Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Journey to The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

A few months ago, my best yarny gal pals and I decided we needed to go and see the Crocheted Coral Reef exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History before it was gone.  For those of you unfamiliar with this exhibit/project, you can find more information about it here:
Being our group’s unofficial “leader”, I threw myself into planning all the details of our pilgrimage.  After researching all of our transportation options, we opted for public transit.  Amtrak reservations were made and all train schedules were coordinated – Septa, Amtrak, Metro.   I even made up these goofy little itineraries for us all.  The plan was take the first Septa train of the morning (6:45am!) from the nearby Colmar station into Philadelphia where we would have plenty of time to transfer to the Amtrak train to Washington, DC (9:33am).   We made our carpool plans to meet at the Colmar Station for the first leg of our adventure  – Beth would pick up Becky, Carrie would drive herself, and Lee would pick me up at 6:00am.  See?  It was all meticulously planned out!  Yes, well, you know what they say about “the best laid plans”……………Here’s how the morning of our departure ACTUALLY went down:
I was awakened out of a dead sleep abruptly when my husband said “I think our doorbell is ringing!”  I sleepily asked what time it was and he replied “It’s 6 o’clock!!”   I launched myself out of bed with a shout  - (I will not subject you, dear readers, to the extremely un-ladylike expletive that spontaneously flew out of my mouth at the same moment!) -  and ran to the door.  Of course I found my friend Lee all bright eyed and bushy tailed - ready to drive us to the station – “You’ll have to go without me!” I practically sobbed!  Lee had her thinking cap on that morning and suggested maybe I could catch the later Septa train since we had some extra time between train connections.  I tearfully sent her on her way and turned to my husband, whose job it was to set the alarm.  He quickly redeemed himself by offering to drive me all the way to the Amtrak train station in Philly!   So I ran around like a maniac getting ready while he poured coffee down my throat – we hopped in the car and he drove like the wind!  I arrived at the station a mere 5 minutes before the girls.  I can’t tell you the huge sigh of relief I heaved when I spotted my girls.  It was just like in the movies:  We ran towards each other with arms stretched wide and there were hugs all around – We were reunited, and all was again right with the world!  I begged them to fire me as their leader, but they wouldn’t hear of it.  Luckily, the rest of our trek went off without a hitch and we arrived safely at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. 
We made a beeline to the exhibit, and there it was in all its wooly splendor!  The Community Reef and the surrounding exhibits contained a magnificent riot of all different types of corals in a rainbow of colors, jellyfish, sea urchins, and starfish – all lovingly depicted in yarn!  It was a party for my eyes.  The “bleached” reefs were done in all shades of whites and there was even one done entirely from vintage doilies.  The “toxic” reef was both beautiful and disturbing, in that it was made from trash, including VHS tape, bottle caps and plastic bags.  The beaded corals in another reef were spectacular!

Even though I had absolutely no hand in the creation of the exhibit, I found myself feeling so proud of how my beloved crochet was being represented here to thousands (if not millions!) of people.  I believe that crochet is STILL trying to recover it’s good name from the granny square debacle of the 1970’s, and whoever first came up with idea of granny square pants surely deserves to be keelhauled, in my humble opinion! 

As I stood before the Community Reef in awe, I was truly humbled by its beauty and creativity.  Later, I was jolted by the realization that I already  possess all of the skills needed to produce similar works of art.  Anyone with basic knit or crochet skills can do it – all it takes is a little inspiration.  This is why I learned how to knit and crochet in the first place:    To make beautiful things!  What I love about this kind of art is that there are no patterns or rules we must follow – you simply let your hook/needles and yarn take you wherever they want to go.  Oh, the possibilities are endless, and I know I wasn’t the only one who was itching to get home to my yarn and hook!  
The other take-away from this journey for me was how wonderful it was to be in the company of these women whom I am proud to call my friends.  As we were exploring the rest of the museum, I was struck by how compatible we are.  Although we are all so different in ages, backgrounds, and personalities, somehow we mesh together perfectly.  Carrie said we were brought together by yarn.  It’s true……………. Our friendship was “knitted” together by yarny goodness!

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