Pittsburgh’s 400-plus bridges spanning its rivers, hollows and creeks are made of iron, steel and concrete. But, for a while at least, of one of them is made of — yarn?
OK, maybe it’s only decorated with yarn, but for now, the Andy Warhol Bridge, which, er, knits Downtown to the North Shore, is making national headlines as a yarn-bombed span.
And several Jewish women were among the 1,000 volunteers to the Knit the Bridge project, creating tapestries, which brought some color to the local landmark.
“Knit the Bridge is a grassroots, community-led, arts project that brings the many diverse communities of Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania together to create a large-scale, aesthetically stunning, fiberarts installation on the Andy Warhol/7th Street Bridge,” states Knit the Bridge’s web page. “In conjunction with Fiberart International 2013, Knit the Bridge celebrates the history of Pittsburgh as a city of bridges and steel as well as the region’s thriving contemporary arts scene.”
Sherri Roberts, vice president of the board of the Fiberarts Guild that organized Knit the Bridge, helped develop the concept for the project. She made sure Knit the Bridge went in the way the Guild envisioned.
Roberts referred to herself as “a cheerleader who pays attention” when helping to organize the exhibit. She preferred to let others take the lead, like Amanda Gross, who hatched the idea.
But Roberts still worked behind the scenes.
“[I] made sure that the proper people were connected,” she said.
Roberts was not the only Jewish Pittsburgher involved in the project, though. Four members of Beth El Congregation of the South Hills — Debbie Goldberg, Shirley Moritz, Dana Hackley and Joan Charlson — took part in the knitting process.
“I thought it was wonderful to be a part of something so huge,” said Goldberg. She, like others from the Scott Township congregation who knitted for the project, found out about Knit the Bridge on the Internet last winter. She started knitting her panel in January and finished a few days before the June deadline.
After Goldberg completed her panel, she heard about a need for more knitting work. Last Sunday she went to the North Side where she and fellow knitters worked in tents at the foot of the bridge.
“That was a really special experience to be sitting among other knitters and we were all talking about any topic that came to mind,” Goldberg said. “It was nice to sit and knit and be together.”
The need for extra knitting came about after a last-minute decision to cover the bottom part of the railing. Organizers still need a little more than 100 pieces, but they are pushing to complete the project by this weekend.
The project went on display Monday and the installation will remain up until Sept. 6.
The goal of the project was not to just cover a bridge in yarn, but to bring together Pittsburgh and Allegheny County as well. Nearly every city neighborhood and many municipalities countywide added to the exhibit, Roberts said.
Charlson, one of the Beth El members who knitted, noticed the community bonding initiated by the project.
“It brought people from everywhere in the community together,” she said. “I think that was a great part of it.”
(Andrew Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)