Yarn Bombing, noun;
The action or activity of covering objects or structures in public places with decorative knitted or crocheted material, as a form of street art.
Online Oxford Dictionary
“Graffiti knitting: the art of the sneaky stitch. I knit, I venture into the city, I yarnstorm, I take far too many photos, I run away giggling”
Yarn Bombing has been around since the early 2000’s, springing up in different cities around the world under names like guerrilla knitting, yarn storming and urban knitting. It varies in style, aesthetics and meaning but it’s attitude is always warm and fun, bringing beauty to urban spaces. What is common is a sense of community, belonging and working together to improve or reconnect with the places we live.
Magda Sayeg is attributed with inventing the movement in 2005, but there are reports of work being sited from 2002. She played with an idea for improving her environment whilst bored at work, first covering a door handle with colourful knit, then moving outside to traffic signs and beyond. As her works became more ambitious and she travelled to other cities she noticed others had got there before her, realising that this was now an international movement.
In Magda’s TED talk she explains that for her covering an inanimate object with colourful knit brings it to life without obscuring its identity or function. She was surprised how passers by became intrigued and drawn to the slightly crazy artworks. It perhaps makes us see our environment in a new way or draws our attention to things we pass by without ever noticing. What is for certain is that everyday pieces of street furniture and urban clutter are imbued with affection, colour and joy.
International Yarn Bombing day was started by the Canadian fibre artist Joann Matvichuk in 2011. Her aim being to bring together the various yarn activists across the globe. She did this via social media, namely Facebook, and as a consequence Yarn Bombing events are shared and liked within an international network, and occasionally spilling into mainstream news reports. Over the years the day has grown in size and status as groups small and large take up the needle or hook and venture into their neighbourhood.
Last Sunday night (10 June) my local pub crochet group, Yarning About, yarn bombed our park for the first time. There was fervent stitching and giggling as we arranged our brightly coloured fabrics and objects. Set up in 2016, Yarning About is a freeform crochet group, that is to say we don’t use patterns or designs in our creative process. Instead we follow our creative instincts resulting in vibrant, joyful, sometimes crazy pieces of work. We do it to be together and explore the creative medium of crochet which we found to be well suited to yarn bombing.
This long thought of granny hobby is now a cutting edge international movement made by communities for communities. If anybody is interested in being part of an OCA wide yarn bombing event next June please get in touch.