Knitting us Together project transforms Mill Valley depot


(Naomi Lenchner)

By Naomi Lenchner

Brightly colored knitting patterns, complete with butterflies and pom-poms, cover the trees surrounding the Mill Valley Depot. The new art installation, Knitting us Together, aims to connect people of all ages and backgrounds and build community through knitting. The project was funded by Kiddo, the Mill Valley Schools community foundation. 

The exhibit was originally scheduled to begin in the spring, but was postponed until October because of the coronavirus. “COVID came along, and the project actually turned out great. I think people were looking to get involved in something and something that they could do safely from their home,” creator of the Knitting us Together project, Coleen Byrne said. After collecting the knits from volunteers in a COVID-safe manner, Byrne and a few others pinned them together and brought them to other volunteers to sew onto the trees. 

The main goal behind the project was to make it available to all ages so Byrne reached out to the elementary schools to involve children. “One of my kids goes to Edna [Edna Maguire Elementary School], and [Byrne] wanted to knit trees that are the colors of the different schools. I hadn’t knit in years, since high school, and we ended up knitting the Edna Magure tree,” parent volunteer Maria Marcus said as she pointed to a tree knitted in blue and green yarn. 

Apryl Uncapher, who volunteered for the project with her daughter, said she got involved when Byrne reached out to her. “I have a 13-year-old who was so excited she started making these little butterflies. She had so much interest and excitement around the project that I made sure we were committed and didn’t forget about today.”

After the installation is taken down, Byrne has plans to repurpose the knits into blankets and other items and donate them to people in need. “I didn’t want to create a project that was going to end in a trash can, so [I made a project] that could be continually enjoyed by people,” Byrne said. 

Uncapher found great importance in the project because of its ability to bring people together. “I love that this art installation is accessible and inclusive of all ages and abilities,” she said. “I really feel this also just brings so much connection and creative confidence, which brings vitality to our community.”