The Village Playhouse in Bancroft, Ontario has been yarn bombed. The whimsical collection of fabric art pieces that took a group of older adults months to knit, stitch and crochet was installed in the overnight hours of May 11 to bring smiles to theatre fans and arts supporters all across our community.
Hospice North Hastings operates the Village Playhouse to generate funds for end of life care. The Hospice has been running the theatre for two years and coordinator Heather Brough says the yarn bomb is the perfect visual representation of the joy and spirit that the theatre and Hospice bring to the community – something they call “caring through culture.”
“We want people to see this and smile and laugh,” Brough says. “We want people to share this on social media and get excited about the great things that Bancroft has to offer and we want to have something bright and beautiful to help welcome back all of our seasonal residents and visitors.”
After a grant was received from New Horizons for Seniors, Brough approached a small group of older adults to see what programming they wanted offered at the Village Playhouse. Brough says the discussion always came back to knitting, crocheting and fabric arts. After choosing a catchy name, Knittervention was launched in the winter of 2017.
“We spent lots of time over the past two years refreshing the lobby area and it is a welcoming place to gather so the group thought it would be the perfect place to connect and craft,” Brough says. “It was like the groups of women who used to knit for victory during the war – making socks for the men overseas – but we decided to take our knitting in a very different direction.”
The Knittervention group became a social place where ideas were shared and then Brough says everyone got talking about doing a bigger group project and the yarn bomb idea was hatched.
“Blame Pinterest,” Brough says. “It was a feeding frenzy of ideas. We were all looking online and sharing ideas and we knew this was what needed to happen.”
Yarn bombing seems to have started in the US around 2005 and since the first person started placing knitted cozies on everyday items in public locations, the artful form of graffiti has spread.
Everyone brought their own supplies but when they realized how big the project was going to be, they reached out to the community and asked for donations of scrap yarn. The request got an immediate response and with new supplies, the group moved ahead with fabric panels, pompoms, 18 feet of knitted police tape, shoes, a fireman’s hat, Patty the Policeman with his handcuffs, bulletproof vest, cap and many other delightful creations that were all combined for the installation that now hangs from the front of the old theatre on Hastings Street East.
The group has become close over the months and when one member was out of town receiving chemotherapy, there were constant photos of project pieces being completed. The whole chemo team knew what was being planned, but here in Bancroft, the top secret project was kept under-wraps.
Brough says the group worked when they met but that the crafting kept going beyond two hours on a Thursday night. Everyone kept working at home and any other time they could get to their hooks and needles.
“This was so much like the work we do at Hospice,” Brough reflects. “People just think of us as the Hospice House but our volunteers are always working in the community, on all days of the week and at all hours. We support hundreds of people each year and it takes lots of creativity to deliver programs and services whenever and wherever they are needed.”
Now that the group has completed their first big project they’re not ready to be finished. With a new understanding of the power of yarn to bring the spirit of Hospice and the Playhouse to the community, the Knittervention group has already started planning their next installation and they’ll have a few months to work on their new goal of creating thousands of red poppies to peacefully bomb Bancroft in time for Remembrance Day. Anyone is welcome to join the group and patterns and yarn will be available for the next yarn bomb.
Brough says the whole process has been uplifting. So many people connected, shared their gifts, taught and learned; all while laughing through a long, stormy winter.
“This is the true spirit of our community,” Brough said. “To everyone who made this happen, to all of those who created and donated, who shared and supported; thank you.”
The yarn bomb will stay up at the Village Playhouse through the months of May and June to celebrate the 2017 summer theatre season launch and the Playhouse’s unique way of providing caring through culture.
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