It Takes a (Crafty) Village


Our guest blogger today is Jenny Gordy from Wiksten Made.

My husband and I have moved across country due to his job more times than I care to recount. Moving often can make it hard to connect to places, but some towns have such a lovely sense of community that reels you right in. The last place in which I left my heart was Brooklyn, and I never thought I’d find a place I felt so at home in ever again. Fast forward a year, and I am living and established in Iowa.

A year ago I only knew two people in Iowa, but now I feel like I’m part of a community. I’ve come to learn that community is not something that just happens — it’s something that is built out of courage, hard work, enthusiasm, and creativity.

Rarely have I felt such a sense of community as I did recently at the Tree Huggers event in downtown Iowa City, when the residents of my town came together to create a public art installation. Over 200 volunteers knitted colorful “tree huggers” to cover 135 downtown trees, bringing cheer to an otherwise drab season. The downtown businesses donated the yarn, and Home Ec. Workshop — my favorite yarn shop — helped to organize the event and offered free knitting lessons to the non-knitters eager to participate.

Volunteers had one month to design and knit their tree huggers. Although they were all given the same yarn and color palette for an overall cohesive effect, the creativity and individuality of each design was quite evident.

On the day of the installation, everyone was giddy with excitement. Materials were distributed, and families, friends and strangers joined together to sew their work around assigned trees. People pitched in and helped each other. I felt honored to be included as passersby stopped to admire, chatting and asking questions. We were not only creating a thing of beauty, but also celebrating our town, each other, nature, and our favorite craft. I marveled at the strength and ingenuity of the creators of this project as I felt a part of something for the first time in quite a while. It was pure joy.


Comments (17)

  • Love this so much!! Now if only I could knit…

  • You could also “repurpose” old sweaters and sew them then embellish no knitting needed ~ I feel guilty now leaving my trees naked

  • so happy to see you on the living blog. love yarn bombing!

  • What a great project! Sure does make me miss sweet Iowa City. I second what you said about HomeEc- It’s the best!

  • It looks SO beautiful downtown! My Mom and I were going for a walk while we were waiting for an appointment and had so much fun stopping by the trees for a closer look. Thanks for sharing the story so I could learn a bit more about the project. Home Ec is a very fun store!

  • This was such fun! And I love seeing mine in the top picture–I had to send it on to everyone! It was a great day, and I absolutely agree with the author that it felt like such a community project. I even ran into a few acquaintances that I didn’t know knitted!

  • I live in iowa city and seeing those colorful and now warm trees really does brighten up Iowa City. It makes you smile. I hope Iowa City people will keep doing community art projects around the town because we need more!!!!

  • Here’s a short “newsreel” I made about Iowa City’s Tree Hugger Project which the local knitting community really enjoyed.

  • IOWA CITY! gotta love it

  • it’s pretty but does seem a little pointless? how about knitting a blanket to cover those going cold this winter instead of trees, where the wool will get manky and wet and rot… some pretty blankets covering the homeless could also be a work of art, no?

  • i live in ic too- and this project warms my heart when i’m downtown. such a great idea and a benefit for the community! a big thanks to everyone that volunteered, because i sure am enjoying the scene it created!

  • This is wonderful! You’re right: community takes a lot of effort and courage. I was worried about building those ties as well, when I moved to Cambodia. But after living there for nearly 2.5 years, I realize that i did have a community of people who understood a very important part of who I was and what I did.

    Well, now we’re in Bangkok and it is sometimes tiring to think that we will have to build again. B

  • [...] and speaking of channeling Martha Stewart, Iowa City actually landed on her blog!  The downtown has an added charm, in my opinion, with the Tree Hugger’s Scarves!  I just [...]

  • I am thrilled to see the pictures of the tree huggers as I was able to work on two of them while visiting with my daughter. She’s even pictured. It was a nice learning experience for my two granddaughters, Marta and Emma also. Such a cheery feeling it gives to the downtown.

  • i adore this idea… i’ve seen it in a few places (seattle first), and i fell in love.

    what a great way to make connections too – with people who have interests like you do :)

  • Iowa City trees are nice and warm!!!
    What a creative idea!

  • [...] tree huggers, see the Downtown Iowa City Facebook page, or articles about this year’s, and last year’s, projects.  (I haven’t actually watched the KCRG yet, but yes, that’s me in the video, [...]

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