Last week, you may have noticed that Downtown Parkersburg was a bit more colorful than usual, with vibrant yarn adorning trees, columns, railings, even counter tops. Organized by Rina Goins and Kim van Rijn, the Parkersburg Community Yarn Bombing event was the work of more than twenty savy stitchers who personalized public spaces in Parkersburg with light-hearted, brightly-colored crocheted cozies and cool, decorative knits.

Yarn bombing is a growing movement of artistic-expression through public installations of knitted or crocheted street art. Unlike graffiti, the result of which can be inspiring but also destructive – yarn installations are harmless and non-permanent. Yarn bombing has taken place all across the world, with stitchers covering everything from street signs and fences to entire city buses and buildings with yarn.

“Kim and I wanted to create a community art project that would not only represent our diverse community but to celebrate it,” said Goins. “We knew that we wanted to create something that would include everyone and express unity in our community and allow for anyone who wanted to the opportunity to participate in something fun. Yarn is just warm and inviting and we knew everyone could connect with yarn in some way.”

We had nearly a dozen businesses participate, and we were able to do yarn bombings in all corners of town.

The installations in Parkersburg were more than a month in the making leading up to the installation on March 20th. Knitters and crocheters began creating pieces earlier this year, thanks in part to free classes at the Parkersburg Art Center led by Goins and van Rijn. Some of the students donated their projects to the yarn bombing project, while others volunteered to help with preparation and installation. “We had volunteers of all ages, from age seven and up,” Goins said.

“Because we wanted the entire community involved, we asked for citizens and businesses to host yarn art as well, or to create their own displays and several did!” said Goins. “We had nearly a dozen businesses participate, and we were able to do yarn bombings in all corners of town.” Yarn installations could be found in North End on Emerson, on 42nd St., South Side on Pick St., on Garfield Ave., 13th St., Dudley Avenue, Oak St., 22nd St., and of course throughout Downtown. “Obermeyers Florist created their own yarn art display, as did many property owners.”

We expect more participation and even more of our diversity to be expressed through yarn art.

The response from the community was tremendously positive, with many expressing the desire to participate in a future event. Passerbys even honked their cars in support as the yarn art was being installed. Goins says they do plan to do this again. “It was our plan to create something that will grow and change over time with our community. We expect more participation and even more of our diversity to be expressed through yarn art,” she said. “It was always intended that this project be an event and to become part of our local community celebrations throughout the year, much like the Multi-cultural Festival or Parkersburg Homecoming.”

Goins said they were amazed at the support and response they received. “We are thankful for all those who donated yarn, projects, and time, and for the donation from Kreinik Manufacturing of special reflective thread used in several of our displays, which glows when using your camera flash.” The organizers also thank the Parkersburg Art Center for hosting preparation work parties, classes, and yarn art.

Thanks to several donors, the installation included a “Need me, take me!” collection of handmade items on the fence at Friendship Park on 13th Street, right before the last snowy cold snap. Items included several pairs of kids gloves, hats and scarves available for anyone who needed them.

“We look forward to bringing it all back in a new display for future event,” said Goins. “Keep an eye on our Facebook page “Parkersburg Community Yarn Bombing” for a heads up on our next big yarn adventure!”