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Yarn Bombing 101: Bringing the Yarn World Together for Good Causes

From political activism to charity, yarn bombing has brought the world of knitting and crochet together in a beautiful way!

By: Toby Kuhnke, Editor, AllFreeKnitting.com
Updated February 20, 2018
Yarn Bombing

As new generations of knitters and crocheters discover their love of the fiber arts, it makes sense that new forms of the crafts will surface as ways to get creative with yarn. While new and innovative things are happening all the time in the yarn world these days, one of the most popular (and controversial) is yarn bombing.

From its place in the world of political activism to its questionable legality, this branch of knitting and crochet has caused quite an uproar. But whether you love it or hate it, yarn bombing as a form of graffiti seems like it is here to stay and fill the streets with color!

What Is Yarn Bombing?

Yarn bombing is a form of yarn-based street art where knitters and crocheters cover trees, poles, and public structures with knitted and crocheted fabric. You've most likely seen yarn bombing on trees, bicycle racks, and statues, but there have been popular "yarnstallations" that cover vehicles, benches, and even entire buildings!

Is Yarn Bombing Illegal?

Yes and no. Like most forms of street art, yarn bombing is illegal if you do not have permission from the people who own the property first. This gets even trickier if it's on public property like sidewalks.

That said, most people are more than willing to give you permission to yarn bomb in front of their storefronts and businesses. It's a great way to get passersby to stop and admire the streetscape. As long as you have the proper permission, yarn bombing is fine to do, and most people love seeing it around their communities.

Although yarn bombing is not necessarily illegal all of the time, it can be the source of some yarn controversy. One of the most famous yarn bombers is  Agata Oleksiak, more popularly known as Olek, is responsible for some of the most famous yarnstallations ever, but one underwater yarn bombing attempt in 2014 caused quite a stir. With the intention to bring awareness to the dangers facing marine ecosystems, Olek yarn bombed an underwater sculpture at the Museo Subacuatico de Arte in Mexico. The museum has said that the yarn bombing installation has likely killed the marine life that was living on the statue.

Isn't That a Waste of Yarn?

We know what you're thinking. "What a waste of perfectly good yarn!"

Yeah, yarn bombing can be a little pricey, especially for those big, ambitious projects. But it's not a waste of yarn! In fact, it can even be a form of charity.

At St. Michael's Church in Stoke Gifford, England, a group of yarn bombers have started using their yarn for good causes. Their first yarn bombing venture was the knitted Christmas tree, shown below. The squares from this tree were then joined together to form knitted blankets that they donated to a local charity. 

"Making items to donate is just one form of charitable work. Bringing a community together is another, and another is teaching your skills to others. Think creatively not just about what you make but about how you can use your time and what impact you can have on those around you." -Debbie of St. Michael's Yarn Bombers

The St. Michael's Yarn Bombers continue to grow, and they plan to offer classes for new yarn bombers in 2018.

How to Yarn Bomb

  1. Get Permission: This is the most important part. If you do not have the proper permission, your yarn bombing will be illegal. Reach out to the owner of the property ahead of time, and they will more than likely welcome the yarn bombing.
     
  2. Plan Ahead: Yarn bombing requires a solid plan for how you will implement the yarn swatches. If you are going to yarn bomb a tree, for example, take some measurements of the circumference and height of the tree beforehand. Taking plenty of photographs is also very helpful for the planning process.

    It's also important to consider how you will be sewing the swatches together. Once you get the hang of how to plan your yarn bombing, you can branch out into some more adventurous yarn bombs, like the yarnstallations shown below.
     
  3. Bring Your Friends: Yarn bombing often requires more than one person. Even for more simple projects, it can be a huge help to have someone there to hold your swatches in place as you sew them together.
     
  4. Assemble: Gather your supplies, and start assembling. It's best to plan out how you will assemble your yarn during the planning process. Don't be afraid to bring some notes and sketches with you, either.

    We also recommend bringing some extra yarn and needles with you to the site of the yarn bomb. No matter how meticulously you've planned, there's always the possibility that you've forgotten about a branch or you measured the width of the trunk wrong. If you have the yarn on site, you can easily correct for these mistakes.
     
  5. Enjoy!

Yarnstallations

Feeling like knitting? Get inspired for your next yarn bombing project with these yarnstallations below. From gorgeous yarn bombed trees to inspiring yarn bombed messages and even an entire car that has been yarn bombed, these yarnstallations are just what you need to get your creative juices flowing.

This image courtesy of StMichaelsBristol.org

This image courtesy of StMichaelsBristol.org

Have you ever yarn bombed?
Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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