Remember these squares?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…)