Move over grannies—or anyone who thought that grannies had a monopoly on knitting—Ally Bernstein A’13 and Betsy Sallee ’13are reclaiming the craft for college kids with a new yarn bombing club, Creating Order Out of Chaos.
“Creating Order out of Chaos is about taking something that’s transient, a yarn ball that’s really nothing, and arranging it to be tangible and permanent,” Sallee said. “It’s a philosophical idea applied to a craft—it’s why I love to knit.”
Last winter Bernstein taught Sallee the tricks of the trade. Sallee was so taken with the craft that she started a WestCo knitting club.
“Wesleyan doesn’t offer any fiber arts classes and there were no knitting clubs,” Sallee said. “There was no outlet for our creative impulses.”
The club began with only Sallee and a few other devotedknitters who met in the WestCo lobby once a week. Not discouraged, Sallee asked Bernstein to help her start something bigger.
“I just like making something that no one else has made,” Bernstein said. “I love knowing that no one else has made this physical thing because I’m holding it in my hands right now. I never finish projects. But Betsy brings a passion for organization and is much more product-oriented. That’s why we’re a great team.”
Bernstein and Sallee have encountered a considerable amount of student interest on campus.
“There are tons of knitters here,” Bernstein said. “People have learned how to knit during all parts of their lives, and they’re really coming out of the woodwork. To have a venue to do something more than knitting is great for a lot of people.”
“It’s a new spin for something old and neglected,” Sallee added.
Sallee and Bernstein agree that the club fosters an appreciation of their craft and promotes the rewards of both the process and the resulting product.
“It gets to the point where it’s nice to make something that’s not necessarily for yourself,” Bernstein said. “It’s a big motivating factor that takes away an element of selfishness. I can enjoy the process and be committed to it because it’s something for me and other people.”
Now that it has taken off, the club has plans in the works for donating their creations.
“We’re going to knit winter clothing items like hats, gloves, and scarves for a local charity that could really use extra clothing,” Bernstein said. “Knitting items does take a lot of effort, and people really do appreciate hand-knitted things to wear.”
As the club hones their skills, Creating Out of Chaos plans to devote time in the spring to art installations and yarn bombing. Yarn bombing, which has been called the least offensive form of graffiti by some, uses decorative displays of vibrant knitting and crochet to adorn public spaces.
“Art installations zero in on one meaning, while yarn bombing is about the whole concept and process,” Sallee said.
“Regular graffiti can be about leaving your mark,” Bernstein said. “Chalking at Wesleyan has always had a political bent, but yarn bombing takes time and intent. Originally it was about urban reclamation—making cold spaces warm—but at Wesleyan it would obviously mean something different. It could really mean anything you wanted it to.”
Sallee plans to hang pom-poms and weave a yarn spider web from the trees across campus, while Bernstein has grand plans for art installations.
“I want to make a knitted cave where you would crawl through a tube in the dark, and then inside there would be knitted stalactites and stalagmites,” Bernstein said. “It would be about contrasting the scariness in the unknown with the weirdness inside.”