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Riverside residents 'yarnbomb' lamposts in anticipation of RAW art festival

Published: Monday, May 5, 2014 1:22 p.m. CDT
(Nick Samuel -
Yarn bomber Jamie Gangil of Riverside knits a yarn wrap onto a post at the Riverside Museum on Saturday.
(Nick Samuel -
Yarn from Riverside "yarn bombers" is knitted to a street lamp in Riverside near the village's historic water tower to raise awareness about the upcoming RAW art festival.

RIVERSIDE – A group of Riverside residents gathered Saturday to put up 29 brightly colored yarn designs on lampposts in the downtown area. 

The group, called the Yarn Bombers, included more than 25 women and knitters of all ages, including Girl Scout Troop 657. 

“When I turned around and looked at all of the designs, I got choked up; Riverside means so much to me,“ said resident and Yarn Bomber Jamie Gangil. “It’s a goofy thing, but it represents the love and creativity for the community.”

Gangil, who’s lived in Riverside her entire life, said she’s been knitting since she was 16 years old and has developed a passion for it. 

“Knitting is like my yoga; it’s relaxing, meditative and I’m at peace,” said Gangil.

Jane Archer, coordinator for the yarn bombing event, said knitting is an art and allows people who are creative to showcase their art in a cool way.

The yarn bombing of Riverside is being used as an introduction to the seventh annual Riverside Arts Weekend (RAW). The weekend arts festival, which will feature an arts fair, live musical performances, a fashion show and arts activities for kids, will be held May 17 and 18 at Guthrie Park, according to a news release. 

“This festival attracts people to learn about Riverside,” said Jean Sussman, village trustee. “It brings a great sense of community spirit and is supported by Riverside businesses.”

This is the first year for Riverside’s yarn bombing event. 

Volunteers for the yarn bombing have been secretly meeting at Riverside Public Library for the past three months to plan the event.  

Helen Gallagher, organizer for the Yarn Bombers, said the group received its knitting supplies from several donations to the library. She added it takes about ten hours to make one full design.

“We didn’t tell our volunteers what to do. We gave them the patterns and let them have fun,” said Gallagher. 

Gallagher said the organizers wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved. She added [the organizers] used social networking such as Facebook and email lists to spread the word.

“This is great because the whole community came out to participate,” said resident Kathy Alexander. “It sets the tone for [the] Riverside Arts Weekend.”

The handmade designs were hung on lampposts from the Riverside Recreation Department on Longcommon Road to Guthrie Park, according to the release. 

Many lampposts are antique, run on gas and date back to the 1870s. 

Gallagher said the knitting group will go back out this weekend to put up the remaining yarn designs, bring the total number of designs to 35. 

“We wanted the designs to be ready for Mother’s Day,” said Gallagher. “We have quite a few moms in the group.” 

The yarn designs will remain on the lampposts through May 18. Volunteers will then take down their artwork and remake them into Afghan blankets to donate to a woman’s shelter. 

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