“Yarn bombing,” also known as “guerrilla knitting” or “graffiti knitting,” is one of the most interesting and unique street art phenomena of recent years. When you think of knitting, you may think of cuddly old grannies who lovingly craft scarves and ill-fitting jumpers for their darling grandchildren. But yarn bombing is knitting gone rogue. This often anarchic practice involves using unusual and often highly inventive pieces of knitwork in public places, from phone box cozies to storytelling dioramas. Often, they are left with Banksy-style anonymity for people to puzzle over. Here are five of the very best examples compiled for you by a British brand with extensive experience of the wool industry; menswear brand Lyle and Scott:
5. The Phonebox Cozy in Parliament Square
In July 2009, the Knit the City Yarn Corps overcame the local constabulary to fit an elaborate knitted cozy on the phonebox. It had been long-planned, with sessions of what they describe as “covert phonebox measuring” followed by a collaborative, high-pressure knitting effort and a final rush to get it on the box in question. But they weren’t quite quick enough. Halfway through fitting it, they felt a telltale tap on the shoulder from the long arm of the law. Fortunately, they got away with a warning after letting the policeman take some photos, and though the police continued to hover their efforts were successful.
4. Various Pieces at Saltburn Pier
Saltburn Pier has been a repeat victim of mystery yarn bombers. A number of knitted artworks have been left there anonymously, including a tribute to the 2012 London Olympics and another to the Royal Family. Then, in May 2013, locals were once again left both impressed and mystified by a bigger and better piece than ever. Rather than mark a particular event, this celebrated the seaside and summer theme that is naturally associated with the pier. It caught the attention of the BBC, who spoke to local people and businesses and found them very supportive of the mystery knitters.
3. 12ft Doiley in Bristol
Yarn Bombing encompasses crochet as well as knitting, and this is one of the finest crocheted examples of all. A giant doiley no less than twelve feet (over 3.5 metres) in diameter appeared under a railway bridge in Bristol in the summer of 2013. It appeared in a rectangular gap, strung up to resemble a giant spider’s web. The creator remains a mystery, but one motorist and crochet enthusiast who was interviewed by the Daily Mail commented on the quality of the crochet stitches.
2. Web of Woe on Leake Street, London
This is another piece from Guerilla knitting group Knit the City, and took place just one month after their phonebox Cozy. In August 2009 they produced their first 3D artwork. It is considered something of a landmark in yarn bombing, as unlike most previous pieces it uses figures to tell a story. In fact, it used 45 figures; one spider, and 44 terrified victims on a web 13 feet (4 metres) in diameter. Sadly, most of the figures were stolen on the first day.
1. Crochet-covered train in Lodz, Poland.
When it comes to sheer scale, Polish artist Olek is hard to beat. Over the course of two days in August 2013, he covered an entire train in crochet! He calls this piece of art “Deadly Romance,” and intends it as a tribute Julian Tuwim, a Polish Poet most famous for his piece “The Locomotive.” It proved a big hit, and the locals readily embraced this colourful feature. Sadly, though, they weren’t able to use it for their daily commute.
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