Someone very smart once said, “Stress is recognizing the distance between where you are and where you want to be.”
Two weeks ago I was very, very far from where I wanted to be. I was holed up in front of the computer, running late on multiple deadlines, wearing the same pajama pants I put on the week prior. I ran out of toilet paper and resorted to using torn up Chipotle napkins. I was 80% sure I had not showered since the weekend and 100% sure I did not care. I’d tell you to save your judgements but I’m sure you have been to this place before: Crazytown.
Ten years ago I would have power slogged my way out of that sort of situation with a cigarette and diet coke fueled all-nighter, and even six months ago I would have been okay with constructively destressing with a jumbo scoop of raw cookie dough…but now that I am trying to be all adult like and not resort to unhealthy habits (HOLY CRAP IS IT ANNOYING) and the only unstressfull-ish thing I could think of was to go for a walk. Not a dog walk. Not a health walk. Just a walk that nothing to do with anything in particular. Take a camera. Get my mind off stuff for half-an-hour. I know, I know, how boring does that sound.
But. You know what? To my utter amazement, it worked. It absolutely worked. I need to do this more often. Of course, it does help that my neighborhood has some serious niftiness going on right now…
Okay. Okay. Okay. I have talked about how much I love Evanston before, but seriously. Who lives in a place where shopkeepers dress the trees in homemade sweaters? And not just trees — parking meters too. Pretty much anything that stands still has a fun new outfit.
Now, I had seen yarn bombing, and that’s great, but this is better. So much better. This is a community effort. Each one of those circle sort of shapes comes from a different person – many of them children – and then they are zip-tied together in these gorgeous, undulating, Pippi-Longstocking-colored tree cozies. Some of them are just braided rope. Some are garlands of flower-like creations. Some of them look like the pot holder I made in home-ec in 1992.
For real. I’m pretty sure I saw my potholder.
So, obviously, I was wondering, WHERE IS THIS ALL COMING FROM? And don’t you know, I walked right into her. She was half way up a tree, working her fingers to the bones on those zip-ties.
This is Jaime. Isn’t she precious? If you are ever wandering your neighborhood and find someone tying weird stuff in the trees, this is what you want them to look like. Jaime and her mom, Paulette — who is also very lovely, run the cutest store ever, Stumble and Relish. I’m tempted to call it a gift boutique, but it’s more like a little island of magical misfit toys. And by toys I mean jewelry. And candles. Cards. Soap. Handmade artsy bits that make you happy.
Jamie and Paulette collected hundreds of these knit circles as part of a community art project. I’m ashamed to admit, I did not contribute. I didn’t know about it in time. I had seen the trees going up but assumed it was an individual effort. Had I known it was a community project (and my community no less!) I would have gotten busy with some yarn. Jaime told me this wave will be up for a while – or maybe long term – and hopefully there will be a second wave down the line. In the meantime, I took out my shame and admiration by puttering around in their store.
I mean. How cool is this place?
PS: Did you see that? You know I love a good yarntastic wall hanging.
PPS: Are you in the Chicago area? Come up to my neighborhood in Evanston (the corner of Dempster and Chicago) and see these beauties for yourself! There are scads of great shops in the area here, but I’m especially fond of Stumble & Relish (and not just because they are revitalizing the neighborhood) (or because they were nice to me when I was wearing pajama pants in public) –they have great stuff. Go see for yourself!
PPSS: If you are up here in the next month, you can also see my friend Dale’s photo exhibit now on display at the Evanston Library.
PPPSS: Happy weekend!
Oh man this is cool! I really want to do this in my boring, cookie-cutter neighborhood to brighten things up. Great idea!
That is just great! I would love it if my neighborhood did something like that, and that wallhanging – saw it immediately in the picture, got an urge to go looking for yarns and a branch!
Laura @ Me & Mr Jones
How wonderful! I LOVE their shop – that is just the sort of shop I love visiting.
The chipotle napkins made me spit coffee. Bwaaaahhhaha! Such a cool art project, I love the zip ties to make it all come together with bits from multiple people. Hope your work logjam is broken and stress levels are hovering closer to normal. Happy weekend, darlink!
that store looks like someplace i could spend some time… and money in. too cool.
good luck coming out on the other side of crazytown.
and hi! i haven’t commented in awhile, but i am still reading.
I’m absolutely sure you’ve heard of Post Secrets… Post secrets has always made me want to do a community art project, but I always thought I could never think of something so cool. This is just as cool as that! It inspires me to come up with something to get my neighbors involved! Thank you so much for sharing this!
great post! Love your writing style and photography! You make me wanna get up off my couch and go do something creative. Of course after I go to the restroom and take my own handful of taco bell napkins with me., hehee
Taco Bell napkins come in handy 🙂
Oh my, my you are too sweet! This “little” community art project was a labor of love. I am soooo happy I did it. It was a little idea with a big return. I relish all the people in the neighborhood doing the “yarn tour”- photographing every tree, picking a favorite circle on each tree and just them plain appreciating this project. Mostly adding some much needed color to our amazing neighborhood. So I just wanted to say- thanks for appreciating it, thanks for taking the time to write about it, thanks for the AMAZING photos and thanks for taking that much needed walk! And hey if ever you or your readers consider doing a community art project, do it, it is SO worth it. One of your readers just walked in and told me about this fabulous blog post- thank you sweet aunt peaches!!
I’m so thrilled to hear it! Thank you so much for improving our neighborhood — I’ll be by again soon 🙂