Long Island Village ‘blown up’ by craftsmen

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The story involves tree hugs, yarn bombing, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, nail polish, middle school students, and Main Street in Port Washington.

Oh, and Earth Day.

The story begins before the pandemic. Port Washington fiber artist Allison White, 58, took a class in Manhattan on yarn bombing — a group of crocheters or knitters who create graffiti-like knitting artwork to temporarily decorate public spaces. thing. Now that it’s over, it’s wrapped around 50 trees on the street in a public art project in April called Yarn Arms Around the Harbor, as a symbol of people embracing trees.

‘Who did this? ‘

When the pandemic hit, people started painting rainbows on their windows so families could take walks and kids could spot them (remember?). White weaves a rainbow and hangs it around town. She then crocheted “VOTE” and hung it outside the Port Washington Public Library. During Pride Month, “LOVE” appears in front of the Main Street landmark. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, White crocheted the Supreme Court justice’s famous collar and hung it from a hardware store fence.

Melinda Schwartz and Jasmine Bauco (right) decorate 50 trees along Main Street with their crocheted arms.
Credit: Debbie Egan Chin

“I started making all these little individual yarn bombs. I couldn’t believe how many people noticed them,” White said. “People would be on local Facebook groups saying, ‘Did anyone see that?’ “Who did this? “I think it’s really cool to have a community-wide yarn bomb.”

So in November, White held a Zoom launch, announcing his goal of wrapping colorful crocheted yarn arms around 50 trees on Main Street in Port Washington. Yarn Arms Around Port will keep the trees on the lookout for the entire month of April in celebration of Earth Day on April 22.

60 Crochet 500 Granny Squares

Volunteers were asked to crochet eight-inch granny squares, often used for quilts. “You only need a few crochet stitches, so I know we can teach people,” White said. She had hoped to get 200 grandma squares, where crocheters would meet at the library to make their creations or lay down the finished squares. “We’re close to 500,” White said, which is enough for some trees to have two yarn arms.

Each yarn arm has a pair of connected hands. Some hands, of all skin tones and sizes, even have crocheted rings, or crocheted nail polish or ruffles on the sleeves. A volunteer made butterflies, bumblebees and ladybugs to decorate them.

Linda Verano and 16-year-old Joe Appart of Port Washington...

Linda Villano and Joe Apat, 16, of Port Washington, attach crochet squares to a tree.
Credit: Debbie Egan Chin

Sharon Langone, a 54-year-old stay-at-home parent from Port Washington, crocheted 40 squares — she says each square took less than an hour — and made seven hands. “This project … just brings together so many people in our town,” Langone said. “I’m excited to meet others who crochet and knit…and work as a cohesive team.”

Former technical writer Jasmine Bauco and her husband John had recently moved to Port Washington from Queens when she heard about the project and joined, even though she didn’t know anyone, not even really how to crochet. She ended up making 10 squares and five hands, crocheting blue nail polish on one of them. “It’s exactly the kind of project I want to be a part of. It’s about community, it’s artistic, and it promotes diversity and inclusion. I’ve made a lot of friends,” Bauco said.

Zuhal Ertamay, 56, a physician assistant in Port Washington, said she has been dubbed the project’s “Little Animal Lady” because she makes butterflies and ladybugs. “Creativity is what everyone sees in the tree. But what you don’t see in the tree is collaboration,” Ertamay said. “No one can sit down and do this; so many people have to be involved.”

more than just an art project

Residents Forward, a nonprofit environmental organization in Port Washington, partnered with White to become the official event sponsor and help gain approval from the town of North Hempstead. Resident Striker also runs an environmental campaign with Yarn Bombing.

Residents Forward sponsored a video contest where 45 entrants made a one-minute video explaining why they love trees. Patricia Class, executive director of Residents Forward, said the three winners each received a $100 gift certificate for their choice of downtown Port Washington.

In addition, middle school students at Webb Middle School studied each tree and created a laminated “name tag” for each tree to identify its species and other educational information.

On April 23rd at 10am, younger children can enjoy story time reading the book “Be A Friend to Trees” in front of a tree on the lawn of the Main Street Landmark.

Similar yarn bombing projects have occurred in Oyster Bay and Stony Brook over the past few years.

Langone said she hopes the project will draw people from around Long Island to Port Washington for downtown shops and restaurants. “We’re a little out of the way; we’re twenty minutes from the highway. We’re not going anywhere,” she said. “We hope this will attract people to the high street.”

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