Happy April Fools! I dread what I will find when I make it into the office today, I am sure there will be ample amounts of startling situations. The best pranks are always prepared for a couple days in advance though; you really need to gather your materials or start faking morning sickness the week before. This is why I am going to talk about yarn bombing. Not only is it a great joke, it’s an amazing stashbuster!
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 fiber rather than paint or chalk.
From my research I can trace the history back to Bill Davenport. A Houston-based artist, who created and exhibited crochet-covered objects in the 1990s. He stated that he thought of yarn like ‘ultra-thick paint.’ The Houston Press said “Bill Davenport could be called the grand old man of Houston crocheted sculpture.”
Something about the crocheted objects caught because it wasn’t long before artist Shanon Schollian was knitting stump cozies in 2002 for clear cuts in Oregon. The Knit Knot Tree by the Jafagirls in Yellow Springs, Ohio gained international attention in 2008.
The movement moved on from knit covered objects with the innovation of the ‘stitched story’. The concept has been attributed to Lauren O’Farrell, who creates her street art under the graffiti knitting name Deadly Knitshade, from London, UK. She founded the first graffiti knitting collective Knit the City. The ‘stitched story concept’ uses handmade amigurumi creatures, characters and items to tell a narrative or show a theme. This was first recorded with the Knit the City collective’s “Web of Woe” installation in August 2009.
For those who went to any of the Vogue Knitting Live events, Anna Hrachovec has had a display with very small amigurumi at New York and Chicago. I am sure there was one at the event in Seattle too. Any of her books would be a great resource for tiny knitted creatures to assist you in yarn bombing. The link below is to the Vogue Knitting Live Flickr photo stream.
There are several different methodologies you can use and I will go over the two well-known ones in detail. First on the list is the TP technique. You know in movies, TV shows and high school, there is always talk about TP-ing the principal’s house. Originally toilet paper is used, hence the TP, but you can also use yarn! Simply pick your target; car, house, tree, potted plant, filing system and throw loose yarn over it. For bigger objects, see abovementioned tree, car and house, you will want to hold one end and throw the ball. As it unravels in the air, the end will stay anchored in your grip. This will cause a silly string effect and there will be yarn everywhere. You may wish to use several different colours in order to complete the look of chaos.
For smaller items, such as potted plant, coffee cup, telephone, you may wish to unravel the ball over top of said items. If you truly wish to be a pain in the neck to the yarn bombee, you may wish to use several lengths of yarn and tie the beginning of the yarn to the end after weaving the strands through any open spaces. Think the spokes of a bike; those would need to be trimmed off.
The second technique I will evaluate is the couture technique. This is much more subtle and much MUCH more work. You would probably have to spend a couple months preparing for this one. You would actually knit things and strategically place them. I’ve seen EXCELLENT examples of this around different yarn festivals and squams.
I’ve considered replacing all the equipment on someone’s desk at work with small knitted figures of computer, telephone, coffee cup, etc. But that is a lot more work than I am prepared to do at the moment.
If there are some who would like a more structured approach to their yarn bombing, you can check out this book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. Author Leanne Prain goes into detail about stealth, creating your own graffiti tags and how to organize large scale textile events.
Now I will say, yarn bombing is considered graffiti and is technically still illegal in some places, although it is not vigorously enforced. So I caution all to be circumspect in your plans!!