This past fall when I dropped by the office of a professional associate and friend named Greg, I was amused to see his moose collection had grown since what it had been in the spring of 1994, when as a 20-year-old student, I first met Greg and did a six-week work placement as an editorial assistant in his office as part of a Book & Magazine Publishing program I was taking at Centennial College. We've stayed in touch through the nearly 29 years (!!!) that have passed since then, and he has always been very kind to me and helped me out many times by giving me freelance work, referrals for freelance work from other organizations, references whenever I've been applying for work, sage advice, and taking me out for the occasional lunch, which he always insists on paying for. That six-week college work internship was unpaid, but he gave me some paid work during that time. When I got my first job in publishing he was one of my references, and after I was hired, the manager who hired me told me, "Greg is a great reference for you -- he RAVED about you." When I was applying for a full-time job last August he was one of my references for that, and he said to me, "I told them that when you worked on that big ESL modules project last year, you were the most effective of the 85 editors I had working on it." Ordinarily compliments -- and for that matter, insults -- don't carry much weight with me, as I tend to make up my own mind about my attributes and failings, but this was praise on a level I'd never presume to. Overconfidence is an editor's worst enemy, and I'd certainly never consider myself to have done the best work out of a group of 85 people. Alas, I didn't get that particular job, but nearly six months later that piece of high praise never fails to have a bolstering effect on me whenever I think of it.
But about the moose. Having "a thing" for a particular animal, and collecting items on that animal theme, is definitely "a thing" in North American culture, and in Greg's case he has a thing for moose. Back in 1994 he had a few toy moose and other moose-themed items in his office. Last autumn I saw that he had a dozen or so stuffed moose lined up in the windowsill by his desk, and while they were almost all commercially made, one was crocheted. While walking home I got the idea of knitting a toy moose for Greg as a thank you gift for everything he has done for me over the many years since I first met him. I have always thanked him verbally, and even repeatedly, for everything he has done for me, but it was surely long past time I thanked him in some sort of concrete way.
That evening, I searched Ravelry for a cute moose pattern, and very quickly zeroed in on the Juniper Moose, designed by Rachel Borello Carroll, for the obvious reason that it's simply adorable, though it didn't hurt that it's also a free pattern. The one modification I decided to make was to nix the wreath, as I thought it had a somewhat Christmassy look that wasn't appropriate for Greg, who is Jewish. But the moose definitely needed to have a substitute accessory of some kind, so I decided I would make it a scarf instead.
I searched through my stash to see what I had that would be appropriate for this project, and soon came up with two colours for the moose and two more for the scarf that I thought worked well together. I didn't have any safety eyes on hand, but when I looked in my button tin I found two black plastic shank buttons of a kind that I've often bought to use as the eyes for stuffed toys. I also had a bag of polyfil stuffing. I even had a suitable gift bag to put the moose in when it was done. This project would cost nothing but time and effort.
The finished and accessorized moose. I'm reasonably pleased with this project, and I think it will make a nice surprise gift for Greg. The moose is cute and even a little sporty-looking. He looks as though he shops at the Gap and wouldn't at all mind stopping by your backyard to hang out, kick around a football, and maybe have a few brewskis. But then when one stands up to 6.5' tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 1600 pounds, one can shop anywhere and hang out anywhere one wants, or say, trash a person's car if they look at one funny. It's all in a day's experience for a Canadian moose, and getting used as a thank you present is even more so.