You may know it by another name? It seems different countries around the world call it by a different name - Grafitti knitting – yarn bombing – yarn storming – guerilla knitting - but whatever you call it, the outcome is the same - colourful displays of knitted or crocheted street art, sewn around inanimate public objects such as bike racks, statues, lamp posts, telephone boxes, trees, even buses in Mexico and this tuk tuk in Cambodia!
Why do it?
Naturally each artist who ‘bombs’ has their own reasons but it’s generally accepted that the overall purpose of yarn bombing is to brighten up the streetscape, and is particularly effective in urban built up locations or in winter when nature’s colours are more muted. Although it is sometimes called a form of graffiti it seems to offend fewer people then painted graffiti, and is less damaging, less permanent and cheaper to remove!
What it undoubtedly does is causes people to stop and take a fresh look at their surroundings. Larger groups such as Knitta Please and Knit the City often do large scale projects, but smaller ‘tags’ as they’re known in the profession can easily be created and installed by lone artists.
Crumbz’ yarn bomb
We created quite a stir last year when Crumbz yarn bombed the lamppost outside the front of our craft shop. We had such an overwhelming response from the public – it was even featured in our local newspaper, the Mountain Views.
And when we were asked to take it down by our local council, our fans were very upset. It had the largest response and greatest traction on our facebook page of any posts we’ve ever uploaded, reaching over 4300 people!
How did we do it?
We used Panda 8ply Magnum (doubled). Acrylic is the best yarn to work with and we doubled the 8ply to give it more texture, strength and coverage. Acrylic stands up to winter weather best – wool will sag and mat together and won’t look its best after a few days.
Yarn bombing is popular because once people have the skills to do it, it’s really easy to do. They need to learn to knit or know how to crochet to get the skills and to gain the knowledge about yarns, patterns, stitches etc.
As with any project, they’d need to plan their design – so that helpers know how their part fits in, select the yarn, have a purpose – link it to their town, or surroundings, enlist some support – it takes a lot of work to cover a single pole – for us it was about 2-3 months in the making.
There are any number of ways of approaching it but we made panels of knitting and crochet (to showcase the various stitches/techniques) and then stitched/crocheted them together. We used cable ties to support the birds on top of the lamp-post and to attach each section to the other – this made it firm and tight – able to stand up to people touching, cuddling the pole (as some people did).
When to do it?
Yarn bombing can be done any time of the day or night and in any season. June 11th is International Yarn Bombing Day apparently so you could aim for then to do your first instillation. Here are some Paris statues looking rather colourful.
Famous yarn bombers
One of the most prolific yarn bombers is Magda Sayeg who has her own website and is responsible for these famous yarn bombs plus many more.
She started small; one day she put a piece of knitted yarn around her office door handle and it went from there. She has no political agenda, she simply wants to brighten up places she visits, from the Great Wall of China to Sydney Opera House.
Some people question the usefulness of yarn bombing, wanting the knits to be made into something after they’ve been displayed, so that people in need might benefit. But for the most part, yarn bombing is just that, it is a gesture, an art form, that is often taken away by passers by, not repurposed, it just is.
And sometimes that’s important in life, not everything has to be created for a reason, sometimes it’s nice to just make things for fun – whimsy at its best. Anything that adds colour, or wonder, adds to life.
For more yarn bombing inspiration, check out:
Vodaphone Ireland even made an ad about it! Yarn bombing had nothing to do with their offer but it made for a feel good beautiful ad.