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Yarn Bombing is a type of street art created by knitting or crocheting blocks of yarn around trees, sculptures, lamp posts, signs or other outdoor fixtures.
As early as June 2000, Houston, Texas-based artist Bill Davenport had been making sculptures from objects housed in crocheted yarn objects, which were likened to tea cozies, a cloth or knitted cover used to insulate a teapot. This idea spread to Portland, Oregon by 2002 when artist Shanon Schollian debuted the Stump Cozy Project, in which a group of knitters covered tree stumps in yarn. However, the term “yarn bombing” was not coined until October 2005 when Houston artist Magda Sayeg created the group Knitta Please (shown below), whose mission is to make “warm and fuzzy” street art.
Knitta Please saw its first press in December 2005, when the Houston Press did a feature on the two-person group, who then went by their handles AKrylik and PolyCotN. Throughout 2006, the work of Knitta Please was featured on Apartment Therapy, PopGadget, TreeHugger, LAist, NYC’s GammaBlog and The AntiCraft. Also in 2006, HipMama interviewed AKrylik on how she balances motherhood and work while still making art. In January 2007, Knitta Please’s works were featured on sustainable design blog Inhabitat, who noted the group had expanded to eleven people in a number of cities.
Also in 2007, British knitter Lauren O’Farrell, also known as Deadly Knitshade, began creating knit graffiti throughout London. In February 2009, she established Knit The City, a collective who referred to this type of art as yarnstorming as a more peaceful alternative to yarnbombing. Instead of simply doing cozy-style work, the group began to incorporate amigurumi, or small knitted toys, into their installations, which they debuted in their August 2009 piece, Web of Woe (shown below).
In January 2009, “yarnbombing” was added to Urban Dictionary for the first time. Yarn bombing photos began to be shared consistently on Flickr that year, leading to the creation of the Yarn Bombing DIY Flickr group on January 11th, 2009. The group has amassed more than 1,900 photos and 370 members as of October 2013. In September 2009, an instruction guide on how to yarn bomb was shared on Instructables and has since been viewed more than 18,000 times. In December 2009, a Facebook fan page dedicated to the street art was established, gaining nearly 18,500 fans in less than four years. In 2010, more local groups dedicated to yarn bombing began to form, including Yarn Bombing Los Angeles (shown below).
In January 2011, Yarnbombing.org offering a global community for people wanting to partake in this type of street art who may not have had local groups to join. That May, yarn bombing was discussed in a New York Times article, featuring a photo of Wall Street’s “Charging Bull” sculpture covered in pink and purple crochet (shown below). The following month, the single topic Tumblr Yarn Bombing launched. In February 2012, Yarn-Bombing.com began blogging about notable projects found across the web. That July, the /r/yarnbombs subreddit was created for artists to share photos of their work.
Throughout late 2012 and early 2013, compilations of images featuring yarn bombing were shared on Demilked, NJ.com, Mental Floss, Buzzfeed, Mashable, the Huffington Post, Time and Reddit, where an October 6th, 2013 submission to /r/Pics gained more than 21,000 upvotes, 2,400 points overall and 760 comments in 24 hours. Also in October 2013, a yarn bombing project was held during the Michigan ArtPrize competition, in which three members of a local collective installed dozens of yarn bombs (shown below) throughout Grand Rapids.
Huffington Post – Meet The Artist That Is Yarn Bombing Brooklyn This Month