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Trees decorated for Gallery Walk


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By Makenzie Holland




As part of October’s Gallery Walk, knitters, crocheters and other fiber artists will wrap trees in yarn in downtown Bloomington with love and warmth in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness month.

“Yarn-bombing is a phenomenon that started in the Netherlands and has gone all over the world,” said Mary Ann Gingles, owner of local business Yarns Unlimited. “Knitters would cover things like trees, benches and bike racks. They usually do it at night when nobody’s looking. People just see it in the morning when it’s done.”

Gingles said yarn-bombing has become popular in big cities.

Yarns Unlimited has teamed up with Middle Way House to raise funds to aid victims of domestic violence.

This is the first year the fundraiser, Knitting to Heal, has been coordinated in Bloomington.

“The way it came about was, last winter the tree in front of our shop was wrapped with a handmade sweater,” Gingles said. “The director of the Middle Way House was walking by and saw it. We talked about creating a fundraiser around this idea and came up with the idea of having local businesses sponsor wrapped trees.”

So far, 23 businesses have sponsored trees, and Knitting to Heal has already raised more than $10,000.

“There’s gonna be an IU tree,” Gingles said. “It will be just in time for Homecoming.”

IU basketball Coach Tom Crean sponsored the IU tree.

In the last weekend of October, the community will have the opportunity to pay a dollar to vote for their favorite tree sweaters.
 
“It’s been very popular,” Gingles said. “(Today) I cannot tell you how many stopped by and thanked us. People love it, it’s all handmade. We’re not harming the trees, and we got permission from the city to do it.”

The sweaters will remain on the trees until spring 2013.

“It’s really a public art,” Gingles said. “I’m glad we’re doing something fun, something that will be appreciated by a lot of people, while at the same time supporting a great cause with a local base.”

Fiber artists will prepare sweater designs that incorporate images and messages pertinent to Domestic Violence Awareness month, according to the Yarns Unlimited website. Some sweaters will express the care victims at the Middle Way House receive.

“We’re not just doing this for fun,” Gingles said. “We hope, not only to raise funds for victims, we hope to raise awareness in people of domestic violence in general."

The use of recycled materials is encouraged, and after the sweaters are taken down in spring, artists can have them unraveled and stored for use by future artists, according to the website.

Yarns Unlimited will serve as a drop-off and distribution site for donated supplies and materials.

It will also provide consultation on resources, design and techniques.

“This is the first year,” Gingles said. “We might do it every other year, depending on the public’s response and support of the project.”

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