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Woolly public art: better than tea cozies


                                                                                                                       — Heather Conn photos

I was delighted last week to spot two offbeat, local examples of public street art, otherwise known as “yarn bombing.” While walking down Cowrie Street, the main drag in Sechelt, BC, I saw a different hand-knit woolly cover stretched over two brown-and-yellow metal posts. These fuzzy, striped sleeves covered unsightly chipped paint and added a jaunty, colourful spirit to an otherwise drab street scene. Hurray for fun and creative self-expression in public spaces.


Yarn bombing is a cool, new form of craft-making, whereby mostly urban women fit knitted or crocheted concoctions over public structures. A parking meter gets its own snug sweater. A tree branch gains a crazy-coloured, woollen branch. Pink, knitted pom-poms dangle from a red fire hydrant. Done anonymously, this donated art  adopts the stealth-application style of graffiti artists.


I first discovered this quirky form of street art at a BC Book Prizes reception in Vancouver, where I saw the book Yarn Bombing: the Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Vancouverites Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain. I loved the concept and marvelled at the prankster-style patterns included in the book for knit and crochet installations. (Prain co-founded a “stitch-and-bitch” group called Knitting and Beer.)


I’ve since learned that there’s an international “guerrilla” knitting movement called Knitta. which began in Houston, TX in 2005 — hardly the hotbed of radicalism.


It was great to see some whimsical soul add a local angle to the movement here on the Sunshine Coast. Besides, the posts were right next to several other wonderful examples of art in public spaces: artist Jan Poynter’s hand-painted images on BC Hydro’s otherwise-boring  transformer or relay boxes.



I admire the prolific pranksters in yarn and wool, especially since knitting and crocheting never caught on with me. As a teen, I crocheted a blue granny-square afghan, but it took me ages to transform my initial efforts from too-big circles into evenly sized squares. As for knitting, I think I produced one of those boring, de rigeuer scarves for a home economics class and that was it. I don’t think such activities are designed for impatient people like me. 


I just found out who created the Cowrie Street yarn additions and it’s someone I know. What fun. I’m not telling.  This year’s Gibsons Landing Fibre Arts Festival is hosting its own version of yarn storming. The festival is inviting people to decorate Gibsons with their own knit or crocheted creation. Participants are encouraged to make something functional such as hats or scarves that can later go to those in need. Otherwise, people can feel free to “liberate” the fuzzy public art creations after the festival.


For more information and guidelines, contact festival co-sponsor Unwind Knit and Fibre Lounge at 886-1418 or email info@unwindknitandfibre.ca, using  “Yarn Storming'” in the subject line. There will be related photos in the entrance of the festival and a people’s choice award.


Sadly, this might be the last year of the Fibre Arts Festival due to a current lack of committed volunteers. Festival organizers have announced that they won’t hold the annual event next year. Be sure to enjoy this year’s festival, held August 19-21.

July 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm
1 comment »
  • November 6, 2010 at 5:00 pmfrances wasserlein

    Hey Heather, did you notice the knitting covered door rock at the Arts Centre?

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