Surviving the American Experiment

On the 5th of July I wrote a blog post about this fascinating red, white and blue skein of ombre yarn I wanted to play with. I wanted to fashion a bear with patriotism. The more I worked on it, the more I was disappointed, felt it looked like someone had tossed bleach on what should have been my homage to the American flag. It looked ruined, imperfect and just…flawed. So, I put the work down and said I wouldn’t touch it again. It was to be the one bear I wouldn’t make. This is the one bear that shouldn’t exist. I’d probably toss the skein in the trash. This skein is useless now….

I didn’t toss it, though. I kept it, eyeballing that skein every time I reached for a different one. I just can’t throw this skein of yarn away. Any knitter knows there is a tug at the soul when you do that. Any knitter knows that throwing yarn in the trash feels like kicking a stray kitten that shows up at your door hungry and starving.

Then of course, I’m from a military family and you just can’t toss the red, white and blue into the garbage. No, it must be disposed of properly. So, I’ll just hold on to it for now.

I have a tendency to listen to podcasts, news feeds, or even just the radio while I’m knitting….and the indignation for this country, by its own citizens, is at an unparalleled zenith. And I hear the same demands (no discussions, just demands) that we torch the country, forget the American Experiment ever happened, throw the Constitution in the trash and start all over….

Legend has it, that this country was crafted wickedly by evil, grotesque men with only one ambition: oppression of the marginalized and privilege for the few. The anthem represents slavery, the flag represents empirical colonialism. Belief in this flag, in the country for which it stands, is blatant racism.

(I hope you rolled your eyes, I certainly did).

Furthermore, appreciation for these symbols is now abhorrently, morally, and socially wrong. These symbols, anthems, are too memorable of an oppressed period in time and we must destroy them, trash them, dispense of them immediately. At first glance, these signs, statues and sounds may cause immediate panic in some. They are a problem.

So, I grabbed that damned skein of red, white and blue yarn just a few hours ago, sat in this chair and kept telling myself, “Ok, teddy bear, let’s go.”

I used TWO strands of that skein so that I could get a more solid block of color in the stripes. Yes….I tend to speak metaphorically. It required TWO strands of yarn to make this bear better, not perfect. Better. I saw a better colorway develop in the body, one I could work with, solid stripes that formed easier and worked better when two strands were held alternating row after row, rather than this nasty mess you get when trying to do it with just the one.

And I kept knitting….thinking, watching the colors of my flag born in this bear. I kept thinking how offensive he was going to be to some because he was proud. I kept thinking how nationalistic he’d be seen because he was being patriotic. His intention isn’t to be rude, just to show some recognition and appreciation for the people that have made it possible for this man to be free.

This bear’s red, white and blue may be viciously unkind to the perfectly aware (or tragically woke), but he’s just trying to show some sincere appreciation for anyone who tried to make this life, my life possible. Anyone and everyone who marched to their death under this flag (no matter many how many stars at the time!) deserves to be recognized.

The more I worked on this bear, the more I thought about the recent climate in America….and how knitting a teddy bear in reference to its beloved flag could be vilified.

A sadness fell over me. I sat the bear down, sat back in my chair and glared at that little bear.

There should never be a moment in a knitter’s life, a writer’s life, in an artist’s life, where the feeling of showing an emotion, an idea, a value, should be second guessed out of fear.

But, this is a new world, where an outdated man like myself still feels that there is still some sort of national euphoria we should ALL sense when we see the flag. It used to be a signal of comfort. A symbol in disastrous moments that still waves, all the while still battered….

I’ll knit this bear, write this post and meanwhile, followers will drop, hags will comment, trolls will mine and nothing will change. That is quite alright. Because this bear shows me quite clearly something everyone seems to have overlooked. And it’s right there in the pattern.

You need both strands in order to get more cohesion, in order to make the bear better. Not perfect, but better.

We’re going to need both strands in order to get better….

If you appreciate my work and would like for this blog to continue, please donate to help keep it going. I wouldn’t have the courage to do it without your support. And right now? I can safely say that EVERY dollar counts. Thank you. 












  1. I love that little bear ~ And all that he represents!
    I got kinda teared eyed reading your post. We live in a rare area, it seems like an island these crazy days, an area that – for the most part – loves our flag, loves our military & 1st responder folks, and will go stand in a field to see a glimpse of our beloved Thunderbirds and all they represent.
    So knit that little bear! He may need both strands, but be proud of him and all that you – and a lot of other folks – feel he represents.

  2. You keep write on knitting! If a military family does not want him, I would buy him in a heart beat! There are more of us that still stand for the flag in spite of social temperature these days.

  3. I think the bear looks heroic. A brilliant metaphor for our times. Thanks to the military members of your family for their service.

  4. Gregory, if you decide to make more of these bears, please keep in mind that I will buy one as soon as I see it on your site! And, yes, we still owe you bread! Rick just came off of 2 weeks of oncall, which means locked down 12 hour days for him.

  5. Everything said so far is so good, I can’t come up with better words. Still, I have an idea. If using any yarn something like that yarn you are using for the patriotic bear has a way of mucking things up with the way the colors play. You could cut the yarn and look for another color in the strand and join it and go on with knitting using the next color. That remodels the way the colors show up and could completely the looks. There was a time I wanted to make a rainbow caterpillar but all the colors were in yarn like the red, blue, white but all the colors of a rainbow. I was in no mood to buy five or six skeins to make that creature. I cut the whole thing according to the colors and wind then in separate colors. When it was time to go to the next section of the creature, I’d join it and go on from one section almost seamlessly. If I didn’t tell anyone about all the separate colors I got from one skein and saved a load of $$, they’d have no idea that there were many joins. Most importantly, mission was accomplished!! And….keep knitting and writing.

  6. You know, there are generations of my family that has served this country in the armed forces. It absolutely disgusts me that the younger generations have NO understanding of what has been done for them and No appreciation for the sacrifices of people that have come before them.

    I can’t even….

    I am glad you can write and keep a cool head. I would scream at people.

  7. You said, “followers will drop, hags will comment, trolls will mine”. I say that SOME followers may drop, SOME hags might comment, and trolls will be trolls, but please keep on speaking your truth. When you are genuine you might lose some so-called-friends or marginal followers but you will sift the wheat from the chaff. Those that remain will be your tribe, the ones that understand you best.

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