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Da Bomb

seattleknitgraffito.jpg
Dear Ann,
Ann! Do this right now! Go to Ravelry.com, and do a search of projects using the tag “Graffiti.” (I’ll wait.) (Here’s a shortcut.)
Isn’t it cool to see all that whimsy, and to wonder, among other things, why so much of the planet’s yarn-bombing seems to be happening in Helsinki and California?
I have always admired knitted grafitti in public places, and even encountered some in the wild. But something holds me back from doing it myself, in my own city. I think it’s the idea that I’ll knit something, hang it on a park bench or lamp pole, and in 5 minutes somebody will steal it or trash it. (If Debbie Downer here would shut up for a minute, it’s probably just as likely that passersby will smile at it, and tourists will take photos of it.) But looking at the Ravelry projects, I noticed that some knit- and crochet-taggers are aiming their yarn bombs at private targets, such as an officemate’s computer or desk drawer handle. This is a good idea! Somehow reminiscent of finding that your mom has stuck a note into your lunchbox or cut your sandwich into the shape of a heart–which has got to be so embarrassing! I think if I were to do this, my policy would be to deny that I’d done it, even though I am obviously the most likely person to do such a thing, in my own circle of aquaintances, anyway. “Nope, not me. Yarn fairies. It matches my sweater? Coinicidence.”
Anyhoo. This is what I am thinking about on a Monday morning, instead of what I probably should be thinking about, which I can’t remember right now. One thing I wonder is what other knitters think about knit grafitti–is it a waste of good knitting (casting purls before swine, har har); public art in the manner of Christo and Jeanne-Claude; a comment on, or gentle reproach to, the digital age; none/all of the above?
Love,
Kay

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53 Comments

53 Comments

  1. Oh, do it! Get a crowd of knitterly types (crocheters too) a la Cara’s spinning group in Strawberry Fields. Knit things; then go put them in unexpected places (well, I guess any place would be unexpected). This would be so fun. I would love to come up there & participate!!

  2. Yarn Bombs make me smile. It’s like we’re all part of a secret club.

  3. I still haven’t decided how I feel about the graffiti. I’ve never seen it in the wild, so I think it would depend on my general mood when I encountered it. I cannot imagine doing it myself. It almost feels like Boston is too staid a place to do yarn-based graffiti.

  4. I was thinking of yarn bombing the parking pole outside my LYS. It might bring some attention to the shop and have positive comments. They would probably still think it was me.

  5. It’s just crazy! But I’m sure it makes everyone smile – which is always a good thing! My question though is – what happens when it rains? – soggy wool??? Not nice….

  6. I think it is a great fun thing. People who know I knit think I am a little crazy…It seems like a fun way to spread a little joy in the world!!!

  7. Seanna, surely Cambridge isn’t, though. How about Harvard Square? Or near MIT? (Though, I really think it would be appropriate for the Public Garden.)

  8. My secret stealthy life is as a yarn graffiti artiste! My knit group (check out South End Knitters group on Ravelry) has been doing it the past 2 years. we’ve done poles, the dog park, bike racks – serious fun! And the best part is watching all the tourists pose for pictures around the tags.
    Seanna- come join us :)
    Kay- do it- so fun, fast and then just hang by close enough to hear the comments! uplifting way to make someone’s day!

  9. I love the idea. But would be afraid it would be stolen. Perhaps if a group mass-yarned an area at one time, though……

  10. I also am not sure how I feel about it. Have seen it twice here in Chicago and have tought they were cool and made me smile both times but also thougth they were kinda wierd. Could not figure out a point or what kind of message the person was trying to send with it. I wonder what most non-knitters think about it. My husband was with me one of the times and his responce was, “really, you want to take a picture of that?” I guess it would be a ‘good’ use of all those old swatches I have laying around.

  11. I think it is just funny. (And we should all do more things just because they are funny.)

  12. As long as they don’t yarn bomb living things like trees. I like the idea of yarn bombing office accouterments. We are moving out of our cubes into pods. I will have to devise some handknit doodads.

  13. I have bombed. The first was in a public park as was the second. I went back to see how long they lasted and what reactions were, the reactions seemed happy. They didn’t last long, suspect the park cleaners took them down as all disappeared at once.
    The third bombing was done as a family outing over Christmas in the local mall. They lasted very long and are now a family tradition! My 4 year old granddaughter was really into it!
    GO FOR IT!

  14. I agree with PJ and Becky… sometimes things get so serious it’s nice to see knitting in a place where it’s not “supposed” to be! (who makes up the rules anyway….) As long as it’s not hurting anything, yarnbomb away.. I for one love it!

  15. I don’t see the point of knit graffiti. Why not knit something for charity? Much more useful.

  16. I’m a fan of knit graffiti. (But being the Treesweater Girl I would say that, wouldn’t I?!)
    Statistically the critique I most often receive is something along the lines of “what a waste of time.” My standard response is, “If you’re not using your spare time to knit sweaters for trees and telephone poles, what ARE you using it for?”
    Many knit graffiti items do either get stolen or become gross and disgusting over time. I think a 3-6 month lifespan is pretty typical. Think of it as the beauty of a transient medium, like sand castles, or those mandalas the monks destroy when they finish making them.

  17. The K-8 private school in my little town yarn-bombed the central city park. It was partly an awareness-raising event for the school. The kids all learn to knit, finger-knit, and crochet in first or second grade. They stuck around most of the day to teach interested passerby, too. Very fun.

  18. I’m all in favour. I sewed a little fun fur swatch on the stair-rail at my son’s school, and it stayed there for some time, till the end of term, anyways. I have no idea what happened to it! I mean to do more, but indeed, there is always something *real* to knit.

  19. I loved the “cannon cozy”!

  20. Streetcolor here in Berkeley is doing a great job – home spun, home dyed hand knitted colourful and object taylored pole cozies, all over town. So colourful, so cheerful (we had a very grey summer), a great asset to our street scene.
    No, i have not done it myself, but am tempted, very tempted.

  21. I love the idea of doing it privately on people you know — sort of like when you wrap a house in toilet paper for someone’s anniversary, except way nicer? But as much as I admire Beth’s group’s handiwork here in the South End, I can barely find the time to knit up all the projects I want to make never mind knitting for the neighborhood — maybe that’s because I just started the Annis shawl for the 4th time. No, that’s not 4 shawls, just 1 started 4 times. Sigh!

  22. I would probably notice it if I drove/walked by, smile, and take a picture. But I have no desire to do it myself. I wonder about things like who takes it down when it gets ratty looking? What’s the point? Is it really different than graffiti? (Although I do assume it isn’t gang related!)

  23. I intend to do some knit graffiti myself, mainly because of my husband’s joy at discovering it here in Seattle. He notices everything, from a haircut to a new plant in the neighborhood, and loves to tell me when he sees yarn bombs.
    Maybe I’ll knit him a sweater first.

  24. Oh sisters, be not afraid of the yarn bomb! : ) In these times—and when has it not been these times, really?—a little bit of colorful wool knitted up for no purpose surely is not a bad thing.
    After all, as two wise knitters(!)once wrote: “When you think about it, most knitting is a cozy for something.”* Why not a parking meter?
    *M-D Knitting Outside the Lines, page 123

  25. Personally, it depends on the application. I like the whimsical creativity aspect, but not the environmentally-unsound aspect. Improve a dumpster with yarn? Sure, okay. Wrap a tree? No, no, no. No.

  26. I think it’s pretty wonderful. So much so that I’d like to read a profile of some very cool yarn bombers in Yellow Springs OHIO and how they do it, how they incorporate totems and community members, and maybe even havesort of a yarn bombing pattern. OH WAIT! We all can read such a thing. In the new book Joan & I are finishing up. Stay tuned til a year from now…

  27. Not sure that this qualifies as yarn bombing, however do check out Sue Sturdy, KnitCambridge. The bridge in Cambridge, Ontario is now covered with pieces of knitting from all over Canada and the US. There are several links to articles and pictures. It is quite amazing!

  28. Quick, Here’s your chance for NYC, group yarn-bombing for this weekend…
    http://www.geekmom.com/2010/09/help-yarn-bomb-a-rocket-at-world-maker-faire-ny/
    The only drawback is that it is sponsored, so one must use the brand and type of yarn specified.

  29. Never considered it until you mentioned the co-workers. If I knit an i-cord for Denisa’s phone cord, maybe it wont make that twisty mess that drives me CRAZY.
    Good day.

  30. Last summer I happened on several telephone poles’ worth of yarn-bombing in front of a great LYS in an arty neighborhood of Cleveland (Shaker Square area). It was so cheerful! How can that be a bad thing?

  31. This past winter a lovely red Aran tree sweater appeared in a small park in Ithaca, where I pass on my way to work. The tree was well chosen, with two branches roughly opposite each other that are clothed with sleeves in addition to the body section surrounding about a 12″ length of trunk, and a little neck section topping the whole thing off. The sweater is very well made – the seams are well-hidden, the cables pop nicely, the ribbing snug but not too snug, and it is shaped so it fits the tree without distortion. It has made me smile countless times as I passed it, and I bless the whimsical – and talented – knitter who took the time to make it for all of us to enjoy.

  32. I really love it – and I especially love those hat racks from the Czech Republic.

  33. And then there is THIS mad woman down under.
    http://www.grrlandog.com

  34. I recently moved to a small town in a very rural area in Minnesota. I was feeling rather down not too long ago, wondering if there were any kindred spirits out there in my new neck of the woods. I decided to take my camera out and about one day, as a way to get to know my new town, which forced me to pay more attention to my surroundings than I usually do. And what do you think I discovered near in a park near the local food co-op? Someone had yarn bombed a bench! It is hard to describe the joy I felt. A kindred spirit! In a town of 8,000!
    So I say “Yay” to yarn bombing.

  35. I live in a ‘communal project’ in a complex of old alms-houses, and the powers-that-be don’t want to extend our lease (they want us OUT so’s they can build extensions and turn buildings of historical value into an office block. Rant over). We have started knitting for our fence, mainly to capture the interest of all passers-by in the hope of raising support for our project. Not much has gone up so far, but we’ve only had positive feedback, people saying how much they enjoy the colours and textures. It’s an ongoing project, so when the yarn gets really yucky we’ll renew it with new works of art (although I have already had to take a couple of pieces down and wash them).
    We are only using yarn that nobody else wants and/or itsy bitsy leftovers and/or recycling other stuff. For example, my kids had the beaded skull wrist-warnmers from Stitch’n’Bitch for dressing up as pirates – can’t remember the last time they played like that, so I picked the seams open and knitted a border round them to make them bigger: they’re a great hit!
    I like to take these little pieces with me to knit on the train or bus – they’re a handy size and there’s no fiddly pattern to mess up. They can also be great conversation starters!
    And to the poster who thinks only knitting for charity can be of value – we do that as well.

  36. I too will paraphrase loosely from a favorite knit author who happens to produce this blog: “[A parking meter] will never complain that your yarn is too scratchy.”

  37. hi all :)
    i have no interest in doing this myself.
    when i have seen it the few times i have,
    first i thot , ah here is what i have heard
    of, but really im not into it
    thanx
    peace&blessings
    maRY~

  38. Clever. I’d take a picture but I’d never waste my precious knitting time on it. I have too many Christmas presents waiting in the wings!!

  39. Seems like purls before swine to me…makes me smile but might make the non-yarn obsessed folks a bit wierded out…

  40. What I love most about this post is ‘Debbie Downer’ – you Americans are so nice to yourselves even when being critical. In Australia, if we had such a person he would be ‘Bruce the Bashing Bastard’.

  41. Lots of these showing up in PHilly….At least someone is taking the time to do something instead of walking by…
    I appreciate any little bit of beauty/craftiness I can find

  42. I love the yarn bombs! I went out to rav (as suggested of course) – LOVE love the stories that go with these things! I would totally do it, if I could do it as a summer knitting project – too busy with other projects the rest of the year.

  43. Kay saw this post just after I saw the Sept 21st article on http://www.Knittyblog.com. Check it out for the ultimate grafitti.

  44. Here’s some beautifully gentle yarn bombing.
    http://whipup.net/2010/09/21/2010-guest-blogger-series-crafting-through-a-midlife-crisis/
    Scroll down to the tree branch. So pretty and natural!
    :)

  45. In Sterling Colorado they actually design “tree cozies” for trees and lamposts in the main part of town and have an annual competition. Lovely! It is often headed by the LYS owner and designer Linda Taylor (Fiberspace is her shop.)

  46. Don’t think. Just do.
    And then take a lesson from my husband and his three little padwan.
    When accused, don’t deny, just answer back with a question.
    Did you eat all the cookies? You wouldn’t like that would you?
    Did you knit my coffee cup to my keyboard? Does that seem like something I would do?

  47. I am kinda soured on public knitfitti. On my virgin endeavor (a stop sign in my town near the big public library), someone took it down within a couple of days.
    Here’s a picture of what it looked like when it was still up (Ravelry link):
    http://www.ravelry.com/projects/stabulous/park-and-bronough

  48. Purls before swine. I can hardly knit my projects, let alone clothe an inanimate object! I object to people writing on stuff that isn’t theirs, so why is it okay to knit on it? IMHO.

  49. There is a knitting shop on South Street called Nangellini’s that did this on the pole outside of their shop….SOOOOO COOOOLLLLL

  50. South Street in Philadelphia! ha

  51. How about angel wings and a halo. She looks so sweet.

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