Sixth time is a charm: Wall Street gets yarn-bombed

YARN BOMBER: Elizabeth Schell, owner of Purl's Yarn Emporium, yarn-bombs the flat iron.
YARN BOMBER: Elizabeth Schell, owner of Purl's Yarn Emporium, yarn-bombs the flat iron. Photo by Thomas Calder

Press release from Purl’s Yarn Emporium: 

Downtown geeky yarn store, Purl’s Yarn Emporium, along with multi-age stitchers of Asheville, have organized once again to create a temporary yarn installation (also known as a yarn bombing or yarn-storming) on Wall Street in downtown Asheville. This is the 6th time that Wall Street has been yarn-bombed and each time the installation grows in color, interest, and size.

What is “yarn bombing”? It is a form of public art where stitchers create decorative swatches of knit or crochet and temporarily attach them to a common public object. This public art form began in the Netherlands in 2004. “The beauty of yarn-bombing is that it is temporary. It can easily be removed…and the thrill of unexpected color and coziness in an urban setting puts a smile on most people’s faces.” (Craftsy blog 2013)

The goal of the Purl’s stitchers’ installation is to do just that: to contribute to the overall creative flavor of downtown Asheville while helping bring some attention to Wall Street and its many unique businesses and eateries. The stitchers will begin their installation focusing on the lampposts of Wall Street, along with a few other targets, on Sunday, Oct. 15, as part of the Art Busk Fest of this fall’s Walkable Wall Street. The installation will be complete by the end of day Wednesday, October 18, with that day’s focus being the Flat Iron sculpture, parking meters, and bollards that line the street. The timing of the installation is in relation to the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands (Oct 20-22) and SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival) (Oct. 27-29) both of which draw many crafts-interested people to downtown Asheville. The installation is planned to be up through Nov. 18 and the downtown Holiday Parade, depending on the weather and its impact on the installation.

This fall’s installation will include some unique features. For the 3rd time, crafters will be covering the flat iron sculpture at the top of Wall Street. This year’s design will transform the downtown sculpture into the image of a stained glass window. Inspired by a sweater design, “Tracery” by Kathleen Sperling, knitter and Purl’s Yarn Emporium co-owner, Elizabeth Schell, thought this design especially fitting. “At first I was just drawn to the fact that the design fit the shape of the flat iron. But, the more I thought of it, and knit and knit and knit for the past few months, the more meaning I found in the idea of transforming this outdoor street sculpture into an image reflecting the sacred. What is more sacred than the lives of people who come and go downtown? Downtown buskers, homeless folks, shopkeepers, parents and children…. the Street is the place where the sacred happens: where people with broken lives cross paths with one another; where the commerce of action and inaction, doing and not doing for and with one another takes place. If people treated the moments on the street in as sacred a way as brief moments in a cathedral or synagogue or on a mountaintop or in a forest….what kind of revolutionary difference might that make in people’s lives?”

At the other end of the street, on the “bridge” between Jubilee and Well Played (two different spaces of community gathering), crafters hope to create an installation along the bridge railing for people to weave in ribboned messages of “who and what they love.” For those who year after year, return to this street to add their colorful yarn creations, perhaps their ribbon might reflect their love of crafting and a sweet little corner of downtown called Wall Street.

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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