It’s a funny thing seeing Emma disappear up that hill again, bag of goodies in hand, a contented focus in her eyes as she sets off to work with the kids of El Hato. The GUPP (Guatemala Unfinished Picture Project) summer art program in El Hato has officially kicked off and already seems destined for success. There are sixteen very enthusiastic sixth graders who have devoted two afternoons a week to create yarnbombs, something that fueled their fire much more than the thought of making sweaters and baby boots.
Coming into the project, I had a couple of concerns: That maybe there wouldn’t be enough participants (kids tend to have very adult duties to attend to after school and lack free time) and that maybe they wouldn’t be super hip to crochet, a rather granny-esque undertaking. Both concerns got squashed pretty quickly when Emma and I visited the school to meet with the kids who were to be involved with the program. They had already negotiated their schedules, and they were ready to stitch.
So, Emma started a quickly as she could. She learned that a few of the students already knew how to crochet and picked up the new stitches quickly. Others, less skillful but equally inspired, created what Emma describes affectionately as “a big ball of knots”. Whatever the case, in a rather telling moment, on Thursday, they opened a shipment of yarn from the states, discovered a knitted patch of fabric in the box, and one of the students immediately grabbed it and sewed it onto one of the classroom posts. The first yarnbomb in El Hato!
As for the lodge, Emma has taken to the crochet hook pretty hard, spending much of the downtime during her shifts, much of her free time, much of her drinking time, creating yarnbombs for one of the Earth Lodge hammock areas. I have even made a rather stirring return to the world of stitch, spending several hours working on a plarn (plastic yarn) piece to add to the hammock bombing. Needless to say, the creative spirit is ripe. Guests and staff alike are curious about what it’s all about, yet another great success of the project thus far.
Don’t forget to follow us (GUPP) on Facebook and to join our blog on Ning. Pictures will be posted in the next couple of days, and the kids will soon write their first blog entries, providing us with some of their thoughts about the project. Additionally, we’ll keep you in the loop via this blog and e-newsletters. For all of those who were interested in pitching in with the Flower B(l)ooms, please let this reinvigorate your motivation and, if this your introduction to the project, please don’t hesitate to join. We’d really like to have some international support to show the kids:
Yarn-bombing & Flower B(l)ooms
If you’ve ever wanted to be a flower child, or have since longed to be again, get out those bell-bottoms because, this May, the chance is coming. As many of you know and the rest of you are soon to find out, Emmathon is headed back to Guatemala this summer, and this time we’ll be armed with yarn. On behalf of UPP (http://unfinishedpictureproject.org/), we will be conducting a three-month public art venture with the kids in El Hato.
Yarn-bombing (http://www.buzzfeed.com/melismashable/25-amazing-yarn-bombs), for those of you not in the knitting know, is the use of crochet and knit to create art installations in public spaces, kind of like granny graffiti, only done by the hip and happening. Anywho—summer 2012, the village of El Hato will bear witness to its own explosions: GUPP, i.e. us, will be leading the kids on a crusade to beautify the aldea (village) with crocheted flower art. Check out our UPP page: (http://unfinishedpictureproject.org/upp-branches/guatemala).
So, flower b(l)ooms: What we want is for you—maybe your friends, your parents, your children—to crochet, knit, or create your own flower chains. Make them as long as you like. Use an afternoon or use the whole month of May. Throw a crochet-cocktail party, warm up cozy in front of your favorite trilogy, whatever twists your hook—there will be no judgment from us if you are half-drunk and dropping stitches. It’s meant to be fun for all.
Knowing that not everyone is a crochet fiend, we’ve included some free links for beginner’s lessons on YouTube!, as well as some patterns for easy flowers. There are also links where you can follow along as someone makes a flower. Then, afterwards, if you aren’t interested in pursuing crochet as a hobby or public voice, we can also help you arrange to donate your hooks and such to the children, possibly contribute your actual flower chain to the final display (if you’re willing to pay for some postage fees).
Beginner’s Lessons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8wkt2e83Bs
Easy Patterns for Flowers: http://www.crochetpatterncentral.com/directory/flowers.php
Follow Along Flowers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6sW_nNpp14
In the past, we’ve come to you with book wish lists, supply drives, and fund-raising birthdays, now we’re asking for flower b(l)ooms. You see, one of the principle goals of UPP, other than facilitating self-expression, is instigating cross-cultural dialogue. Usually this conversation occurs between partnered groups in different cities, but as is the case with team Emmathon, we wanted to include everyone we know in the do-goodery.
At the end, we’d like you to take a photo of the chain, stretching it across either a backdrop of some identifiable local sight and/or the chain contributors, each end reaching out of the image, in effect creating an unfinished flower chain around the world. When the project culminates with an art show in August, we’ll make a piece in which all of these photos and bits of actual flower chains are connected.
So, when you send your jpegs to email@example.com, we’d like you to attach messages from the participants. In turn, we’ll be putting out a regular newsletter on the project’s progress, as well as helping the children maintain blog, where you (our partner participants) can post your thoughts and encouragement. Imagine the sense of pride and identity these kids will get from knowing that people all over the world wanted to be part of their project.
Note: Although the USA and the UK use the same stitches in crochet, they are called different things. If you are already a crocheter, this will not be a problem. However, if you are new to this, know that it makes no difference which one you use. Just try to be aware of whether the pattern is a US or British one, so you make the correct stitch. Here is a link to a conversion chart! (http://www.yarnfwd.com/main/crochet.html)
This blog occurs once a week, the entries being thematically mixed between expat life in Guatemala and life as an NGO groupie. The photos for this blog, website, and my life are all provided by my beautiful wife Emma.