Up a Tree With a Knitting Needle

In The Studio

Plus a crochet hook, some upholstery needles, and a pair of wire snips.


For the past few weeks, when I wasn’t at work, sleeping, or eating, I’ve been scrambling to finish the major project I started back in July: the Furry & Feathered Wildlife Yarn Bomb in conjunction with this year’s Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival.


While I was certainly on a knitting kick when I started the pieces, I think I’ll be abstaining from fiber work for a little while–I’m all fibered out!

Speaking of pieces, for the curious, here’s what went into the tree (and the patterns I used, for those inclined to try them out):

  • 15 Banana Leaves (adapted from CraftSide)
  • 2 Knit Monkeys (adapted from Alan Dart’s Chimps’ Tea Party)
  • 11 Bananas (also from the Chimps’ Tea Party, linked above)
  • 1 Crochet Monkey (from Knitted-Patterns.com)
  • 1 Parrot (from Knitted Pets–affiliate link)
  • 3 Crochet Butterflies (the large ones from MyPicot.com)
  • 7 Knit Flowers (from Little Miss Stitcher)
  • Plus various “vines” (no pattern needed, just single crochet over battery-powered LED strands or randomly knotted lengths of yarns)


I have no idea how many hours went into the above. I know each leaf, for instance, took two Criminal Minds, aka an hour and a half, but that it took more than a week of knitting every night after supper to complete the medium-sized monkey, closer to two for the large, but only a concentrated day for the small, crocheted one (and I was running out of time by then, so it was a godsend to be able to switch styles for him). I can say, however, that it took a little over 7 hours to install the pieces and parts onto my assigned tree over two evenings and a morning.


And when I was finished and had a break before the opening events actually started? I had no idea what to do with myself.

It’s not like I didn’t have anything to do–I’ve been putting off all sorts of things (including vlogging) for weeks. I decided to putter around on the internet for a while, watch a couple of episodes of The Crown, and start working on this post.


Around five o’clock I fed the dog and walked back to downtown (where Todd would meet me after he got off work) to see all the finished trees, the Re-Wilding exhibit and, super important, the party at Bacchus where the winners would be announced.

There were 4 known prizes, Best in Show, 1st, 2nd, and an honorable mention, with cash prizes ranges from $1500 to $250. When it came time to announce the winners, of course everyone was hoping for that top prize, but they actually started out by saying…

We’re actually gonna give an extra award that we don’t have a ribbon for because we struggled with it as judges…So the first award (it doesn’t have an envelope or a ribbon but you will receive one) is the Judge’s Choice for Technical Execution.

And then they called my name.

Now, I could be bummed about not winning one of the announced prizes [or even by not having a ribbon and envelope, considering the prize was created on the spot and I’ll learn later what the actual prize I won will be (aside from the bragging rights)] but I’m not bummed at all. Because to be one of the 5 artists (or teams of artists, most trees were completed by 2 or more people) recognized instead of the 18 or so that were not? Yeah, I’ll take it. Technical merit is not a dirty designation in my book. I’m a good knitter, I’m a technically adept artist. “Flawless execution” is an accolade I will take with pride because it matches my detail-oriented style of creativity. I thrive on the minutiae. It’s the right and left brains working together.

The other reason I’m pleased as punch is that, walking around to the other trees, I never had a moment of ‘oh, man, I should have done something like that!’

No regrets. I had a clear vision going into the project of how I wanted my tree to look and the finished tree looked a helluva lot like my concept sketch. Back when I decorated cakes I was always impressed when the finished cake matched what I’d seen in my head. That awe and satisfaction haven’t changed, no matter the medium. Plus I received a slew of compliments from other artists and people taking in the scene during the art walk, what have I to complain about?!

And who did those prizes go to?


Honorable Mention: Invasive Plant and Animal Species


2nd Place: Holiday Feast


1st Place: Twelve Days of Christmas


Best in Show: Spirit of the Wolf


Front view of my paper sculpture for the Art House Co-Op

The Future of the Year


No to be too lofty or anything, that was my prompt as part of the Art House Co-Op Mystery Project.

I received a card with the prompt on it and a Prismacolor marker in leaf green and had to create a project of some sort and then place it out in public to be “discovered.”

With such a prompt as “the future of the year” I immediately thought about a calendar. About pages fluttering in the wind. “Blowing in the Wind” to be more exact. With something like seeds… flowers? something like a dandelion coursing along the wind.

So imagine my delight in finding a little pocket calendar with a purple flower on the cover, reminiscent of dandelions, to use as the base of my project!

Front view of my paper sculpture for the Art House Co-Op

I removed the first 7 calendar pages–through the end of 2012–and mounted them to card stock, painted them with watercolors in blues, greens, yellows and a red here and there, and then cut out the swirling shapes. Each side was embellished with the provided Prismacolor pen, the painted fronts with a dot-and-dash pattern and the plain backs with hash marks. Of course, if I’d thought about it earlier, I would have used the Morse code for “the future of the year”, but that was an afterthought.

Close-up side-view of my paper sculpture for the Art House Co-Op Mystery Project

The remaining pages of the book were glued together using a Neutral pH Adhesive (altered art friends in the past called it Perfect Paper Adhesive) in groups of 3, then every other section was folded in half to spread out the signature a bit, and secured with washi tape. The extended page groups were painted with green-tinted gesso and edged with more washi tape, the folded groups with purple acrylic. The painted tendrils were attached to the page groups so they looked as if they were crawling out of the calendar.

Rear view of my paper sculpture for the Art House Co-Op Mystery Project

The covers were loosely brushed with the same tinted gesso as well as the promt card, which was then glued to the back cover. The plastic sleeve went back onto the covers to protect it, and a pom pom in purple and white crochet thread was taped onto a toothpick with floral tape and inserted between one of the center page groups and the nearest tendril. To “answer” the question the prompt began, I wrote “begins today” on the rear tendrils. Splatters of metallic watercolor paint were added to the entire project, just to rough it up a bit. (Frankly, I think more of the splatters ended up on me than the pages, but that’s the price you pay for playing with paint.)

View of the weighted base for my Art House Co-Op Mystery Project paper sculpture

Because my paper “sculpture” is fairly light-weight, I decided it needed an anchor. Digging through a  box of “alterables” I’ve been collecting throughout the years, I found the lid of a Harry & David truffle container just the right size and practically the right color.  I painted over the label on the top, loosely brushed the sides (again, with the tinted gesso), and then edged the sides in the same washi tape that edged the page blocks. To weight it down I glued some clear glass pebbles into the base, positioning the pages and pebbles in a way to keep them open and secured.

My hidden message on the bottom of my paper sculpture for the Art House Co-Op Mystery Project

Finally, a message was added to the bottom of the base:

I am not litter! I am a public art project in conjunction with the Art House Co-Op. For this project my artist was given a certain color of marker and a prompt: “the future of the year.” She took those elements & created me! Please take me home or put me somewhere else so others can enjoy me. Or contact  my creator: randomactscomics@gmail.com.

I’m still trying to decide where to place my paper sculpture (I have until the end of the month), but it’s my hope it doesn’t find its way immediately into the garbage. Maybe I’ll even hear from whoever finds it if they happen to look at the bottom!


Speaking of the future: I just realized that last week’s post on story-telling brought us to the mid-point in the 64 arts! Are you looking forward to the last half as much as I am?