Yarn bombing (or yarnbombing) is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk. It is also called yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, kniffiti, urban knitting, or graffiti knitting.
While yarn installations – called yarn bombs or yarnstorms – may last for years, they are considered non-permanent, and, unlike other forms of graffiti, can be easily removed if necessary. Nonetheless, the practice is still technically illegal in some jurisdictions, though it is not often prosecuted vigorously.
While other forms of graffiti may be expressive, decorative, territorial, socio-political commentary, advertising or vandalism, yarn bombing was initially almost exclusively about reclaiming and personalizing sterile or cold public places. It has since developed with groups graffiti knitting and crocheting worldwide, each with their own agendas and public graffiti knitting projects being run.
The practice is believed to have originated in the U.S. with Texas knitters trying to find a creative way to use their leftover and unfinished knitting projects, but it has since spread worldwide.
The start of this movement has been attributed to Magda Sayeg, 37, from Houston, who says she first got the idea in 2005 when she covered the door handle of her boutique with a custom-made cozy.
Houston artist Bill Davenport was creating and exhibiting crochet-covered objects in Houston in the 1990s, and the Houston Press stated that "Bill Davenport could be called the grand old man of Houston crocheted sculpture." 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 simple 'cozies' 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, who founded the city's 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.
Yarn bombing's popularity has spread throughout the world. In Oklahoma City the Collected Thread store yarn bombed the Plaza District of the city on 9 September 2011 to celebrate their three-year anniversary as a functioning shop. and in Australia a group called the Twilight Taggers refer to themselves as 'fibre artists'. Joann Matvichuk of Lethbridge, Alberta founded International Yarnbombing Day, which was first observed on 11 June 2011.
Although yarnbomb installations are typically found in urban areas, Stephen Duneier, aka Yarnbomber, is the first to introduce it the wilderness with numerous permitted projects in Los Padres National Forest beginning in 2012.
The Craft Club Yarnbombers (Emma Curley, Helen Thomas, Gabby Atkins, Claire Whitehead and Rebecca Burton) became Guinness World Record holders for the largest display of crochet sculptures, when they yarnbombed a children's hospice with 13,388 crocheted items. They have also brought yarnbombing to their community in Essex with their postbox yarnbombs.
In Europe Knit the City: Maschenhaft Seltsames by Deadly Knitshade was published in February 2011 by Hoffmann und Campe in Germany. It was originally written in English, and was published by Summersdale in the UK in September 2011 as Knit the City: A Whodunnknit Set in London.
Yarn Bombing Los Angeles released a self-published catalog of an exhibit held at 18th Street Arts Complex, Santa Monica, CA in June 2011 titled Yarn Bombing 18th Street by Arzu Arda Kosar.
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- Prain, Leanne (2009). Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. Arsenal Pulp Press. ISBN 1-55152-255-1.
- Knitshade, Deadly (2011). Knit the City: Maschenhaft Seltsames. Germany: Hoffman und Campe. ISBN 978-3-455-38105-4.
- Knitshade, Deadly (2011). Knit the City: A Whodunnknit Set in London. London: Summersdale. ISBN 978-1-84953-179-5.
- "Foto's van Rosa Sosa". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-05-09.
- Kosar, Arzu (2012). Yarn Bombing 18th Street. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 1-47002-190-0.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Knitted graffiti.|
- Lewis, Perri, Guide to Night: Mark Thomas joins the guerrilla knitters. The Guardian, 1 November 2009.
- Press Association US town baffled by Midnight Knitter. Irish Independent, 11 March 2010.
- "Knitting but not as we know it", BBC News, Saturday 13 June 2009
- Costa, Maddy, The graffiti knitting epidemic. The Guardian, 11 October 2010.
- 'Grandma Graffiti': German Knitting Guerillas Go Global, May 2011
- Knit Knot Tree Do Trees Get Cold-offbeat knitting USA Today AP 11 March 2008
- foxtoledo.com Making-Toledo-a-little-more-cozy--Yarn-Bombing-phenomenon-exploding-in-Toledo
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