A large pine tree in front of the Richmond Hill Public Library currently is wrapped in colorful swathes of knitted fabric — the subject of a recent “yarn-bombing” by the Common Threads knitting group. Leaders of the group said the bombing was meant to bring recognition to Common Threads and to let everyone involved have a little creative fun.
Craftsy.com defines “yarn-bombing” as a form of street art in which yarn in any form (knit, crochet, latch hook, cross stitch, etc.) is attached to an object in the public environment. Targeted objects may include statues, park benches, parking meters, trees, signs, fences and more.
Yarn bombing may be attached to a purpose, such as making a political statement, or simply may be used in fun to celebrate art.
Pam Petermann, one of the leaders of Common Threads, said the library-sponsored group began as a gathering for knitting and crocheting enthusiasts, but has morphed into a charitable organization. Last year alone, they donated over 2,000 handmade items, Petermann said. Most of their materials are donated to them as well.
The group makes hats, scarves, pet beds for animal shelters, adult bibs for nursing homes, backpack totes for children’s shelters, wheelchair and walker bags.
“For the pet beds, we use donated upholstery fabric and stuff it with fabric scraps that have been cut off from other projects,” Petermann said.
The group estimated members covered 25 feet worth of tree trunk during the bombing. They used leftover yarn from previous projects for the endeavor.
“Mostly, we are just having fun, but it puts the library a little bit on the map as well,” group member Maike George said. “A lot of people, especially when they move in new to town, they really don’t know [where the library is]. Now we can say, ‘It’s right where that crazy-wrapped tree is.’”
Many of the group’s members are transplants to the area. Petermann has lived in Richmond Hill for 19 years, but she originally is from Long Island. George has lived in Richmond Hill for 11 years, but originally is from Germany. They said they also have members driving in from Pooler, Hinesville and other area cities.
George said the group isn’t sure how long the Yarn Bombing will stay up. They plan to monitor the tree conditions concerning weather and wildlife. “If the weather starts moving it loose, or if we have wildlife giving us issues, at that point we will take it down,” she said.
The Richmond Hill Fire Department and a C.S. Hurd Electric volunteered to hang the yarn around the tree. Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler came out to show his support and watch the yarn bombing.
“The community itself has been very supportive of Common Threads,” Petermann said. “The library, the power lift was donated by Plantation Lumber, St. Anne’s Church has donated some temporary storage area for our excess fabric. The community, by and large, has been wonderful.”
The group has over 60 members. A regular meeting has 20 to 25 people in attendance, Petermann said. They meet at the Richmond Hill Public Library every Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m.-noon. There are no fees or dues to join the group. They teach knitting and sewing, free of charge.
Petermann said Common Threads occasionally has men join them, usually if there is free food available. Members range in age from teenagers to mid-80s. After the meetings, many of the members go to lunch together.
“There are a lot of friendships that have formed within this group,” George said. “People who never knew each other before are now relying on each other. If somebody is unable to drive themselves, we go and pick them up.”
“It’s become more than a needlework group,” Petermann added.