With 6,000 yards of yarn, Inez Gill knits Big Omaha
The creator of the Big Omaha art piece "Look Up" installs yellow bands of yarn around the limbs of trees to represent stars above a night sky.
Courtney Zurcher, lead knitter at InezGill, is beautifying Big Omaha 2012 with yarn art. In the past month, Zurcher has knitted more than 2,464 square feet (using about 6,000 yards of yarn) for one of this year's art installations, a custom indoor and outdoor exhibit that will involve attendees and provide unique souvenirs for anyone at Big Omaha.
Zurcher got involved with Big Omaha randomly — she found out about the conference on Twitter and contacted Silicon Prairie News, telling us about her modern knits. She was a perfect fit to be this year’s artist, and she set to work brainstorming ideas. What emerged was a full frontal yarn assault on KANEKO. Zurcher has knitted cozies for the trees outside the building — blue on the trunks and yellow in the branches, just like you're underwater, looking up at the night sky (left) – for a piece titled "Look Up."
And Big Omaha attendees will also see the yarn carry through to the inside. Zurcher has set up shop in KANEKO, and event-goers can learn how to knit at her table. She has hung 15 strings of knitted yarn from the ceiling and is encouraging people to take up the needles and contribute to the strips. She is providing needles and giving knitting lessons — even encouraging people to take their project with them when they listen to talks.
"A lot of the stuff happening at Big Omaha is very interactive," Zurcher says. "And it's stuff people can do on their own. The piece outside is an expression piece, but I wanted to show people this is something you can do at home while you’re working."
Zurcher took the "knit graffiti" to the next level by spray painting the yarn before she installed it.
Zurcher has never considered herself an artist — so she says the experience as one of the Big Omaha artists is weird for her. She has a background in health and human services and currently works with at-risk youth for an Omaha-based non-profit. She learned to knit about a year ago and fell in love with the craft. Now she knits handmade bows and accessories for her brand, InezGill. Though she has done some yarn art in the past, this is her first big piece.
Zurcher wants the Big Omaha art to be a memorable part of the conference — so much so, that she wants people to take it home with them when they leave. "I think the cool thing about yarn bombing is that people will cut stuff and take it home with them," Zurcher says. "I'm fine if people want to take my work home — my main goal is just to make it as custom as possible."
To customize the work, Zurcher has not only hand-knitted the artwork, but she has also painted the yarn with spraypaint. Each bit of the piece is completely unique — meaning conference-goers can choose to take any section they want (or knit their own), and it will be 100 percent unique. "I couldn’t pick out a color, so instead of picking out a color, I’m painting the yarn," Zurcher says. "I want people to feel like they’re looking at a painting."
Zurcher's work perfectly fits this year’s handmade feel of Big Omaha, and, though she's a crafter, Zurcher has found a place with the tech lovers and entrepreneurs who will be at the event. "I fit with the Big Omaha crowd because it's one thing to be an artist, but it's a whole other thing to create networks and connect with people," she says. "You not only have to put in the time to make your products, but you have to have the drive to meet people, keep on going with your work. It’s nice to be around other people who do what I do."
Note: Zurcher will have a table at Big Omaha and will be participating and attending talks. If you're at Big Omaha, be sure to say hello, learn to knit, and, of course, check out her yarn-art piece, entitled "Look Up."
Credit: Photos courtesy of Courtney Zurcher / Inez Gill