Craft Husband and I spent part of the weekend volunteering with the Knit the Bridge installation. I’m not exaggerating when I say this was one of the best experiences of my life. I can’t believe how much this project inspired me, how much I appreciate meeting such wonderful folks, or how much I loved seeing this thing manifest from an idea to a work of art. Just…wow.
I also can’t believe how much my face, feet, and calves still hurt. Yup, yarn bombing is rewarding but painful. What’s that? You would like me to share my infinite yarn-bombing wisdom with you so the same fate won’t befall you? Why, don’t mind if I do.
1. Protect yourself – If you’re installing during the day and, like me, you’re paler than Jim Gaffigan, maybe you should reapply that sunscreen. No, keeping it in a bag near you is not as effective as actually putting it on your skin. And yes, your husband is annoying when he tells you to reapply every hour. But also, he is right.
Oh, and watch out for loose strings, and don’t forget your sunglasses. They add that level of mystery that every artist needs.
2. Watch your posture – Why are we so sore? Hmm…
Oh yeah, because we abused ourselves – hunching over, laying upside down, and sitting on our legs. Maybe we shouldn’t have done that. Or maybe we should have stretched more. Or maybe it’s finally time to get that personal masseuse. I think I will name mine Igor…
3. Pack right – Bring the essentials, but don’t bring a giant bag (especially if you’re doing a traditional installation where you don’t *necessarily* have permission and may have to make an early exit). Things we found invaluable: Diet Coke, hard hats, spare scissors, wire cutters, extra water, and bandaids.
Some folks brought knee pads. We called these people “smart.”
4. Be your own ruler – We keep a tape measure in the car for yarn bombing emergencies (although Craft Husband swears it’s for something else). But sometimes you need to use nature’s measuring stick – your body! OK, that sounds a lot worse than I intended. But anyway, when you’re scoping a potential site or are about to install, it’s really helpful to know what part of your body is roughly an inch long (knuckle to knuckle on your thumb), a yard (opposite shoulder to finger tip), or a foot (can you guess?). We used every one of these during the Knit the Bridge installation and never had to pull out that pesky measure.
5. Learn something – I was not really excited to volunteer for the tower crew Sunday because I’m not very handy or construction oriented. But this was a really amazing opportunity to learn something new, use a million twist-ties, and show off my mom’s hard hat.
Also, it meant I was allowed in the restricted area, which therefore meant I could get this picture. Heh heh heh.
6. Bring a friend – one of the leaders said she liked us because we “entertained ourselves.”
If you can swing it, bring somebody along to keep your company during down-times or to help pump you up when the endless whip-stitching has gotten the best of you. And if no one will come along, befriend some strangers. Just like your mama taught you!
Bonus: there will definitely be someone to tell the EMT you’re allergic to Penicillin if things go south.
7. Don’t get defensive – When you see the 100th comment on your project that says “this yarn should have been used to make something for charity,” you do not need to mention the bazillion hat donations you made while Commenter 100 knitted themselves another sweater. When they say it’s just a waste of yarn, you do not need to motion wildly at their never-to-be-used yarn stash. And if they dare say it isn’t really art, you do not need to march them directly to their nearest gallery and yell “They should have used their painting skills to refurbish houses! That would be a great volunteer project! And look at all the paint they wasted!” You don’t have to, but I do encourage it.
8. Plan – Seriously, I am in-freaking-awe of the Knit the Bridge planners. From the community involvement aspect to the precise measurements, they had things down. If I do a yarn bombing object that actually fits, I am elated. They did this times 500-fold like it was no big thing.
9. Love the gawkers – I could not get enough of this Grandma who I watched fix her hair so she would look great in her photo with the bridge in the background. Positive gawkers are instant feedback that let you know you’re doing something provocative and amazing.
10. Be thankful – Many thanks to the organizers of Knit the Bridge! We had a great time and we can’t wait to cover the next two bridges! OK, just kidding. OK, not really. OK, really.
And now it’s time to reapply that aloe.