Alaska knitter 'yarn-bombs' town for beauty

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 19, 2014 at 1:50 pm •  Published: June 19, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A knitting enthusiast in southeast Alaska is yarn-bombing her seaside community by wrapping public poles in knitted casings, sort of like a small-town Christo let loose with doilies.

Fran Hartman has just begun her personal beautification effort in picturesque Sitka. She's decorated four poles and plans at least eight more, with some knitted contributions coming from fellow knitters she's met around the world. The Sitka idea is one she's thought about for months before launching it earlier this month.

"You can only knit and crochet for so many people in your life," Hartman said. "I needed to keep my creative juices flowing."

She doesn't have the city's official permission, but her work is drawing positive reactions. Hartman, 61, is a former teacher who retired from the Everett School District in Washington state before sailing around the world with her husband, then settling in Alaska several years ago. She lives on a sailboat with her husband in Sitka, a town and borough with a regional population of about 9,000 located 90 miles south of Juneau.

A priest walked by one of Hartman's installations the other day and heard her saying she was having fun but didn't want to get caught and thrown into jail. Hartman said the priest told her no worries, he would give her absolution. Before she even wrapped her first poll, she asked a local lawyer what kind of trouble she could get into, and he offered to defend her for free because she wasn't defacing property, there were no safety issues, and the yarn sleeves could easily be removed.

In fact, someone stole a stop sign wrapping that featured three crocheted skulls framed in red. That installation represented a safety message, Hartman said.