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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombShells

By Kathy Schwartz · June 6th, 2012 · Visual Art

I always admired the BombShells, Cincinnati’s yarn-bombing ladies.  I just didn’t think that, given my lack of crafting skills, I could become one.

Now, living the dream of wannabes worldwide, I’ve been invited to participate in a bombing.

Saturday, June 9 is International Yarn Bombing Day, and the BombShells are taking their show on the road. For Operation Global (Mobile) Bombination, they — I mean we — will cover Fountain Square’s trees and deck out the Pedal Wagon for a bar hop that ends at Arnold’s, where we’ll hand out felted beer cozies. The wagon — a motor-assisted bike with room for a driver, 12 pedaling passengers and three other riders — will remain decorated for Over-the-Rhine’s Second Sunday on Main.

Yep, infiltrating the BombShells is fun and games. Until I learn I have to sew. Who, me?

“The attractive part (of yarn-bombing) is that it’s doable,” leader Pinky Shears insists. She’s right, I remind myself. The phenomenon is about celebrating the handmade and encouraging others to try time-honored crafts.

For this operation, the BombShells’ usual platinum blond wigs are being abandoned for yarn wigs. We knock back mimosas at Pinky’s house, and then Prickly Pear demonstrates, pulling honey-colored strands through a knit cap with a crochet hook. Looks simple, I think. Countess Cross Stitch shows how to make flowers out of spirals of felt, embellishing the petals with embroidery floss. Also easy, I decide. 

But my confidence comes to a halt when I see the orange construction zone. The bike seat covers. Each BombShell is making her own from orange felt.

Sewing is required. 

I’m fine sewing on a button or mending a rip by hand. I abandoned anything more complicated after making a vest in my sole semester of Home Ec. in 7th grade.

Esta Purl tells me I have to make a running stitch for the seat bottom.  The term sounds familiar. I accept the squares of felt and select a skein of lemon-yellow yarn for my wig.

Next stop is Michaels, and aisles I never before explored. Did you know that Vanna White has a brand of yarn and that she’s “America’s favorite crocheter?”

I choose a crochet hook and pink embroidery thread.

“Oh, teeny-weeny stuff,” the cashier remarks. “What’s today’s project?”

Do I reveal the BombShells’ mission? Worse, do I reveal I know next to nothing about crafting?

“Oh, it’s … embellishment,” I say.

At Jo-Ann Fabric, I discover that Deborah Norville is also in on this yarn-branding business. I choose a skein of her “grape jam” along with a pompom maker.

I begin the wig. I’m excited about going from a short-haired brunette to a long-haired blonde, until I realize that yarn hair doesn’t act like human hair. I braid. I twist. I cut. I curse. I look like Rapunzel in a bad grade-school production. Finally, I fashion what could pass for a 1920s bob.

I turn to the pompom maker. I don’t understand the instructions. The Internet comes to the rescue, and I fashion balls of grape and lemon until I run out of yarn. I sew three to my hat and, to avoid more sewing, pin the rest to the top I’ll wear.

I no longer can postpone the seat covers. I surprise myself by cutting a long-enough piece of thread and successfully sew the running stitch. After that, sewing the sides of the top cover is a breeze.

I eye a tin of buttons and begin to use them for decoration. But after attaching only three, I decide I’m not going to sew all of them on — I’m going to glue.

Foolishly, I’ve been using the bed as my workstation. Dabs of Elmer’s go not just on the buttons, but also my fingers and sheets. The felt is getting soaked. I move the materials off the bed, but not before attempting to glue discarded pieces of yarn to the top cover as fringe. Discouraged, I plop into the glue-stained bed, convinced that my seat cover is a wreck. I wonder what Tim Gunn would say.

But, guess what? Elmer’s glue really does dry clear. In the morning, I’m feeling good enough about my work to fashion one more felt flower. I even sew it on.

Yes, I am the bomb. I am a BombShell.

The BOMBSHELLS will be on Fountain Square at 2 p.m. Saturday. They begin covering the Pedal Wagon at 3 p.m. at Neons, 208 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, and arrive at Arnold’s, 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, at 7 p.m. thebombshellsyarn.blogspot.com, pedalwagon.com.



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