One of the cheeriest places in New York just now (and until December 10, 2023) is Madison Square Park where an exhibit of crochet runs up and down lampposts and twenty-foot tall specially planted telephone poles. The installation, My Neighbor’s Garden, is the work of artist Sheila Pepe who says she drew inspiration from community gardens and front yards in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where she lives with her wife, artist Carrie Moyer.
Pepe created the 15,000 yards of crocheted colored shoelaces, paracord, rope and garden hose—ablaze in red, pink, purple and orange– with groups of friends and strangers. Some of the women came to help after seeing an Instagram post seeking crocheters. Pepe provided guidance on stitches and lengths. It appears that all the materials used are weather resistant.
Around the poles twining flowers and vegetable plants are climbing and expected to mesh with the crocheted fiber. Some sections are roundish panels of crochet that reminded me of the macramé phase in the sixties (although I never want to house a spider
plant again.) The whole thing is a riot of style and color, inspired by crocheting circles of long ago when women gathered to talk about issues of the day like women’s rights and abolition.
Pepe, who identifies as a lesbian and feminist, learned to crochet in the sixties from her mother. Her work has been shown in many settings; here is a link to her exhibit history https://www.sheilapepe.com/exhibitions.
I do not know how to crochet and barely how to knit although I had a period of knitting enthusiasm and made a sweater from my granddaughter that she first wore as a dress—four or five years later if finally fit as a sweater. I know I had a fling with macramé—who didn’t—but happily no relics of that have survived.
If anyone knows of a recipe involving crochet please let me know. Meanwhile, cucumbers grow on vines (although Pepe’s installation doesn’t include this veggie as far as I know) so here is a recipe for Cucumber Salad.
1 pound seedless cucumbers, thinly sliced (Food Network, from whence this came, suggests slicing with a mandolin. Not so fast. Just slice as thinly as possible unless you like the idea of a possible wound.
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
Put cucumbers, sugar and salt in bowl; leave to marinate for five minutes. Stir in vinegar and onion. Refrigerate five minutes before serving.
If you’d like to celebrate Ms. Pepe, get out that crochet hook or knitting needles and start a new project. Feel free to send it to me when it’s finished.