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When I first picked up a copy of Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti (Arsenal Pulp Press), I thought it was going to be a pretty coffee table book filled with colorful images of clever street artists of the yarn persuasion. Being a fan of the subtle but calculated subversiveness of yarn bombing, I would’ve been happy with that. The pleasant surprise is that this new book by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain offers much more.
When I pick up a new book, I always like to open it to a random page just to get that out-of-context glimpse for starters. I was greeted by a section titled “What if you get caught?” I’m not sure how well “Explain to the officer that you are an artist and that you are creating public work” would serve you, but the “tactics of military snipers” sidebar on the next page offers some great tips on staying unseen. The point is that Yarn Bombing really strives to give a full window into this growing movement. Not only do the authors introduce you to various global yarn bombing crews with interviews and images, but you get how-tos on getting started yarning it up yourself. Equipment, planning, measuring things you want to bomb, and staying stealth are all covered.
Once you get all that down, Yarn Bombing teaches you basic tags and patterns, helps you contemplate the size of your crew, and gets you going writing your yarn bombing manifesto. There’s also an entire chapter devoted to knitting and crochet patterns like the Treesweater, Hanging Shoes, and Knitted Poster Frame, to name just a few. There are even a number of patterns for making yourself tagging essentials like Nninja Threads to keep yourself incognito and the Tagging Toolkit Cuff to hold all your gear and be ready on the fly. No stone is left unturned (or without a cozy) in this comprehensive book, including the inevitable “But is it art?” discussion.
Seen below are examples of yarn bombing from the book: the knitted Pink M.24 Chaffee by Marianne Jorgensen and a piece by the Stickkontakt crew from Sweden.
Pick up Yarn Bombing for more knit and crochet graffiti juiciness and check out their blog and Flickr set for inspirational eye candy (a Flickr image search reveals tons more of his movement). World yarn domination, yo!
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18 thoughts on “Book Review: Yarn Bombing

  1. How intriguing to take a stereotypically “domestic” art and bring it to the streets. Interesting juxtaposition, don’t you think?

  2. graffitti is about stealing spray paint and ruining other peoples stuff. i doubt these women are looting yarn stores, and the fact that its not permanent and does not do any damage makes it yuppie art. wasting money for no reason.

  3. Does the creator clean these up eventually? I appreciate the thought, but all I can imagine is these these items molding after a good rain.

  4. While the sight of a tank draped in an enormous shocking pink blanket is amusing, I have to agree with other posters that this is a fairly juvenile and self-indulgent project, and yes, obscenely wasteful if the “artists” don’t actually retrieve their work but leave it to the mercy of the elements. The wool and hours of labor used up to make that blanket could have kept a lot of homeless people warm. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my knitting to serve a practical, rather than symbolic, purpose.

  5. I think it’s ridiculous to say the yarn should have gone to make blankets for the homeless. That’s like saying canvas for paintings should be used instead to make jackets and paint should only be used to paint a poor person’s home. We don’t have to choose between art and helping people. However a lot of people would argue that art does help people.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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