Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"A Knitted Wonderland" Part 1 - The Installation

Tree Sweater Installation

Last Friday was installation day for A Knitted Wonderland, and I think I've spent more time uploading pictures to Flickr than I did sewing up the sweater. I have so many pictures, I've decided to share them over two blog entries.

Seaming everywhere!

In case you're tuning in late, "A Knitted Wonderland" is the latest project by Magda Sayeg, who is known for her yarn bombing work. In January she invited knitters all over the city to help her cover the 99 trees in front of the Blanton Museum. I've written more about it in greater detail in previous entries.

Mom, Katie, Aaron and I arrived in the afternoon not long after the installation officially began. I packed the leftover yarn, some carefully selected knitting notions, safety pins, water, an old sheet to sit on, sunscreen (that we didn't need) and a ladder.

I couldn't wait to get started when I saw the very first people sewing up their tree sweaters. I went to the front desk to get our tree sweater and signed in at the table. All four of us had to sign waivers, one for using ladders and one allowing people to take our pictures. Apparently someone is filming the process for South by Southwest. They had drinks and cookies, although they went fast.

Katie and our "basting"

Mom was the one that suggested safety pins, and that was a good idea. I was thinking we'd baste the sweater, but pinning it was easier. We were told to leave some negative ease, so it was pretty tight. We were worried at first. I knew we'd figure something out. You can see the big gaps here.

But once we started sewing, it started coming together.

Katie and I sew the seam

We started at the bottom and worked our way up. We could get away with being a little short on top, but not at the bottom. It ended up being about the right length. I found that sewing was easier if we moved the safety pins to close the gaps as we seamed. That way we didn't have to pull together so much fabric at once.

Where knitting meets crochet

I used the Mattress Stitch on the knitting section, and the stitch was close to invisible. I showed Katie and Aaron how to do the mattress stitch, and they both caught on pretty quickly. (I think Mom already knew. I learned it from The Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques a while back.) I think Aaron did a big chunk of the seam in this picture. We took turns sewing, so I've lost track of who did what.

As you can see, we just whip stitched the crocheted sections. We didn't know any awesome techniques for seaming crochet.

Aaron sews while Mom adjusts the seam

Getting the seam straight was easier because we pinned the tree sweater first. You can see Mom straightening out the tree sweater here.

Despite all our measurements, the tree is kind of unpredictable with all it's knots and bumps. There's one area in particular where my cable looks pregnant. But that's part of the fun, and knitting is forgiving.

There was one team* that managed to get everything almost perfect. I wish the picture I took wasn't so blurry. They made a little "skirt" at the bottom and left a hole for an especially large knot. They may have been the only team to use all ribbing, which is smart. Ribbing will stretch as much or as little as you need it to. I was impressed. We weren't nearly that precise.

Off and on we all took breaks and went to run around and see the other trees. I ran into Alicia from the Austin Meetup Group sewing the tree sweater for her team. I also saw Sandra Singh and helped her find a tree 55. She took our picture and put it on her blog.

Tree Sweater with Sleeves

I have all my pictures here. I'm going to share some of my favorites, like the one above. This team added sleeves to their tree "sweater."

A different stitch pattern for every color

This tree has a different stitch pattern for every color. We debated doing something similar, but I don't think we could have gotten it this uniform.

This is one of my favorites

I really like this one. This group managed to do a lot of colorwork while following the guidelines.

I also saw stripes within stripes, people with matching accessories and a snake. I wish I could have taken a picture of every single tree.

I couldn't work up top too long

I was worried that we wouldn't finish in time, but we got to the top faster than I expected. For the record, I did do some work from the ladder. I couldn't reach up this high for very long because of the pain from the pinched nerve, but I wanted to say I did it. (Mom did most of the work from the ladder.) I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to do this because of the pain. Of course, frequent breaks, three people to help sew and carry everything and a Flector Patch helped.

Tree Sweater with a good view of the Capitol

At dusk, we were finished, and we had time to spare. Installation was blast. I talked to so many people. Two men visiting from New York asked us a bunch of questions about the whole project, and several knitters complimented my cables. We had a great tree ready for Saturday.

And Saturday is a story for another entry.

* - I'm assuming these were teams. I know a few people knit entire trees all by themselves, but most people worked in groups.

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