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The Subtle Art of the Yarn Bomb

If you haven’t heard of yarn bombing, don’t worry. These aren’t the kind of bombs that explode – but if they did, they would probably feel pretty cozy!

Yarn bombs are fun, spontaneous forms of street art – bits of crochet or knit yarn placed in unexpected places. Some think of it as “graffiti knitting.” They can be large, covering an expansive area like the side of a building, or small, wrapping a portion of a stop sign pole. They typically include bright colors and patterns and bring attention to mundane objects found in our everyday environment.

Amber captured this yarn bomb on her recent trip to Hong Kong
Amber captured this yarn bomb on her recent trip to Hong Kong

Yarn bombing as a movement is still young, and is considered to have started in Houston, Texas. In the 1990s artist Bill Davenport was creating crochet-covered objects and displaying them in art exhibits, but it took a woman named Magda Sayeg who, formed the group Knitta Please, to move the yarn work outside. In 2005 she wrapped the door handle of her shop in a custom-knit cozy and was soon taking her crafting needles to the streets. Something that began as a way to reclaim or personalize public spaces quickly grew into a way to draw attention to certain causes and agendas. Sayeg said:

“I love that, in some way, I have contributed to showing the strength of this craft—knitting and crocheting doesn’t have to be functional, it can be subversive, renegade—even illegal in certain cases. It’s bad ass! And it makes me proud, as a woman, to be a part of something that is so powerful. Taking this craft that is female dominated onto the streets graffiti style, which is male dominated, is what is appealing (or not) about yarn bombing. As long as it evokes some emotion, I believe it is good.”

Now a worldwide sensation, yarn bombs have appeared in New York, Sydney, Vancouver, Helsinki, Mexico City, London and Hong Kong, just to name a few. There is even an International Yarn bombing day celebrated on June 11 with Facebook pages dedicated to encouraging people to yarn bomb their neighborhoods.

Personally, I love how yarn bombs blend in harmoniously with the objects they cover while also highlighting those objects, making people look at things in a new way that went unnoticed before. Plus, I get a kick out of them any time I find one — it feels like the ultimate “I Spy” game.

Have you spotted any yarn bombs lately?  I’d love to see a photo!

A Yarn Bomb I spotted in Downtown Santa Barbara
A beautiful yarn bomb I came across in downtown Santa Barbara

Sources: She’s Crafty: Yarn Bombing Pioneer Magda Sayeg and Yarn Bombing

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