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Warhol Bridge yarn-bombing turns into cat's meow for area shelter

| Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Sadie Poe poses with a blanket from the yarn bombing of the Andy Warhol Bridge. The blanket later went to the Animal Friends of Westmoreland shelter in Youngwood.

If you missed the Knit the Bridge project on the Andy Warhol Bridge, you still have an opportunity to see some of the knitted panels on display at the Animal Friends of Westmoreland in Youngwood.

After the bridge display was dismantled Sept. 6, blankets were given to many shelters and charitable organizations.

Animal Friends of Westmoreland received 50 blankets with tags on them indicating where they were displayed on the bridge.

It plans to use them in the cat room so the animals can cuddle with them during the winter months.

“It's a great thing to have an end use for the project,” said Franny Petras, a four-year volunteer and board secretary at the shelter on Depot Street.

Pittsburgh's Knit the Bridge project was headed up by Amanda Gross and the Fiber Arts Guild of Pittsburgh, with help from the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The Seventh Street Bridge was renamed in 2005 after Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol, and is said to be the only bridge in the United States named for a visual artist.

Nearly 19,000 volunteers worked on the project, which aimed to be the largest yarn bomb ever created in the United States.

Lead artist Gross said she knew the end result would be stunning, but she was surprised by one reaction that was universal after it was unveiled on Aug. 12.

“Everyone said thank you,” said Gross. “I thought people would think it was awesome but I wasn't anticipating gratitude. People just went to see it and hung out on the bridge.”

According to Gross, yarn bombing has been around since 2005 on a smaller scale, covering items such as trees and bike racks. A small bridge was done in Canada in 2010, as well as cathedral steps in Finland.

Pittsburgh's yarn bombing was about 18 months in the making. Gross said some of the blankets are crocheted, some are woven.

Amy Rustic's knitting group in Greensburg — which meets at DV8 Espresso Bar and Gallery in Greensburg — got involved with The Westmoreland Museum of Art and its monthly happy hour, Art on Tap, to promote fiber arts. Twenty-five people participated and Rustic collected roughly 20 panels for the Knit the Bridge project.

“Working to pull a group of people together to work towards this goal, and seeing it happen, was a great feeling,” Rustic said. “The bridge looked even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. To see so many community members interested in the bridge and the project made me so proud of the work of everyone who participated.”

Although Gross said there are no plans at the moment to do it again, it's not out of the question.

“I'm hoping other small-scale projects will come out of this because others are really inspired by it,” she said.

Michele Stewardson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.