You may have already seen some of Julie’s art around town. Have you ever noticed the knitted pole-warmers that adorn the parking meters on the corner of 9th and Broadway? Or the rainbow of sleeves that cover parts of the bike rack in front of Ragtag and Uprise? Were you one of the lucky few to see Thomas Jefferson sporting his leg-warmers in late October?
Julie, also known as julierestless, started the knitted projects in the fall of 2010. She attended school in St. Louis, lived in Austin, TX for a while, and then moved to Columbia in August 2010 to be closer to her boyfriend. After seeing the Handmade Nation film featuring Knitta Please, whose work she had seen while living in Austin, Julie said she got the idea to start the project. “I remember sitting in the crowd in the Q and A after the movie with the director, and someone said ‘That would be so cool if someone knitted Columbia.’ The wheels in my head started turning and I was like ‘Why not? Why wouldn’t someone do that?'”
So Julie set to work knitting some long strips, scarves basically, that she planned to wrap the town with. “I did the meters first. I woke up at five in the morning ’cause I was really scared that someone would catch me,” she recalls. “I went out there and I tagged them and that’s how it started.”
Julie covered the bike racks at RagTag and Uprise next, followed by the controversial leg-warmers that TJ wore briefly. “I put [the legwarmers on Jefferson] the Sunday before Halloween I think. And they were only up for a week.” It was featured on the Mizzou Facebook page as the photo of the day on October 28th, and the image recieved a lot of comments. “I think the school [took them down],” Julie said. “Some people were really excited about them and other people were like ‘This is vandalism!’ ya know. I didn’t think they were going to end up staying up, they aren’t a part of the original statue and I think that’s why they ultimately took them down.”
Julie and the other arists doing work like her are focused on bringing the handmade, tangible aspect into every day life. They want to cover up the industrialization that has come into the world, and remind people that we are human by bringing the humanity back to the machine-made structures. “It’s just something I figured I could do because I knew how to knit and no one else seemed like they were going to do it [in Columbia].” It’s hard for her to find things to accessorize in Columbia while staying original, but she plans to work on other projects. “I saw one in a sea-side town that has the big, huge iron rings so the boats can dock, someone had knitted one of those. [The larger towns] have cool stuff that we don’t have here. You have to look at your surroundings, and be like ‘Okay, this is what I have to work with. This is what I’m going to do to keep it fresh and original.'”
Julie told me that larger cities have big groups of knitters who ‘knit-bomb’ the town. “It’s easier if you get a group of people to knit with you, there is only so much you can do on your own. It takes a lot of time and it’s hard work.”
Besides knitting fashions to beautify the stark, metal objects in town, Julie also writes a blog, runs an Etsy shop, tweets, and works several days a week at Clover’s Market. Her etsy shop is stocked full of thrifted items, most of them from St. Louis, as well as some handmade decor items.