Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Art Week: Yarn Bombing

Have you seen the poles and other objects decorated by knitting? It is known as “yarn bombing”, as well as yarnbombing, yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, urban knitting and graffiti knitting.  It is a form of street art, practitioners using either knitting or crochet (which is faster) to create yarn installations referred to as yarn bombs or yarnstorms.

Although there had been other knitters who decorated items with cosies, the pioneer for yarn bombing is Magda Sayed, pictured above. In 2005 Sayed decorated the door handle of her Houston, Texas, boutique with a custom knitted cosie. It was so popular that she and some others founded “Knitta Please”, also known simply as “Knitta”, a group of artists who began the “knit graffiti” movement. Instead of spray cans, they used knitted and crocheted items to decorate public architecture. Originally the intent was to decorate cold and sterile built environments but yarn bombing no longer restricts itself to that. These days even statues and natural items such as trees get yarn bombed.

Sayeg’s group dwindled to just herself but she remains active, both in the US and internationally as a speaker and knitting activist.

I confess that I am in two minds about it. On the one hand, it does brighten drab environments and generates warm fuzzies when you think that an anonymous person has exerted themselves to make something more pleasant for no tangible or financial reward and without recognition. Perhaps as with graffiti taggers the thrill is in seeing one’s work displayed. On the other hand, I query why a tree is considered more appealing for being covered. Also, what was appealing when new becomes tacky when faded and worn, contributing to pollution and ugliness.


Some examples of yarn bombing:

Bonus Graffiti item:

Whilst on the topic of graffiti, I love the following story.
English street artist DS saw a public official removing one of his street art installations. DS took a photo of the man in the process of removal. The next day, after removal of the work, there was a new stencil graffiti in its place.

Here is a pic of the original and the replacement:

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