Sunday, September 19, 2010

knit one, knit two

Knitters are an unusual breed. They are compulsive, with a need to constantly have a project on the go. And it often goes with them - on the bus, to meetings, lunch hours in the park, monthly 'stitch 'n bitch gatherings with like minded friends... It was virtually guaranteed that every member of our (albeit tiny) family would get a knitted sweater for Christmas. When that became too much for our bodies and closests to handle, we all got afghans. Many, many afghans and sweaters have passed through my mother's hands. She was occasionally reduced to begging, "would any of your friends like a pillow cover or pot holder I could make for them?", "she's having a baby? oh good, I'll find a nice pattern, in green or yellow, just in case". A donation or two was made for the annual church bazaar. I was at a younger friend's house a few months ago, and in her loo, prominently on display - and for use, I guess - sat a knitted toilet paper roll cover. A washroom seemed as good a place as any to have a little laugh and cry at the memory of it all. Didn't we all have one of those hats, or sometimes a doll with a very large skirt to daintily cover the toilet rolls? I hated them when I was living at home, but at that moment I rather wished I had a nice one to remind me of my mother. Hannah thinks they are hilarious and wants a collection for her washroom. But, like me, she is not a knitter. Church bazaar. There's sure to be some old lady still making them!

So, when Sue Sturdy, an fibre artist who is now artist-in-residence at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts decided on an outdoor art installation, she wanted something that was special and spoke to the origins of the textile industry and the woolen mills that made the area prosper in the 19th and early 20th century. So, in the the city of Galt in Cambridge, near the old ruins of the mill race on the Main St Bridge

she managed to find over 1500 knitters to contribute to covering every inch of the bridge

somewhere along here there are even afghans made in Australia and New Zealand as a contribution

this is an original dress from the 60s that was donated

and thousands of people have wandered into downtown Galt to admire and exclaim and meet people (though, on this particular day it was relatively quiet, but still, everyone you passed had a word of admiration and awe)

On the day I went, I had a chance to meet Sue Sturdy who was walking the bridge and talking enthusiastically about the the various pieces. So many stories. Some were made specifically for this installation, some were donated. All will be taken down on Sept 27th and later laundered and refashioned to be donated to charities.

It seems I still have to learn how to use my Nikon. Sadly all my photos from that camera were shite.


  1. How cool is that, I don't know if you know Robyn in blogland, she is from Austrailia, and they decorate lamp posts, and make pom poms for trees. I think it is pretty cool, thanks for sharing, hope you are well, take care.

  2. I have heard of knit bombing, but have only seen the occasional tree or lampost covered (usually in front of a wool shop!) but this is one bomb gone wild!

  3. How fabulous! My mum is a knitter, a spinner, a felter, and a home dyer...let me know if you fancy a Kiwi Cover!

  4. How incredibly bizarre... Cool, but bizarre.

  5. Gail: I imagine everyone was thrilled to stitch their fingers off to be a part of this

    Saj: ooh, a Kiwi cover - that could be a good story starter!

    Jazz: it was very cool. I drove out just to see it. and seeing Sue Sturdy was especially neat - she seems to have made herself very well known!

  6. I love crazy projects like this. And it's so whimsical, colorful and fun.

  7. Fascinating. Strangely enough there was a street tree at my local shops this weekend that was swathed in knitting. How does mass consciousness arise?
    I am glad that all the knitted and crocheted things are to be put to use in due course - I hate to think of all those things going to waste.
    There is a stall at the local market which is selling second hand wool, buttons, knitting needles and patterns. I bought two patterns, which I hope to adapt, for a mere 50 cents. You are right, we cannot help ourselves.
    There is a group movement here to knit or crochet squares and then to all get together to join them together and make wraps or blankets. It is a wonderful idea and has really taken off here.

  8. What a weird and wonderful idea!! There are an awful lot of stitches there! And some very beautiful rugs or whatever!

    It must have taken ages to get the bridge covered up. And I hope the weather stays fine!

  9. Aw, wish I could see that bridge! Fantastic idea. I love knitting. I've just finished a little hat. It took me six weeks because I was too lazy to get a pattern and had to keep unpicking it. Now it's too warm to wear it :o)

    We have a doorknob knit bomber going around Tauranga at the moment. Shops feel quite privileged when they are singled out. I heard through the grapevine that they are looking for knitters...

  10. Look at that bridge! What a gigantic instalation!

  11. Geewits: I'm sure a lot of people shook their heads and said "she's nuts"!

    Persiflage: we pretty much needed a forklift to get all the wool and pattern books from my mother's house when we moved her into a seniors home!

    Gilly: from the newspaper stories, I gather it took almost a week, with requests for as many volunteers as possible.

    Katherine: that is so neat - doorknobs! but now that I think about it, many of our shop doors have 'knobs', they are all handles or bars. it shouldn't take too long to make a doorknob cover, would it??!

  12. JM: yes, it was quite a shock when I turned the corner and saw it. I had never been there before so didn't realize just how big the bridge is. (it is over 58 metres long)

  13. OMG! That is just awesome! I wish my brain worked like that. I can crochet a little, but never learned to knit. I did spot some crochet work in there. What fun!!

  14. What a cool idea! I love it cause it was a project that really involved and created a community. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts but each part has its own story to tell.

  15. Fascinating! Can you imagine the smell if it rains? Wet wool smells dreadful, especially on the sheep ;-)

  16. very interesting, an art installation consisting of knitted bits to celebrate a town's history.

    My home town has a textile history too, not wool but silk and velvet as well as ordinary cloth.
    I don't think there's ever been an event like yours there.

  17. Susan: yes, and there is even some machine knitted things, too. I always used the being left-handed excuse for not getting into knitting or crocheting. my mother had a heck of a time figuring it out and I admired her tenacity.

    LGS: it was almost as much fun watching all the people who came up to Sue and congratulated her. it really did engage a lot of the community.

  18. Jabblog: that was one thing I was concerned about - the day before I went it rained hard all day. and I didn't expect everything to dry completely so quickly, but they did and I didn't notice any smell.

    Friko: I was surprised to learn that Sue has only been in her position as artist-in-residence since February! Should we send her over to you when her term is up?!

  19. Thank you for making the time to visit with me and also for sharing this wonderful bridge project.

    I wish I had have known about it so I too could have contributed.
    It really is awesome!

    best wishes

  20. I've enjoyed this post as both my mother and grandmother were knitters and we had both hats and dolls with large skirts covering toilet paper rolls. I was smiling while reading this. But that bridge is both crazy and wonderful. I would love to see it in person.
    And what memories your cornflower teapot brought back. We had cornflower everything....

  21. Robyn: thanks Cinnar for putting me on to your blog (which I believe I've visited before...)

    Carol: if I cunjured up happy memories for you, then I am glad!

  22. This is such a magical installation! I'm glad you took photos of, especially since it reminds you of your mother and her love of knitting. :)

  23. EG: I had occasion to drive by Cambridge again last night and took a friend to see it - I loved seeing her surprise at it all!

  24. I wish I could have seen this in person so I could cheer out loud! WOWOWOWOWOWOW!
    Thanks so awesome.

  25. My family was never one for covering toilet paper rolls with cutesie things. And for that. I'm grateful.

    But I do think the bridge project is cool one.

  26. I'm a purl one, purl two girl myself. But then, I knit on round needles and turn it inside out.
    Somehow that seems easier. Like walking uphill backwards.

    This bridge is something of a landmark. So hope they will install it indoors somewhere on a mock-up.

  27. Joanna: when I first saw it, I pretty much stood there with my mouth open.... your cheering would have been a far better response

    SAW: I always thought those things were unbelievably tacky

    Joo: should I admit that I have no idea what a 'purl' actually is?? I like that "walking up hill backwards"!!


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