INNISFAIL – These are busy times for Karen Scarlett.
Fresh off 2022 that saw the accomplished Calgary artist organize and complete Innisfail’s immensely successful downtown Welcome Mural, and then securing a new mural project for 2023 at the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104, she’s now set to roll out another public art initiative.
It is called the Crochet Bomb Project; a free all-inclusive initiative for everyone in the community.
“I want to invite the community at-large to crochet, or knit hearts in any kind of colour of fibre; that in the springtime when it warms up to install them on naked (chain link) fences around Innisfail. It's going to be a crochet bomb,” said Scarlett, a former but still devoted Innisfailian at heart who is facilitating local classes in late January for drawing, watercolour and acrylic.
“So, anybody can knit or crochet hearts at home while there is crappy weather out, and then once it warms up, we’ll hopefully have hundreds of hearts that are ready to go,” she said, adding she already has people crocheting hearts in Innisfail, Red Deer and Calgary.
“We'll install them on the fences around the hospital and the senior lodges where people can't necessarily get out and experience the weather all the time.”
Most importantly for Scarlett is that the Crochet Bomb Project be inclusive. She wants the entire community to be involved, much like last summer’s Welcome Mural that had the young and old working side by side to create a unique piece of public art on the south wall of The Coffee Cottage and generating excitement throughout the community and beyond.
“I would love if the town’s seniors were able to invite kids of all ages to go learn at the lodges. I would love it if local businesses invited people to crochet at their spaces,” said Scarlett. “I would love it if local businesses supported the project with yarn and crochet hooks, or if some local businesses brought in hooks and yarn for this project.
“I would really love for anyone who is specifically interested in helping, reach out to me directly. This would include planning, organizing, cheerleading and anything else that may be required to make this project as fun, exciting and as inclusive as possible.”
Scarlett is a member of the Innisfail Art Club. Last summer, several other club members enthusiastically participated in the Welcome Mural project.
She is hoping the club, whose membership of 24 artists has doubled to 48 since last October, will soon endorse the Crochet Bomb Project at their next meeting on Jan. 9.
“This project is actually my project and so the club isn't behind it yet because we haven't had a meeting. But I'm hoping that they'll just take it on as a big project that more club members can help with,” said Scarlett.
However, the club has just launched a new website at https://innisfailartclub.org and community crochet instructions are posted that can assist anyone wanting to be part of the Crochet Bomb Project.
Club president Wilma Watson said she personally loves the idea behind Scarlett’s initiative. She is especially pleased Scarlett is targeting local seniors for the new project.
“I think it's an amazing way to show people in some of the seniors’ homes or in the hospitals that there's people within the community that care about them and, and are thinking about them, even when they are in those locations,” said Watson. “I think the last two or three years with COVID a lot of the seniors were not forgotten, but certainly locked away.
“We're hoping to get some of the folks in Autumn Grove helping as well, so that we can get some community activity happening with the old and the young and, and perhaps even getting some of the older folks to teach some of the younger force folks or vice versa."
And what message will the Crochet Bomb Project send to Innisfailians and visitors outside of town confronted with the sight of hundreds of crocheted hearts dotting fences all over town?
For Scarlett, the answer is simple.
“I think it just spreads the message of love,” she said.