After eleven months of work, John Ossowski (left) and Mike Beehm (right) installed their yarn tree at the Little Falls Public Library.

By Dave Warner

John Ossowski and Mike Beehm spent eleven months creating a yarn Christmas tree that is a work of art. The tree is currently on display at the Little Falls Public Library, where they are using it to draw people into the facility, but also garner some attention for their Second Annual Pop-Up Yarn Shop, scheduled for December 9th from 10 am until 3 pm.

Beehm stated that there are actually a lot of crocheted Christmas trees all over the world. “A lot of them tend to be a bit smaller than this one. Other people have done it, but the design came from us.”

The tree is 10 1/2 feet tall, and they believe it’s the tallest in the Mohawk Valley. “It’s not the biggest in the world, but easily the biggest in Central New York,” stated Ossowski.

“There’s about 18 miles of yarn in all of this, from skirt to topper. There’s about eleven months of work from the two of us,” Ossowski said.

There are 87 normal-sized skeins of yarn, 80% of which were repurposed. “The circumference is 19 feet, and the width is six feet. We estimate that there are about 150,000 stitches in the body of the tree alone. Probably more,” Beehm mentioned.

They said that the crochet itself weighed 39 pounds but that they had to create a wooden structure underneath to hold everything. “A lot of the wood was just left-over stuff that we had. I did buy plywood to make each layer,” Ossowski said.

Most of the tree is recycled, and they said they did it with what they had. “That’s the big question – what can you do with who you are and what you have,” stated Ossowski.

Beemn said that a lot of the education and inspiration came from their grandmothers. “With crochet, you think, ‘We’re putting a blanket together or something like that,’ and yes, you can do that, but you can also create a sculpture with it too,” Ossawski said.

“We really wanted to elevate crochet to another level that people might not perceive it to be,” Beehm said.

The art of crochet has had somewhat of a resurgence lately in that young people are starting to pick up the craft. “They’re seeing the use and fun in it, and it’s kind of a meditative craft – very zen, I’d say,” stated Beehm.

“It’s helped people with mental health issues, and it’s definitely something that the younger generation has picked up on,” he said.

Beehm said that last year, he was teaching an after-school program and would get 60-75 kids in a day to crochet at Proctor High School.

“I have students that I teach here and at Paca Gardens, and they’re learning at all different ages and finding some value in it, either for their own creative expression or making something to wear,” said Ossowski. “It’s like a low barrier to entry hobby. You don’t need a lot of money or fancy equipment to do this.”

They both said you can get started for less than twenty dollars. “You can buy fiber pretty cheaply, but you can also get high-end material as well,” he said.

The purple star at the top is Alpaca wool and was donated by Paca Gardens as a tribute to the City of Little Falls since it’s purple.

Cheyenne Aney, director at the library, stated, “When John asked if the library would display this magnificent crocheted Christmas tree, the answer was a resounding, Yes!”

“John has been a huge part of our Saturday programming here at the library by having the Little Falls Friends of Fiber hold their knitting and crochet group in our Front Parlor. Having the tree here just made sense. John and Mike poured their hearts and souls into this tree, making it a symbol for not only the fiber arts community but also the Little Falls community. It’s genuinely an honor to display it here,” she said.

Beehm said, “This is just a gift from us to the community.”

For next year, they’re thinking of making their entire house a yarn installation for the holidays. “It’s a great place for an installation,” said Ossawski.

If you’re interested in learning more, supplies have been donated and are available at the library to be used during classes.

For more information on the project, The Second-Annual Pop-Up Yarn Shop, and raffle tickets for the chance to win a throw blanket, visit https://www.littlefallsfof.com/