Thursday, December 15, 2011
There are times I find myself wishing my mother was still alive. Case in point, today, when I found out about the graffiti knitting movement. Also called yarn bombing, "graffiti knitting," is a global movement of dedicated knitters. They are committed to adorning relics of everyday city life such as parking meters, statues, lampposts and mailboxes--with knitted scarves, animals, and sweaters. This would have captured my mother’s imagination; she was a prolific knitter. We used to laugh at the instructions for knitted tea cozy’s, toilet paper roll covers and lampshades that appeared occasionally in her knitting magazines. I remember her saying, “If this, what next?”
Examples of graffiti knitting have been left in Manhattan, London, Tokyo and Reykjavik. It is a new effort -- only about six years old. Magda Sayeg, an artist in Texas started small. First, she knitted a cozy for the doorpull of the shop in Houston, then for a stop sign pole and things took off from there. The group of artists who expanded her work in Houston were called Knitta Please, best known as Knittta. Their idea was to create graffiti-like projects using knitting.
I was introduced to graffiti knitting by none other than my seventeen-year old son. He told me about his friend’s godmother who is a yarn-bomber. She lives locally in nearby Northampton, Massachusetts. Northampton, a city of about 30,000, boasts the highest number of lesbian couples per capita in the United States. Does Northampton also claim the highest number of knitters per capita? The city's has a nickname of Paradise City -- which begs the question of the origin of such a nickname. According to the city's homepage, the nickname was coined after Jenny Lind, a famous opera singer in the late 1870’s, visited Northampton and labeled it a paradise. Into Paradise City have come the yarn bombers fashioning their cable knit scarves for benches and wraps for parking meters. I can imagine my mother looking down from her perch in Paradise applauding the entire effort for its frivolity and spirit of artistic expression. Come to think of it, maybe this weekend I will dig up my own knitting needles....