I was asked to write an article about yarnstorming and why I do it, for Purl Peterborough. The December issue did not come out so I am publishing my article here instead as I want at least some people to read it since I took the time to write it. Bit’s & Pieces along with my end of the year list of finished projects will come soon!
I started doing yarngraffiti about a year ago. The first piece I did was just a small something around a light post outside my house where I lived at the time. That little piece is still there, weathered out, but still there. I walk by it a couple of times a week when walking my girls to or from school. It still brings me joy. The moment I did that piece, I knew I wanted to do more. I also knew that I wanted to do bigger things. And when I say big, I mean huge. So I knew I needed a crew.
I started a group on Facebook and invited all the people that I knew were interested in knitting and/or crochet. I know a lot of people who are interested, and they know a lot of people who are interested and they invited their friends, and so on and so forth.
The group now counts 147 members. Some have never participated in our projects, but some have done a little something for all of them. The feeling I want to spread is ‘If you have time and are willing, please join us. If not, that is fine also’. Nobody is obligated or should feel pressured to do anything. I love my group, I seriously could not do what I (we!) do if not for them.
The first idea I had was to dress up statues around Reykjavík. There are a bunch of them spread all over and I found a website listing most of them. Each person who wanted to participate picked a statue and decided on their own what they wanted to do for their statue and we went to work. A few people dropped out along the way, but that was fine. The ones that made it to the end met on a slightly cold evening in April, mapped our route and off we went. That night was absolutely amazing. I had such a great time and apart from my project for my already picked statue, I had stashed some small crocheted items in my bag also so they went up here and there on statues whenever I felt like it. We roamed all over the city, both on foot and in cars. The night ended when two police cars came over while were putting a crocheted Batman mask on a statue in front of The Government offices of Iceland. They told us to take it down, asked if it was a political statement, took down our names and asked for ID’s and then they left.
Our second project was for Gay Pride. Some of us put random rainbow crochet or knitted stuff around the city or the town we live in (we are spread all over Iceland). Next up was the bus for Culture Night. Phew, that took a lot of planning, but it was so worth it.
Then we did breasts. Yes, breasts. October is breast cancer awareness month, and one of our members had designed a breast for a graffiti project she did the year before (2011). Perfect. They were also spread around Iceland. I put mine up in my favorite pub. One breast was on the go through the entire month and was photographed on a new location each day. One was put up close to a mall etc.
So why do I, and we, do this? For me the answer is pretty simple. Because I have to. Now I haven’t done anything for a couple of months and I miss it terribly. I have loads of ideas, but hardly any free time due to work. I walk a lot or take the bus as I do not have a car, and because of that I see my environment differently. Almost every day, sometimes a few times each day, I see a place that just screams for some yarn goodness. Why? Because it is just too cold. Gray. Dark. I love filling such spaces with color, light and warmth. Reykjavík is a pretty colorful city, especially in the center.
Seeing yarn (in any way, shape or form) out of it’s ‘natural environment’ just makes me so happy. If I need to find a word to describe how it makes me feel, I would use something like “fluffy warmth”. Yeah, I know that is not a real word. It relates to something feminine, something warm, something motherlike. A part of yarn graffiti reminds me of all those warm things, and a part of it speaks to the rebel in me. I love using it as a statement, of any kind. It can be good, or bad, it can be something political, feminist, food for thought, or just plain fun. For me it doesn’t matter if the piece is big or small. The location and the piece itself is much more important than the size. Colors are also important. Bright pink or green on a gray lump of concrete sure can brighten things up!
The surprise factor is also something that I love. When you are walking about, you hardly expect to see a crocheted breast on a light post? Or a beauty queen ribbon on a statue? Or benches with knitted feet? Or a gay pride flag near a church? Or a trash can in the knitted disguise of R2D2? Why not change your environment and rock it up a bit. When I see yarn graffiti that I haven’t seen before it makes me insanely happy.
Knitting, and crocheting, have up until very recently been linked to grandmothers, a rocking chair and dull colors. Yarn graffiti is a great way to change that. Knitting is not all about lopi sweaters (with full respect, I LOVE lopi sweaters dearly!) and crochet is not just about granny square blankets (that I also love!). You can, and should knit or crochet anything your heart desires. If you are improvising and do not like the outcome, if you are doing a swatch for a project, please do not throw it out or frog it. Keep it. Keep everything, mix it together and take it out and find a place for it. Try it!