Saturday, 23 February 2013

Stitch For Summer: A Colourful Rhythm

Greg Johns' "Rhythm" sculpture (1978) is full of colour to celebrate the 2013 Adelaide Fringe Festival.
[Glenelg, South Australia]
The steel sculpture, "Rhythm" has been an integral feature of the Glenelg foreshore for many years. For those who go past it regularly, barely taking a second glance, beware ... for the "Rhythm" will not be taken for granted any more!

We started early to beat the heat.
Early on Saturday morning (16 February), with the blessing of sculptor, Greg Johns, a group of crafters (including me), armed with hooks and needles, got to work on adding some colourful cheer for the 2013 Adelaide Fringe Festival.
Instigated by City of Holdfast Bay's Project Officer Jenni Reynolds and facilitated by textile artist and teacher Irmina van Niele, this yarnbombing project began life in January 2013 with a call for donations of yarn and knitted and crocheted pieces to create a 'cosy' for the sculpture.
Step 1: Crochet and sew large panels
of fabric onto the sculpture
One could argue that it didn't need a 'cosy' because the day was a hot 37 degrees Celsius. Not to be deterred, (we were an intrepid bunch) we began very early in order to beat the heat.

We were blessed to have the shade of tall buildings and pine trees to the east; while the soft sea breeze gently wended its cool relief through the curves and lines of the hard steel surfaces.

How appropriate that we were covering a sculpture called "Rhythm" with knitting and crochet—two crafts of which the processes have regular, often meditative, rhythms of their own.

I also like the way our textile art was a new interpretation of an existing art form. I was especially pleased that we were covering something man-made without disturbing the natural environment.

Awkward angles were challenging to work.
The 'cosy' is an amalgamation of various fibres, both natural and synthetic. Many sections were knitted and crocheted at home and at workshops; other sections were made of existing crocheted fabrics which had been modified and re-purposed, especially for this project.
It will be interesting to see how daily watering of the lawn sprinklers and the rigors of the weather affect it. Some fibres might shrink while others might sag.
Once there was a large collection of pieces, we connected them to form larger panels, using crochet and sewing techniques.
Foreground: my butterfly and embroidery
leading to Irmina's flower
My personal preference for joining is crochet because it is quicker and easier for me. I am slow and a little clumsy with hand-sewing. I also like the look of crocheted joins in a project such as this.
Step 2: Embellish with decorative pieces.

Once the main panels were secured around the sculpture, it was time to embellish using decorative pieces.
We discovered that stitching onto fixed 3-dimensional shapes is a physical challenge. The awkward angles forced me to stitch with my non-dominant hand in places. Reaching the highs and lows made it hard to find a comfortable posture for stitching at times.

Passers-by observe the finishing touches.

Stitching onto vertical surfaces required strength and stamina for holding our outstretched arms up and away from our bodies to reach the sculpture. This is a very different posture from working at a table or with the work in one's lap. 

Step 3: Add the dedication plate.

During the workshops and the installation, we met some old friends, and made new friends and associations. I must thank everyone for being so friendly, supportive, easy-to-work-with, and just plain NICE!

Step 4: A celebratory lunch!
Sit back and enjoy the finished product

 When the work was finished, we celebrated with a luncheon under the marquee where we could admire our efforts.

Fun for all!

As soon as we stepped away to reveal the finished product, tourists and locals alike moved in to examine, explore and pose with the new-look sculpture.

Here's to Chrissie, Greta, Fay, Irene, Janeen, Maureen, Simon, Emma, Pat, Kelly (and Lovedog), Karina, Inge, Julie, and all the other contributors whose names escape me for the moment; especially Jenni and Irmina for the wonderful job of putting the project together, plus a special thank you to Greg Johns for allowing us to let loose with our crocheted and knitted kaleidescope on his sculpture to create a "colourful Rhythm".

There are more photos and details to come but for now, here's a very quick stop-motion video of the process from start to finish.


  1. Apologies that the link to the stop motion video seems to have disappeared.

    1. ...and today the link is working. Perhaps the link was okay but my computer/internet settings were wrong . Who knows! If you ever find a problem with the links on this blog, please let me know with a comment or email

  2. I am in complete awe! Incredible, Jodie! Just incredible!!!

    1. Thanks, Cami, for coming to take a look. It was a lot of fun. I notice that my picture here is making the rounds of Pinterest these days which is great because it means the project will be remembered.