Modern Knitting….a new spin on an old craft!

Posts tagged ‘Knitfitti’

Yarn Bombing; is it Explosive or a Dud? Part V Streetcolor

Streetcolor was in a bookstore one day when she found Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, after reading through the whole book she decided to join the Yarn Bombing movement. Streetcolor started small and then ended up blogging not too long after she started Yarn Bombing. She was shocked at how easy it was to start and keep up a blog about her work and because she is a professional artist she decided that she’d turn Yarn Bombing into an art form.  She is based in Berkeley, CA and has received a lot of attention from the media there. After covering the streets of Berkeley she decided to branch out and has been traveling farther and farther from her home and community to spread the joy that comes with seeing these knit pieces.

Streetcolor mentioned to me a sense of danger and excitement that comes with Yarn Bombing that she felt when she began Yarn Bombing and now feels when she branches out of her usual spots. This adrenaline rush can be a common for yarn bombers and while a lot of law enforcement does not give yarn bombers trouble many do not know how to react to and this could result in a ticket or many more questions.  Her rules keep her from doing anything too crazy. She doesn’t want her pieces to create controversy so she never covers statues, and tries to pick spots where she won’t have to take her art down.

Streetcolor is hoping to receive more commissioned work, which Magda Sayeg does frequently and which seems to be the next step for many Yarn Bombers. Getting paid for your work seems to mean that you’re rising in the art world and this may reflect on Yarn Bombing’s role in the art world. Streetcolor says that there is a part of having work commissioned that takes the fun out of it, having to create what you are asked to, dealing with permits, and figuring out how much to charge, it makes things more stressful. But with the new commissions she makes sure she still does work for fun and her work has been paying off. Not too long ago she was included in an NPR special on knitting and continues to have stories published about her work.

Streetcolor’s view on the timelessness or timeliness of Yarn Bombing is that it is still in its beginning phase and that more people are going to start getting involved. “Right now there are a lot of internet fads that come and go,” Streetcolor said, “but graffiti and knitting have been around for thousands of years.” She also believes that the DIY movement will also help encourage more people to pick up knitting needles and get involved. This outlook on the future of Yarn Bombing seems promising and all of the Yarn Bombers that I interviewed seemed to agree that Yarn bombing is still growing much faster than it’s being forgotten.

 

Yarn Bombing; is it Explosive or a Dud? Part I: What is Yarn Bombing?

This past quarter I have been researching whether Yarn Bombing will grow in popularity or become a faint memory in the upcoming years. This question took me on a journey that would thrill and inspire me. The first question I must answer is what is Yarn Bombing. Magda Sayeg from Houston, Texas started this form of street art in 2005, originally it was a joke to see how pedestrians would react to knit works being put outside, but the trend took off. This original act of knit graffiti spurred a reaction that made people take notice; Tina Fey even mentioned it in an SNL skit. Now you can Google “Yarn Bombing” and thousands of results will come up including blogs, pictures and newspaper articles.

I created a survey to find out if people actually know about the street art phenomena called Yarn Bombing and found that fifty-six percent of those who took the survey had not even heard of Yarn Bombing before. Most people deduced that Yarn Bombing has to do with yarn but a lot of people brought violent connotations to their perceived definitions. Once people were given the true definition of Yarn Bombing, (A form of street art where people take knit or crocheted materials and place them in public areas. Common places for Yarn Bomb tags are sign poles, bike racks, benches, railings and statues.), they not only thought of it as more interesting but also as something they would like to see.

This absence of prior knowledge about what Yarn Bombing is very important to the question “Will Yarn Bombing grow in popularity or become a faint memory?”. A lack of knowledge on the topic means that there is still a large market to tap and inform, but it also means that if people are not informed faster than they lose interest the art will be forgotten. The survey I created had promising results in category; while many had never heard of Yarn Bombing there was a large interest in actually seeing knit pieces up and in their neighborhoods. Most of the people who reacted positively to the aspect of knit graffiti also said they had no interest in actually becoming a Yarn Bomber. This means that while people are still learning about Yarn Bombing they mostly will become consumers and not producers of street art. This is true in most art forms, suggesting that there are consumers out there, but are there producers?

Research

This weekend, starting tomorrow I’m going to take a bunch of surveys  out into the world and find out who knows about how Yarn bombing is perceived. I have two different surveys, one to see if people already know about Yarn Bombing and if they do not, what they think it is, whether its violent or silly or stupid or a great idea and then another survey giving the definition and then asking what they think of it knowing what it is. I really think these surveys will show how much awareness there is right now and if, when people actually know what it is, they are interested in either seeing it or doing it themselves. I realize that the survey questions I posted on this blog are a little difficult so I have put up a survey monkey survey instead, the post got a lot of views but only a few answers.

To find out if Yarn Bombing is going to increase in popularity I think its really important to figure out if people actually know about it. The biggest thing that I’ve found through my research and personal experience is that people don’t really know about this craft. The people I tell seem interested in at least seeing examples and some really want to start working on tags. I think doing these surveys will not only give a feel for how much people know about Yarn Bombing but also spread awareness and curiosity. I hope the busy people in Pittsburgh and the University of Cincinnati will give me a bit of their time and fill out my surveys, otherwise its back to the drawing board for a new way to research Yarn Bombing. If you have any suggestions feel free to comment.

In other news I have seen a lot more graffiti on campus and not just sloppy tags but really nice looking pieces. If this is an indication that there are creative people wanting to start street art it may also mean that the tags I’ll be putting up may continue having positive reviews and reactions. I really need to knit more.

Please take the survey I have at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RVQJDWG it’ll help me get a better feel for how many people know about Yarn Bombing (its only eight questions)

Wish me luck!

Survey for Non-Yarn Bombers

Non-Yarn Bombers

1) Gender?

2) Age?

3) Location?

4) How did you find out about Yarn Bombing and when?

5) What was your first impression of Yarn Bombing?

6) Have you seen Yarn Bombing in person?

7) Do you Knit or Crochet?

8 ) Do you intend to start Yarn Bombing? Why or why not?

9) Do you think that Yarn Bombing will grow or fall in popularity?

10) Have you told others about Yarn Bombing?

11) Do you know anyone who Yarn Bombs?

12) Do you read or follow and Yarn Bombing media sources like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or anything else?

Survey for Yarn Bombers

Yarn Bombers

1) Gender?

2) Age?

3) Location?

4) How long have you been a Yarn Bomber?

5) How were you introduced to Yarn Bombing?

6) About how many tags have you put up?

7) Do you have a place to document tags ex. a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr etc.

8 ) Have you recruited other people?

9) What are your experiences with law enforcement while Yarn Bombing?

10) What age or ages do you believe are most attracted to Yarn Bombing?

11) Do you believe that Yarn Bombing is on the rise or falling in popularity?

Surveys: COMING SOON

I’ve decided that in order to find out if Yarn Bombing is on the rise or becoming a fad of the past I need to find out if people are interested in Yarn Bombing. Obviously there are many people out there, just look at some of the blogs like Streetcolors, KTC’s, Knittaplease, Yarnbombing, and Whodunnknit, and so so many more. But, even if there are people out their actively Yarn Bombing, for it to really stay around people need to continue being interested and starting to Yarn Bomb themselves.

I’ll have a survey put up on this site for people to comment answers so that I can receive more information and I’ll also be doing surveys around my campus. I intend to survey people before I’ve put up a lot of tags and sometime next quarter when people have had a chance to see them around. I hope to receive a lot of information to really see where Knitfitti is headed. SOOOOO, once these surveys are up it would be great if you’d comment your answers and then ask your friends to comment as well, I’d love to get a lot of input from Yarn Bombers I want to find out where YOU think this is headed. These surveys are coming soon and I hope you’re ready for them :D

Update

I came back to the building today and all my tags are still up! It was a happy surprise for me and it means that my easy to remove yarn bombs don’t seem like horrible graffiti to the maintenance staff here, also that the students and teachers who use these classrooms don’t find them offensive enough to take down. I’m going to continue tagging this building and the grounds and see what happens, I’ll be a busy knitter this weekend.

 

If you are a Yarn Bomber and you’re interested in having your work published in my blog feel free to contact me, just leave a post with your email and what you’d like to talk about. I’d love to interview more Yarn Bombers and hear more stories and experiences.

 

If you are someone who has seen Yarn Bombing and you’d like to learn more or get involved you can also contact me the same way :)

 

The last thing I’d like to update you all about is that I have more interviews to post soon, I’ve been a little overwhelmed with classwork but I’m going to type up my entries about the interviews I’ve done very shortly.

Second Installment

So, my boyfriend says that when I decide that I like something I don’t like it I love it. It’s true. I love Yarn Bombing. My second installment in my experiment was put up today. So far I have only received positive reactions but, we’ll see if they’re still up tomorrow. I intend to continue tagging my campus until I receive a real reaction, maybe that will never happen. I think I’ll be doing surveys soon to see how aware students are of Yarn Bombing now and after I start bombing more often. I hope that my work will have a warm welcome and that people will enjoy the color I’m putting on campus. If I get in trouble I’ll know to stop. In the mean time I think that this Yarn Bombing is catching on, some people are starting to get interested.

 

My First Tag

All This talk of Yarn Bombing had me wanting to try it out myself, I’ve been knitting a lot recently but never actually got around to Yarn Bombing. I was talking to my little brother on the phone about this blog and he kept asking “Have you done anything, what have you tagged?” It made me feel silly, I’ve been writing about all of this, knitting in my spare time and have not actually experienced what I’ve been writing about.

Tonight I decided was the night I’d do my first tag. Someplace where not a lot of people go and where I wouldn’t have to immediately have to explain myself. I took what I had knitted already and walked to the back of the building and knitted it up. The whole time I was going through what I’d say if anyone caught me…. “Oh, yeah this is a social experiment I’m doing for my research and resources class. You don’t like it? You want me to take it down? Ok, but can I interview you about this, this is exactly the reaction I need for my paper?” So while thinking of the worst and how I’d manage to keep out of trouble I finished my work without any interruption. My first tag, done! I even put a paper calling card on it directing people to modernknitting.wordpress.com. I feel more like a Yarn Bomber already. I got the rush, I made a place more beautiful where it’s dark and dreary and I didn’t get in trouble. I’m just glad I don’t have to explain myself to anyone.

My First Tag

After this my intention is to put more Yarn creations up around campus and see how people react. I may even do a survey, I’m not sure yet. But, after putting up my first tag I got a taste of why people do this and I like it. I haven’t even seen anyone’s reaction yet. Once again I think this is something that is just in its beginning stages and will probably go through a lot more before it becomes a fad of the past…. but I’ll keep researching to see what I can find.

My First Tag

Interview with Streetcolor

Interview with Streetcolor

I interviewed Streetcolor, Yarn Bomber from Berkeley, CA. I noticed  immediately that she was engaging and I was thankful that she picked up on my nonverbal cues that I was rushing back to my office as fast as I could to grab pen, paper and settle in for an interview.  Once I was settled I began my line of questioning in what I felt was a relaxed interviewing session.

Streetcolor has always been an artist and it’s no surprise that after seeing “Yarn Bombing” at the bookstore she was immediately drawn to the idea of spreading knit art around her community. Three days into Yarn Bombing she started up a blog, which Streetcolor says “was surprisingly easy.” Since that first post in June of 2010 she has been picking up steam and what once started as a curiosity and hobby became  an everyday art project.

Streetcolor's Yarn Bombing in front of San Jose Museum of Art

Starting out, Streetcolor decided that her rule was that she would not put her work up where it would be taken down or create controversy, this was to avoid problems with the authorities, allow her art to last in public places, and to avoid having to painstakingly take them down.  With this rule in place she started making pieces to hang up around Berkeley and soon found out that instead of just starting a project it was much simpler to plan out her patterns and colors, especially since she hand spins her yarn.  Sometimes the planning is influenced by the places she’d like to put her Yarn Bombing, other times she creates works based off of fashion, textiles, glasswork, or sculptures. She also expressed a tendency towards ruffles to add more dimension to her work.

Now, doing Yarn bombing full time, she’ll have many pieces ready to go that she totes with her ready to sew up when she finds the right place. You’ll know her work by the woven labels directing you to her blog. These labels, which where once paper and would be taken or ruined, give this artist a calling card and many people keep calling. Now, in the streets people will call out “Streetcolor!” and it’s gotten to the point that when someone actually knows Streetcolor’s secret identity and calls her by it she’s surprised. While many people have expressed an interest in joining Streetcolor or collaborating, she prefers to work as a single artist. She however has let on an assistant, The Russian, who is mentioned in many of her blog posts.

A piece with Streetcolor's label

While you can find plenty of Streetcolor’s work around Berkeley, CA, she’s been branching out farther and farther from her beloved cafes and bakeries in her area. Moving out to tag art museums and reclaim the some of the feeling of danger and adventure that she felt first starting off in Berkeley.  She doesn’t worry about the museums or people, they usually like her pieces, but the security guards don’t always know how to react and the confusion could cause a ticket or the removal of a valued art piece. The branching out isn’t the only thing new for Streetcolor she also has been receiving requests for commissioned pieces which will help her make a name for herself as a Yarn Bombing artist outside Berkeley.

We spoke about Yarn Bombing as a whole she feels that this is only the beginning. There is an attraction for both the younger and older generations, the younger ones think that its “funny and cool and like graffiti” the older ones are “delighted to see it done” and relate to it.  This closing of the generation gap is caused by the merging of two very old arts, graffiti and knitting, these art forms which have been around and adapted to society through time to finally be merged.  Not only is this appropriate for all ages but it is also egged on by the DIY movement and furthered by books like “Yarn Bombing” and the countless blogs people create.  Streetcolor states that, “things are now being democratized anyone can write, make a movie and make art. Now anyone can knit and put it out there.”

Streetcolor's tagged bike rack

From this interview I felt a great love of art and really learned from listening about her experiences. If there are more Yarn Bombers with as much spark and drive as Streetcolor, which I’m sure there are, Yarn Bombing won’t die down anytime soon. It seems to be an art in it’s infancy and it will be extremely exciting to see where the excitement takes this art in the future.

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