Yarn Bombing: Not Your Grandmother’s Doily

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Submitted by W.J. Elvin III:

Extreme Knitting and Crochet Art
by Brynn Mannino
May 19, 2011

Check out 10 elaborate masterpieces made from yarn and string

While some people may think knitting and crocheting are just for grandmas, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, in the last few years, there has been a huge resurgence in these techniques, and the projects go far beyond scarves and gloves. Crocheted and knitted artworks have taken the world by storm, both on the street””a movement referred to as “knit graffiti,” “yarn bombing” and “urban knitting”””and in modern art circles alike. Loved for the humanizing quality it lends to everyday objects, the medium continues to attract artists, who have no doubt been inspired by the pioneering works below.

“Locker Room”

Through his artwork, New York–based artist Nathan Vincent works to gender-neutralize objects associated with overt masculinity. When completed, “the objects are no longer rough and manly, but soft and inviting,” he says. This particular installation, for which he crocheted over 200 skeins of Lion brand yarn, will be displayed at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Seattle through June 26, 2011. Photo: courtesy of Bellevue Arts Museum

Banksy Tribute

In 2011, Polish artist Agata Oleksiak””who goes by “Olek”””paid homage to one of the great street artists of her time, UK-based Banksy, by crocheting Red Heart acrylic yarn to emulate one of his most famous pieces: “Balloon Girl” (a.k.a. “Girl with Red Balloon”). She installed her works (five in all) on the sides of buildings throughout downtown Manhattan to help promote Banksy’s documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which was nominated for an Oscar. Photo: courtesy of Olek


In 2009, textile artist Liliana Crespi installed a group of three 6- to 8-foot-wide “spiderwebs” at Sculpture Key West, an art festival in Key West, Florida. Made from 100-percent-cotton string, the installation took the artist three months to crochet. Intrigued by the way art can interact with both audience and environment, Crespi likes to incorporate more traditional techniques into her projects””thus the doily- or snowflake-like appearance of the work. Photo: courtesy of Sculpture Key West


Known for creating extravagant installations based on everyday scenes (like the living roomshown above, which was displayed at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center in Brooklyn during 2009), Olek uses crocheted yarn to make everything””from humans to inanimate objects, like TVs””look the same. “This symbolizes that everything is connected,” she says. Photo: courtesy of Olek

Mexico City Bus

In November 2008, Austin, Texas–based artist Magda Sayeg””founder of Knitta Please, one of the first U.S.-based yarn bombing groups””and a small team of helpers spent five days covering this abandoned bus in Mexico City. Comprised of hand-knitted and -crocheted as well as repurposed vintage afghans, it”™s one of Sayeg”™s many projects meant to “humanize the urban environment.” The bus, which remained covered through November 2009, is “reimagined” by a different artist every year. Photo: courtesy of Cesar Ortega


In 2008, Portland, Oregon–based Jo Hamilton took pictures of her 16 coworkers and crocheted their faces using thrift-store yarn. Surprised after her first attempt at how well the medium captured a person’s character, she continued, spending a month on each portrait””some of which are currently on display in New York City at two Café Grumpy locations. Photo: courtesy of Jo Hamilton

“Piano Dentelle” (“Lace Piano”)

In 2010, Lisbon, Portugal–based artist Joana Vasconcelos displayed this intricate piano cover at the Haunch of Venison Gallery in London. Like many of her crochet works, it”™s made out of white cotton yarn and looks like lace, helping to bring delicate beauty to the most unlikely of objects. Photo: courtesy of Joana Vasconcelos

“Varina” (“Fishwife”)

In 2008, Vasconcelos crafted this 5,000-foot-wide, 800-lb bedspread as a tribute to the fishwives””or working women””of Santa Maria, Portugal, more than 1,000 of whom helped her create it. It”™s the second community-crochet quilt she”™s overseen with the help of the Santa Maria da Feira fishwives, the first of which was called “Maiden,” and was suspended over the Castelo da Feira dungeon. Photo: courtesy of Joana Vasconcelos

“Everything Nice”

In 2006, Portland, Oregon–based artist Theresa Honeywell knitted this acrylic yarn motorbike cozy as part of a series of works that relayed the former artist and mechanic”™s struggle as a housewife. “My accomplishments were not recognized and I was wasting away””like that junkyard motorcycle,” she says. The piece, both empowering and fun, has been well received by the art and motorcycle worlds alike. Photo: courtesy of Theresa Honeywell

“Tree Cozy”

In 2005, artist Carol Hummel, along with her mother and two daughters, crocheted this tree jacket as part of a public art project commissioned by Heights Arts, an initiative in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. According to Hummel”™s website, the work is meant to infuse femininity into an object of masculinity. The piece took 500 hours””and 200,000 feet of 4mm synthetic craft cord yarn””to create. Photo: courtesy of Carol Hummel.

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