Associate librarian Janae Kambestad flings what looks like a long scarf around a branch and tapes the end directly to a tree with duct tape. She continues wrapping and wrapping, until the tree in front of the Lodi Public Library looks like it is sporting a sweater.
Kambestad and Library Services Director Nancy Martinez spent Monday morning vandalizing their own workplace with a patchwork of different yarn pieces. The library sponsored the "yarnbombing" as a way to promote National Library Week.
"I think sometimes people drive down Church Street, and they don't even know a library is here," Martinez said.
During the last couple of months, more than 30 women grabbed their knitting needles or crochet hooks and some leftover yarn to create woven pieces of art. The individual sections were then assembled into quilts to drape over the pillars and blanket the fence going into the library. Some were also wrapped around trees and a lamp post.
"Some ladies made multiple. We had one lady who called and said, 'I have four finished so far, and I'm still making one.' ... It was like my desk got yarnbombed," Kambestad said.
Most of the women who submitted pieces have never heard of yarnbombing or its other names: yarnstorming, guerilla knitting or granny graffiti.
Lodi resident Helen Sager has never crocheted or knitted, but she helped assemble the pieces into blankets with a whip stitch. She has been retired for more than eight years and has wanted to get involved in the community. Yet she had never heard of yarnbombing.
"I thought, 'What in the world?' Women can come up with the darndest things, execute them beautifully and get great results," she said.
The knitters and crocheters ranged in age from their 30s to their 80s, and many were excited to have a place to publicly display their work, Kambestad said.
"Knitters and crocheters like to show off their stuff. They have to have that 'ta-da' moment," Kambestad said. "People can drive by and don't even have to come into the library, and everyone will get something out of it, even if they are not a crafter."
As Martinez and Kambestad were putting up the pieces, it already started attracting attention. Several people stopped to ask what was going on as they walked by and people stared out their car windows as they passed.
"Oh my goodness, people are slowing down. It's working," Martinez said.
Later in the afternoon, as people walked into the library, they all noticed the colorful addition.
"It got my attention, sure. The art looks interesting. It's not my thing, but it's not harming anything. It made me smile," Lodi resident Debbie Plinski said.
Another library patron, Vinita Shinn, said she realizes a lot of effort went into the yarn pieces.
"It's an art form, to be sure," Shinn said. "A little whimsical, but it's fun. I've seen it done in England before, and they cover big trees with the yarn."
The yarn will remain in front of the library as long as it doesn't get damaged by the weather, Kambestad said.
The final project is exciting for Ruth Walth, who decided to help out and crochet a piece. She wanted to participate because she always has leftover yarn after making any project.
"I thought it would be nice to do something like that. Half the time when you are retired, you always are looking for something to do," Walth said.
Reporter Branden Weins contributed to this report.