yarn bombed bike

I’m joining forces with local arts councils as we go yarning around Massachusetts collecting items this winter to create public art installations, loving referred to as “yarn bombing”, this Summer and Fall in key communities around the Commonwealth.

How did this all start?

In 2023 on my book tour I started using my old bike to putter around between signings and see the local sites. The bike is old and really needed to be replaced so instead of dumping it, I repurposed it and covered it with granny squares I made out of Lion Brand Mandala Yarn which was a gift from one of my students who did not need it any longer. This got me thinking, what if a whole community of fiber artists gathered their left over supplies and projects that didn’t quite work out, what would we create? Who would notice?

I took my bike to H+H Americas in June of 2023 and used it to commute from the hotel to the convention center where much to my surprise there were no bike racks. The ladies at the coat check cracked up when they saw it and the matching helmet. They were more than willing to let me check my bike at their table for a nominal fee so I did and things just took off from there. It made people smile when they saw it. One of the security guards coined the term “Miles of Smiles” to describe how happy people were who saw it. This got me thinking back to my idea about how to continue spreading happiness, reduce our textile impact, and repurpose textiles.

December 2023 was a busy month for book signings, somehow I stumbled upon a grant program for the arts and just under the deadline date, literally a day before it closed, I managed to get 104 proposals in to various arts councils around Massachusetts and to date six of them have joined my campaign to reduce, reuse, re-home and recycle both finished knit and crocheted items as well as those random left over skeins we don’t want to throw out. To date Boxford, Wretham, Danvers, Chicopee, Franklin, and Ashland have decided to participate.

We’re yarning around Massachusetts collecting these items to create public art installations this Summer and Fall in key communities around the Commonwealth. In Boxford, Wretham, Danvers, Chicopee, Franklin, and Ashland there will be classes, collections and a fiber arts installation this year. Follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/1stbytedesigns/ and send me a note on my “contact” sheet here on my web site https://firstbytedesigns.com/contact/ to stay up to date on what’s happening.

How can you help? Join us. If you’re proximate to one of these towns, please drop off your contributions, sign up to help with the installation, make squares we can use, and spread the word. Drop me a note and I’ll send you a list of the donations box locations. https://firstbytedesigns.com/contact

What do we need?

You – Please sign up to help with the installation which will take place over the Summer or in the early Fall depending upon the community arts councils preferences. Drop me a note and I’ll be sure to let you know when and where

Yarn – to create our art installation. We’ll be using weather resistant acrylic and other hearty yarns for the art installation, it will be kitted up and made available to people who would like to participate making squares or other shapes for our installation, smoother more delicate yarn for indoor installations and for donation to community groups which may enjoy using it. Yarn not suitable for the program will be donated to those who can use it or recycled through the community textile recycling programs.

Gently used knit and crochet blankets – If you have a blanket you just cannot toss out, let us help you re-home it to a local shelter. Launder it, pin a note to it to let us know it’s history if you’d like to tell its story, and we’ll find a suitable home for it. If you have a partially completed project, we can use that too.

Knitting Needles and Crochet Hooks – We will be proving free of charge small kits for community members to take and make their own contribution to our project whether a granny square, knit swatch or pompom, the installation will be driven by the community members and their artistic contributions.

Fabric – We’re not all knitters and crochetists, yet. So if you have fabric you would like to donate, we can use that too either to make rag strips to knit and crochet or to recycle it.

What if I cannot help make something?

You can learn to knit or crochet at one of our workshops which will take place in the spring. Drop me a note and I’ll be sure to let you know when we’re running a workshop in your area. I developed a curriculum specially designed to be portable and affordable which we’ll use as the basis for instruction on how to make your own fiber art contribution.

What are you doing with the left over stuff?

Depends what it is. Ideally we will use what we have in the community from which it is collected. Homeless shelters, the Red Cross, Goodwill, animal shelters and other community groups always need warm blankets so they are at the top of the list. Community centers and charitable organizations which can use the left over yarn and fiber arts tools will be given first choice before remaining items are recycled or provided to other charitable organizations outside the communities sponsoring the installations.

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