Starting August 10, one of Pittsburgh’s famous steel bridges will be getting a makeover when the largest “yarn bomb” ever in the United States blankets the Andy Warhol Bridge.
Amanda Gross, outreach coordinator for Fiberart International, is the lead artist of a project called Knit the Bridge, in which she and 1,267 volunteers from all over Allegheny County have spent the last year knitting panels to cover the bridge.
“I think bridges are a great symbol of Pittsburgh and of its history of steel and, you know, it’s a great metaphor for connecting people across boundaries or barriers," Gross said. "I mean, what’s more Pittsburgh than bridges?”
The project started last June when Gross decided she wanted to involve the larger community in a project that would demonstrate creative ways of making lasting connections.
“Really thinking about Pittsburgh, which is where I live and have lived for the past five years and the communities here and what defines us and what connects us and thinking of how to use the arts to build bridges both literally and metaphorically,” Gross said.
The bridge’s towers will be covered in 2,500 linear feet of brightly colored panels, the rails will be covered with black yarn and the panels inside the rails will consist of designs created by volunteers.
“A lot of people knit and crochet," Gross said."It’s kind of like a very accessible medium and it cuts across all different ethnicities, ages, gender. And so we’ve been basically doing grassroots organizing to get the word out to knitters and crocheters to engage people in different ways to help make the work.”
Gross asked the volunteers designing the panels not to use numbers, letters or representational imagery — just bright colors.
Gross said 82 percent of Allegheny County’s municipalities is represented in Knit the Bridge.
She designated volunteers to become leaders who then planned the knitting events within their communities and organized the supplies needed.
When Knit the Bridge is over, the 580 hand-made, afghan-like panels will be removed, washed and taken to different shelters for use.
“The panels have come from like all over southwestern Pennsylvania, and we want to make sure they go back into the communities that have contributed … we’re working on a list because we don’t want to leave anybody out,” Gross said.
The Andy Warhol Bridge will be closed down August 10-11 while Pittsburgh Riggers install the panels to the towers and volunteers attach the yarn on ground level.