Artists craft yarnbombs for Wear Blue DayWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
She prefers to keep her face and real name a secret, but she goes by Streetspun, an apt nickname for someone who twines yarn onto parking meters, street signs and trees.
In the fight against child abuse, Streetspun recently “yarnbombed” Downtown Toledo all in blue on in recognition of Lucas County Children Services’ (LCCS) Wear Blue Day. The annual event, set for April 9, raises awareness of child abuse prevention.
Yarnbombs are knitted sleeves that can be fitted around lampposts, parking meters and bike racks. Streetspun installed the blue “bombs” in front of the LCCS offices on Adams Street, where they will remain for April, which is Child Abuse Awareness month.
Streetspun said in an email she learned to crochet just so she could make yarnbombs. She said that people tell her they get a great feeling when they see her yarnbombs and that makes her happy.
“When you can combine street art with a great cause like child abuse awareness, you can’t go wrong,” she said. “Never did I imagine creating international street art right here in Toledo … all for the kids.”
Streetspun posted the yarnbombing event to Facebook “and before I knew it there were yarnbombs coming from everywhere!” she said. People from France, Great Britain, Germany, Scotland, Sweden, Netherlands, New Zealand, Italy and Australia all contributed yarnbombs for Toledo’s effort this year.
Last year, the first year yarnbombing was incorporated into Toledo’s Wear Blue Day, was also an international event. It was made even more special by the Cosmic Knittas from Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn., where 26 students and adults were killed in a school shooting on Dec. 14, 2012. They sent a yarnbomb with a handwritten card that read: “We know all too well that we need to protect our children and applaud your efforts for Wear Blue Day. We are graffiti knitters from Sandy Hook who are working on our own event but want to support yours too.”
LCCS Public Information Officer Julie Malkin said last year’s event went better than what she could have imagined, including the yarnbomb from Sandy Hook that “put everything into perspective.”
“These people were just drowning in grief from such a horrible event but they took the time to notice we were reaching out and trying to prevent child abuse and that just sent us back on our heels,” Malkin said.
Streetspun agreed last year’s response was “overwhelming.”
“I never expected so many yarnbombers from so many places around the world to participate,” she said.
Yarnbombing raises spirits and awareness during a serious time for LCCS, Malkin said.
“This is sort of a drab office building and the colors — the blues — that are wrapping around every tree just make people stop and pay attention and that’s what we need; we need people to stop and pay attention that there is child abuse in our community.
“You’d see people walk around Downtown around lunchtime and they would [see the yarnbombs] and they would just smile and it definitely cheered everybody here (at LCCS),” Malkin said. “Child abuse prevention month is somewhat of a somber time. Last year in particular, we [memorialized] 12 children [lost] to abuse and neglect.”
In 2013, the social service agency lost one child when 18-month-old Elaina Steinfurth was killed by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. Investigations conducted last year found 950 children in the county to be abused or neglected, she said.
“[The yarnbombing] really bolstered the spirit of our staff,” Malkin said. “Somebody cares and in the most literal sense, they wrapped their arms around our campaign.”
For this year’s installation, people contributed finished knitted or crocheted pieces from the most basic to advanced styles of all different sizes, Streetspun said. Many pieces have embellishments like flowers, a bow tie and custom tags.
Streetspun measured trees and poles, then gathered all the yarnbomb pieces like a giant jigsaw puzzle and sewed them together, she said. The finished products — some made up of 15 or more pieces — were placed around trees and street signs near the LCCS office building.
“It is really a great pleasure to see all of the different styles and creativity when so many different people are involved,” she said.
Streetspun began crocheting her own blue yarnbombs in February. She is currently working on pieces for a yarnbombing installation in California in May.
“To have yarnbombs all around the world and all around the country, it shows people care,” Malkin said. “It’s something that is so out of the ordinary that you can’t help but stop and smile.”
Also part of Child Abuse Prevention Month, LCCS will sponsor a comedy magic performance by Rory Rennick at 2 p.m. April 27 at The Funny Bone, 6140 Levis Commons Blvd.
“I hear his show is spectacular,” Malkin said. “It’s a family-friendly show for kids and families.”
The show benefits Friends of LCCS, the nonprofit auxiliary that supports LCCS activities.
“[Friends of LCCS] help make life better for the kids and families that we work with,” Malkin said.
Tickets to the show are $7 per person or $20 for a family four-pack. Advance tickets are required. Call (419) 213-3253 or email email@example.com. For more information on Rennick go to www.roryrennickmagic.com. The show is suitable for kids ages 6 and older.
Tags: Child Abuse Awareness month, Conn., Cosmic Knittas, crocheting, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Australia, laina Steinfurth, LCCS public information officer Julie Malkin, Lucas County Children Services (LCCS), Netherlands, New Zealand, Sandy Hook in Newtown, Scotland, Streetspun, Sweden, Wear Blue Day, yarnbombing