Yarn bombing, also known as guerrilla knitting, urban knitting and ‘kniffiti’ is thought to have come into existence in 2005 in Texas when Magda Sayeg, a local shop owner gave her doorknob a cosy in a bid to brighten the area up. The little piece of colour in an otherwise bland landscape gained attention from the people passing by and inspired Saveg to expand on the idea, covering first a stop sign with yarn and then moving up to bigger things (and simultaneously finding a use for leftover yarn). She eventually started the yarn bombing group ‘Knitta Please’ and her biggest project to date has been to cover an entire bus.
Since then it has really taken off. There’s even an International Yarn Bombing Day in June, which first happened in 2011 thanks to Canadian Joann Matvichuk.
Yes, the popularity of yarn bombing has taken the world by storm and is now as common as traditional types of graffiti. Although projects might last for many years, because they are so easily removed they are non-permanent graffiti and usually aren’t prosecuted. Like other forms of graffiti, yarn bombing has developed from a simple idea to brighten up sterile public areas and now exist for a wide range of purposes: self-expression, advertising and social or political awareness to name a few. In Australia the Knitting Nannas Against Gas are a formidable force in the battle against fossil fuels and climate change.
Although yarn bombing really began in 2005 artists were getting out their wool before that. Back in the 90’s Bill Davenport was showing off crochet-covered things in Houston, whilst Shanon Schollian was covering tree stumps after logging in 2002.
The bike is borrowed and edited with thanks from Baykedevries under a Creative Commons License and the image of Sayeg’s bus is from Carla Gates, used with thanks, also under a Creative Commons License.