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article image'Midnight Knitter' baffles police in West Cape May, New Jersey

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By Stephanie Dearing     Mar 11, 2010 in Arts
You know of graffiti artists who strike under the cover of night, spraying their artwork on available surfaces. And you've likely heard of guerrilla gardeners who like to plant gardens in barren urban corners. But guerrilla knitting?
West Cape May, N.J. - Making sweaters for trees is a relatively new phenomenon. The nightly art installations have been the source of pleasure for many residents of West Cape May, New Jersey, but police say it's still a crime. The unknown knitter has been en-sheathing tree branches, tree trunks, hydro poles and lamp posts with unique fitted sweaters. Police are investigating because the person who is committing the crime of art is using public property without permission. Police have not said if there would be any charges laid against the Midnight Knitter, if the person was ever tracked down.
The West Cape May Mayor, Pam Kaithern, reportedly enjoys the handiwork of the Midnight Knitter.
The guerrilla knitter or knitters have specifically been targeting Wilbraham Park in West Cape May since the end of February 2010.
A person or group calling him/herself "Salty Knits" has claimed to be behind the colourful handmade decorations that show up overnight. There is a Facebook group for the "mystery knitters who are sick of knittin kitten mittens." They are also on MySpace, and the Mystery Knitters/Salty Knits have their own website. The group hasn't limited itself to trees and poles, having also created cozies for public telephone cords and stop sign poles in West Cape May.
The news of the exploits of the Midnight Knitter is delighting people around the world. The idea of knitting sweaters for trees got started in 2006 when someone calling him or herself "Tree Hugger" began knitting cozies for trees in New York. The idea caught on, and tree cozies have since been knit in Indiana, Ohio, Oregon, Michigan and Illinois, and now New Jersey.
The movement puts new meaning to Joyce Kilmer's famous poem, Trees:
"I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree."
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