The Tale of Mousie

Happy Friday, dear readers! We have successfully made it to the end of the week. I’ve made a serious dent in my handwashing, and fingers crossed I’ll be able to finish packing away winter things this weekend.

In the tidal wave of attention following Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s shoutout, somebody asked about the story of Mousie. That’s a great question: Mousie is listed on my Cast & Crew page, has been mentioned countless times in posts, and yet I’ve never blogged about how she came to be.

I knitted Mousie near the end of 2009 with some scrap yarn while I was on a destashing kick. For a while she just hung out, sitting at the edge of my bed with my stuffed animals.

Then I went to England.

We're Here

I brought Mousie along to give personality and scale to my pictures. It would be like gnoming, but with a mouse. Or at least, that’s what I first told the other people on the study abroad. But very quickly, she became more like a mascot. She got her picture taken everywhere, and other students were even volunteering to hold her for better photo ops.

Red knitted mouse by the Barbican Tube sign
Mousie at the Barbican Tube stop.

From there, things escalated quickly. People were pointing out places where I could take pictures of Mousie.

Red knitted mouse next to mice on bronze statue
Mousie meets the mice at the base of the Robert Burns statue in the original Carnegie Library, Dumfernline, Scotland.

Mousie was visiting places where history changed.

Red knitted mouse sitting on the Broad Street Pump
Mousie sits on the Broad Street Pump London, England

(For those of you who are not Anglophiles or epidemiologists, the Broad Street pump is the emblem of the 1854 Cholera Outbreak, during which there was a major breakthrough in the study and understanding of epidemics. It is the subject of one of my favorite books ever, The Ghost Map)

When I came back from England, Mousie had a personality, and had taken on a life of her own. It was settled: if I was going anywhere interesting, Mousie was coming too.

Photographing Mousie gave me a new way to frame pictures of famous places, places that had been photographed millions of times before.

Red knitted mouse next to New York City Public Library Lion
Mousie and the lion at the New York Public Library
Red knitted mouse in front of the Xompantli in Chichen Itza
Skull, skull, skull, mouse: Mousie at the Xompantli, Chichen Itza

She also gave me a face to put on my blog, a face that readers reacted to. But she was also a conversation starter when I was out traveling. As I first discovered in London, she always gets a reaction, but never the same reaction. On the stairs of the Met, she got a look of surprise.

Mousie gets people's attention
Mousie gets people’s attention

At the Association of College and Research Libraries conference, Henry Rollins was not quite sure what to make of her.

The mouse gets a sidelong glance
The mouse gets a sidelong glance

The reenactor who became Governor George W.P. Hunt (and I mean became: he is the spitting image of Arizona’s first governor) got a kick out of Mousie and hammed up her picture for me.

Red knitted mouse on Governor George W.P. Hunt reenactor's shoulder
There appears to be a mouse on the Governor’s shoulder.

Mousie’s sense of adventure has not been without its hazards: she almost got left behind in New York City, tumbled into the washing machine behind my whites in London, and stayed at Pizano’s Pizza in Chicago after we were done with our deep dish (Querido rescued her that time, painstakingly retracing our steps). Now, she has her very own tag, complete with her name and my contact info in the event she ever gets lost again.

Red mouse drying on white towel
Red mouse in white laundry–very nearly a double disaster

And that, dear readers, is the story of Mousie.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee holding a knitted mouse

17 responses to “The Tale of Mousie”

  1. How wonderful for mousie to be able to travel so widely. Thank you for the story of mousie. I wondered about (her?) tale but thought it may have already been told somewhere.

  2. I came to your blog thru Stephanie’s post so had never heard of Mousie and now I am very glad to meet her. Thank you for sharing her story. It is wonderful to have such a good friend that you can take along where ever you go.

  3. I’m not only glad to learn more about Mousie, I’ve already been and got myself the pattern so I can [try to] knit one of my own…
    What HAVE you (and Stephanie) started?!?!?!

      • I actually have that booklet! In fact, I’ve looked at that pattern many times and tho’t about making it. No wonder I was drawn to your tale of Miss Mouse. And I agree, there are several cute patterns in the collection. I’m not positive, but I think I bought it at The Loopy Ewe in Ft. Collins, Co. And thanks again for sharing Mousie’s story.

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