Yarn bombing, yarn storming, yarn installations, guerrilla knitting, kniffiti, urban knitting, graffiti knitting or wool activism…whatever you want to call it, the bizarre practice of knitting or crocheting things over trees and various bits of inanimate street ‘furniture’ has a lot to commend it. It is both attractive on the eye and keeps militant knitters and crochet fanatics safely out of harms way…and away from the rest of the population.
I’d never come across the concept before, but yarn bombing is a ‘thing’, it even has its own entry in Wikipedia. One of my friends runs a wool/knitting shop so I’m aware of the contemporary popularity of all things knit-one, pearl-one. I’ve heard of speed knitting, knitting pub crawls and knit-ins, but this was something new. Of the many perceptions I had about Portugal’s Algarve region, this was not one of them.
The knitted trees of Sagres on the south western tip of Portugal are rather lovely. People gather at the trees – which form two lines either side of a small park – and knit them brightly coloured ‘clothes’ or ‘cosies’. Trees are not the only target of yarn bombing, lamp posts, telephone exchanges, bikes, bridges, park benches and statues have all been given the treatment.
The movement is believed to have started in the United States and has spread around the world. Technically it is considered on the same level as other forms of graffiti, in reality it is largely tolerated. Perhaps because it is considered more upmarket than the work of those spray paint anarchists who tag their way around the world.
What the trees think of all this madness we’ve yet to discover…although as one yarn bombing activist website states, “To date there is no evidence that any trees have been damaged due to yarn bombing”. Well, they would say that wouldn’t they?