Artist Yarnbombs 130-Year-Old Building With Over 1000 Knitted Squares

Lauren Grabau
Lauren Grabau / Lauren Grabau

The yarnbombing trend isn't letting up a stitch. Right now, more than 1000 knitted squares cover a historic building in downtown Ames, Iowa. The project, an art installation called “Intertwine,” is the brainchild of Jennifer Drinkwater, an artist and assistant professor at Iowa State University. 

Though the overall visual effect is a huge part of the finished project, Drinkwater also intended for community involvement and audience participation to be part of the overall artistic concept. "Full disclosure: I am not a knitter, nor a crocheter," Drinkwater says. "I had been helping to coordinate the ISU Design on Main community gallery for a few months and thought it would be a great space to host a large community-made project that also functions as public art. When I started thinking about possible materials, I figured yarn was very versatile and something a lot of people would be able to manipulate."

Since last August, she has collected 12-inch by 12-inch knitted and crocheted squares, receiving submissions from 14 states. There were no restrictions on the design other than the size, and as a result, Drinkwater says, she received everything from squares of solid color to depictions of Minions, Mario, and an elephant. "It's incredible what happens when you don't have strict parameters," she said.

Lauren Grabau

In April, the squares were sewn into large panels and installed on the facade of a 130-year-old building that houses Design on Main, the satellite facility of ISU's College of Design. And, true to Drinkwater's vision, the project inspired a number of community events, from crochet lessons to regular knitting circles. One elementary school even used the project as part of their art curriculum, donating nearly 100 squares.

The panels will be taken down on June 1, but the project doesn’t end there. After the installation is removed, each square will be dry-cleaned and stitched into blankets that will be donated to local shelters.

“I have a very full heart because of this project," Drinkwater said. "I feel like I maybe came up with the idea, but it totally snowballed into its own thing because of the hundreds of people who were involved.”