Yarn artist knits quirky décor for public spaces

Winter Garden resident Jennifer Parrish enjoys using her self-taught crochet skills to beautify public spaces using colorful yarn and a bit of imagination.

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  • | 5:57 a.m. October 6, 2018
Winter Garden resident Jennifer Parrish attaches monster feet to the legs of a bench located at the West Oaks Branch Library in Ocoee.
Winter Garden resident Jennifer Parrish attaches monster feet to the legs of a bench located at the West Oaks Branch Library in Ocoee.
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Although slightly unconventional, Jennifer Parrish chooses to use signs, trees, bike racks and even benches as her artistic canvas.

Parrish, a four-year Winter Garden resident, is a self-taught yarn artist who picked up the hobby of yarn-bombing after becoming inspired by elaborate urban yarn-art projects she had seen on social media.

It wasn’t long after that she turned to YouTube to learn the craft herself and began challenging herself with bigger projects.

“I started yarn-bombing maybe four years ago, and at first, I was just doing a stem on a stop sign and a leaf,” Parrish said. “Then I installed some eyeballs on a bench and things like that just for fun. And then some yarn-bombers that I follow (on social media) out in California decided to do this monster-foot pattern and just try to get a bunch of us across the U.S, and world, to start doing it and posting pictures with the hashtag.”

So Parrish decided to try the challenge herself. Her most recent project was two pairs of monster feet that took her four hours to complete. They were installed on the legs of a bench and table located at the West Oaks Branch Library in Ocoee. Previously, she installed art on the West Orange Trail, but it was promptly removed. 

With a background in horticultural science and a job in crop insurance, Parrish primarily enjoys attaching yarn art to trees and playfully dubs herself the “Yarn Gardener.” 

“I was originally doing it on the West Orange Trail, and they would take it down almost immediately, because I didn’t ask for permission,” Parrish said. “But I have a kid now and a lot less time, so I decided if I was going to do it ,then I would do it somewhere that gave me permission where it would stay for a bit. So I approached the Winter Garden Library, and they were all for it.”

When she first began the hobby, she practiced by making baby blankets and stuffed animals for friends. Once, she made a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man for her best friend’s son, who still carries it everywhere to this day.

Parrish also started a local artist group on Facebook a couple months ago called Orlando Craftivists. She hopes to take on larger collaborative art projects using their help, she said. She believes as long as the art can make someone smile, it’s worth the time investment.

“I just really like how it makes people happy,” she said. “And it’s just really unexpected and quirky and weird. And it makes people laugh — I think that’s why I love doing it. Like this one day when I was doing it on the West Orange Trail and some guy came by and asked, ‘Why are you doing that?’ And I was like, ‘Uh. I don’t know, does it make you happy?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s why I do it.’”


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