Textile artist knits ‘sweater’ for South Philly synagogue

    Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, a storefront synagogue in South Philadelphia, is being “yarn-bombed” as part of an art installation for the Hidden City Festival this month.  Organizers of the 100-year old landmark arranged for textile designer Andrew Dahlgren and his ADMK Knit Lab to use the second floor of the building for community members to knit swatches of fabric that would eventually be sewn together and then installed over the facade of the building.

    On Wednesday afternoon, Dahlgren and student James Sullivan were attaching the sewn pieces to PVC pipe frames with zip ties. Dahlgren said that during the four weeks of the knitting project, he was overwhelmed with the neighborhood’s positive response. “We had over 50 people, the majority of which had never knitted.”

    Community members who attended the knit lab ranged from the ages of 6 to 70, and Dahlgren said that many returned several times.

    Participants chose their yarn from a wall of donated materials and then chose their patterns. Dahlgren threaded the machines and taught participants the basics of machine knitting.  “No two pieces are the same.  It reflects the people in the city. Kind of hodgepodge, but aesthetically, it works.”

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    Some responses to the building’s “sweater” have been “what the heck” and “wow.”  Volunteer knitters will return to the site Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to celebrate the project. The fabric will remain on the synagogue until Sunday, June 30.

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