by David Fox
Usually when one thinks of knitting, wool sweaters or scarves come to mind. But a new form of the craft is cropping up all over the world, yarn bombing. Commonly referred to as guerrilla knitting, this art movement involves using colorful yarn to adorn different objects and structures in an impromptu way. While the practice has been around for a few years now, it seems to be gaining popularity fast. So what is yarn bombing? Let's take a closer look.
Yarn bombing is part street art, part graffiti, and part activism, which combines the seemingly "cute" and comforting elements of knitting and crocheting, with the revolutionary and mild civil disobedience of graffiti / "tagging" of public objects, in order to make some sort of artistic statement.
Yarn bombing, aka "guerrilla knitting", can be done to smaller, more innocuous objects like a water pipe or tree branch, highlighting them in some way and making you notice them (whereas you may not have before), or, on the other extreme, it can be done to big things like a bus or stairs, a statue, or even a tank! Yarn bombing certainly draws attention!
The overall purpose of yarn bombing is to make a statement, by changing the way we look at things. But when did it start? Let's take a look!
Yarn bombing basically started in 2005 in Houston, USA, when a woman named Magda Sayeg created her first "yarn-bomb" artwork, inadvertently, when she put some knitting over her door knob.
Just a small gesture, but it got the ball (no pun intended) rolling, because people started to notice and give her positive feedback.
Magda would be the first to admit that she didn't think that her one little knitted door handle would grow to become a movement, that would go on to change her life and be done throughout the world.
Soon after, she started a group called Knitta Please which is a community of like-minded knitters who like the idea of beautifying public spaces.
But what made her do it in the first place? The reason why Magda yarn-bombed her door handle was simple - she just wanted to put something warm and cozy-looking on a cold urban material that she sees every day.
When you think about it, this instinct is quite natural, but to some people, it's a slightly weird idea. People can understand putting a cozy on a teapot, but a doorknob? Why dress up your doorknob? Well, why not!
Magda didn't stop with her doorknob. She decided to go to the public space and wrap the stop sign near her house. No big deal, right?
Well, it caused a public reaction: people not only stopped by to look at it but also started to take pictures of this unique view that they saw. Was this a joke? Who would put yarn on a stop sign?
Peoples' reactions to her new hobby influenced Magda to continue her work by placing her knitting over more and more things, and so the movement began. Some people didn't like this, but some did, and that was all it took to start the trend.
Little did the unsuspecting public know that there was a group forming, in the form of Knitta Please, where all the knitters have their own "handles", based loosely on hip hop and graffiti culture. Names include: Knotorious N.I.T., SonOfaStitch, P-Knitty, PolyCotN, and AKrylik, to name a few.
The "bombs" began slowly. A few poles, and then some trees, and a few other "normal" objects started to get this new "look", providing them with a positive vibe that people maybe didn't see before.
Knitta Please grew and grew, and together with Magda's growing passion, her curiosity what else could be "bombed" grew as well.
They stuck to hip hop conventions, even putting knitted sneakers over telephone lines the way that gangs did it to express their dominance of a given territory, although the prevailing message in this case was a message of niceness, as opposed to aggression.
The things these "guerrilla knitters" decided to "dress up" became bigger and bigger, with one big project being the wrapping of a whole bus in Mexico City.
This action gave way to another POV, a new perspective on yarn bombing, and changed her career further because she became known by her artwork to the other people.
Another interesting thing happened after the bus: according to Magda, yarn bombing had stopped belonging to only her, and it became a fully functional art movement across the world.
The more people saw wrapped up things in the public areas, the more started to repeat it by creating their own pieces in different places all around the world.
Magda proved that there is no object in the public place, which cannot be yarn bombed. From a door handle at her home to statues, to tanks, to basically *anything*.
Her installations brought joy and gave life to the grey and cold urban environment and that showed that by using imagination, art can be created everywhere and from all kinds of materials.
Since the message of this new type of street art spread through the whole wide world, more and more artists tried to create new and exciting projects by using the yarn bombing technique.
Some of those artists became very well known, like London Kaye. (visit her website here: https://www.londonkaye.com/)
She started to knit when she was thirteen years old, but her perspective on knitting was pretty much traditional, till she saw one girl with a crocheted bag and thought "ohh, that's cool!" From there it became more or less an obsession.
After she put her knitted scarf on a tree for the first time, London got excited and realized that this could be the beginning of something new and important in her life.
She loves to watch people's reactions to her work and these many positive feelings pushed her to keep creating even more.
The main tool she knits with is a needle printed by 3-D printer. According to Kaye, yarn is a great material for creating art because it is flexible, allowing for stretching and manipulation of shapes, which opens the door for lots of different possibilities.
Started with water pipes and trees, London had created many works for various companies.
She implemented an idea of a crocheted 25-foot-by-50-foot billboard for Miller Lite Beer in Times Square, New York.
Also, Kaye did some yarn bombing in one of the New York metro trains on Valentine's day and people's reaction was generally very friendly - they smiled, took pictures, and said compliments to the artist for her idea.
Kaye's activities have in and of themselves, inspired many knitters to take up the needles and start knitting. She invited knitters from New York to bring various pieces of knittings, they could all create together.
As a result of this gesture, one big crochet was created and hung on one of the fences in the city. It showed that everyone can try to create something in unison and yarn bombing can help to bring the community together.
Since the beginning of the yarn bombing, it has brought people together, but it is more than a happy-go-lucky movement. There is a sense of activism around it.
One of the examples of "political" yarn-bombing is a tank in Dresden, Germany. This idea to do this controversial act was born for Kristina Kroemer, who is a political scientist and owns a fashion design store.
She was interested in Dresden's history, the city was completely destroyed during WWII, so the war topic was always inseparable from the town. Her cause was, in a nutshell - good vs. evil.
So, she put her knitting on this tank, which was in front of the Military Museum. According to her, after this act, the tank looked rather innocent, almost harmless - creating an anti-military statement.
Similar statements had been made about the war in Denmark, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.
With all kinds of crocheted objects bringing joy and inspiration to people, yarn bombing has spread through many countries and inspired many meaningful movements.
Have you seen any yarn bombs lately? Leave a comment below!
The process starts by selecting an object or location that would benefit from some decoration or improvement. Once the target is chosen, the next step is to create the actual yarn bombs.
This can be done by using any type of yarn, but most yarn bombers prefer to use brightly colored wool or acrylic so that their work really stands out. Once the yarn bombs are ready, they're attached to the object or location using a variety of methods depending on what material they're made from and how big they are.
Smaller items like flowers or hearts might be simply tied on with a length of yarn, while larger objects might need to be stitched or glued into place. And that's really all there is to it! Yarn bombing is a simple but effective way to add some personality to your community and have some creative fun at the same time.
There are many different types of yarn bombing, from small-scale projects like decorative covers for street lamps to large-scale installations that can cover entire buildings. Here are some of the most popular types of yarn bombing:
Yarn bombers often take to the streets to add a touch of color and personality to otherwise mundane urban landscapes. This type of yarn bombing can range from simple displays of knitted or crocheted flowers to more elaborate scenes that can transform an entire city block.
Large buildings can be given a makeover with the help of some creative yarn bombers. Billboards, construction sites, and even public transportation vehicles have all been targets of these colorful interventions.
Yarn bombers have also been known to add a little bit of color to some of the world's most famous statues and monuments. From the Bronze Soldier in Estonia to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, no monument is safe from a yarn bombing makeover.
Yarn bombing can even bring some life to otherwise bare trees. This type of project is often seen in the winter months, when yarn bombers add colorful hats, scarves, and other accessories to trees to bring a little bit of cheer to the colder months.
Knitted covers for car mirrors and antennas are one of the most popular types of yarn bombing projects. These can be a fun way to add some color and personality to otherwise mundane street scenes.
With so many different types of yarn bombing, it is clear that this creative art form is here to stay! Whatever your preferred style or location, you are sure to find a project that suits your skills and interests. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start decorating the world with yarn!
Yarn bombing, also known as guerilla knitting or yarn storming, is a type of street art that involves covering public surfaces with knitted or crocheted creations. While yarn bombing can be a fun and playful way to brighten up a community, there are also some potential drawbacks to this form of expression.
If you're interested in yarn bombing, there are a few ways to get involved. First, you can start by creating your own yarn bombs. This can be as simple as crocheting or knitting a small piece to add to an existing yarn bomb, or creating a larger piece to add to a public space.
Another way to get involved is by helping to install yarn bombs. This can involve climbing trees or light posts to hang the pieces, or simply placing them around town. If you're not comfortable with heights, there are still plenty of ways to help out, such as holding the ladder or handing up pieces. Finally, you can help spread the word about yarn bombing by telling your friends and family about it, or by posting about it online. The more people who know about yarn bombing, the more likely it is to catch on and become a regular occurrence in towns and cities around the world!
About David Fox
David Fox is an artist who created davidcharlesfox.com to talk about art and creativity. He loves to write, paint, and take pictures. David is also a big fan of spending time with his family and friends.