Nearly two months ago my Mom performed an act of artistic vandalism. Together with her friends she put up removable graffiti. I knew this was coming. We had started to worry about the crowd she was hanging out with. These ladies are really “crafty.” They “ooh” and “aah” over handmade gifts, they buy books like “One Skein Wonders” and “Knitting Simple Sweaters From Luxurious Yarns,” and they are always hanging out at the yarn shop when they say they’re somewhere else. They live for knitting patterns and they love to squeeze skeins of wooly yarns. They are never far from their needles and they are always encouraging my "novice-knitter" Mom to handmake eveything. Our family had barely recovered from our first handmade Christmas when we found out that they had covered the pole in front of the local yarn shop, Unwind, with brightly colored knitted yarn from top to bottom for Valentine’s Day. One of her friends introduced my Mom to the concept of “knit graffiti” and she and her friends made a pact to “yarn bomb” on Valentine’s Day. They feared that it might be “illegal” to cover public property in yarn but they decided to go for it anyway. The pole was located directly in front of a yarn shop, after all. They covered it in broad daylight on the morning of February 14th as people passed by and the traffic on Post Road looked on. Reminds me of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “commit a crime and the earth is made of glass.” While this may be true, you don’t have to make yourself so obvious.
If you haven’t heard of it, yarn bombing is a global form of graffiti art that attempts to make the world more beautiful one stitch at a time. It has taken off in cities like Stockholm, London, Paris, Sydney, Seoul, Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, and now the town of East Greenwich. People yarn bomb hydrants, cars, buses, statues, bridges, benches, lampposts, and bicycles. Be sure to see the photo of the Rocky Balboa statue wearing a pink sweater outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Yes, that is the Wall Street Bull, located north of Bowling Green Park in Manhattan, covered in pink camo. Rumor has it that the charging bull remained covered in pink for only two hours before the yarn was removed and donated to a local shelter, but I’m sure it was long enough for him to be completely humiliated. However, the beauty of knit graffiti is that it is all easily removed and repurposed leading some to couple knit graffiti with social movements. One mother-and-daughter team draped presidential statues in Rapid City, South Dakota, with colorful and removable scarves and mittens for the homeless in the frigid winter weather. No matter the reason, yarn bombing is usually done under the cover of darkness with a ladder, flashlights, and colorful fibers, leaving humanity to wake up to a brighter, more beautiful world.
“Make the world a more beautiful place? Have you seen Mom’s knitting?” my brother whispered to my sister and me over breakfast. We all had a good chuckle.
Yet, if you are driving in your car, riding the school bus, or walking past Unwind, take a look. I think it's still up and I think it will make you smile. Knowing these "crafty" ladies as I do, they will probably put up something else soon. The possibilities are endless for those committed to making the world a more beautiful place one stitch at a time.