By Ellen Spitaleri
Don’t let the name fool you, yarn bombing is not an act of war. Instead, it is the act of covering objects or structures with crocheted or knitted material in public places. It is a creative activity designed to bring an unexpected rush of happiness to those who see it.
Now fiber enthusiasts will bring their knitted or crocheted hearts on Saturday, February 12 to help decorate the intersection at SE 12th Ave. and Division St. as part of the Division Street Yarn Bombing Project.
If enough people show up, participants can decorate trees and other sites all along Division St. up to where it intersects with SE 20th.
This activity will be “an act of artistic activism,” said Heidi Weiss, owner of Lemon Tree Wellness.
The business provides holistic health services, including classes, one-on-one sessions and monthly weekend wellness workshops, is at 1235 SE Division St., the meeting point for the event.
The idea behind the activity is to cover fences and trees with bright red hearts to celebrate Valentine’s Day and bring a smile to those who drive through the busy intersection.
Weiss chose yarn bombing for her February event because it met her three criteria for wellness workshops: honoring the environment, supporting creativity and fostering mindfulness.
“Being outside is healing. We will literally be expressing our love for the environment by blanketing the trees with love,” Weiss said.
Creating art in any form is healing, she noted, adding that the field of art therapy has grown out of a body of research that shows this.
“Freedom of expression gives us an ability to feel safe in the world as who we are,” Weiss said, noting that this is particularly important as the pandemic continues.
As for mindfulness, “Being with others is healing, and being present, being mindful, is the basis of mindfulness training.
“There is a chemistry of kindness, of beauty and of community that helps to promote our health. Science is just beginning to study these kinds of things on our health but has begun to validate that when we do kind things, and when we are in connection with others and see art, it actually has a positive impact on our health,” Weiss said.
“Having this physical manifestation of love in the environment will help to express that we love and support each other,” she added. “It is literally bringing people together who would otherwise not know one another to achieve a small goal of beautifying a neighborhood and expressing kindness.”
There is a physiological response when people see beauty,” Weiss said.
She added that when those who pass through the intersection see the big red hearts, they will get a warm feeling.
“It is an inspiration to see what others have created because we know we are capable of the same.”
Some might equate yarn bombing with graffiti, but they are quite different, as yarn bombers always ask permission from business owners before attaching fiber creations to fences and other structures.
“Yarn bombing doesn’t cause property damage and can be easily removed,” said Tina McDonough, a local resident who is knitting big red hearts for the event.
She wanted to participate, she said, “because it sounded like a joyful thing to do for our community, especially during this pandemic.
“This activity was something I could do while being socially-distanced and foster the feeling of being more connected to our neighborhood. I look forward to spreading a bit of Valentine’s love to the neighborhood.”
McDonough said she hopes people will smile when they see what crafters have created, adding, “Doing this activity has made me feel that I am more connected to this community. I feel happy to be a part of such a sweet activity.”
It all begins at 10 am, Saturday, February 12 at 1235 SE Division St.
Those interested in taking part in the Division Street Yarn Bombing Project are encouraged to knit or crochet red hearts of any size.
Patterns are available online on Etsy and other sites. Non-crafters are invited to attend and help with decorating.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org (not .com).
Leah McDonough and her mother Tina adorn SE 20th Ave. and Division St. Photo by Ellen Spitaleri