Vancouver BC’s first Mini Maker Faire is this weekend, and to help build excitement for the event, a group of local knitters and crocheters joined forces to do a bit of yarn bombing on June 11th, which is also International Yarn Bombing Day. Using their fiber skills and teamwork, these 15 crafty activists beautified the city’s Dunsmuir bike lanes with an installation of brightly colored knitting. I talked with mastermind Emily Smith about how the project came together and what Vancouver thought about it.
How did you decide to use yarn bombing to promote the Mini Maker Faire in Vancouver? And, why bike racks? I was keen on doing some sort of community-building exercise that involved something crafty – and would engage the crafting community in the city. As a member of the Vancouver Hack Space (VHS), I’m always looking to host new and interesting events, and attract people to the space that haven’t already been. The best part about the internet is that you can send out a smoke signal, set a location, and people will come. I saw the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire as a perfect opportunity to do a shout-out to all the knitting enthusiasts out there about an opportunity to collaborate on a fun project, starting at VHS. We decided to do the bike racks for a few reasons. First off, June is bike month in Vancouver, so it seemed like a natural idea. The Dunsmuir bike lanes (where they are located) are fairly new in the city and are unique in that they have a separate street light, and flower boxes between cars and the lane. So, it was a bit of an expression of how awesome those lanes are, and how hard people worked to make that happen. Most of all though, it was an attainable project with the group that we had. It was close to 15 people, and with that many people, it’s best to go for length, over complexity. That way it was still fun, and didn’t tire people out. What was your yarn-bombing run like? (Without giving away any top-secret details, of course!) Basically what we did was we met up a few weeks in advance and set up a game plan. We assessed our options and our timeline. From there, one member volunteered to figure out the size and gage of the racks. She then reported back to the group (we set up an email group for the occasion) with the dimensions, and everybody got knitting. We had two knit/crochet nights at the hack space, and set our date for June 11th, which was also International Yarn Bombing Day. On the big day, we met up in advance and pooled our resources. It was so amazing to see all of the piles of knitting that added up, and admire everyone’s handiwork. From there, we took it to the streets – armed with our crochet hooks and yarn needles, and attached the strips to the rack. The whole experience felt a bit subversive, and out of the ordinary – which was nice. The best part about it was that people passing by really thought that it made the area more beautiful. Which was nice to hear. What other kinds of reactions have you been seeing in your community? We had people walking up to us on the street and thanking us! A transit authority mentioned that he loves it when people do this sort of thing because it really warms the place up (hee hee). It instigated some interesting conversation from people on the street, and I managed to bond with a few grannies about crocheting and quilting. The most exciting part about it was the dialogue that it generated around the event, and it really has been a warm and fuzzy experience. What are you most excited about seeing at the Mini Maker Faire in Vancouver? Oddly enough, I’m most excited to see people come out and have a good time. We’ve put a lot of work in to making the festival diverse: from walking spiders and robots and 3D printers to fire and fiber and knitting and quilting and mighty ugly creatures… it’s the combination of exhibits that make this event so unique, and I just can’t wait to see it all unfold!