Who and What Are Yarn Bombers?

yarn bomb girlYarn bombers are knitters and other fiber artists that create street art out of yarn. These artists have been around for years now, but they are still technically “underground,” and most of them hope to stay that way. While yarn bombing does not hold a strong punishment, it is still technically illegal, and most yarn bombers prefer to stay undercover and have their fun anonymously. In fact, many avid yarn bombers have created their own nicknames for when they are undercover.

How Yarn Bombing Began

Magda Sayeg, the original yarn bomber, began what is now a popular movement one day back in 2005. It began on a slow day in her boutique when she decided to knit a cozy for her shops doorknob. This little cozy got a much bigger reaction than she anticipated, with passers-by stopping to take photos and admire the colorful bit of graffiti she’d added to her little corner of the street. Inspired by this positive attention, she began knitting a cozy for the street sign near her shop and it has taken off from there. As Ms. Sayeg’s efforts became noticed, more and more knitters began taking up this hobby, and thus, yarn bombing began to spread. In fact, yarn bombing is now so popular and trendy that Ms. Sayeg has been commissioned for very well paying graffiti jobs. The handmade company, Etsy.com, commissioned her to knit cozies for all of their exposed ductwork in the new Brooklyn offices, and she’s also been hired to knit car sweaters for several commerials now.

Unlike Ms. Sayeg and very few others, most yarn bombers today still prefer to stay undercover, since the act is technically illegal. Still, many larger urban areas have well-known groups dedicated to beautifying their cities with cozies and landscapes. The people in these groups all have fictitious names to use so that they can still get credit for their work, but remain anonymous at the same time, which is part of the fun of yarn graffiti. A quick search of the term yarn bombing will bring up groups in many large cities around the world, like Houston, London, Chicago, San Francisco, and many others. Most of these groups run their own blogs where they document their work in the form of pictures and videos posted for all to see. Many of these groups have their own signature style of work, whether that be cozies for all sorts of urban items, or intricate landscapes that catch the eyes of passers-by and tell a funny story.

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The Reason Behind the Movement

Yarn bombing has resurrected what was once considered a very matronly craft. The general public has always imagined knitting as a grandmother’s craft, but in the last few years, it has become more and more popular with a younger crowd. At the same time, many other “outdated” crafts have begun to resurface, like sewing, quilting, canning, gardening, and even raising chickens. Yarn bombers are really just showing their support for this new DIY movement in their own way. While there may be a political agenda or protest behind these colorful squares of yarn, for the most part this movement seems to be done simply for the fun of it. After all, there is something to be said about the adrenaline rush that can come from doing something mildly illegal. While most groups do not get caught, and the few that do don’t really get punished, yarn graffiti is still technically illegal, which can really make the experience exciting.

Yarn graffiti is a great way to bring personality to urban environments, and make strangers stop and admire their surroundings a little more. In a time where so many people are just going through the motions and not paying much attention to the world around them, yarn bombs break up the mundane and add a touch of color and cheer to life again.

If you’re interested in trying your hand at yarn bombing, a fun way to start is to knit a simple cozy for a street sign near you. If you find the experience exciting, you can likely find a group of yarn bombers near you to join to add to the fun and creativity of the process. If you can’t find one, maybe try starting your own group and bringing the yarn bombing movement to your area!