Are you making plans to celebrate International Yarn Bombing Day Saturday? Yes, “yarn bombing”, sometimes called grandma graffiti, has now evolved into a global phenomenon. I prefer to call it Graffiti 2.0.
Street art and graffiti have always been considered male dominated. These types of public markings have existed since ancient times, but became more prominent thanks to the utilization of spray paint and marking pens as contemporary tools. Now “yarn bombing” has surfaced, more feminine in nature – it combines the craft of knitting and nurturing (wrapping something up that is cold in a warm blanket) to the urban streetscape. Nothing is being spared; bus stops, street signs, fountains, fire hydrants, bike racks, etc. Here in Philadelphia, a “yarn bomber” stitched a fuchsia-colored vest on the famous Rocky statue in front of the Philadelphia Museum with the words “Go See the Art” since most tourists visiting my city, only stop at the museum to take a snap of the fictional boxer.
The mother of “yarn bombers” is a Texan, Magda Sayeg who began bombing in 2005. She recalls a slow day at her Houston boutique, thus knitted a cozy for her shop’s door handle. Next she knitted a leg warmer for a stop sign at the end of her street. Before long she was commissioned to do larger pieces. Last year she was paid $20,000 to knit a Christmas sweater for a Toyota Prius promotional video. This past March, she bombed the tree trunks at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. However, grandma graffiti really gained its popularity when two knitters from Vancouver, Canada published their manifesto: “Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti.” The book doubles as a coffee table art book complete with colorful photographs of creative bombings and a tutorial with tips like wearing “ninja” black to avoid capture. The authors now claim they receive dozen of e-mails a week from “yarn bombers” operating in Russia, the Middle East, London, Paris, Sydney, etc.
So now the bar has been raised. A Canadian knitter declared on Facebook that June 11th is International Yard Bombing Day. We are going to witness a global event Saturday where grandma graffiti artists (I predict both female and male) will take to the streets in their “ninja” outfits armed with needles and yarn. On Sunday morning, I plan to walk the streets of Philadelphia with my camera to document the beginning of a new movement, Graffiti 2.0.