Thursday, June 19, 2014


I first heard the term "Schubert's Unfinished Symphony" when I was barely larger than two skeins of super bulky yarn.  My family was about to attend a concert at the old Grant Park Band Shell downtown, across the street from the Field Museum, and this monumental piece of music was on the program.  With the wonderful illogic of a child's mind, I concluded that the symphony had earned its name because it had a very abrupt ending due to the sudden death of Mr. Schubert.  I anticipated that the piece would end right in the middle of a melody and that the conductor and the orchestral musicians would walk somberly off the stage as we, the audience, were left with a sense of unfulfilled longing, wanting nothing more than a satisfying conclusion to the piece we had just heard.  I remember being enraptured by the music, eagerly awaiting the moment when the empty chaos of silence would take over the stage.  While waiting for that moment, I fantasized about what had actually happened to Schubert.  Who or what had stopped him from finishing what, in my mind, was obviously his last composition.  Had his quill written its last note because his house blew up?  Was he poisoned by Beethoven (at the time, the only other classical composer whose name I was familiar with)?  Had he run out of ink and when going out to buy some more, had he been run over by a team of oxen?  I was on the edge of the picnic blanket, an uneaten chicken leg in my hand as I anxiously awaited the dramatic drop of the conductor's baton.  And then  ...  What the heck? ...  The piece ended not in mid phrase but with a very obvious conclusion.  After a dark and foreboding opening, it finished a half hour later with a peaceful and uplifting E major chord.  It was many years later when I finally learned that this magnificent orchestral work was described as unfinished only because Schubert had completed just two of the expected four movements of the symphony.  I also eventually discovered that Beethoven could not have poisoned Schubert as his own death preceded Schubert's by a little over a year.

And now we have our own unfinished opus, our own Unfinished Yarn Symphony.  It is a work that will hopefully be completed by many composers.  A few days ago, Montoya Fiber Studio held a yarn bombing.  Now don't go calling Homeland Security on us.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a yarn bombing is nothing more than an explosion of yarn meant to decorate a specific outdoor area in an artistic manner.  A few friendly customers showed up and helped Cathy decorate the tree and the parking meters directly in front of the store on Prairie Avenue.  Also, a number of the meters on the main drag of Central Street are now smiling as they proudly display a colorful yarn adornment around their previously boring necks.  But we are not finished.  There are still a large number of unadorned meters jealous of the decorated ones and hoping that someone will have the courtesy to decorate their bland nakedness with wild and colorful yarn.  So for those of you who feel suddenly inspired and who would like to participate in this ongoing project, here is your chance.  All you have to do is pick out some colorful remnant yarn that is screaming to be freed from your stash and knit up a rectangle 7.5 inches wide and 12 inches long.  When it's done, bring it in to the store and Cathy will provide the necessary finishing material to add it to our collection of fashionably festooned parking meters.  I myself plan to make two.  One in purple and white to honor that big University down the street and another one in some eye-opening splash of color that has yet to be conceived.  I'll have to see what I have in my own stash.

Curiously, a number of bedazzled onlookers asked Cathy and her yarn bombing cohorts what the purpose of the whole thing was.  What hidden metaphorical meaning was there in this vibrant display of street color?  I was minding the store at the time but I wish I could have been there to instantly invent a deep philosophical reasoning for this artistic demonstration.  But really, yarn bombing does not have to have any particular significance.  Anyone can give it a meaning if they so wish, but that is a personal thing.  I myself prefer to think that, sometimes, fun art is just fun art.


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