I really should give this my most serious thought.

Back to knitting: major items on the needles right now: a ruby red Einstein for my Mom for the Red Sweater Knit- A-Long, a green gansey for me and a sweater in La Lana's Forever random for a treat for my husband. It willl be a yoked sweater of the EZ Percentage System Disciplline, with a fleur-de-lis motif around the yoke. I'll work that motif out when I get there. Right now the yarn is so yummy and delightfully fragrant with lanolin ... it's like snugggling up with tiny baby lambs.

Due to a recoverning knee injury, too much work and general fatigue, I have been remiss on posting. The deadline for the Halloween costume contest is near. Go back to the archives to find the rules for Mambocat's Costume Challenge -- there are only a few days left!

--Mambocat, Ambassador of Obscurity

10 Comments:

At 7:03 AM, Blogger amanda said...

Oh I love the Ambassador of Obscurity title. You should feel pretty good with that one!

This was a great post btw -- just the way I needed to start my morning!

 
At 8:10 AM, Anonymous alfred T said...

BELOW the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

 
At 8:25 AM, Blogger Dez Crawford said...

What a fantastic poem. Thank you so much for sharing this! Who is the author?

Sounds sorta like Lovecraft.

Dez

 
At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Marietta said...

I've got it - a Klein-bottle hat - - it's the perfect obscure object based on an enigma - - a one sided, one edged 3 dimensional form. How about that?

 
At 10:41 AM, Anonymous naomi dagen bloom said...

and would not such an exalted personage be wear an amulet? if you commit to wearing it, i'll make a special one for you...like the sparkly sequin one i made for dr. ruth.

many of your fans would have enjoyed your presence yesterday at rhinebeck sheep & wool.

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Jo said...

Your Ambassadress... Your Honourable Ambassadorship... Your Ladyship Ambassador... oh for heaven's sake, Mambo-Ass can you please fix it so that everybody in the entire world has to knit socks on Monday mornings while commuting to work? I believe it would make our existence so much more meaningful.
Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns.

P.S. On five dpns, of course. Circulars don't count. And with silver wool, naturally.
J at CMY

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger Xeres said...

You crack me up completely! Thanks for this glorious post. I thought it was mostly only tatters who carried fifteen UFOs around eveywhere they went (due to the portability of the craft). You knit the way other people smoke, muahahaha.

Do you know, I have never owned a hand-knitted sock? Have I led a deprived childhood?

Rolling in the aisles in Sunny Sydney (where it is 28C in barely-Spring and yet I did see someone in the village today wearing a big fat fluffy wooly sweater! :O )

(PS was that Alfred, Lord Tennyson, with the kraken poem above?)

 
At 10:15 PM, Blogger Xeres said...

Pee Pee Ess

I want a knitted lace shawl!

 
At 9:32 PM, Blogger Dez Crawford said...

Oh, duh, was I havinng a slow day. Alfred T. Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I get the Carlos Mencia award today -- dee duh dee!

Man, I got a poem, and a great hat idea -- Klein Bottle hat! -- and an offfer of an Amulet to which I say ... wow, I would be SO honored!

And Jo, consider it done. Mambo-Ass hereby commands that Sock Knitting shall commence on Monday mornings, on dpns, while commuting, except for those driving the bus, of course. We especially need the socks because Xeres of Oz has none. So get busy, folks.

Now the Ambassador has to get busy with another post.

 
At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Adele said...

Hate to tell you, but, I don't think krakens could live in the bone chilling cold of our dear Lake Superior, avg temp around 52 degrees and occasionally freezing over. So, probably didn't sink the Fitz. However, if you want another candidate for a retirement home, come on up to our north shore and wear your sweaters all but 5 or 6 days a year. In the winter you could wear more than 1 at a time. Remembering that Mark Twain? said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in Duluth. I enjoy your blog so much and appreciate reading about what is going on in your life. Thanks.

 

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Inmates in the Asylum since July 27, 2006: