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September 25, 2013

Mystery knitter surprises Cranbrook with touching tribute

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Elana Belzyt, 6, of Royal Oak, said she liked the “yarn bomb” on Steggy. She paid the model Stegosaurus a visit on her way to the museum Saturday.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Don’t let anyone tell you that science doesn’t have style.

On the morning of Sept. 16, staff at the Cranbrook Institute of Science arrived at the museum to a bit of a surprise — their old pal Steggy, the huge model Stegosaurus that sits just outside the museum, was sporting some fashionable new threads. 

“It happened sometime during the night. My first thought was that it might’ve been an art student at the (Art) Academy,” said Stephen Pagnani, head of communications for Cranbrook Educational Community. “But I thought it was really interesting.”

But Steggy’s clothes — consisting of brightly colored knit leg warmers, an eye patch, bracelets and scrunchies — weren’t an abstract installation planted by an art student. They were a gift from a mystery guest.

“I came inside, and someone had found a letter on (Steggy) in a baggy, to protect it from the rain,” explained Pagnani.

The note was penned by someone who identified herself only as “Jenn.” She wrote about coming to the institute as a child, and how it instilled in her a lifelong love of science. She’s now perusing a Bachelor of Science degree in geology while her husband earns his Ph.D.

“You also gave me a place to be myself,” Jenn wrote to Steggy. “As a girl, I was teased for liking paleontology and wanting to play dinosaurs with the boys.”

“It was an amazing Monday morning for us,” said Michael Stafford, director of the Cranbrook Institute of Science, in a prepared statement. “Our mission is to inspire a love of science, and clearly that happened with Jenn. She’s a very talented knitter. I am sure she will make a wonderful geologist. She clearly loves science, and we are thrilled that her love of science started at Cranbrook.”

Word of Steggy’s “yarn-bombing” has spread across the country, getting picked up by media outlets like Yahoo!, MSN, ABC and even Glamour magazine. Even still, the elusive Jenn has yet to reveal herself.

“She was a previous visitor, and homeschooled, the note said. She said that she’s going to pursue a geology degree, and when she graduates, she’s going to come back and get a photo with Steggy. So, maybe someday we’ll know who she is,” said Pagnani.

Steggy wore his duds until this past Sunday, when they were taken off and tucked away in the institute’s collections, perhaps to be displayed sometime in the future.

For more information, visit www.science.cranbrook.edu.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.