Wrapped Up: Yarnbombing at Morris Arboretum

Knitting nature a sweater

Yarnbombing is not what it sounds like: angry knitters hurling skeins of wool and furious crocheters flinging tangles of yarn with daggerlike needles.

Artist Melissa Maddonni Haims uses strategically placed safety pins to wrap the edges of roofs. (All photos by Pamela J. Forsythe)

Forget all that and head for Morris Arboretum, where fiber artist Melissa Maddonni Haims has adorned trees with comfy sweaters, peaked roofs with patchwork shawls, and bridge spindles with bright knee socks, as if to ward off the spring chill. She hasn’t yarnbombed the place as much as she’s yarnswaddled it.

The installation, which covers 10 structures, comprises 25,000 yards of yarn hand-knitted and crocheted over the course of10 months. Maddonni Haims commissioned Andrew Dahlgren to machine-knit an additional 21,000 yards of yarn, the first time she’s used machine-fabricated work. Working on her own and with periodic help from volunteers, installation extended over 10 days.

Wrapped Up will be on view through October (or “until it succumbs to the elements,” the arboretum specifies).

East Brook Bridge: After careful measurement, fabric artist Melissa Maddonni Haims creates the panels and stitches them into place.
Crocheted spindles frame a gentle waterfall. Bright yarns anticipate spring blossoms at 12 sites throughout Morris Arboretum. A Japanese mono maple makes an excellent model for Melissa Maddonni Haims’s handiwork. For Seven Arches, Maddonni Haims commissioned machine-knit panels in a range of purples. The Log Cabin Bridge represents the work of more than 50 knitters and crocheters who turned out for a community knitting day on March 5. The wrap on a cedrella (Chinese Toon) tree echoes nearby daffodils. “Yesterday I was up on the roof,” says Maddonni Haims as she prepares to finish yarnbombing the Pump House. Maddonni Haims spent more than two years planning Wrapped Up. Yarnbomber ammunition: Finished panels await placement. Three days before the opening, Maddonni Haims checks a wall panel. Installations frequently require Maddonni Haims to scale ladders. Situated at the entrance, the Pump House is visitors’ first view of the arboretum yarnbombing.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Want previews of our latest stories about arts and culture in Philadelphia? Sign up for our newsletter.