Friday, August 28, 2015

The Joys of Guerrilla Knitting

Last fall, I took a fiber arts class. I’ll have more to say on that because it was part of my quest for a new life, but we had to do some research. I did mine on Guerrilla Knitting – knitters cover things in the urban environment by going out and Yarn Bombing them. The class loved the idea, said I should get one going.

Okay, I knew how to do that. I can do outreach. I can get the word out far and wide through all sorts of unorthodox channels. I can make something happen. It’s what I do.

So I arranged for us to Yarn Bomb the trees in front of the Museum, give them sweaters for the winter. The Urban Foresters gave their endorsement.

Then I had to learn how to knit. Only knit. I didn’t even progress to purl, but all this was a New Thing, just what I was looking for. We held Knit-Ins. I learned how to make stripes, how to knit with two balls of yarn at the same time, how to mix colors. With fat, bulky yarn and big fat needles, projects just zoom along; it’s very gratifying. While I was watching my never-ending DVDs, I could knit and knit. Before spiralizing, I was a Knitting Fool.

Knitters came out of the woodwork! Knitters were posting gorgeous photos on our Facebook page. They were knitting stars, flowers, words; they were well beyond stripes. Pioneer Home, Senior Center, Native Hospital – sweaters were coming in from all over. Balls and balls of yarn were donated. (Only later did I realize this was really thinly-disguised de-cluttering: knitters accumulate massive yarn stashes. They have to move some out before they can justify getting more. And if it’s going for a good cause, well hallelujah!)

Experienced knitters were teaching little knitters. TV stations were calling. Photographers were interested. Radio. We were going to be a First Friday happening: come and attach the sweaters to the trees. No experience necessary. Be part of public art.

Temperatures fell and fell. Uh, oh. Who would want to attach sweaters to trees and risk frostbite? But the day dawned and it was sunny … and windy and freezing. Out we went to the Museum with bags and bags of knitted pieces.
And people came! People who wanted to put theirs up. People who hadn’t knitted but who wanted to be part of it all. People on their lunch hour. People with kids. Kids hiding behind trees. People with cameras. People taking breaks to warm their hands and attach more. It was the happiest day of my whole year! It was everyone’s happy day! (Listen to me on TV
What was it? Was it the beauty in an unexpected place? (Look at the photos.) I think so much of our experience of art is as a spectator, and here we were all participants. We could all Do Art!
Jealous? Sorry you missed out on this? Now you have your chance: another big event is happening, and you can Yarn Bomb a whole street. Come out First Friday, September 4 to the big block party on D Street at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art, 5-10 pm. Be part of public art! (I won’t be there; I’m on a postponed vacation.)
Yes, there is a Third Third moral to this story, but for now, it was merely the highest high spot in a year of muddle. The highest high spot. So what did I do with that little bit of insight? Or what didn’t I do?

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