Spruce Up the Neighborhood

June 27, 2019

The yarnbombed sign pole on our corner has been looking kind of ragged after two years exposed to the New England elements. As I cut it down, the underside was revealed, showing how much the colors had faded. Compare the bright orange and its outward-facing pale version near the top of this photo.

A few months ago, I began creating, collecting, assembling the pieces for a new “wrap.” Sometimes I used leftover bits from projects or just random yarns from my stash. Some I remembered fondly and others, like a small hank of bright colors, I had no recollection of buying. Maybe they were gifts or leftover bits from a knitting student?

Since the pole is across the street from a park where lots of dogs gather, the yarn along the base had received many “markings” over the past two years. I know this is a natural thing for dogs to do and don’t begrudge them the need to leave their mark. And I know that weathering of all kinds — weather, animals, winter road salt — is part of what happens to public art. But the ickiness factor of that bottom bit of the pole gave me the idea to try something different.

Who knew you could turn a plastic shopping bag into a knitting strip? And then knit with it? It even has a name: plarn. There are loads of how-to posts and videos available. Some are more fiddly than others and involve tying loops together. I used the “spiral” method, where you end up cutting the bag into one long strand.

Early yesterday morning, I pulled out a step stool, scissors, darning needle, four pieces knitted fabric, and started at the top. I’d selected a special piece for the top of the pole, the back of a sweater that Mom had started long ago and never finished. It’s got a lovely popcorn texture and the ribbing makes a lovely flag of sorts.

I love that there’s a piece of her just outside the house. Unbeknownst to her I also took and incorporated a lovely cabled rectangle in blue-green wool — maybe the start of a sleeve or scarf?

Stitching the entire length took more than an hour, in part because it’s a tall pole but also because I stopped to visit with neighbors as they walked to the field or to the subway or bus stop.

It just makes me happy. And I love knowing that it makes other people smile, too.

5 Responses to “Spruce Up the Neighborhood”


  1. What a lovely piece of art! Good of you to share your treasures, especially things your Mom had worked on :)

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Love your new yarn bomb!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ellie HS Says:

    Knitting with the plastic bag is such an interesting idea. I have watched a documentary about some ladies making some sleeping mats for homeless people. What a great idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Melissa Says:

    Mary Ann – this is a gorgeous piece of hand made public art that many ARE surely going to enjoy. The ribbing, the cables, the colors and the unexpected joy of it is just superb. What a good use for old yarn too! I love your use of plastic at the bottom. Doggies won’t be worried now about hurting your installation. ha. Good work.

    Liked by 1 person


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