The Very Cozy Elephant

March 25th, 2012 by Diana

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The folks here at The Carle always love a good contest.  So last month, when Eliza, the Manager of The Carle Bookshop and one of the contributors to the blog Book Talk, read about a contest for book stores, we banded together to come up with a winning idea!

The guys behind the new picture book, Extra Yarn, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, describe the contest  on its Tumblr page:

Extra Yarn is a book about a girl who finds an extraordinary box of yarn and begins to knit sweaters for things that do not typically wear sweaters. (It’s also about an archduke, sneakthieves, and a tiny bearded man.) We devised a contest: pretty up your bookshops by knitting a sweater (or sweaters) for something (or things) in the store.”  

We thought it would be fun to make something for The Red Elephant, the sculpture by Mo Willems that arrived in our courtyard last October (read Meghan’s blog post about the sculpture installation here.)  Our idea was to piece together a giant scarf and trunk warmer for The Elephant to help keep it warm during Western Mass’s typically chilly winters, and take a photo of the finished project for the Extra Yarn contest.  The sculpture’s designer, Mo Willems, gave us the green light, so the next stop was Webs in Northampton to pick up our supplies!

A friendly employee at Webs helped me calculate how much yarn we would need  (14 skeins to be exact!)  and we used 100% wool yarn made by Valley Yarns.  Throughout the project we used various large knitting needles and crochet hooks, working in swatches that were then stitched together.   The fabulous Studio and Reading Library volunteers were the core group of staff working on the project.   Since most of the scarf was created when the Museum was open, when we would explain to curious Museum visitors that we were making The Elephant a scarf to keep him warm, without fail they responded with smiles and laughter!  We knew it was a silly idea to explain but everyone was excited to see it all come together.

Day by day the colorful scarf began to grow.

Until it got so long, it nearly stretched from one end of The Studio to the other!

The Red Elephant’s scarf was finally finished!  We sent this photo off to the contest, with our fingers crossed.  Here is Eliza from The Bookshop standing with The Elephant on the most recent snowy day.

Here’s The Elephant again sporting his trunk warmer.

Despite not making it to the top 3 entries of the  Extra Yarn contest, (see the fabulous winners and other entries here) we did win in the “Best Elephant Scarf/Most Appropriate Weather” category and The Bookshop will get a signed limited print from Extra Yarn (woo-hoo!).  During this project we discovered just how many talented fiber artists we have working here, and realized how many of our visitors, young and old, love to knit!

All our hard work is worth it when you check out The Red Elephant’s winning smile!  Now that’s one happy (and cozy) elephant :-) .

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3 Responses to “The Very Cozy Elephant”

  1. Paige says:

    Love the scarf and all the other knitted items at the other stores!! It reminds me of when our town kitted cozies for the trees, bike racks, phones, fences, lamp posts, gutters, cars ….. It was soooo fun to walk around and find all the colorful yarn in it’s many shapes and forms. What’s the elephant going to wear for summer? !! ((-:

    • Diana says:

      Thanks Paige! We need ideas for what The Elephant should wear next! We have plans for one of our big special events coming up this summer–you’ll have to stay tuned to find out more. I’ll keep it a secret for now :-) . If anyone has an idea of what The Red Elephant should wear in the future, post your suggestions here! Also, thanks to Mo Willems for sharing this post with his fans, see his post here.

  2. Lynn Plourde says:

    TOO CUTE! With return of cold New England weather–elephant NEEDS that scarf & trunk warmer–brrrrr!

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