After months of Covid-19 mandates and restrictions, along with the shutdown of schools and businesses, Palisadians are looking for normalcy as places slowly reopen.
One interesting return to normal is a treat: the annual “yarn bombing” in Pacific Palisades, which has been the brainchild of Michelle Villemaire for many years.
The yarn coverings went up on Saturday at the Village Green in time for the Fourth of July celebration.
Villemaire has yarn-bombed the Green for five years – and before that, the installation was on Monument before the construction of Caruo’s mall.
Her projects always went up in March to coincide with National Women’s History month, highlighting famous women, actresses, scientists, doctors, politicians and singers/dancers.
This year was different. Not only were there stay-at-home orders because of the virus, but also the death of the family’s beloved pet dog, Bowie, and the threat of rain, put everything on hold.
Villemaire decided to go forward with a mini bomb on the Green designed especially for July 4th. Although it does not feature women of note, the talented designer still provides an important message — paying homage to a Palisades 4th and also to the political climate in the nation.
“I wanted to yarn bomb the folding chairs that were put out days in advance along the parade route,” Villemaire said. Every year, days before the Fourth, chairs are placed on the parade route. “Their hodgepodge beauty and the absence of our bodies in them is intended to reflect the uncertainty of living in this time of global pandemic.
“They also represent our unwillingness to sit by during this time of civil uprising,” Villemaire continued. “At the same time, you’ll notice that the chairs are linked together, a sign of hope and unity for the future.”
An “Air Force brat” who was born in Massachusetts but spent much of her childhood in Saudi Arabia, Villemaire has helped several residents with interior design projects. She has also used those talents on “Weekend Refresh” and “Design 101” for Tastemade, a 24/7 streaming television network that focuses on “video content and original programming in the categories of Food, Travel, and Design for a direct-to-consumer, multi-platform experience.”
As soon as Covid-19 precautions are in place, taping will start for a new show, “Quality in Style,” which Villemire will host.
“We have had to completely rework the creative to comply with Covid guidelines,” she said. “The first episodes will be a collaboration with The Home Depot.”
Villemaire, like many Palisades moms, was also tasked with overseeing the education of her daughters, Pearl, 12, and Vivi, 9, this spring. “It was rough at first — all that screen time and no rink, gym or track time,” she said, but her daughters did well with online learning.
“I’m a terrible teacher,” she said laughing, “so I’m hoping very much that brick-and-mortar schools reopen in the fall.”
Villemaire, whose husband is TV writer Jonathan Abrahams, said she spent the past few months at home, painting, organizing, planting a garden and learning a language, Thai.
“I never learned from my mother as a kid and it’s so rewarding to know how to read and write in a language I once thought would be impossible to learn,” Villemaire said.
She sent thanks to her “star volunteers” for the Village Green project, including Marge Gold, Cindy Simon, Palisades High School teacher Karyn Newbill Helmig and her PaliHi students Dylan Mortimer, Ally Bierschenk, Mya Holland, Amina Hall and Sydney Brouwer.
The yarn was donated by Robin Walpert.
Villemaire is thankful to the Village Green Park Board for their support (the Village Green, although open to the public, is a private park) and to Jim Kirtley, the Palisades-Malibu YMCA executive director.
Kirtley said the Y feels the ongoing yarn-bombing projects are important because “of the light they shine on the importance of women currently and historically.”
Though the theme was slightly different this year, Kirtley said, “this project is important because of the community aspect it brings to the Palisades.”
The Villemaire/Abrahams family is also looking to the future. “We adopted a puppy, his name is Koa and he’s pure love,” Michelle said.