What is graffiti knitting? Graffiti knitting explained | Whodunnknit.
What is graffiti knitting? Graffiti knitting or yarnstorming or yarnbombing or guerrilla knitting is the art of using items handmade from yarn to create street art. The artist creates an item using knitting or crochet, they take the item into a public place, they install the piece in that public place, they run away giggling. It’s really as simple as that.
What’s the point? That’s a bit like asking how long a piece of string is. There are loads of reasons why people make woolly art. Each yarnstormer has their own reason. I guess you’ll have to ask them.
Isn’t it a bit of a waste of yarn? I mean shouldn’t you be knitting for homeless pre-mature penguin babies with TB? I always find this question oddly narrow minded. Would you tell a painter or sculptor to use their materials for something more practical? “Hey, Michelangelo! What do you think you’re doing carving a giant naked chap when you could be making a nice functional bathroom set for your local hospice?” “Oi! Da Vinci! Cease painting that smirking brunette and give a few coats of that precious paint to that dedilapidated school house in the slums.”
If you really want to get picky then you could well ask the questioner why on earth they would ever do anything fun, creative or unusual when they could be doing something helpful and practical. The electricity used to watch that episode of Eastenders could be used to run x amount of life support machines. Right?
We all have to live but how we live is up to us. George Bernard Shaw one waffled “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” There is art in every single thing around you from your slippers to the station stairs on your morning commute. Some art is a little more slap-in-the-face obvious but what a beautiful world it is when art rears its interesting head.
Are there different kinds of graffiti knitting? There are a few types of graffiti knitting:
Cosies: Graffiti knitting began with people installing of ‘cosies’. These are basically handmade covers for items. The idea is attributed to have been started by Magda Sayeg of the Knitta group in Texas (they covered street furniure such as lamp posts) and by Knitted Landscape in Denmark (they covered rocks and made flowers). Think of the ‘cosies’ movement as “Oooo look! There’s unexpected knitting covering that thing! How cool!”
It can be a very effective style of graffiti, especially on a grand scale.
Stitched Stories: The Stitched Stories style of graffiti knitting moved on from ‘cosies’ to artists using amigurumi (knitted toys) and other styles to add a theme or story to their installation. It gave the woolly street art a bit of a voice. This first popped up in London in 2009 when graffiti knitting collective Knit the City’s Web of Woe was created under Waterloo Station. Think of the ‘stitched stories’ movement as ‘Oooo look! There’s unexpected knitting on that thing! And it’s got something to say too!”
Like its cosy sister style it can be epic and full of many tales or a teeny tiny scene with only a few characters.
My Part in the Graffiti Knitting Tale
What does the Stitched Stories idea have to do with you then? In 2009, after a handful of ‘cosies’ done on my own and with Knit the City, I was already bored of knitting square and socks to make cosies. I had the wild idea that I wanted our woolly street art to have a bit more of a purpose than simply being ‘knitting on something’.
I’m a storyteller at heart so it made sense to me to tell a story with my stitching. I planned out Knit the City’s Web of Woe, a 13-foot spider web full of screaming and struggling creatures, and KTC and I brought it to life. The internet went wild. Blimey.