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Spinning a yarn storm

Hallinan Elementary students return from spring break to a brightly colored, textile surprise

SUBMITTED PHOTO: KATIE HENDRIX - Hallinan kindergarteners Hanna Wendorf and Addison Sanchez enjoy the yarn storm results.SUBMITTED PHOTO: MONICAH MCGEE - Hallinan second-grader Carter Blair studies a knitted column.Hallinan Elementary School students had a yarn to tell their parents upon returning to school after spring break on Monday.

A yarn storm struck the school while students were away — the culmination of months of knitting for project participants.

“The purpose of the yarn storm is to introduce to our Hallinan students the concept of a temporary art installation, to reinforce the textural appeal of handwork and to challenge students to view their surroundings in a new way,” says Monicah McGee, a parent volunteer who helped organize the event.SUBMITTED PHOTO: DANIELLE SMITH - Volunteers, including students, knitted monster feet for a school column, among other creations spread throughout the school during Hallinan's first yarn storm. SUBMITTED PHOTO: MONICAH MCGEE - Hallinan fourth-grader Emily Harding studies yarn vines that have sprouted at Hallinan.

Two handrails were “swallowed by knitted snakes,” McGee says. “One of our columns has sprouted a climbing vine with crocheted flowers, and one of the library’s ottomans (is) covered in a knitted ‘quilt.’ God’s Eyes (traditional weaving by some of America’s indigenous people) hang alongside more modern pom poms. A bulletin board (showcases) photos of yarn bombs throughout the world.”

Two interior columns (the school has several structural support columns indoors and out) have sprouted monster feet, complete with claws. Books about yarn and yarn storms (also called yarn bombs or guerrilla knitting) were available in the Hallinan library.SUBMITTED PHOTO: MONICAH MCGEE - Snakes are devouring rails throughout the school, including this deep-green lizard on the railing for the stairs to the Hallinan library that caught the attention of second-grader Reese Forseth, fourth-grader Taylor Forseth and fourth-grader Caroline Woodcock. The idea is that a group “attacks” an area, such as knitting a sweater for a sculpture, and the effort adds color and cheer intended to personalize a public space. The first International Yarn Bombing Day was held June 11, 2011, and it included not only the United States and Canada but also countries all over the world: Iceland, Norway, Egypt, Israel, Germany, Australia and more.

But this the first time a yarn twister has spun into Hallinan.

“Ultimately, a yarn storm is a fun, positive way for students to come back from spring break and welcome a new, not-so-dreary season,” McGee says.

About 20 parents and grandparents and close to 10 students have been toiling away since last October. McGee says she won’t reveal names, as that would go against the “guerilla code” of yarn stormers — although the group does call itself Knit City. When the yarn work is dismantled, the group has decided to donate the artwork to charity.

— Jillian Daley