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Local Knitters Dress More Than 130 Trees in Downtown Iowa City

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Over 200 local knitters put their knitting needles together this fall to dress downtown Iowa City's trees for the holiday season.

As part of a collaboration between the Iowa City Downtown District, Total Tree Care of Iowa City, and Home Ec. Workshop, volunteers from the area came together to knit scarves for 132 trees in downtown Iowa City on Sunday.

The project is the second for the Iowa City Downtown District this year, and organizers said they planned the Tree Hugger event because they wanted people to have a visual for what the new nonprofit organization is up to.

"We started with the benchmarks, and with that we painted over 100 benches in downtown Iowa City so that was one of our first things," said Joni Schrup, owner of Discerning Eye and co-chair of the special events committee for the Iowa City Downtown District. "And then someone brought us a photo of these trees that had been yarn bombed and so we thought it would be a fun project to do, which would not be just a downtown project but would actually involve the community."

The Iowa City Downtown District is funded through contributions from property taxes assessed to properties in Downtown Iowa City and the Northside Marketplace, as well as contributions from the University of Iowa.

Though the trees are unified by color, as knitters were provided the same palette of yarn to choose from, each knitter selected a different pattern for their tree leaving some trees dressed in argyle, while others sported Tigerhawks and stripes.

Schrup said the project brought knitters young, old, experienced and inexperienced together, and many volunteers are proud to display their work.

"I think it's fun," Schrup said. "I think it will bring some people downtown just to look at this and in the blah winter-scape, if they stay up -- which we hope they will -- it will be pretty. It will be something to see.

Though the fate of the scarves after the season has not yet been determined, several knitters said they hope they will remain in tact so they can be donated.

"What I'm hoping is that at the end of the holiday season when these are taken down they'll still be in good enough shape that they could be given as afghans or blankets for people," said Nora Roy, of Iowa City, as she began to sew the scarf she knit around a tree along Clinton St. "We will see what the weather does and hopefully people will respect that these are supposed to be here."

Other knitters said they feel proud to be part of a community that values the arts and projects like this one.

"We often think of Iowa City as the city of books and writing but really there's so much different art going on and this is just an example of the really vibrant art scene here in Iowa city," said JoAnn Castagna, a knitter who partook in the project.

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