Cranberry knitters work to cover Pittsburgh bridge with crocheted masterpiece

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

By late-summer, one of Pittsburgh's Sister Bridges could sport some fancy fashions that might drive its siblings to jealousy.

Participants in the Knit the Bridge project are hoping “to dress” the spaces, rails and beams of one bridge in handcrafted panels created by the region's knitters, crocheters and fabric artists.

Cranberry's Sit n Stitch group, which meets Tuesday evenings at Panera Bread, is contributing to the effort. Group members will continue to stitch until the June 1 deadline and perhaps carry on chatting and working on personal projects the rest of the year.

“We just grab a table and do our thing,” said Jeanne Marino, 53, of Cranberry, who learned about the project at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival held at the Four Points Sheraton, Marshall Township, in 2012.

“'Yarn bombing a bridge, I thought. This is cool,” Marino said.

Through her meet-up page, she has invited other crafters to get involved.

Yarn bombing is the term for wrapping inanimate objects in public spaces with knitted, crocheted or fabric pieces.

The bridge project, connected with Fiberart International 2013, celebrates Pittsburgh's history as a city of bridges and steel. It also will bring together the crafting community for a display that could make the Guinness Book of World Records, according to Marino.

Amanda Gross, fiber artist and a member of the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, is coordinating the project that is larger than the one that covered trees in the city's cultural district last year.

“I was thinking about how to do it in a bigger, more inclusive, more collaborative way that could be an opportunity for knitting communities together,” she said. “Besides, what's more Pittsburgh than bridges?”

While crafters from the region enthusiastically picked up their yarn, needles and hooks, Gross, 29, from East Liberty, continues her efforts to raise funds, engage insurance firms and contractors and gain approval for one bridge to be covered. The Sister Bridges cross the Allegheny River at Sixth, Seventh and Ninth streets Downtown.

The project is backed by many from Pittsburgh's artistic community.

Peggy Bisher of Ingomar joined Sit n Stitch to meet new people, since moving to Pittsburgh less than three years ago.

“As an electron microscopist, it's hard to meet people in the lab,” she said.

Having learned to knit when she was a child, Bisher, 57, plans to complete a square rather than a full panel.

Dominique Hensley, 24, happily crochets every Tuesday. She, too, was looking for friendship somewhere close to her Cranberry home.

She learned to crochet in high school.

“It was my second choice after a theater class that was full,” she said.

Barbara Hutcheson, a retired English teacher from Slippery Rock, describes herself as an avid knitter. She admitted to being “burned out” making sweaters and looked forward to the ease of rows of simple stitches.

“I don't know if I would be doing it would it not be for charity,” Hutcheson, 61, said. “It's beauty and usefulness.”

When the more than 600 panels come off the bridge, the ones that have outlasted the weather will be laundered and given to residents of homeless shelters, nursing homes and to animal shelters.

“This has never been done to a bridge this size,” Marino said. “This is huge. I'm thrilled to be a part of it.”

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Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or

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