Do you find anything in common between graffiti and knitting? At first sight, the classic street paintings and the colourful knitted pieces made of wool do not have any links. Graffiti is primarily attributed to young, rebellious, and often politically motivated artists, while handicrafts such as knitting, crocheting, or embroidery are the way to spend leisure time after retirement.
However, the new and very hip trend called urban knitting was founded after taking graffiti and knitting or crocheting together. Urban knitting, also known as Guerilla Knitting or Yarn Bombing, can be described as knitted graffiti. Like conventional graffiti, knitted artwork is presented in public spaces and can be applied to almost any surface without any damage to a property.
Founder Magda Sayeg
Urban knitting was founded in Texas by Magda Sayeg and a few friends of her in 2005. They began to decorate door handles, parking meters, mailboxes, and street signs with colourful pieces of knitting. Their aim was to add a few friendly, warm splashes of colour to the dreary grey of the big city and to personalise cold public places without any long-term damage. The knitted, crocheted, or embroidered art installations are a gentle and flexible form of street art because the knitted works can be applied quickly and, without leaving any damage, can be removed in the same quickly manner.
World Record for Crochet Sculptures
The Craft Club of Yarnbombers consisted of Emma Curley, Helen Thomas, Claire Whitehead, Gabby Atkins, and Rebecca Burton, was the first crocheting group being Guinness World Record holders for the largest display of crochet sculptures. They yarnbombed a children’s hospice with 13,388 crocheted items. They have brought yarnbombing to their community in Essex with their postbox yarnbombs. In 2018, the group had to give this award to the Mother’s Indians Crochet Queens for the largest display of crochet sculptures that reached the total number of 58,917.
Yarnbombs at the Wild Site
In 2014, hikers were surprised to find 17 sandstone covered in yarn on Lizard’s Mouth, a popular bouldering spot on the crest of the Santa Ynez Mountains in Santa Barbara. Steve Dunier, a former hedge-fund manager from Brooklyn, created this art projects with the help of 388 knitters from 36 countries and 50 states. No wonder, as Christo is one of Dunier’s role models.
The motivations for urban knitting can be different. Some activists simply want to embellish the bleak and grey spaces of their city by adding colourful, cheerful accents. With the use of wool and yarn, they can bring warm and safe art into public space. Other activists want to irritate people with their street art and force them to think about some proposed idea.
There are also knitters with political motives, and some want to protest through their colourful knitting against an increasingly industrialised, technological world characterised by uniform mass production. Last, but not least, we can find knitters who want to call into question the traditional image of women and their work through their knitted street art.