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Guelph Culture Days and sew forth

I am sad to say I didn’t get to check out all of the many arts and culture activities on offer in the city as part of Culture Days this past weekend. But then, with so many free activities, I doubt anyone could have done it all.
What little I did see delighted me.
On Friday afternoon, I stopped by St. George’s Square as volunteers were beginning to sew a colourful patchwork of springy knitted swatches around trees and furnishings as part of a “Yarn Bombing” of the square.
As I arrived, an elderly woman rode up on her mobility scooter, and I heard her tell the project organizers that she wanted to make sure they had the piece she had knitted.
With minimal description required, they were able to locate it, pulling the long, multi-coloured, scarf-like piece from a bulgy plastic bag.
The woman wanted to know how the piece was going to be used in the project, and I could tell by the smile on her face that she was pleased to be a part of it.
She seemed to be boasting just a little when she spoke about all the knitting the ladies at the Evergreen Centre had done for the project – and rightly so.
It may not mean much to the non-knitter, but trust me (a practised knitter) when I say the swatches came from skilled hands. They included different combinations of knits and purls, cables, crocheted squares, double knits and more.
But more importantly, there’s no doubt the ladies clicking away on their knitting needles at the Evergreen Seniors Community Centre made the project possible.
Then, as I watched passersby get enlisted to put those pieces on display, I was struck by the truly collaborative quality of the project.
As cool as it is to see the square dressed up in colourful knitwear, this project is clearly about more.
It’s about the many hands that went into it. It’s about all the people who will be able to walk through the square over the next month, see that project and say ‘I helped.’
That is so cool.
When it comes to culture – I mean the word ‘culture’ – there can be a connotation of inaccessibility, of operas and foreign films and ‘mustn’t touch’ galleries. But the Yarn Bombing was a reminder – in the true spirit of Culture Days – that culture can be inclusive and accessible.
The weekend offered inclusive culture at every turn, from the Guelph Symphony Orchestra’s instrument petting zoo to Graffiti Fest to the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre’s “love-in.” I only hope that people were as willing as the Evergreen seniors to show off their culture and join in the celebration.

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