INNISFAIL – Karen Scarlett is at a loss for words for the explosion of interest being created from her latest public art project.
Immediately after the public announcement of the Community Crochet BOMB Project in early January, her life as an accomplished community artist had gone haywire, but in a most celebratory way.
“It just blew it (project) up. I think within 24 hours we had 70 people download the pattern. And now we're at about 200,” said Scarlett. “We’ve had people from all over North America download it; as far away as from Florida and California, Arizona and Colorado, and Fort McMurray, Prince George, Northern Ontario, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and even some places on Vancouver Island.
“It's just crazy. The reach is incredible.”
The proof of the ongoing excitement for her project is now in a trunk at The Coffee Cottage restaurant off Main Street.
There are hundreds, close to 300 in fact, of completed heart-shaped creations; most crocheted but others ingeniously crafted.
“We have put up a free pattern for crochet and for knitting. But then we've had people say, ‘well, I don't crochet and I don't knit,” said Scarlett, who is hoping to have up to 5,000 crocheted hearts ready for June’s Installation Day. “There's a girl at the art club who doesn't crochet or knit and she's done probably 25 quilted hearts. And then there's another girl who's just recently started taking my drawing class and doesn't have yarn.
“But she makes plastic crocheted bags for homeless to have mats,” she added. “And so, her little group that does that is going to make some hearts for us to have on the fence too; ones that are going to be from recycled plastic bags.”
Just over six weeks after her notice to the community about the Community Crochet BOMB Project, Scarlett is now busy organizing the project’s Installation Day on Saturday, June 3 at the chain link fence between Autumn Grove and the Innisfail Health Centre.
Community builder Janice Wing is already on board. She plans on helping and supporting the project in any way she can.
“I had the great opportunity of working a little bit last year with Karen on the Welcome Mural outside The Coffee Cottage,” said Wing, a member of the Rotary Club of Innisfail and a town councillor. “What I saw happen was no surprise when you bring groups of people together that are interested, excited and want to do good things. People walk away with smiles on their faces.
“It's community building at its finest, and I really believe in these kinds of initiatives,” she added. “You make a difference in the community. You do whatever you can, and the joy and love this particular project will bring people that live in our seniors’ homes, that visit our hospitals, will be immeasurable.”
This week Scarlett will be before town council to formally talk about her public art projects, including the upcoming Installation Day for the Community Crochet BOMB Project.
She has already talked to local service clubs about hosting a community barbecue for Installation Day, which begins at 10 a.m. and runs to about 3 p.m.
Scarlett is also organizing entertainment for the event for attendees and participants who team up in small groups to lovingly clip crocheted hearts on the chain link fence with zip ties.
“I think that fence between the seniors lodge and the hospital is a really important spot in that it's sharing love with seniors and the hospital that has a lot of sick people who need some joy,” said Scarlett. “And so, it's really about community love, right? And that we're all we're all here together. We all need to support each other together and share the love.
“And that's why it was important to not have a specific color and that we’re crocheting for everybody; just do their thing and feel like what they are doing is important in the larger picture of everything.”
Scarlett, a member of the Innisfail Art Club, has full free download instructions for knitting and crochet heart patterns on the club’s website at https://innisfailartclub.org/crochet.