How We Finished Knitting the Bridge

(Guest Post by Christina Papp)

Before

Before

I heard about Knit the Bridge last summer from my friend, Kitty Spangler. What a cool project! I wanted to get involved, but, as often happens, life got in the way. I finished my colorful panel in the nick of time. Then, just before the big installation weekend, my schedule opened up and I had a little time to donate to the effort.
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On my visit to the studio at Spinning Plate, I learned that, due to the sheer magnitude of the installation, they had prioritized the parts of the bridge that would get covered. First was installing the colorful panels, covering the top hand rails and vertical posts along the railing and covering the tower faces. Second was covering the bottom railings underneath the colorful panels which would surround each colorful panel in black, setting it off from the painted yellow surfaces of the bridge itself.
*
I had seen the call for 100 additional pieces needed to cover the bottom railings and I had made one myself. But, there still weren’t quite enough. My co-workers at the installation check-in table on Saturday wished for black yarn and crochet hooks so they could be working on bottom railing covers. With the help of Kitty Spangler, we organized a Bottom Railing Cover Knit In for the next day.
During

During

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Nearly 40 generous volunteers showed up for the Knit In, including the charming Veronica who told us all, “I’ve been crocheting for 80 years.” People knitted and crocheted for 16 hours to make as many bottom railing covers as they could. Other people delivered finished covers they had made at home. Boxes of bottom railing covers arrived from as far away as Texas and California. When I saw this outpouring of time and effort and love for Knit the Bridge, I became determined to see those pieces up on the bridge.
*

At the end of the installation on Sunday, there were leftover top railings and post covers. With the 12″ x 75″ bottom railings we already had, we might have enough for the whole bridge. I took all the extras home. The next day, my husband and I collected everything available for bottom railings from Spinning Plate. I spent the rest of the week measuring, counting and cataloging pieces to be sure there would be enough. Finished pieces continued to arrive in the mail and on my front porch. By mid-week, I knew we had just enough pieces to cover the bottom railings. Kitty got together the crew and supplies and I planned how pieces would be installed.

Finishing the last stitch

Finishing the last stitch

Bright and early the next Saturday morning, about 20 of us gathered again on the bridge and began sewing. By noon, we numbered about 40 and we had an assembly-line system: Kitty and I laid out black pieces, anchoring them to posts so they wouldn’t fall into the river, another volunteer followed us attaching the ends near the posts with cable ties, then another volunteer sat down and sewed the piece to the railing. Whenever someone finished sewing, she moved on to the next unattached section. Kitty and others trimmed cable ties and tidied each section. Thanks to the hard work of 60 volunteers from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, we got three-quarters of the bottom railings completed.

Kitty sent out the last call for help. About 30 volunteers worked the next day, on Sunday, determined to finish the job, including several hearty souls who had been there all day Saturday. We even got help from some enthusiastic passers-by who were happy to be part of the installation. We repeated our assembly-line system and the last stitch went in before 4 p.m. Yippee!

Since the bridge was open while we worked, people passed us on foot and bicycles as they crossed the bridge. We answered questions, posed for pictures and heard thanks from many, many people who told us how much they were enjoying Knit the Bridge. Without exception, everyone who saw the bottom rail covers installed remarked how much better it looked with black all around each colorful piece, framing each as a work of art.

After!

After!

This was the original vision of Knit the Bridge and I’m happy I could contribute to fulfilling it. I want to thank all of the awesome, hard-working people who came out and got this job done. It takes a special type of person to get fabulous project like this off the ground and it takes a special type of person to see it through to the very end. We need both in the world.

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5 comments

  1. I walked across the bridge on Saturday, and was very proud the beautiful work displayed so grandly. I contributed a small part, and I am glad it did. But I want to thank the many people who worked on this project. One person can only do so much, but LOOK what the work of many people can do! And to know it will continue to be a comfort for others even when it is taken down. This is ART to be proud of!

  2. Rita from Connecticut · · Reply

    I am proud to say that my sister spent hours this summer working on the black pieces. The entire project was one to remember. Thanks to everyone who worked on knitting the bridge.

  3. Kitty Spangler · · Reply

    Thank You, Chris Papp (and Kevin Sampson), for getting all of the numbers, crunching and spinning them, and figuring out a logical plan for a truly beautiful finishing touch on KTB.

  4. joy ketter · · Reply

    It’s beautiful! Those bottom railing covers really made the colorful panels pop!

  5. Hey have you seen this video featuring Knit The Bridge? It’s a tribute to Andy Warhol with a ukelele version of “Pale Blue Eyes” by Suits And Ukes. I think they did a beautiful job – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LDSMFQveBg

    So much talent in the burgh!

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