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Yarnbombing...

I've been asked about my current college work, and one aspect of it is being part of the global craftivist activity 'yarnbombing' - basically it is about taking pieces of knitting and setting them free is a (usually) urban environment to bring a textile softness and colour to the dreariness of street furniture. For me, interesting debates around the practise include the uses of women's craft activity - many detractors claim that if people have such free time they should be knitting for charities, such as babies and soldiers, not 'wasting' it on meaningless art. I find such comments fascinating and frustrating, and deeply revealing on an expectation of what women should do with their free time, to be given selflessly in service to others...thoughts please? 

Anyway, I find deep joy in decorating the occasional lampost with a piece of knitted acrylic.  I feel it compliments my crocheted coral pieces, so a few images below to explain what I mean...

Some cotton thread crochet pieces on a Dorset beach - natural forms made from Victorian pattern techniques



Two coral pieces in waste acrylic yarn...




More 'traditional' yarnbombs in Plymouth, all acrylic yarn - some still survive, some lasted mere hours:




Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
madamekat
Jan. 25th, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
I love this yarnbombing thing. I'll be walking down the dreary street in the city, and suddenly...I see a brightly colored tree! It's SO happy. It cheers me up and makes the street a cozier, happier place to walk.

Your coral pieces are amazing! I hadn't heard of anything other than tree-cozies, so seeing the coral is so neat. As is the crocheted pieces on non-tree items such as sign posts.
tubewhore
Jan. 26th, 2012 09:04 am (UTC)
I'm always unsure of covering trees myself, although I think they can look amazing when done well. I just don't like covering a living object with plastic, which is essentially what acrylic yarn is. This is also why I don't leave the coral on the beach, as there is enough plastic in the sea already, and part of my work is to highlight our unthinking environmental impact.

However ugly signposts are fair game, and I've left hats and scarves on several statues. It's about claiming your world, about local ownership. And of course it's both communal and subversive. I know most people do it at night, but I like to be totally brazen and put up my pieces in daylight. It sparks some great conversations.
failing_angel
Jan. 25th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
I think your post is the first I've heard about the arguments of yarnbombing, so I'm not au fait with the points argued, but my first thoughts weren't about this dictating a woman's duties, more whoever has the time/'luxury' to knit - whether this is because I know of men who knit, and so don't associate it with being "a woman's thing", I don't know.
The issue that came to mind would be more based around using resources (time, yarn, effort) for 'pointless' activities rather than something for a tangible result - art vs utilitarianism if you will.

Personally I rather like the idea of these dashes of almost surrealism brightening up the area - then again, this may be in part because they appear to be sympathetic to the environment - I'm not sure what I would think of a dash of 'bombing that was disrespectful (ie a memorial etc).
On that note, I do like the 3rd pic down - a neat bit of contrasting colour and shape.
tubewhore
Jan. 26th, 2012 09:37 am (UTC)
the only one of my pieces that disappeared almost immediately was the one on the anchor of the Ark Royal in Plymouth. Maybe people thought it was disrespectful, and I thought very hard about the piece, but it was labelled with an embroidery stating 'they also serve who only stand an wait' so the act was very much about thinking of those left behind, and those not 'actively' serving who contribute (which is what the poem is referencing) - maybe this wasn't clear enough to whomever took it down...

...anyway, I enjoy the surrealism in the drear of many urban centres that are managed for us, and make us feel small. It's about taking bak ownership of our lived environment...
failing_angel
Feb. 4th, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC)
I hadn't realised that the anchor was a war memorial, I was imagining it to be something to reflect the maritime background. However, that isn't denigrating the monument - although maybe whoever did it, didn't bother to read the writing.

The yarnbombing sounds like a less permanent, less damaging equivalent of the space invader tiles in London.
hirez
Jan. 25th, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC)
'Meaningless art'? I think that says everything one might need to know about the opposition.

Yarnbombing and guerilla gardening (and the other things that take the corners off the urban environment) rock my socks.
tubewhore
Jan. 26th, 2012 09:32 am (UTC)
Have you seen this chap's work:

http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2012/01/the_pothole_gardening_of_steve.html

just fantastic! But yes, we need both bread and roses...

If art is meaningless, we might as well just scrub down the walls at Lascaux...
ladyaelfwynn
Jan. 25th, 2012 11:30 pm (UTC)
I've been wanting to do some yarn bombing in my neighborhood. Some little garlands to brighten up the bus stop but I haven't yet, because my charity knitting and other projects gobble my time. (No, for real, I knit scarves for veterans through the Knit Your Bit website.)

Anyways, I love yarn bombing and love the way it brings splashes of color to pretty drab surroundings. Some of my favorites are the scarves and hats for statues.

Back when I was doing some research in the late summer one of the things that bugged me was that one of the few interviews I found was of a male yarn bomber. I'm glad he's yarn bombing and breaking stereotypes but it felt like it was only noteworthy because a guy was doing it.
tubewhore
Jan. 26th, 2012 09:20 am (UTC)
I totally support charity knitting - there' a great book 'Knitting for Good' by Betty Greer, which argues beautifully, how knitting is good for your own mental health and helps connect you to the world through making things for others. It argues that first you have to save your own sanity, and making things is a powerful tool to calm the mind , and from that basis you can reach out the rest of the world. (Incidentally, I make charity scarves too).

What gets me angry is the articles that are against yarnbombing because 'these people' should be using their time 'better'. Even now, it seems that women's time can be socially appropriated and only acceptable if being selfless, with this selflessness connected with anonymous and non-public work. Being visible and subversive, especially with humour, makes many people deeply uncomfortable.

And again, I've read similar stuff on men that knit and make yarnbombs. ...and on men who use embroidery in their art...Grr!

There was a group in Wales, that for Valentines, filled their local trees with hearts. In such a dreary part of winter it brought such colour and joy, but the debate in the local paper focused on 'if these women have so much time on their hands to knit, why aren't they making charity blankets', subtext being 'rather than wasting their time on art'. I don't see comments that if artists have so much time to paint canvasses, why can't they go paint the houses of the poor and needy. It goes to show the conflation between the medium and domesticity. All fascinating stuff for me, of course...
ladyaelfwynn
Jan. 26th, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC)
I kit clothes for myself and family and started doing it for various charities as I ran out of family willing to take and wear my knit goods. I want to knit way more than I have willing friends and relatives.

Plus, I like scarves as they go fast and about the time I'm bored with the piece, I'm done and can change to a new project and switch things up.

It's hard for me to get past being productive and useful and into art. I love yarn bombing but I've got that voice in the background that every time I go to make something more art than useful that goes, "You could be doing something useful. Is this the best use of your time?" It extends beyond yarn bombing and into things like the comics I've planned out but have yet to draw as well, I'm not that great a 2D artist and there's housework to do, and I've got to go pick up my kid from school...etc.

I know they're kind of bogus excuses but 40+ years of hearing about how I ought to spend my time has taken their toll.
tubewhore
Jan. 26th, 2012 09:25 am (UTC)
I've just had a look at the Knit your Bit website - how fantastic!
failing_angel
Mar. 25th, 2012 10:32 am (UTC)
Speaking of yarn-bombing, I saw this pic from Hackney:

yarn bombing hackney east london feb 2012
Which apparently took place in February
tubewhore
Apr. 6th, 2012 12:20 pm (UTC)
Oh that's just lovely!
failing_angel
Apr. 6th, 2012 01:01 pm (UTC)
I wasn't sure if this was maybe your work post-clowns
failing_angel
May. 31st, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
Gormley has got yarnbombed:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18261992

If only Merseyside was closer
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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