Yarn Bombing at the Grand Canal

the knitted tree by the grand canal

There are many trees standing by the Grand Canal in Dublin. Big, leafy, friendly, old ones.

Since winter, one of these trees has acquired a slowly-largening coat of bright-coloured knitted patterns and flowers.

I was never sure if it was the one knitter doing this and adding on as they went on, or if knitters were coming to add on their own pieces, but either way, it made me really happy.

I loved that it had survived there for months and was even flourishing. I loved how people would sometimes stop to touch it. Apparently people do things like this all over the world – I found out later that it was called yarn bombing.

I’ve seen the Molly Malone statue yarn bombed.

yarn bombing molly malone
yarn bombing molly malone

One day last week though, as I was walking along the canal during my lunch break, I saw that someone had burned the knitting. There was a big hole in it and bits of ashes and burned-up wool all down the tree, and scorches all in the bark. It was really horrible. I took a picture and showed Facebook, and there were sad and angry faces all around, with words like ‘scum’ and ‘hooligans’ being tossed about.

something small

So I decided I’d fix it. I have a big supply of art materials at home for making artist books, including felt and torn up clothes, different kinds of thread, different needles – in short, all the things needed.

Drew Shiel agreed to help me, as he wanted to keep his sewing in, and thought those people who had burned the tree were mean. He’s much better at sewing than me and makes his own gear for the Society of Creative Anachronism. 

meeting the original knitter

When we went down the next day during our lunch break and started work, people kept stopping to look and take photos, and then a lady came up to us with a basket full of materials. The original knitter!

Apparently she’d begun the project as her father’s ashes had been scattered along the canal and it was her tribute to him. She was really grateful that people had come to help fix the tree, and gave us some knitted flowers and bits of patterns to sew on. She got some amazing stuff in Ikea.

some kind of faith in goodness

I know it’s not like we helped out at a soup kitchen for the homeless, or cured cancer, but I’m really glad that Drew and I did this. It’s one of those small things that made me think that maybe the world isn’t such a hostile place after all.

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