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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

March 18, 2011 at 6:35 PM

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Fresh socks may tickle fans, stump critics

Posted by Gabriel Campanario


Sketched March 15, 2:46 p.m.

Suzanne Tidwell and Beth Newfeld are using 35 miles of yarn to bring a splash of color, and a little controversy, to quiet suburban Sammamish.

Last December, the local fiber artists covered six 20-foot tree stumps at a busy intersection with giant winter-themed knitted socks adorned with embroidered snowflakes.

The self-funded temporary art installation has unraveled the community, drawing strong opinions from supporters and critics, including dozens of e-mails to City Hall and a Facebook page denouncing the bright socks as something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Councilmember John Curley said some people complain that the socks are frivolous and others love them for their whimsy. "You can't argue about art."

Thanks to a county grant, Tidwell is back at the knitting machine rushing new pink, yellow and purple spring-themed socks to be installed in April. She said the socks turn a natural eyesore into a fun sculpture and give passers-by a reason to pause and smile.

The trees are located at Northeast Fourth Street and 228th Avenue Northeast near Eastlake High School.

The city originally left the diseased cedar trees as 20-foot stumps for a possible totem project, but in a recent council meeting it was decided to remove them completely by the end of the year.

"Now we are going to have spring socks, summer socks, fall socks and then we'll chop them off," said Curley.


The tree socks are not the first urban knitting project for Tidwell, 42, and Newfeld, 49. Last spring they wrapped seven light poles and forty bollards in front of the Sammamish City Hall. And last January they knitted a 50-foot-long scarf for the Fremont Troll.

What next for these woolly warriors? I'd say, watch out Space Needle!


Sketch-worthy Seattle. Where should I take my sketchpad next? Do you know of a good sketch story waiting to be drawn? I'd love to learn about it. You can send me your suggestions to or via Facebook or Twitter.

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