WEST CAPE MAY — They disappeared as mysteriously as they appeared.
The knitted tree and lamp cozies that adorned Wilbraham Park, leading to national media attention and a debate on whether they were “knitfitti” or art, were noticeably missing Friday.
“They’re gone. We didn’t take them down,” said Mayor Pam Kaithern.
The mayor believes the anonymous knitters, known only by their Internet name Salty Knits, but locally called the “midnight knitters,” may have been spooked by all the attention.
The yarn about the colorful park-art has been told all over the world thanks to the Internet. It not only brought Philadelphia television news crews to town but had also been featured on national programs. Charles Osgood of CBS News did a segment interviewing Kaithern.
The Web site for the knitters, www.saltyknits.com, went from a little more than 200 hits a few days ago to 8,503 as of Friday evening. Comments on the Facebook page were coming in from all over the world.
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“Please come to Adelaide, Australia. Our landscape is very brown due to a 13-year drought. Your knits would brighten our streets,” Karina Hutchesson wrote.
“Oh if only someone here in gloomy old England would pretty up the place,” said Pat Loft, of England.
“Very cool. Yay you,” wrote Tracy Quinn, of Ireland.
Local Commissioner Peter Burke also wrote in to say public works did not remove the yarn, and he said police only wanted the knitters to get permits. The knittings were mostly on trees and lamp standards, but some showed up on stop signs and public phone booths.
While it is technically illegal to deface a public area, nobody is planning to prosecute anyone for bringing color to a park that features only a few tiny crocus flowers this time of year, Kaithern said.
The park was still adorned with colorful yarn Thursday evening, but on Friday morning it was gone. Kaithern said somebody “threw the circuit breaker” that lights the park, so it sounds like the removal was done in the dark of night.
“Nobody saw them take it down,” Kaithern said.
One theory is that the knitters removed the yarn, although some said there were also some opponents of the project apparently designed to bring some brightness after a particularly cold and gray winter. Another idea is that teenagers removed the knittings just for kicks.
But Salty Knits made it clear on their Web site that they are not done just yet. This is a group that won’t reveal their individual names but proclaims to the world that they are expanding their focus as “knitters that got sick of knitting kitten mittens.”
Their site on Thursday unveiled their latest project at the Higher Grounds coffee house next to the park, but makes no reference to the the missing artwork.
The newest project is a tree surrounded by a multitude of knitted colors. The difference: It’s on private property.
Contact Richard Degener: