The Tempestry Project – Visualizing climate data that is accurate, personal, tangible, beautiful.
[Editor’s Note: I especially like this project because, at it’s base, it is a folk art response to our world: it is hand made, requires one set of hands with knitting needles and yarn, accessible to all, requires only basic human skills and tools, and is “zero-tech” (“zero-tech”, as in, requires no electricity, no grid, no global-military-industrial-extractive-culture-economy to support and express it.)]
One of the ongoing problems inherent in discussions about climate change is the vast scale of the conversation. The Tempestry Project’s goal is to scale this down into something that is accurate, tangible, relatable, and beautiful.
The Tempestry Project blends fiber art with temperature data to create a bridge between global climate and our own personal experiences through knitted or crocheted temperature tapestries, or “Tempestries.” Each Tempestry represents the daily high temperature for a given year and location, January at the bottom and December at the top (think bar graphs!), all using the same yarn colors and temperature ranges (see below for details).
A single Tempestry can be a beautiful commemoration of an important life event — a birthday, a wedding, or even (as in the case of one participant) a family’s immigration date. A collection of Tempestries showing different years for a single location creates a powerful visual representation of changing temperatures over time.
As more and more people create Tempestries, both individually and in geographic collections, a mosaic of our climate history is beginning to emerge. The more people get involved — through knitting, crocheting, discussing, sharing — the richer, the more beautiful, and the more undeniable this mosaic becomes.
Temperature data comes from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and is available to the public at www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/search. Please note, the data is not always complete and sometimes has to be supplemented with data from www.wunderground.com, or from nearby weather stations.
We’ve assigned specific colors from KnitPicks’ Wool of the Andes Worsted to represent specific temperature ranges in 5-degree increments from less than -30°F to more than 121°F. Using the same universal yarns and colors creates a visual comparison between years and places, and KnitPicks is affordable and accessible. The full list of colors and corresponding temperature ranges is included in the project guidelines in each Tempestry Kit. This information is also available for free here in our Files.