Site Specific Art Installation

That’s what someone called their yarnbombing this last week, when I gave them a compliment on how well it suited the environment, how it looked like it belonged, how that piece of knitting made total sense there… "That’s because it’s a site specific art installation" she said, and she’s right.  This go ’round at Port Ludlow, the knitters outdid themselves.  It wasn’t just bits of knitting left wherever (which I have to say, is not without it’s own charms)  this was considered and deliberate.  It was art – and before you get on me, telling me that there’s lots of places that consider this vandalism, know that Port Ludlow loves this.  Loves. It.  As a hotel they embrace knitters, thinks the things we make are beautiful, and leave them up for a long time after we’ve gone… and some favourites have been up for a year or more, and why would they take them down?  Why, whey they’re so very charming.  From a bedecked little cork for the wine steward, to tiny socks turning up dangling from lamp pulls and warming the feet of occasional tables…

To checker cozies and then hats on the chess Queeens ( those bison bridles on the knights sprang up later.) 

To wee knitted birds that sprung up in the windows, one more each day.

In a perfect echo, a strand of garter stitch sawtooth edging sprang up in the most  perfect spot along the framed blade of a timber saw.

Carved ducks got scarves and their webbed feet got warmers… the heron statues outside sported scarves in no time, and an iron lady in the hall upstairs had an angora cowl and balls of yarn held in her skirts.

Finally, there was the completion of a set.  The Inn has these lamps with decorative balls on the bottoms of them – and quite some time ago, an unknown knitter covered the ones in the dining room with cozies. They were so perfect (and a little high up) that it took ages before the staff even found them, and after that – they were beguiled enough to leave them.  Shortly thereafter two more of these light bottoms got cozies – this time it was the ones in the breezeway, which are even harder to get at, but I think the staff figured that the knitter in question had got up on a chair or another knitters shoulders to get them there, and there that knitting stayed too.  This time, there was one light with an uncovered bottom – and it turns out that the knitter in question had a hankering to complete her set.  One evening, the prettiest cover yet had mystically appeared – and when I saw it, I lost my freaking mind.
I staggered a little, double checked that it really was a piece of knitting, and then scurried down the hall to fetch Tina, giggling helplessly the whole time.

"Come with me" I said to Tina, and she could see by the look on my face that I meant it.  She followed me down the hall, and I took her underneath the light, and pointed up.  Her gaze followed my finger, and then, as she understood what she was seeing, a low whistle escaped her.  I saw her do the calculation I had, and she looked at me shaking her head.  "That’s not okay!" she said.  "That’s not safe!" I mumbled my agreement, was totally glad that the knitter was an intelligent adult who had probably done it safely, and we both stood under that art piece, and tried to figure out how it had come to be.  See, that light?

It’s about 25 feet off the ground.  At least, and I’m not good at feet.  It’s hanging from the ceiling on the second floor, with the stairway wrapped around it.  There’s no stairs under that light – just  a drop to the main floor.  We stood there, then walked up and down the stairs and tried to figure out exactly how this had come to pass.  Had they borrowed a ladder? Built a scaffold? Some sort of climbing equipment or even (dare we all hope) built a pyramid of knitters – with our artist teetering on the top, stitching that thing on while they all co-operated towards one magnificent goal like something out of Cirque du Soleil?

It turned out the answer was slightly more mundane, but not really much less intrepid or daring… and there was (much to our relief) a safety plan in place, which was an enormous comfort to us, as we’d already imagined how we would tell this knitters family about the unusual and unlikely nature of her demise. 

The set is perfect though. Absolutely perfect, and I bet that the knitter feels as we do, that it was totally and completely worth it, just to watch the inn staff stand under that, and wonder how it happened.  It turns out, that since most of them aren’t knitters… it didn’t occur to them that she could pre-knit it, and then put it in place.  A whole bunch of them had a vision of a knitter, somehow getting up there, and then knitting that thing on.  Needles a blazing, glancing down at the ground nervously, while her light cozy grew row by row.

Maybe it makes us bad people…
but we didn’t correct them.

81 thoughts on “Site Specific Art Installation

  1. That is really high up. I’m not scared of heights, but I’m not sure I’d want to try attaching anything that far off the ground!

  2. First of all…an I the first commenter?! Wow. Secondly, that lamp cozy is the most amazing thing I’ve seen in terms of yarn-bombing and I would love to hear the story of how they actually got that bad boy up there. Finally, this inn sounds like an amazing place to visit…I hope I have a chance to do just that some fine day 🙂

  3. I think my favorite part of these recaps of your retreats is the summary of the yarn bombing.

  4. I can hardly wait for my next visit to Port Ludlow to check out
    the yarn artwork! We love it! Keep up the great work!

  5. Totally amazing. I particularly love the saw-tooth edging. Makes me want to make some site specific art of my own.

  6. I don’t think I want to know how she did it. I’m imagining a sort of circus leap, cozy in one hand, dpns in the other (not safe at ALL, but since I’m sure that’s not how it happened)…
    Though I think I like the chess ones the best. Queens always need the perfect hats, right?

  7. crawl space in the ceiling? Inside knowledge of the when the cleaning crew cleans? How about a partnership with the maintance crew, you know, “lower down that light and I will knit you a pair of socks.” kind of thing. A trade of resources and talents. Or, an INSIDE job. Maybe there are knitters on staff….Oh the possibilities are endless…

  8. A magician never reveals her tricks. It’s best that you didn’t reveal the pre-knitting trick, wouldn’t be fair to the knitter who magic-ed it up there. And what magic it is. All of the pieces are.

  9. I think she either used a hook to grab the light from the stair and pull it over or she used a hook and stick to get it on. The former probably since there has to be a way to change the light bulbs and that would be the easiest.

  10. Love, love, love this! Add a few hundred. What a charming place full of (yarn) love.

  11. Yay! That sawtooth was mine and Michelle’s, and it was indeed a site specific art installation. Love it! Thanks for the recap, it was awesome!

  12. How fun are those knitted birds?!? Wow! Now I want to go knit some birds and hang them around……

  13. LOVE it. Love all the yarnbombing. And as further proof that the Port Ludlow staff love it…some yarnbombing made their facebook page last year. LOL I wish they’d put up more.
    Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.

  14. Melinda: I’ve been to Port Ludlow and I know exactly which lamp that is. I think that even with the hook method, she would still need to be leaning over the railing quite a bit.
    Hmmm… it is quite puzzling.

  15. I’m joining the clamor for a pattern for the birds. Wouldn’t you love to see one on top of each of your family’s Christmas stockings?

  16. I’m guessing she went and bribed the janitor in the middle of the night, probably with bags of yarn for his knitting wife, and he ran her up there on a scissors lift. Right?!?
    Very cool stuff, all of it.

  17. The bird pattern is, I believe, Happy Bird by Frankie Brown, available on Ravelry. I missed seeing them at the retreat… Something to look for next time. 🙂

  18. All of those pieces are lovely and amazing. But the birds are absolutely inspired. Anybody who posts that pattern on Ravelry will have more business than they can handle. And yes, that was a request to whoever out there came up with the birds…please.

  19. That is the best thing I’ve seen all day. My inner story teller says she had help from one of the staff members. Or perhaps she’s an amazing acrobat and some how flipped up there. Alight maybe my inner story teller is getting carried away.

  20. This is excellent! I am coordinating some yarnbombing at my library this summer, and I’m sure my participants will love to see this for inspiration!

  21. if i ever hit the lottery, i want a trip to port ludlow. meanwhile, thanks for making me feel like i got to sneak in and look at the lovely yarnbombing creations!

  22. I love that some of the yarn bombing (site specific installations!) have stayed in place. 🙂 The knitters must have made a positive impression on the staff there. It sounds like so much fun being there with all those knitty folk!

  23. Oh no, we must savior the mystery. At least until I can get to Port Ludlow and do something shocking.

  24. I really like the birds in the wondows. Makes the area look very country and rustic…homelike.

  25. So delighted to know that they are keeping these up. As Port Ludlow is only about a half hour drive from my home I think a Yarn Bombing Field Trip is in order.

  26. Excellent! A friend and I once yarn bombed a giant cow statue on top of a two story building. Turns out we miscalculated the placement of the fire escape. Turns out we also miscalculated our ability to scale buildings. Who knew? Point is, I bet that knitter’s got themselves a great story now.

  27. Knitters… making the world a little more cozy everywhere they go. This weekend I shall yarn bomb something too, although I’ve no idea what yet. Cheers!

  28. If Port Ludlow doesn’t have one, they need to install a weathervane with a rooster or some other figure on it. Just so it can be yarnbombed next time. (And think, what a wonderful and appropriate use for some weatherproof acrylic yarn!)

  29. As a new knitter admiring this from far away in the heartland, the yarn bombs make my soul happy. I’m intent on leaving a little yarn happiness in my wake too.

  30. uuuunnnnnggggggggghhhhhh! i want SO much to be there, doing that! sigh… maybe one day. 🙂

  31. Have to say, the expression on your face, the total shock and disbelief when you first saw the final ball cozy? Priceless. Absolutely priceless. I’m still kicking myself for not having had my camera.

  32. That is beautiful! One of my nearby local councils recently had a very large yarnbombing project as part of an arts festival, I think (I’m vague on details) and I think the now nicely padded bike racks are a fantastic addition to the cityscape.

  33. Wowzer-Ka-Bowzer, that is way up there! How delicious, how delightful, how beautiful.

  34. That yarnbombing rocks! I love it. While I definitely admire the tenacity of the light embellishing knitter and her taste in yarn colors (the closer picture of that cozy really shows off the yarn’s wonderful colors.) I have to say that I’m really enchanted with those little birds hanging in the windows. They are so cute and unusual that I really want to make a set for my windows. Thanks for sharing the neat pictures of all those nifty knitted items. What a riot!

  35. I wish I was a knitter. I wish I was a North American knitter. I wish I was a North American knitter who could go to Port Ludlow with all those North American creative knitters.

  36. Absolutely fantastic! I wonder if the “high-up” light fixture was on a retractable cord – that would make it easy – just a thought. Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian knitters and friends.

  37. Would that all wars could be “fought” with “yarn bombs”. What a happy, peaceful place the world would be.

  38. These are delicious; I prefer art to bombs. Going to be looking at my hotel today with a different eye….

  39. SHE, the art bomber, is an employee. SHE, works at night. SHE, had help from the graveyard staff, probably HE’S, but it was HER idea. Who, me, sexist? When it comes to knitting and art, heck yea!!

  40. The birds are indeed Happy Birds by Frankie Brown, a free pattern on Ravelry and they are very fun to knit. She very much appreciates a donation in return to a fund that fights liver disease in children in the UK. I was very happy to send along a donation as I have had a lot of fun and pleasure from the birds and it sounds like others like them as well. What a great retreat. Phenomenal people and knitters. Well done, Steph and Tina and Dan. (Nina)

  41. OMG – just love those little site specific art installations! Makes me smile!

  42. Reading this not on the day of the post, but on Sunday, 1 July…Happy Canada Day Yarn Harlot! While not Canadian, I’ll be celebrating with some Bare Naked Ladies, Molson, and some maple cupcakes. OH! And some knitting! Stay cool.

  43. In addition to their other great attributes, knitters are the clearly also the cleverest people.

  44. How many times can I write LOVE? Love it love it love it love it…….Love it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love itLove it love it love it love it
    thank you.

  45. Thinking of you on Canada Day and wanted to share this sweet story. As you may know, Colorado Springs had a terrible week and many are still out of their homes. The Canadian NORAD contingent cancelled their Canada Day party and are volunteering instead. Thank you Canada.

  46. Wait, what? No Canada Day post? (pout) This US citizen enjoys reading your annual Canada Day post, as a show of your pride and joy of being Canadian. (Some of us do realize you can be proud of Canada and be happy to be Canadian, and not take it as a slight to the US.)

  47. Hope that you had a wonderful Canada Day and that your morning bike ride went well.

  48. That. Is. Adorable. I love them all, but for some reason find the scarved wrens in the garden to be truly hysterical. Love that the hotel staff are so patient and appreciative! And now I’m googling Port Ludlow 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you all had a wonderful time

  49. Thanks to several commenters for info on the bird pattern! *runs off to Ravelry to get it*

  50. My hunch is there is a member of the maintenance staff that suddenly has a impressive number of handknit socks and sweaters in his wardrobe….since he would have access to the very tallest of ladders…knitters being the resourceful and charming type they are.

  51. Hey Lady!
    Just because your fanny did 141 klicks on a bike seat is no reason to not get a Canada Day Post up there!
    Way to go Steph! Your dedication amazes me
    Happy Canada Day (belated!)

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