A few months ago, I became aware of an amazing project that was happening in Pittsburgh, PA. It was a project where the city worked together with hundreds of knitters to “Knit The Bridge.” Pittsburgh, if you didn’t know, is famous mainly for two things: football and bridges. In fact, Pittsburgh has 446 bridges, even more than the city of Venice. To celebrate their history of bridges, Pittsburgh banned together and covered the 1,061 foot long Andy Warhol bridge with 580 knitted and crochet panels made with acrylic yarn (to prevent weather damage) - and it made big headlines. Organizations like BBC, NPR, Times.com and even news providers in Europe and Israel reported on the incredibly successful project in Pittsburgh.
“Knit the Bridge” is part of a larger movement called Yarn Bombing, where knitters go to public spaces and knit street art. Examples of this can be seen all over the country and even the world, but this is what many consider to be the biggest undertaking of Yarn Bombing ever produced. This project, along with the positive response from the city, proves how truly popular knitting is these days. Craig David is the president and CEO of Visit Pittsburgh and he says: "The news coverage of this fun, art event helped solidify Pittsburgh's growing reputation as a hip city that is rich in art and culture."
Now, there is the obvious question: Where did they find the knitters? That is where a young fiber artist named Amanda Gross came in. She headed up the project and organized hundreds of knit-ins all over the county to make the panels. Gross also used this as a teaching opportunity. She taught novice knitters and even got many teenage boys to participate. They took panels from each willing person, novice to expert knitter. Gross’s main goal of the project was to have every neighborhood in Pittsburgh represented in a panel. In fact, Gross had a large map in her office with yarn pinned to every neighborhood in Pittsburgh from which she had collected a panel. But she went even farther. She got panels from all counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Not only is this promoting knitting and the arts, but it is also helping the community. After the panels of yarn were taken off the bridge, the city had them cleaned and then distributed all 580 panels to the homeless, making sure that non of the panels go to waste. Gross explains that, because this was in fact a project that was done by the community, when its finished, it should go back to the community.