Yarn-Bombing is the act of covering objects in yarn using either crochet or knit. It is usually unexpected items, such as trees, benches, lamps, bicycles, and other items. There have bombardments inside, but mostly one finds them outside. It turns the landscape into a colorful wonderland. Typically the events have been to raise awareness for some cause or celebration. Collected Thread store in Oklahoma City yarn-bombed the Plaza District in celebration of their 3rd year anniversary. but is it really that cool?
Yarn-bombing was thought to have originated in Houston, Texas, with Magda Sayeg who got the idea when she covered her boutique’s door handle with little bits of leftover yarn. Bill Davenport is called the Grand Old Man of Houston Crocheted sculpture as he has been creating art since the 1990s. Shonon Schollian, another artist was knitting “stump cozies” to fit over the stumps left after clear-cutting in Oregon. From simple cozies (covering for an object) to the stitched story where the use of crocheted or knitted items tell a story, the movement has gained much popularity.
But is Yarn-bombing cool?
While most of it is pretty and seems kind of fun, there is another side to yarn bombing. While it is considered art by those who engage in the events, is it really? What started as local art to use up your leftover yarn and unfinished projects has turned into a worldwide phenomenon created by groups and people with such names as the Guerrilla Knitters, Deadly Knitshade, and Knit Your Revolt Tricycle Gang.
It is NOT cool and here is why I say that.
1. The poor trees! It can restrict sap movement, hinder growth and provide a nice place for harmful insects to be. The same goes for all the other plants. Not to mention some websites encourage you to use things such as spray foam, staples, small nails and other types of adhesives to the trees. Poor trees!
2. Poor marine life! In 2014, Olek, who doesn’t consider herself a yarn-bomber, but does engage nevertheless, yarn-bombed Cancun’s Underwater Museum to “save our seas” supported by PangeaSeed. Both the Mexican authorities and the Underwater Museum are pressing charges against her for tampering with the Museum’s art without permission and damaging the sea life that grew on the statutes in a protected wildlife area. Poor marine life!
3. Yarn, unless it is natural fibers, is not biodegradable! Natural fiber yarns such as cotton, silk, bamboo fiber, and banana fiber can breakdown in a landfill in about 5 months. Wool, even though it is a natural fiber, takes about 50 years to biodegrade. Acrylic yarns can take up to 200 years to biodegrade. A large amount of yarn goes into most yarn bombing projects, that might be better used making blankets for veterans or hats for the homeless or even cuddle toys for the kids in shelters. There has to be a better use. Yarn is not biodegradable!
4. The mess! Imagine what a yarn bomb looks like after being exposed to the weather. There are sure to be some responsible people out there who take down their thing, I would imagine that would be so especially if they actually had a permit to install the Yarn-bomb. Yet, a few months exposed to sun, wind, rain would definitely take the luster out of the fun installation. We end up with a soggy, faded and in some climates rotting mess. Unless the bombers take it down all that yarn is straight to the landfill. The mess!
5. And last, but not least, graffiti is illegal! Unless you have permission, altering anything that belongs to the city, state, private entity museums, schools, your neighbor’s house, basically anything that is not personally yours, is illegal. Whether you are using, chalk, paint, markers, or yarn and whether it is for gang affiliation, to highlight a cause, to showcase your talent or for charity, it is still illegal. Graffiti is illegal!
Yarn-bombing is still pretty to look at, but I am not a fan and think there has to be a better way to use our leftover yarn that is perhaps more positive for our communities.