June 07--Hike up Lizard's Mouth Trail in the mountains above Santa Barbara this weekend and you'll see boulders wearing sweaters.
The atypical public art project is the latest from Santa Barbara hedge fund manager and "yarn-bomber" Stephen Duneier. The avid hiker-knitter swathed several large boulders on a popular hiking trail with crocheted and knitted pieces from 36 countries and all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. There were 388 contributors in all, including some from Ventura County.
"One of the reasons I wanted to do it is because I want to get people to go up on the trail," Duneier said. "I know people who live by the trail and never get up here and see it."
Duneier, who grew up in muggy Florida and urban New York, wants to share a passion he discovered a relatively short time ago.
"I only discovered the outdoors when I moved to Santa Barbara seven years ago. Now I can't get enough of it," he said. "If people don't get up there and use it, there is the potential for us to lose it."
Duneier, 46, spent Friday "yarn-bombing" the boulders on Lizard's Mouth Trail above Goleta for hikers to enjoy through 5 p.m. Sunday, when he will take down all the yarn and leave the area as he found it.
"It's very low impact," said Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen. "It's a unique, creative enterprise on his part. It encourages people to get out there. Of all the different activities that take place in our forest, this is a positive."
Duneier had the exhibit up in late May but had to take it down when he found out he needed a permit from Los Padres National Forest, which he obtained.
Hikers who had heard about the project on social media walked up about a quarter-mile on the trail to see the show Friday as Duneier covered the boulders. Duneier expects many more over the weekend.
At least two of the Ventura County knitters who contributed pieces plan to hike up to see the installation.
"Crocheting can be a really solitary activity. You don't get to meet other crocheters very often," said Crista Scott, 26, a Ventura graduate student who donated a bag of squares she and her 98-year-old grandmother crocheted. "It's crazy to me that he has turned this into such a huge, collective project from so many people who wouldn't have been connected if it weren't for him."
Both Scott and vintage motorcycle restoration specialist Kat Huelskamp learned about Duneier's project through Instagram.
"It just seemed like fun," said Huelskamp, 46, who sent a colorful 3-by-3-foot square of circular designs.
The yarn-bombing began on New Year's Day 2012 when Duneier resolved to learn 12 new things.
His resolutions included learning to knit, riding a unicycle and becoming better at social media. His wife of 23 years taught him to knit, and he decided to combine it with his love of the outdoors.
In keeping with his social media resolution, Duneier started to blog and Instagram about yarn-bombing a eucalyptus tree on a trail above Santa Barbara. He got so much feedback and yarn art donations that he launched this year's Lizard Mouth project.
As he put up his project Friday, Duneier touched each block of yarn and told its story.
"This one's from South Africa, this one's from Minnesota, Lebanon, Kuwait, Maryland, Montana ...," he said.
On the Net: http://www.yarnbomber.com
(c)2014 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.)
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