We've seen knit toys, sculptures and graffiti, and even an abandoned gas station covered in stitching. But an actual house made out of yarn? Isn't that inviting trouble from the Big Bad Wolf?
Kate Pokorny doesn't think so. The youthful crafter, who blogs at Yurt Alert, said she was living in NYC in 2006 when she started experimenting with crochet (in part because she was inspired by Margaret Wertheim's TED Talk on how the technique "can be used to represent hyperbolic space and coral reefs"). Further inspired by knit and crochet work by artists like Kwangho Lee, Claudy Jongstra and Christien Meindertsma, Pokorny developed an affinity for the shape of yurts, and discovered that Mongolian nomads had made felt for their homes "via a labor intensive process that still required an internal structure at the end of the day."
And so her project began. The goal is a self-supporting crocheted yurt, made out of hand-felted cording approximately 1.5 to 2 inches thick. The material will be sourced from wool produced locally in New Hampshire. It will be hand cleaned and prepped with aid from a local mill. It will take about 500 pounds of wool, and Pokorny is fundraising to purchase the stuff, as well as cleaning and processing supplies. "I already have 200 pounds of the wool and I've made the prototype, which came out terrific by hand-felting 40 feet of cording and crocheting it with my arm as the 'hook,'" she told me. "Visualize a woolly igloo."
Pokorny is raising money through Kickstarter, a crowdsourced funding platform for creative projects. Donate now or learn more about it. She currently has $1,767 pledged, out of a goal of $5,500, with 65 days left to go on the campaign. Some 31 people have chipped in. There are different levels of sponsorship, starting at $1, with higher amounts scoring you some crocheted scale models, photos and even the chance to spend a couple of nights in the finished dwelling. Donors can also help crochet part of the structure.
Pokorny says she has received advice and support from people around the world, including mathematicians, structural engineers, sustainable designers, shepherds, felters, architects, artists, students and more. "It's really been an incredible lesson in community building for me already and I haven't even made the yurt yet!" she says.
"Wool is a renewable resource and crochet is a strong, unique, regular system with which to built lasting products," Pokorny writes on Kickstarter. "The dome and arch shape has been used throughout time due to its lasting strength. We're hoping to apply this proof of concept further to other materials, shapes, sizes and uses including recycled, collapsible homeless shelters or winter plant covers, etc."
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