When brainstorming for what the next Rocktown Yarn community project could be, owner Amy Strunk came across a photo of an older couple wrapped together in a cardigan — but not just any cardigan.
The handmade sweater, adorned with multicolor yarn, encased the couple from shoulder to toe. Their hands are only seen when stretched out of the sleeves and pockets large enough to fit a book inside.
When Strunk came across the photo, one word came to mind — togetherness.
“I thought this was kind of perfect,” she said. “We can finally start to get together and be close again with who we love and what better way to think about that than being wrapped around in a sweater together.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced loved ones to separate, bringing people together was exactly the type of project Strunk was eager to stitch up.
With an idea in hand, Strunk began to lay the groundwork for Rocktown Yarn’s latest yarn bomb project — a giant traveling cardigan.
Yarn bombing is described as a form of street art that allows community members to create yarn-based installations to promote positive messages in the area. Strunk said the yarn displays are typically found on tree branches or tree trunks.
Rocktown Yarn completed its first yarn bomb project in June to coincide with Pride Month in June, which honors and recognizes LGBTQ communities. The business and community members created yarn-based installations featuring the word “love” as part of Love Across the USA’s nationwide crochet project.
Strunk said the Pride Month project was a success, but part of a larger collective. The giant cardigan project will be completed independently.
Another aspect of how the giant cardigan project differs from typical yarn bomb installations is that the cardigan will be able to travel, Strunk said.
“With yarn bombing, usually they are fairly static. You put them on a fence or tree, anywhere you can hang it, and people have to come to it,” she said. “With this one, we wanted it to be able to travel.”
Strunk said the goal is to bring it to various local events and areas in town so others can enjoy it.
“It gives people an excuse to take pictures together, have fun and think about the coziness and positivity the crafting community can create,” she said.
Another goal is to connect different people in the craft and fiber community.
Since opening Rocktown Yarn in November, Strunk said, she has met numerous people who enjoy knitting and crocheting, as well as those interested with no experience. The yarn bomb project brings people together.
“We don’t have any restrictions on what stitch, craft, color, whatever. We are just asking people to bring in whatever little piece of yarn or something they want to add to the sweater,” she said. “If you don’t know how to do any of that stuff and really feel like learning, if you can hold a needle in one hand, you can help us stitch it together.”
Strunk said anyone interested in learning how to knit or crochet can visit Rocktown Yarn in the Agora Downtown Market to learn the ins and outs of the craft. Yarn can also be provided for free, she said.
“I want it to be truly a, ‘I woke up one day and decided to experiment with yarn and now it’s going to be a part of something bigger’ moment,” she said.
To contribute to the giant traveling cardigan project, visitors can stop by the shop between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Strunk said a dedicated stitching time will take place at 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Strunk said a goal has been set to complete the project by the end of October, but if increased interest is seen, the deadline will be extended.
“We will just make the sweater bigger,” she said.