Interpreting the Bremen Bridge Cosy

El Guapo, Bremen Town bridge cosy

Bremen Town bridge cosy

Last Saturday El Guapo and I had a pleasant walk along some lovely waterways in Bremen. On this walk we came upon a pedestrian bridge whose end posts were covered in knitted sleeves, in stripes of different kinds and colors of yarn.

We puzzled over them for a while, and it caused me to consider how we determine the meaning of new things we encounter in our travels. I certainly have never before seen a bridge cosy like this, but I don’t have the background with this area to answer questions about it. Is this typical? Maybe lots of German pedestrian bridges have bridge cosies. Or perhaps it’s a variation on a theme? Maybe there’s a strong German tradition of knitting covers for architectural elements, and this is a natural outgrowth of that tradition. Or is this a completely new thing? Maybe no one in the world has ever knitted a bridge cosy before now, here or elsewhere, and I’ve witnessed a truly new application for knitwear.

As a traveler I’m very aware that I can make observations, but I can’t necessarily understand what I’m seeing without some local knowledge. I generally shy away from guided tours of any kind, but I would have greatly appreciated a local perspective on the bridge cosy, and even more, a chance to chat with the knitter.

I talked with Liebling and Chiquito about the bridge cosy later, and they smiled knowingly. It turns out that knitted cosies aren’t a German thing, but a knitters’ thing, a sort of knitted graffiti. Doing a little research, I was introduced to the terms yarn bombing and yarnstorming. It’s an international phenomenon now. Standing by that bridge in Bremen, without enough knowledge of either German or knitting culture, I wasn’t able to put what I saw into a context I could work with.

Alvaro León, Madrid, Wikimedia Commons

Alvaro León, Madrid, Wikimedia Commons

Pondering the significance of a knitting-wrapped bridge was valuable for me. It reminded me of how much I don’t know, and of the critical importance of humility in the face of new experiences. (I’ll just take a minute and try to think of a situation where humility would not be an asset. Hmm. Nothing comes to mind.) This was a comparatively easy call for me–I see stockinette stitch where I expect to see iron–I know that I don’t know what’s going on.

The more difficult situations are those where I don’t recognize my ignorance: things are just familiar enough that I can make assumptions. I think I understand, so maybe I don’t take the time to look carefully, and then I miss things, or just plain get it wrong. What would it be like if in my travels, in my relationships, in my life, I approached things with curiosity and a recognition of the limitations of my understanding? I have a feeling it would be better.

The last question is whether there’s something in my life that could really benefit from a knitted cosy. While I ponder this, you can ponder some pictures of yarnstorms in various places.

Joanbanjo, Alicante, Spain, Wikimedia Commons

Joanbanjo, Alicante, Spain, Wikimedia Commons

Bilderguru22, Dresden, Wikimedia Commons

Bilderguru22, Dresden, Wikimedia Commons

An-d in Sweden, Wikimedia Commons

An-d in Sweden, Wikimedia Commons

Zorro2212 in Poland, Wikimedia Commons

Zorro2212, Poland, Wikimedia Commons

5 thoughts on “Interpreting the Bremen Bridge Cosy

  1. yes yarn bombing is world wide now,and often done in the dark of night. You knit the piece, then with more yarn whipstitch it to fit, or have it remeasured to fit. When you get back we can yarnbomb together

  2. And I thought I was a knitter/crocheter “of the first water!” It turns out I’m a baby, an amateur par excellence! Those pictures are all quite amazing. Your notes were thought-provoking and great!! Love, MOM

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