knitter 'yarn-bombs' town for beauty Alaska
Rachel D'Oro / Associated Press | Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014 12:00 pm
Yarn Bomber Alaska
In this June 12, 2014 photo provided by Fran Hartman,a cannon is covered with a skull made of yarn, in
Fran Hartman, a knitting enthusiast, is yarn-bombing her seaside community by
wrapping public poles in knitted casings. Hartman has decorated four poles so
far, and plans at least eight more, only she doesn’t have the city’s official
permission. But she’s already drawing positive reactions to her private deeds.
(AP Photo/Fran Hartman) Sitka, Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A knitting enthusiast in southeast Alaska is yarn-bombing her seaside community by wrapping public poles in knitted casings, sort of like a small-town Christo let loose with doilies.
Fran Hartman has just begun her personal beautification effort in picturesque
She's decorated four poles and plans at least eight more, with some knitted
contributions coming from fellow knitters she's met around the world. The Sitka idea is one she's
thought about for months before launching it earlier this month. Sitka
"You can only knit and crochet for so many people in your life," Hartman said. "I needed to keep my creative juices flowing."
She doesn't have the city's official permission, but her work is drawing positive reactions. Hartman, 61, is a former teacher who retired from the
School District in Washington
state before sailing around the world with her husband, then settling in several years
ago. She lives on a sailboat with her husband in Alaska Sitka,
a town and borough with a regional population of about 9,000 located 90 miles
south of . Juneau
A priest walked by one of Hartman's installations the other day and heard her saying she was having fun but didn't want to get caught and thrown into jail. Hartman said the priest told her no worries, he would give her absolution. Before she even wrapped her first poll, she asked a local lawyer what kind of trouble she could get into, and he offered to defend her for free because she wasn't defacing property, there were no safety issues, and the yarn sleeves could easily be removed.
In fact, someone stole a stop sign wrapping that featured three crocheted skulls framed in red. That installation represented a safety message, Hartman said.
Even the mayor, Mim McConnell, liked a Facebook post about Hartman's work. To her, it's fun, and it's fine as far as she's concerned. Nothing is being defaced, and it highlights a town with numerous artists.
"This is just another way of expressing yourself," McConnell said.
Yarn-bombing is a form of street art that has occurred in cities across the country in recent years, with knitters crafting cozies for everything from trees to vehicles. Last summer, more than 1,800 knitters covered
Pittsburgh's in 3,000 feet of
colorful yarn. Andy Warhol
Local painter Lisa Teas is among 22 artists with the Island Artists Gallery co-op. One of the dolled-up
signposts is near the Sitka Lincoln Street
gallery, and Teas remembers Hartman borrowing a chair to install her piece on
the pole. Teas said she likes the new life the project adds and the splashes of
color. She's heard other residents call the additions exciting, asking who's
been doing it.
"It's like this local mystery of who's behind the crochet," she said.
City Administrator Mark Gorman said he will not be alerting police to find out who is decorating public signs. Personally, he likes people who do this kind of stuff. But he adds that a formal request to conduct such a project would prompt a careful consideration by the city.
"Better to ask forgiveness than permission," Gorman said of the yarn mission.
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