McMaster grad helps knit 2,500 foot sweater for airplane

Former Hamilton resident Jessica Vellenga was part of a team that "yarn bombed" a DC-3 airplane in the Yukon.
People from all over contributed squares of wool to the pattern that covers the DC-3 aircraft. (Courtesy Yarn Bomb Yukon)

No doubt a sweater this size has left a lot of sheep cold and angry.

On Saturday, months of planning came together when members of Yarn Bomb Yukon "yarn bombed" the 70-year-old DC-3 airplane that rests outside the Yukon Transportation museum.

"We had knitters from across North America sending in granny squares," McMaster fine arts graduate Jessica Vellenga told CBC Hamilton.

The form fitting tea cosy that's now hugging the aircraft spans close to 2,500 square feet and was draped over the plane over the course of five hours.

Think that sounds like a lot of work? Here's a time-lapse video that shows two weeks worth of knitting and stitching in preparation:

The project was a collaboration between the Yarn Bomb Yukon Collective, the Yukon Transportation Museum and the Yukon Arts Centre Public Art Gallery.

It was conceived by museum executive director Casey McLaughlin, who then brought it to Vellenga. Whitehorse architect Mary Ellen Read designed the pattern that covers the aircraft.

So what is yarn bombing?

Yarn bombing is a kind of guerilla street art in the same vein as graffiti — an international art and activism movement.

Artists take their knitting and cover pieces of public property in the name of art — though unlike graffiti, it is fairly easily removed. In fact, the pieces of the tea cosy covering the DC-3 are to be cleaned and given to the needy as blankets when pried off the aircraft.

"I'd been aware of the movement for a long time," Vellenga said. "I started doing it up here to brighten up the winters."

The yarn will stay on the plane until it's torn down on August 21.

But no worries if it rains before then — knitters only used acrylic wool so that nothing would stain or harm the aircraft.

"This is definitely the biggest thing I've ever done," Vellenga said. "But I am open to offers. If I can do a plane, I can do your house."

For more on Yarn Bomb Yukon, visit their website here.