Nancy Carlson, yarn bombing, and more at the Walker's Free First Saturday

Nancy Carlson, yarn bombing, and more at the Walker's Free First Saturday
Photo courtesy Walker Art Center 

We stand at the cusp of fall, awaiting the imminent drop in temperature that we all know is coming. So now's the time to squeeze in your last days of basking outdoors. At the Walker's Open Field you can enjoy one these final, precious summer days, as this month's Free First Saturday is hosting several events that are sure to be really fun. Beloved local children's author Nancy Carlson (author of I like Me) will be on hand to read stories and offer activities that combine exercise with reading, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts will host book-making activities, and local yarn bombing squad Swatch Team will be presenting Abundant Harvest.

Nancy Carlson, yarn bombing, and more at the Walker's Free First Saturday
Photo courtesy Walker Art Center 

Carlson says that she's been working on the Get Up and Read for about five years. The project invites families to read while  walking around the Sculpture Garden and partaking in various physical activities. "The whole idea of the book has changed over the past five years," she says. "People have Nooks and Kindles and things like that. I thought, 'How else can we change the book and still have a reading experience?'" A lover of picture books and fitness, she pitched the idea of combining the two, and the Walker took her up on it. 

Part of the idea behind the project is creating a reading experience that is also a family outing. "I feel like people often times are pushing their children and talking on their cell. It's not engaging. This is a fun way for families to interact," she says. 
Nancy Carlson, yarn bombing, and more at the Walker's Free First Saturday
Drawing by Nancy Carlson 

Carlson graduated from Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and fell into illustrating early in her career and loved it. Because she also loved writing, she began creating her own children's books. She'll be reading her stories, including T is for Twin Cities, at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. this Saturday.

Families will also have a chance to work with Minnesota Center for Book Arts to make journals using sticks for the binding, and receive tips on healthy snacks.

The other big event this Saturday will be presented by Swatch Team, who founder Christina Elias calls "a group of crazy knitters." The Abundant Harvest activity is a game where you go and search for artwork in surprising places. All of the installations are titled with messages, and will have hand crocheted items that are both useful and free for the taking. 

Swatch Team started with the idea of yard bombing, Elias says, but then it evolved. "Why knit just to cover something?" she says. Instead, they wanted to make it into a giveaway with a message.

Nancy Carlson, yarn bombing, and more at the Walker's Free First Saturday
Photo courtesy Walker Art Center 

The group started with just Elias and Paulina Jacobson, who are both educators and artists. In the last few years, it has expanded to include more people, so that there are about 10 core members in total. "We're really an eclectic mix," Elias says. 

The first project that Swatch Team did was an installation that involved putting pillows on a bench for homeless people. There was also an installation called Outsourced on Nicollet Mall, which was made up of a mirror, implying that the person gazing into the mirror could be outsourced. Swatch Team has also knitted musical instruments.

The group's project for Open Field last year, called We are All Connected, involved hanging knitted items on a clothesline reaching into Loring Park. They also made scarves to cover the 13-foot Onion Dome for the Hennepin Center for the Arts, donating the scarves to Occupy MN afterwards.

This year, they're creating a garden on the hill of the Walker Art Center. The space will be about 1,000 feet, with nine different rows and over 300 bags filled with food. There will also be art supplies, and places where kids can draw or write thank you notes. There will be performances in the garden as well, including music and dance. Anybody who shows up is encouraged to participate. 

The message of the event is abundance. "We keep hearing about unemployment and the economy -- it's all fear-based. If we all share and contribute, there is abundance," Elias says. There's also a message of sustainability, as the group is promoting the use of reusable bags. Some them are even crocheted out of recycled plastic bags. 

The bags not only contain non-perishable food items, but seeds donated from the Horticultural Society and fresh food from Dream of Wild Health, a Native American educational farm for youth. 

If you'd like to make a donation of a non-perishable food item or a knitted bag, you can bring it on Thursday night to the Internet Cat Video Festival where Swatch Team will have a tent, or simply drop it off at the Walker Art Center. You can also bring fresh garden food on Saturday morning to a crate at the bottom of the hill.


Free First Saturday
Walker Art Center
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Walker Art Center

1750 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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