Knitters go guerilla, drop yarn bombs
Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Whether you call it guerilla knitting, knit graffiti or yarn bombing, Dallas knitters are taking their craft to the streets. These urban artists knit pieces together to cover things in public such as stops signs, fire hydrants and light poles.
One local yarn bomber does her handiwork under an anonymous name, K Witta.
"I just want to make people smile and look at things differently," Witta said.
This year Witta started yarn-bombing lampposts outside of the Lakewood Public Library where she meets with her knitting group, the Knit Wits.
She has knit cozies for fire hydrants and put little knit skirts on stop signs across the Lakewood area. Witta said that the response to her yarn bombing has been both positive and negative.
"Some people ask, ‘Why don't you knit for charity?'" Witta said.
Witta has been knitting for 25 years. She's received awards for her knitting and has even sold some of her pieces.
"It's a creative outlet," Witta said. "I love the creativity and designing pieces with whimsy."
Some people don't understand yarn bombing.
Chloe Madinger, an SMU junior, spotted a piece of yarn bombing on her way home to her apartment in Lakewood.
"I don't know what the purpose is," Madinger said.
Witta said that she followed the progress of the Austin based yarn bombing group Knitta Please, where the use of yarn as graffiti originated, and its founder Magda Sayeg. She recently heard about a yarn bombing event in Salt Lake City from a friend and was inspired to get this new form of art started in her own city.
"We have to make Dallas cool," Witta said.
Magda Sayeg began the yarn bombing movement in Houston in 2005. Karen McClellan, administrative assistant for Knitta Please, said, in an email, that it began under the radar because Sayeg wasn't interested in getting in legal trouble.
"It wasn't for the purpose of being renegade, it just was," McClellan said.
McClellan said that the point of Knitta Please is to beautify the environment by adding color, whimsy and warmth.
"We want to start conversations about public art, art v. craft, and traditional feminine craft in the public sphere," McClellan said.
She said that they have received fan mail, pictures and sightings of yarn bombing in Nepal, Sweden, Estonia, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Canada and beyond.
"Yarn bombing seems to reach trans-nationally across borders, languages, politics," McClellan said. "People respond to it from this place of both nostalgia and activism."
McClellan said that Knitta Please has received both positive and negative reactions of their work. She said that many people write to say that they are inspired by the possibilities of yarn bombing. She said they see yarn bombing as a call to action to our own world, to act upon it and to embrace it. However, some see it as a waste of yarn and that they would rather see them knit blankets for preemie babies and homeless shelters, McClellan said.
"The sculptor who uses wood could be making houses for homeless people, but this is not his job. He's an artist," McClellan said.
Witta said that she and the Knit Wits knit over 1600 baby hats for Parkland Hospital, among other projects. However, she said that not all yarn is fit for charity.
"I have a huge stash of ‘that 70s yarn' that you wouldn't put on a baby's head," Witta said. "It's just colorful and fun."
Witta said that the positive support has been overwhelming. She said people honk and smile when they spot her doing some yarn bombing.
"I've even gotten sidewalk chalk thank you notes beneath my yarn bombing," Witta said.
Jonathon King, a UTD graduate student and Lakewood resident, said he spotted one of her knit-covered fire hydrants in the area.
"Personally I think it's great," King said. "People deserve a laugh or a chuckle every so often, you know?"
On a recent evening, the Dallas Yarn Bombers held their first meeting at the Shabby Sheep Yarn Boutique where 10 people gathered to drink wine, knit and discuss the future of yarn bombing in Dallas. Like its leader, the group wants to stay as anonymous as possible as they continue to place their fuzzy creations across the city.
The group consisted of nine women and one man.
Jon G., an architect and urbanist, came with a friend and quietly took notes throughout the meeting.
"I'm just fascinated by the whole idea," Jon said. "I don't even know how to knit."
Ronda Van Dyke, owner of the Shabby Sheep and host for the evening, said that she plans on creating a beginner knitting class for people interested in yarn bombing.
During the meeting, the group discussed the fact that many of Witta's pieces are being removed by code enforcement. Witta said that code enforcement defined it as littering and she thinks that they are looking for her yarn bombings around Lakewood.
The group also discussed some top-secret yarn bombing plans for the very near future.
K Witta said that she is excited about the response she is getting from her work and looks forward to the future of yarn bombing in urban environments like Dallas.
"Let's get knitting out of the rocking chair and onto the streets," Witta said.