Friday, 15 March 2013


I was reading a discussion earlier about yarnbombing.
I walk past this every single day. Suddenly - flowers! Whence?
I imagine you all know what yarnbombing is but in case you don't (because not everyone who reads my blog is a fibre person. Dan reads it, for example, also occasionally Aunty Kath has a crack at it) I shall explain. Yarnbombers are the anarchists, the Banksies, the Emma Goldmans of wool. They strike in the night. One day you have a perfectly sensible avenue of lamp posts where I lurk trying not to look as if I am photographing the men coming out of the public toilets, the next day the lamp posts are adorned with wool in various permutations of double crochet and/ or garter stitch. It is like yarny graffiti. Sometimes it is an official art installation, sometimes it is just a wild outpouring of yarn and colour love, sometimes it is a random act of kindness (when the yarnbombing is something that people can take away). It is for fun. It is Art.
See, I think that looks cheerful
We have a Yarnbomber in Cambridge (it isn't me because I'm not quick enough, also I would never have got up that post). I like a bit of random yarn, but then, I like graffiti, and yes, I would be perfectly happy if someone came and yarnbombed my house (and if they could trim the rosebush back a bit while they were at it that would be brilliant). I was a bit surprised at the negative reactions in the discussion, many of which one might summarise thus: 'what a waste of yarn! It could have been used to knit hats for the homeless!'

I won't go into the whole I've Worked For Charities For Ten Years, Woman And Girl (although, I have: and let me assure you that I have sat in many, many, many management meetings and in not a single one has anybody said, oh my goodness the Government has disastrously changed policy/ the Council has cut our grant, we are facing disastrous lack of funding and consequent failure of delivery, ruin, and the inability to help our clients: for God's sake! Can no-one find us a job lot of hats handknitted in chunky pink acrylic because then we will be saved! - but, surely creations in yarn can be Art just like anything else.

I mean, you might think they shouldn't be draped anarchically over public items (I don't think that - like I say, I like graffiti, and yarn takes quite a bit less scrubbing off) - but, why is any form of expression a waste of time and yarn? I think it's Art, even if it's not always my taste, and I think Art is Important. It makes me want to go and knit a big woolly cosy for Reality Checkpoint or something but in reality that would take me until about 2016 so I shall go and eat something until the feeling passes.
The things you have to do. I think I must be developing superpowers
And quickly to say, thank you to Lucy who suggested I deal with my problem of static in our office by carrying about a big metal paperclip and using it to earth myself with. I have sourced a paperclip, which I clutch in my hot hand at all times and tap on the radiator before I need to touch something potentially problematic, like the biscuit tin
Look at that nylon carpet. Charging me up
And I am wearing my pole dancing shoes as my colleague googled and said she strongly suspected the rubber soles on my Ugg boots
I want you to know that for at least 5 minutes when I was 29 I regularly wore shoes a/ with heels b/ without a warm fleecy lining AND WITH TIGHTS!
And things are much better. I mean, everybody laughs at me, but, let them laugh, I can get in the biscuit tin again and last week someone had bought a job lot of custard creams. Custard creams! I mean can you imagine if I hadn't been able to get at the custard creams! So thank you Lucy as otherwise things could have been disastrous.

Am I being naïve about yarn bombing? I hate to be naïve...


Lucy said...

It worked! Wooo! I shall have to tell my boss.

Rachel said...

I like yarnbombing, but wouldn't do it myself. Quite apart from the time involved, I'm just not generous enough. Yarn is expensive!

I suspect that the negative comments were driven by, "What a waste of valuable yarn!" first, then, "It could be used to make hats for homeless people," came in as a post-hoc justification to avoid uncomfortably selfish feelings about wanting all that lovely yarn for oneself.

As for getting to the top of lamp posts, surely you could develop your pole dancing to achieve that goal? Then you could combine performance art with guerrilla installation art in one magnificently subversive, boundary-challenging event.

Stitched Together said...

I've taken part in knitting for yarn bombing. My health doesn't allow me to go out at all hours knitting in the freezing cold. I loved feeling part of an adventure. I was part of a team who were banding together to produce something woolly and fun and that would make people smile. It was a project to yarnbomb Leicester city centre for the Comedy Festival last February and it really did make people smile. I agree that art is never a waste and being part of a creative group is never less than interesting!

Susie said...

I am supposed to be able to climb up a pole, but I am not quite strong enough yet (poles are slippy) - when I am strong enough, though, I will add guerrilla installation art to the list of things it will enable me to do. {off to do push ups}

Stitched Together that sounds a great project and I bet people loved it. I'd love to do something like that, I should keep an eye out x

Vanessa said...

I don't normally disagree with people on the internet (well, not any more, I've learned the hard way. I just don't have the wit, energy or robustness of caps lock to multi-quote that much). And it feels rude to come on to someone's blog and disagree with them. It feels like inviting myself round for coffee and then saying I don't like your shortbread recipe and your curtains could do with ironing*. But I'm not really disagreeing here, because inevitably I'm still not really sure of my own opinion, but overall...I think I don't really approve of yarnbombing. Probably.

It's not the "hats for the homeless" thing but just the general waste of materials and the aftereffects that bother me. I've not had the chance to observe an "installation" over a long period but do they not go all horrible and wet and unpleasant after a few months of British Summer Time? The hideous acrylic would probably be more weather resistant and quick drying, but even if it's not suitable for warming up orphans, match girls and chimney sweeps, I always think you can make Stuff from it that people could use in place of other Stuff that they would buy (eg, fashion & home stuff like bags and throws, maybe toys). Even cheap yarn isn't all that cheap and quite a bit of energy has gone in to making it. This feeling is the reason I've tortured myself by making a "Lucy" bag from as much of my hideous acrylic selection as possible, to use some of it up and stop it from making me feel guilty. So don't mind me being disagreeable, I think I'm just angry about the amount of ends I have to weave in.

And yet - the lampposts do look pretty cheerful. And cities are very frequently much too grey. In the best of all possible worlds I'd like to see every one of them surrounded by trellis and supporting bowers of grapes and wisteria...but I don't think they'd stand up quite so well as the Wendy DK to the kind of passing wildlife that frequents city centre lampposts.

I'm not sure I've really added anything useful here and I hope it won't make you feel bad about yarnbombing, on the contrary, you've given me a different perspective, in that the good effects might outweigh the bad that I always tend to see first. So thank you (I'm still not sure it will solve crime though:

*(theoretical example. I don't know where my own iron is. Which would make criticising someone else's soft furnishings even more unforgiveable).

Susie said...

Vanessa, I don't even think you're being disagreeable ;-) (and anyway my curtains could do with ironing so you'd be quite right).

I think what will happen to the yarn bombing after a few months when it's got wet and horrible etc is a valid concern, and I came back to say, there is now some yarnbombing very near my house which I'm going to post about so in three months' time if it's driving me mad I shall keep you all updated. I tend to think generally a/ it's only yarn, it can be cut off in five minutes (although that might not actually be true), and b/ it's art, that's the best use for that yarn there was.

But again, I'll see how I feel when it's all ratty in June! (thank you for disagreeing, it's nice to have another perspective)