Bridge for Blankets…live!

Remember these squares?

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I knit them as part of a huge knit art installation going up on Portland’s Broadway Bridge. I’m one of over 150 knitters involved in this project. The first panel went up last weekend.

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Pretty cool, huh? I didn’t anticipate that they’d be so poufy; I had envisioned a flat knitted banner. But knitting is very stretchy, as you know, so it’s going to drape. This panel has canvas strips basted to the back of some of the seams to help support the weight. When the breeze blows into the fabric, it billows like a spinnaker sail. Beautiful! I’m hoping that rain won’t stretch it beyond recognition; it’s superwash wool and sometimes superwash needs a trip through the dryer to bounce back to size. Here’s to sunny warm days!

I rode my bike down to the river (more maneuverable than a car) for a closer look.

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Look! My squares! A mitered square in the center of the very bottom row of the purple section (curled under), and in the row above it: stripe, miter, stripe.

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This adds a lot of fun and whimsy for traffic going by on the bridge, and on the river, too. Three more panels are going up on Friday, so there will be two on each side of the bridge. They’ll stay up through mid-August. After that, they’ll be disassembled into 42 blankets, cleaned, and given to local shelters and hospitals.

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Here’s the view from the other side, looking south towards the Steel Bridge. It’s like a stained glass window with the light coming through it.

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I spent a lovely afternoon on Sunday helping to sew one of the panels together. We finished the last two panels, but the reinforcing with canvas is still underway this week.

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Tyler Mackie is the fiber artist behind this project. She’s sitting on a finished panel. It looks a lot bigger at home than on the bridge! Each of the four panels panel weighs about 45 pounds, measures 18 feet by 21 feet, and uses 210 skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash. That’s a lot of yarn.

Contrary to what you may have heard or read, the yarn was not donated. Tyler purchased it at a substantial discount from Abundant Yarn, with an additional discount from Cascade Yarn. (Thank you!) She is still fundraising to cover the cost of the yarn. You can donate to this project at the PDX Bridge Festival website.

Other fundraising is also happening. There’s a silent art auction at SoHiTek Gallery, 625 NW Everett # 102, this Thursday, 6-9 p.m. Prices begin at $30, and all proceeds go to support Bridge for Blankets. You can purchase raffghan tickets there, too.

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Sharon Mackie knit this “raffghan” (raffle afghan) representation of the panel color scheme. Gorgeous! The winner will be chosen at the August 10 Block Party.

The Block Party is a birthday party for the Broadway Bridge on Saturday, August 10, noon to 7 p.m. at NW Broadway and Hoyt. Happy 100th birthday to this lovely and functional bascule bridge! (I’m going to make you look that one up…)

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16 responses to “Bridge for Blankets…live!

  1. Oh, that is just beautiful, and for such a good cause!

  2. SO AWESOME! It looks gorgeous! Great job!

    • Thank you! What a fun project. Still ongoing. I went to help sew reinforcing canvas strips on the second banner tonight. Tyler and Sharon (her mom) are nice people!

  3. This is too beautiful to be called simply “yarn bombing” … Gorgeous! I wish I could have helped out. Yet another reason to put on my list of reasons why I should move back to Oregon!!

  4. Way to yarn bomb a bridge! You go girl!

  5. My Mom, Sally Fouch, knitted one of the squares! I am thrilled to see your blog and photos. I will write up a blog about this and link to your post. AMAZING!
    xo.melissa
    mdesignboutique

    • Hooray for volunteer knitters! Does your mom know which panel she was knitting for? It’s awe-inspiring to go down to the bridge and look up and see your own square. But you’d have to bike or walk onto the bridge for best opportunity to stop and look around. I think the next panel is going up today! (Thursday)

  6. Gorgeous! Thank you for the inspirational photos. Perfect way to start my morning :-)

  7. quiltyknitwit

    Beautiful & interesting project! Great views of the thing from both sides too. Pretty neat that you were able to participate in such an event.

  8. As usual, I wish I lived in Portland. Knitters there do the most amazing things. I’m blown away by the blanket itself and even more by the volunteer effort!

    • Portland is a very fiber-friendly town! This has been a great project. It will be interesting to see how the take-down/deconstruction phase goes. It’s not quite as exciting, but it will need to be done.

  9. Thank you for sharing this story! We loved it so much we have shared your link to our Facebook page! We love this wonderful city of Portland!