Yarn Bombs

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Beartooth
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Between the steep upward climb from Montana’s Cooke City and the downward dash to Red Lodge is the towering Beartooth Highway high in the Wyoming mountains just outside Yellowstone National Park.

With an elevation of 11,000 feet, the scenery is diverse ranging from lush towering pines to the starkness of immense boulders in treeless fields near the summit. The delicate, determined wildflowers, vast patches of snow and crystal clear alpine lakes of this barren high country now has a cozy knit Beartooth replica attached and hovering over a rustic sign near the highpoint of this beautiful pass.

Yarn Doodler and granddaughter Miss H braved the 39 degree temperatures on this August afternoon to whipstitch our version of a bear tooth for other adventurers to see.

What a place of peace and beauty. Shiver on Beartooth!

Yipee Ki-Ay
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We spent a tranquil night high up in the cliffs overlooking a rushing river just outside the 1872 northern gate to Yellowstone National Park in charming Gardiner, MT. In the morning, my oldest granddaughter and I found this wonderful bronze statue of a cowboy riding a bill – too irresistible to not place our first yarn doodle of this annual Tour de Heartland road trip.

In broad daylight, it must have really looked like big time suspicious behavior as we added sweet Miss H’s first ever yarn graffiti. The larger than life artwork already sported someone’s plaid shirt and taped to the cowboy’s upraised hand was an American flag.

The knit piece we placed was a royal blue ankle cuff with an orange sunbursts, which we snugly fit around the ample let front hoof of the bull. It could easily be visible by both car and foot traffic in this quaint western town.

But here’s the huge major first – we got busted! Yes, right there on the spot and in the acti of yarn bombing, ut marched the owners of Cowboy’s Lodge and Grille to inquire what we were doing to their property.

However, the best part of being apprehended was how nice and understanding they were about our knit graffiti.

If you are ever in the friendly neighborhood of Gardiner, MT, stop by for a sip and some grub. And tell the nice folks there you are a FOYD (Friend of Yarn Doodler).

What’s Next for Yarn Doodler?
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So, what does the Yarn Doodler do when not hop-scotching about the globe yarn bombing? Let’s take a peek into her cozy little corner of the world as she knits up a new, big surprise!

Coming soon from this small deck chair is a mighty, collaborative knitting project. It’s simply the biggest knit graffiti escapade in which she’s participated yet!

Let’s yarn bomb a bridge!

Stay tuned.

Get Well Soon
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For those of you not ready for the heart-pounding, exhilarating public acts of knitted graffiti, here is an idea that might appeal to you.

Recently, a close friend found herself in a transitional facility between hospital and home. She had a pastoral view from her bed with a white picket fence between her window and the neighboring farm. That fence absolutely pleaded for a yarn doodle!

So I went polar opposite of my previous five yarn bombings and created a yarn doodle that would bring joy and a little chuckle to only my friend and her visitors.

Knit in my signature color, orange, reinforced with bailing wire for sculpting, with a bobble center in her favorite shade of blue, it can easily be transplanted to her own yard when she returns home.

The flower, Get Well Soon is a sentinel and a reminder that I am watching over my friend 24/7.

Bombing the Mini Cooper
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I love my local knit shop. It is more than a community, more than a tribe, it is a family of knitters. When hands are clicking knitting needles, yarn balls are straining to be released from project bags, and like-minded people are sharing space, something wild, crazy, compassionate and creative happens. At least that is what happens at Blazing Needles in Salt Lake City, Utah.

So, it only seemed natural that when the idea of random acts of knitting was proposed as an addition to the annual Utah Arts Festival, in the planning stages of this year’s event, that Blazing Needles embraced the idea wholeheartedly. The energetic owner, Cynthia Mills, came up with the idea of creating a cozy for a car. Jocelyn donated her 10 year old Mini Cooper and 50 knitters started making miscellaneous squares, rectangles, and mystery shapes over pitch-in meals, cocktails, and heaps of desserts.

With that mountain of bazaar knitting piling up in the shop, a tremor shuddered through all who saw it. And that is where I came on board. I have been project manager on other strange requests so it was a good potential fit. There was a brainstorming meeting, ideas tossed about, suggestions made and along with a lot of bailing wire, twist ties and large eyed plastic needles and bright yellow yarn, a crew of about 20 whipped up the Mini Cooper sweater from what we estimate was 25,000 yards of yarn.

As with the courage it takes to place that first brush stroke on a painting, so it was with the placement of the first knitted piece. Where to begin? How does this work? What is it supposed to look like? What is going to hold it all together? Well, it was only by jumping in did those questions get answered and only keeping one’s ears open to the fantastic suggestions and good ideas of others did the project develop a life of it’s own with it’s own character and personality.

Did we have a plan? Did we see the final picture? No, not at all. We just solved each dilemma as it presented itself and then took that ball and ran with it. A mannequin, then needles in her hand, and in the other hand some yarn appeared to be casting on, then rasta braids of misc yarn covering her bald head with a cool knit hat and a halter made of a knit flag contribution along with felted bracelets, and, of course, she had to have a dog who then had to have a tongue extension to wag in the breeze with an oversized scarf etc etc. See how the process developed?

How does such a project make its way to the installation three miles away? Should we try to hire a moving truck, cover it with plastic or just hike up the “skirts” and drive the darn thing? So that is what we did. There was a lead and a follow up vehicle along with lots of honking  horns, waves and other more irritated gestures but the Mini Cooper made it to the Festival without the loss of one single accent.

How much fun was it? More than I can express. The frosting on the cake of this community contribution was seeing all the smiles and hearing all the comments when people just had to have their picture taken in front of the bedecked knit covered car.

How fun was that!

Tag on Tag
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A creative bombing, tagging onto existing street art in Padova, Italy – tag on tag!

It was a long day driving and my energy was especially low. it was hot, muggy and when we eventually walked into the old walled city of Padova, I really should say I was dragging.

I had decided to bring along the last of the Yarn Doodles made from the brighly colored yarn I had purchased in Slovenia. I had made what I thought would work as a statue’s wristcuff or possibly an ankle bracelet out of turquoise with an orange flower and green bobble center. It had not been sewn shut yet. But because I had knit it in a 2×2 rib stitch, I knew it would have some size flexibility and would stretch.

I am so glad I tucked the tag into my overnight bag for our last night in Italy in a cool old town Padova. Once I saw the amazing stencil tag on a sidestreet just off Piazza dei Signori, I thought to myself, ‘a town who lights and leaves a tag such as this will get what I’m doing.’

The graffit artist, Kenny Random, spray stenciled a life-sized cloaked man holding a spray can in his hand in silhouette. From the can, was a solid horizontal wave line stream of turquoise – the exact same shade as my yarn, with a bird and cat perched on that line. Halfway through the mural were two vertical pipes, which created a natural break in his work.

It only took my second viewing of this gift to know I must tag this tag.

There was live music playing in the festive gathering space of the piazza. Hundreds of people, families, bicyclists and strollers meandered beneath the clock tower. We had wine, listened and watched, and I lost several rounds of backgammon. All the while, I kept one eye on the Kenny Random (he signed it) graffiti. I thought my yarn doodle should somehow be close enough to relate to the colors of his work, perhaps on a pipe or nearby lamp post. We added, over dinner, a bottle of wine to our already consumed two glasses each. So by the time we finished eating, I was quite fortified to just march over to the wall of art and brazenly, in front of hundreds of eyes, install my very own matching knit tag to the existing piece.

I filled in his gap and completed his work.

How cool is that! Hope Kenny thinks so, too.

Kenny Random
Kenny Random is a noted street artist in Padova. While not much is known about him, his work is ever present in the city and on the web. Interestingly enough, many of his more interesting pieces are, just like my yarn bomb, similar tags on tags. Enjoy.

A Book Can Change a Life
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Personal comments, life experiences and, occasionally, some books, have the ability to change lives. I tell you, that happened to me when I read Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti

I have NEVER in my life (which is well into it’s 6th decade) ever read a craft book from cover to cover until Yarn Bombing. I happened to be using the book as a reference for a significant project I had been asked to oversee. I was a captive reader since I had taken it along with me on a flight to Italy.

I am the good Catholic-raised girl, who to this day, still bends over to pick up a stray piece of paper or discarded trash. I am not the person who steals away in the cover of dark to place knit graffiti. Well, at least I didn’t think I was! But all of that has changed.

After reading Yarn Bombing, I was so inspired by the art that was so well described, documented and celebrated in the pages that I could not help but somehow be a part of this amazing movement. I vowed to do my part in public awareness, while remaining anonymous.

With pounding heart, rapid glances about me and swift nimble fingers, in the days following my reading the book, I placed four original works of knitting in two countries And I tasked out the fifth, so that my work could be at both Mt. Vesuvius and Assisi on International Yarn Bombing Day. I am now scouting out the perfect location in front of my fave coffee shop here in the USA for the next installation.

Oh, and that “significant project” here, has gotten international attention as a highlight of the Utah Arts Festival. All I can say is, read that book and be inspired to create your own  random acts of art to put some excitement in your life and those who encounter it.

Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit GraffitiCrocheting Craft Books)

Madame Butterfly
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June 14 was International Yarn Bombing Day and the Yarn Doodler celebrated by placing two knit graffiti projects on the same day across Italy – half a country apart. Wow, she really gets around!

With the help of a fun and conspiring couple from Iowa, Madame Butterfly was perched at the top of Mt. Vesuvius in southern Italy just as Posey got planted hundreds of kilometers away in Assisi.

A big thanks to Tom and Rita, who we met at Malvarina near Assisi, for your enthusiasm for the project and taking the butterfly to her new home.

Ciao!

Posey
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The first yarn doodle I knit, once I acquired colorful yarn in Slovenia, was a turquoise flower with orange center and an 18-inch long lime green stem with leaf. As we determined we would go to Assisi, I thought it the perfect place for Posey, since St. Frances had such an affection for birds and flowers. The first day we arrived at our agroturissmo, we scouted out the town to find where Posey would rest. The last evening we set about to make it happen. We had declined several heavily traveled locations, over a couple day period, to choose a railing that leads to the San Rufino church at one of the entrances to the old city.

Although this yarn doodle was designed to be placed in the hand of a Saint Frances statue, surprisingly, none existed outside of the church. So this railing seemed a good choice since it was just within an arch in a heavy foot traffic path, leading to the village. My shield, hubby, pretended he was taking a night photo of the well-lit church as I quickly wrapped the yarn tails over the railing, anchoring them through the long stem over and over again.  We stepped away after the two or three minutes of stitching, noticing a man across the plaza watching us intently. Many people walked through the arch,  down the path past us, while I worked. But I don’t think they could quite tell what mischief we were up to.

We stepped away once I was finished and hovered nearby, acting as if we were taking more photos. A group of six to eight teens clammered down the pathway. Then a boy and soon a girl, back-stepped to look at Posey. This was the first time I really got to witness an observer. It was pretty exciting though I did not understand what they had to say to the others in their Italian-speaking pack of kids.

After dinner that evening, we stopped by to see if an attentive street cleaner had already removed Posey from the railing, especially since we had a possible observer during the process. But she was still there.

Upon leaving our farm experience the following day, we stopped by to check one final time. Sure enough, yet surprisingly, Posey was still planted in the place after three days. Hopefully, she’ll be allowed to flourish there a good while longer.

Arrivedeci, Posey!

The Claw
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As we wandered through Rome, I scouted the location for placing my second yarn doodle. We first  considered a lamp post near the Spanish Steps. Actually, it was right on the Spanish Steps – literally. This would be a site many people visit and is a destination location. We also looked at one of the bridges leading to the Vatican over the Tiber River – the Ponte San Angelo. But it wasn’t quite right.

The area around our Piazza Navona apartment had few options, too, with lots of fantastic fountains. But there were too many workers setting up a stage for a music festival the coming weekend. We had spent some time in the plaza that faced the Pantheon. I was really intrigued by a chain link fence post that was subtly visible from the street above but would require some climbing and use of notched foot holds, likely scraped knees and definately dirty pants legs. I thought I could sucessfully install but would be pretty obvious with just my grunting alone. And hubby said he would not even watch as I did that placement.

So with my location scout’s help, we rejected the Colosseum, Forum, Trevi Fountain and pondered a lamp post in the Campo di Fiori as we consumed wine and coffee one lovely day. It is a pleasant and popular plaza that we took ownership of by purchasing wares, spices, a scarf for Madeline’s birthday and whiled away a couple of leisure hours.

Deed Done

No secretive, black hat cover stealth bomber me. In a bright orange shirt, needle attached to the yarn doodle for quick attaching, I marched right over to the lamp post, looking in all directions for someone who would shout out in alarm, ‘look, a wild woman is stitching graffiti in broad daylight at high noon in our sacred plaza.’  Well, no such screeching. In fact, as my husband sat a distance away ordering his second wine of the day (a Brunello), he confirmed that of all the shoppers, coming and going, only one man in a business suit even glanced in my direction, as I quickly moved my arm up and down sewing shut the seam.

45 minutes = no one noticed
1 hour = dozens of strollers, shoppers, no one notices yet
11 people per minute walk by-no observers

Next day:

We have visited “Claw” many  tines since placing the second yarn doodlea day earlier. We had seen him at night in the party atmosphere of the Campo di Fiori and in the morning hub-bub of market day. Sitting at our favorite table, sipping Americano kaffe after making gift purchases at the market, I kept an eye on the prize. Beause of the mutted colors of the yarn and the perfectly same colors of the pipe where I placed it, I think  it is a treasure to be discovered. On our final visit, the bike with the child seat was chained to the post where Claw resided, just as it did the day before when I installed him. The bike was not there during the evening activities so perhaps at least that mother took notice of him.

So we said our goodbyes. Ciao bella, Mr. Claw!