Love it or hate it, yarnbombing is most definitely a thing, and as I clearly fall into the “LOVE” category, I thought I’d tell you a bit more about it and show you some of my favourite examples of this “guerilla knitting” phenomenon.
What is a YarnBomb?
Wikipedia tells us that “Yarn bombing, yarnbombing, yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, kniffiti, urban knitting or graffiti knitting is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk.”
Urban Dictionary goes on to say that “While yarn installations–called yarn bombs or knit bombs–may last for years, they are considered non-permanent, and, unlike graffiti, can be easily removed if necessary.”
There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer on the early history of festooning objects with colourful yarn. I’m sure it’s been done for thousands of years in some form or another, but it’s really caught on in the last 10 – 15 years. People have yarnbombed everything from trees, lamp posts, phone boxes and bike racks to bridges, airplanes and submarines! This bizarre, yet beautiful hobby of Crafting-By-Stealth is attributed to a Texan woman called Magda Sayeg in around 2005. An article in The Guardian explains,
“Sayeg was managing a clothes shop in 2005 when she was struck by the ugliness of its steel-and-concrete surroundings. Overwhelmed by “a selfish desire to add colour to my world”, she knitted her shop a door handle. Then she knitted a sheath for the stop-sign pole across the road. “People got out of their cars and took photos in front of it,” she recalls. Seduced by these positive reactions, she began splattering bits of knitting across the world: over parking meters in Brooklyn, over a bus in Mexico, most recently over the gun carried by an 8m-high statue of a soldier in Bali, neutering its violence.”
In London in 2009 the group “Knit the City” came together and further popularised this movement, spreading sneaky works of knitted and crocheted art all across London. They have a fantastic website where you can read more about their shenanigans and soak up the glorious images of many of their installations.
More history and inspiration on the story of yarnbombs can be found at the art website WIDEWALLS where you can also find a great TED TALK by Magda Sayeg herself. I especially love how she talks about beautifying the possibly ugly without removing its functionality.
Trees are a very popular recipients of decorative yarn, and I think it’s their organic and flowing shapes that carry it off so well. Of course, it’s important to ensure that you’re not damaging the tree in any way, but I’ll talk more about that in a minute.
And then there are bikes and bike racks
And cars and trams, of course.
I this this might be one of my absolute favourites:
And let me just leave you with a couple more. OK, so the guy in the knitted suit probably doesn’t quite qualify as YarnBombed, but it’s such an awesome photo I had to include it!
Via LONDON KAYE
So, my lovely Stashers, there you have some of my favourite yarnbombs. I think it’s important to mention that there are some legal and safety issues. Yarnbombing is, strictly speaking, illegal. There is also the potential do either damage urban items or living trees and plants. While these works of art look fabulous when first installed, yarn does degrade over time, so they should be treated as temporary works of art, with the artists all taking personal responsibility for removing them before any harm or degradation takes place. A muddy, ripped bunch of yarn isn’t terribly attractive, as you can imagine! When using living plants as a base, it’s also vital to not damage it, or to cause any harm to wildlife who may use the plant.
And legally, as I said, it doesn’t usually fall fully into the category of graffiti, as this usually requires paint or similar, but be warned, you could get in trouble with the law if the legal owner of the property or item in question isn’t as passionate about yarn art as you are!
Be sure to follow my Pinterest Board that has even more eye-boggling images of every day urban objects being stealthily gifted a coat of divine and colourful YARN!