Bombing the Mini Cooper

I love my local knit shop. It is more than a community, more than a tribe, it is a family of knitters. When hands are clicking knitting needles, yarn balls are straining to be released from project bags, and like-minded people are sharing space, something wild, crazy, compassionate and creative happens. At least that is what happens at Blazing Needles in Salt Lake City, Utah.

So, it only seemed natural that when the idea of random acts of knitting was proposed as an addition to the annual Utah Arts Festival, in the planning stages of this year’s event, that Blazing Needles embraced the idea wholeheartedly. The energetic owner, Cynthia Mills, came up with the idea of creating a cozy for a car. Jocelyn donated her 10 year old Mini Cooper and 50 knitters started making miscellaneous squares, rectangles, and mystery shapes over pitch-in meals, cocktails, and heaps of desserts.

With that mountain of bazaar knitting piling up in the shop, a tremor shuddered through all who saw it. And that is where I came on board. I have been project manager on other strange requests so it was a good potential fit. There was a brainstorming meeting, ideas tossed about, suggestions made and along with a lot of bailing wire, twist ties and large eyed plastic needles and bright yellow yarn, a crew of about 20 whipped up the Mini Cooper sweater from what we estimate was 25,000 yards of yarn.

As with the courage it takes to place that first brush stroke on a painting, so it was with the placement of the first knitted piece. Where to begin? How does this work? What is it supposed to look like? What is going to hold it all together? Well, it was only by jumping in did those questions get answered and only keeping one’s ears open to the fantastic suggestions and good ideas of others did the project develop a life of it’s own with it’s own character and personality.

Did we have a plan? Did we see the final picture? No, not at all. We just solved each dilemma as it presented itself and then took that ball and ran with it. A mannequin, then needles in her hand, and in the other hand some yarn appeared to be casting on, then rasta braids of misc yarn covering her bald head with a cool knit hat and a halter made of a knit flag contribution along with felted bracelets, and, of course, she had to have a dog who then had to have a tongue extension to wag in the breeze with an oversized scarf etc etc. See how the process developed?

How does such a project make its way to the installation three miles away? Should we try to hire a moving truck, cover it with plastic or just hike up the “skirts” and drive the darn thing? So that is what we did. There was a lead and a follow up vehicle along with lots of honking  horns, waves and other more irritated gestures but the Mini Cooper made it to the Festival without the loss of one single accent.

How much fun was it? More than I can express. The frosting on the cake of this community contribution was seeing all the smiles and hearing all the comments when people just had to have their picture taken in front of the bedecked knit covered car.

How fun was that!

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