NDIANAPOLIS - An army of knitters, crocheters and weavers has created more than 13,000 blue-and-white scarves to help keep Super Bowl volunteers warm and highly visible when the big game comes to this cold-weather city.
Thousands of scarf-makers, from great-grandmothers to prison inmates, put in hours of work on the two-metre-long scarves.
Super Bowl organizers hoped to get 8,000 scarves — one for each volunteer. They ended up with thousands more, sent from 45 states, as well as Belgium, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
The designs vary widely, from simple blue-and-white stripes to intricately plotted Super Bowl themes.
The idea behind the Super Scarves program was to give the unpaid volunteers "a warm thank you" to keep them snug during the week leading up to the Feb. 5 game and make it easy for visitors to the city to identify someone who can give directions and other help, said host committee spokeswoman Dianna Boyce.
She said the scarves program was inspired by a similar effort staged a few years ago by the Special Olympics. Each scarf is adorned with an official Super Bowl host-city patch — all sewn on by inmates at the Indiana Women's Prison.
Bev Meska, an 82-year-old retired school secretary from Michigan City, Ind., was the most prolific of the more than 3,000 Super Bowl scarf-makers. She planned on crocheting only a few when she set to work in April 2010, after her daughter emailed her a link to the project website.
But Meska, who's been crocheting since age 16 and has made hundreds of afghans over the decades, ended up creating a staggering 250 scarves by November's deadline. She estimates she spent three to four hours on each one, using crocheting's single-hooked needle. Each of her scarves sports tasselled or fringed ends.
Every day, Meska said, she used her spare time to work on the scarves, often as she and her 12-year-old great-grandson, Ben Fore-Knight, watched sporting events, including NFL games. She said Ben kept encouraging her to make more. During the summers, she took her scarf work to nearby Lake Michigan.
"I crocheted everywhere — even down on the beach. I took my lawn chair and basket down there and worked away on them," she said.
Meanwhile, a group of inmates at a state prison in Indianapolis who call themselves the Naptown Knitters were learning how to knit, guided by prison volunteer Doreen Tatnall.
Tatnall, a real estate agent, didn't know how to knit either when she started. But she and 17 inmates at the 350-inmate Indianapolis Re-Entry Educational Facility, where inmates go as their release date nears, learned together by following YouTube instructional videos.
The men slowly picked up speed, creating more than two dozen scarves. Two prison staff members who knew how to knit gave them lessons during their twice-weekly, two-hour sessions.
"Once you get the hang of it, it's kind of calming. Some of the men said that for a couple of hours they forgot where they were," Tatnall said.
Steve Jordan, a 44-year-old from Kokomo who is due for release the day after the Super Bowl, made three scarves and said he would have made more if not for a prison rule forbidding inmates from taken their plastic knitting needles back to their cells.
Jordan, who is finishing out a murder sentence, said the courses were a nice break from the monotony of prison life.
"Here's a group of a guys sitting around knitting, something we normally don't have inside prison. No tension, everybody just sitting back and laughing. And knitting," he said.
Elsewhere, Belinda Martinez of St. Paul, Minn., knitted 46 scarves, some with elaborate Super Bowl or football designs. One captures in yarn the game's kickoff, showing a player's leg down to the shoe making contact with the ball.
Another pays homage to late "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz, a Minnesota native, rendering in comic-strip style the moment when hapless Charlie Brown once again tries to kick a football held by Lucy, who once again snatches it away.
Martinez let her patriotism show in other scarves, including one that includes the first verse of the National Anthem on one side, and a traditional Scandinavian design on the other.
She also knit a striped, blue-and-white "Uni-Scarf" jumpsuit for the Indianapolis Colts' mascot, a horse named Blue, to promote the Super Scarves project.
Because many of her designs are complex, Martinez, 58, charts her work first on graph paper. She'd often knit while watching football and rooting for Midwestern teams.
"I've been teasing my two brothers for a long time that knitting goes with football, and now I have so much proof that I was right," she said.
Looking for something to eat while watching the Super Bowl? Check out some of our favourite dishes made with, wait for it, beer! (Please enjoy responsibly!)
This version of chile con queso includes beer for a flavor boost. The recipe is made with a white sauce base to ensure the dip stays creamy -- it also cuts down on calories since you don't use as much cheese. Make it up to 3 days ahead of your party and reheat on the stove-top or microwave. Get the Chili con Queso recipe
For a leaner version of tacos, try this recipe for turkey tacos. The dark-meat turkey is braised in beer and spices including a cinnamon stick, which lends a warm flavor. Serve in warmed tortillas and top with cilantro and chopped red onion. Get the Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos recipe
If you crave the most tender and crispy fried chicken, this is your go-to recipe. Soaking the chicken pieces in buttermilk tenderizes them. The batter, of course, contains beer, which creates that crusty, crispy exterior. Everyone will be fighting for the last piece. Get the Beer-Battered Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe
Beer lovers will appreciate this comforting beef stew recipe, which uses one cup of Belgian ale. Start the stew off on the stove-top and move it to the oven to finish cooking. Serve over noodles or mashed sweet potatoes. Get the Beer Beef Stew recipe
A beer batter made with pale ale and whole-wheat pastry flour creates the crunchy jackets on these fried shrimp. Instead of deep frying them, try shallow pan frying, which produces just as good of a crunch but without all the oil. Serve as an appetizer with lemon and cocktail sauce. Get the New England Fried Shrimp recipe
Cheese and ale were made to pair together. This comforting soup will please both cheese and beer lovers. Make it with store-bought chicken stock or vegetables stock. Serve in mugs with crusty bread or crackers. Get the Cheddar-Ale Soup recipe
These open-faced sandwiches are great for tailgating or game-day parties. A marinade of Guinness, soy sauce and molasses lends a sweet and savory flavor to the bison steaks. The recipe can be made on the grill or grill pan. Boil down the marinade to create a sauce to top the sliced steak. Get the Guinness-Marinated Bison Steak Sandwiches recipe
Pureed dried chiles and Mexican lager add lots of flavor to this braised brisket recipe. The brisket is seared on the stove-top and then transferred to the oven to finish baking. Add beans, if you like, and serve as an appetizer with tortilla chips or use as a filling in enchiladas. Get the Beer-Braised Brisket recipe
Chili dogs are a surefire crowd-pleaser and this recipe feeds sixteen. In addition to beer, the recipe includes chipotles in adobo and pickled jalapeno, which give the chili a smoky and tangy flavor. Make the all-beef dogs on either the grill or in the broiler. Get the Smoky Chili Dogs recipe
This recipe includes 1 cup of tequila and 2 bottles of Mexican beer to create the most mouthwatering carnitas. Serve the pork in warmed corn tortillas with a choice of different topping and let everyone assemble their own tacos. Make the recipe up to 3 days in advance. Get the Beer and Tequila Carnitas recipe
This chili recipe has everything going for it. It's loaded with flavor from beer, spices and even sun-dried tomatoes, which lend a touch of sweetness. Instead of ground beef, it's made with chunks of beef for a real hearty meal. Serve topped with grated cheese, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Get the Ultimate Beef Chili recipe
You don't have to be a tailgater to make this pulled pork recipe -- our version is cooked in the oven. It's packed with spicy and tangy flavor from chili powder, beer, ketchup, cider vinegar and mustard. Serve in rolls with slaw and sliced red onion. Get the Pulled Pork Sandwiches recipe