At this year’s Harvest Festival, Putney’s annual fall celebration of food, music, crafts, games and good cheer was a special fiber art exhibit featuring tapestries created by local knitters to demonstrate the impact of climate change.
Called tempestries — a blend of tapestry and temperature — they use colored yarn to create a bar graph of the daily temperature for one geographic location, in this case Putney. The effort started as part of a student’s project week, and with the help of Putney School Librarian Sarah Wiles it has grown considerably.
“It is the only tempestry exhibit in Vermont and is the largest collection of tempestries for one location that exists,” Wiles said. “With our changing climate, the recent disasters and Vermonters’ concerns, I think it has statewide interest.”
Each row represents a specific day, and the color of yarn represents a specific temperature range of 5 degrees. The colors used are consistent across the international initiative spanning nearly every U.S. state and more than 20 countries. Each bar graph represents one year, so lining them all up together creates a visually cohesive narrative demonstrating the rise of temperature over time.
This local project brought together knitters and crocheters from across the region. Fourteen tempestries were on display at Centre Church in Brattleboro in April, and the number is now up to 41.
“I hope it gives people a chance to think about climate change in a more visceral way,” Wiles said. “We talk about it and are experiencing it all the time, but because it happens on such a large scale and over such a long period of time, it’s difficult to relate it to everyday life.”