When we think graffiti, we don’t usually think of our mothers and grandmothers, yet older women are taking to the streets, finding signs and statues, and tagging them…with yarn. This “grandma graffiti,” or “yarn bombing,” is an international DIY craft/street art phenomenon. These “knit crews” just keep popping up; in Denver, they’re the Ladies Fancywork Society; in Seattle, they’re the YarnCore Collective, “Hardcore Chicks With Sharp Sticks”; and don’t forget Masquerade who “yarnstorms” Stockholm. These ladies may look harmless, but watch out, they have needles.
How did this wooly trend begin? The yarnstorming bible, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, was penned in 2009 by the Vancouver-based Mandy Moore (no, not that one) and Leanne Prain; and Magda Sayeg, who founded Knitta Please (clearly adopting the street art idiom), is believed to be its founding mother.
With its blurring of the lines between what have traditionally been seen as the male and female, inside and outside, rural and urban spheres, this yarn art should certainly shake things up. However, whether this new fad will secure women a more sturdy place in the (art) world or become fodder for those who believe they should really be darning things remains to be seen.
Not every woman is embracing the movement. New York artist Agata Oleksiak, or Olek, (who yarned the Wall Street bull statue, above) does not like to be associated with the guerilla knitters. She believes that the street is an extension of the gallery, and that some people’s work just doesn’t belong there. Perhaps because as a blogger I have more in common with the knit crews than I do with Ms. Oleksiak, I wholeheartedly disagree with that sentiment. For us bloggers and knitting bubbies, the street and Internet are DIY galleries that no Olek can take away from us.