photo courtesy Annie Bee
The KNIT CamBRIDGE project is the brainchild of Sue Sturdy, an fiber artist based in Cambridge, Ontario.Â Cambridge used to be a major textile production and manufacturing hub in Ontario, and her project was designed to mark and remind residents of that often-forgotten history.
The idea was simple: cover Cambridge’s historic Main Street bridge with textiles – specifically, knitted textiles.Â (Although some crochet did sneak into the project, the vast majority of the thousands of pieces were indeed knitted.)
The work started in April of 2009, and was completed on September 11, 2010, when 16,000 zip ties were used to wrap the bridge in knitwear.Â Over 1,000 knitters from all over the world contributed – from the Cambridge area, from further afield in Canada, from the US, and from as far away as New Zealand.Â The oldest knitter participating was 103, the youngest 5. And it wasn’t just women, as some expected – a significant number of contributions came from men.Â Bob Miller, a retired lawyer, proudly contributed his first completed knitting project.
Some of the knitting was new, created especially for the bridge; other pieces were repurposed.Â Marg Grapes contributed pieces of a fireplace cover she knit (but never got around to assembling) in the 1960s. Another knitter contributed an unworn scarf she had knitted for her then-boyfriend when she was a student at University of Toronto in the 1970s.
Bill Wellsman, a local resident who used to walk the bridge every day, was memorialized by his wife with a contribution, embroidered with his name.
When we spoke by phone, Sue told me she is thrilled and amazed by the way the larger knitting community came together to complete the collaborative work of art – and not just in the knitting, but also in the assembly and mounting.Â She stresses that everyone deserves to share in the credit and accolades she is receiving.Â A list of contributors is here.
photo courtesy Sue Sturdy
And the community has wholeheartedly embraced the project – one resident commented that it was like the bridge had been given a hug. Visitors to the city are loving it – they are utterly taken aback by the collaborative transformation.Â Sue says that even the few who voiced doubts at the start of the project – about its feasibility, its practicality, and perhaps even her sanity – have all taken their words back.
Even after the installation and official unveiling, pieces are still being contributed.Â A colleague of Sue’s proudly gave her a pair of socks to be added just this week.
photo courtesy Annie Bee
The bridge cozy will be in place until September 27th.Â At that time, the pieces will be taken down, cleaned, and refashioned into scarves that will be sold to raise money for charity.Â Other pieces will be shaped into blankets to be donated to shelters in the Cambridge area.
If you’re in the Cambridge area, do make a point of going to see it, and if you’ve got time on the 27th, volunteers are needed to help take down the pieces and prepare them for cleaning and eventual donation.