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Yarnbomb Philly

Yarnbombing: the public art of making everything cozies.

The first one I’d seen in Philly was in Rittenhouse this month (above), and we’ve put a gallery of knit graffiti around the world below, but first, we actually managed to get in touch with the yarnbomber who made the one above and probably made any others you’ve happened upon in Center City and asked her a few questions:

Where/when did you get started doing yarnbombing?

I first heard about yarnbombing when a friend of mine tossed me a link to a picture of a tree completely covered in yarn.  i thought it was so beautiful.  The tree branches were even wrapped- that takes some dedication. I started about two months ago, wrapping bike racks and parking meters. I also made little chains that i was wrapping around people’s bike locks.

How long do they usually last in a public place?

Some of them have been taken down, because they get kind of grimy after the city takes it toll on them.  Others have been taken down immediately, like a handrail my friend and I wrapped at the subway entrance at 15th and Market and a scarf that we wrapped around Rocky.  I wrapped another tree on third street in Old City last week.  I went back two days later to take a picture and it was gone.  That one was kind of a heartbreak, since it was the same size the tree in Rittenhouse.

How do you attach the cozy to the tree? At night?

To keep the cozies on i actually sew them with a yarn needle.  The bigger pieces I try and wait until it’s dark. I think it’s a hard thing for people to decide, “is it art, or vandalism?”

I assume you also knit things not for public art, right?

I’ve actually been knitting for about two years.  At the moment I mostly make accessories under the name iSH Knits, and I have a website I’m currently consigned at Bambi in the Piazza and plan on pursuing more gallery positions once I finish my spring collection, but i always seem to get distracted by yarn bombing.

Have you done other yarnbombs in Philly?

I’d love to have a Philly crew so we could branch out of Center City and hit the farther reaches of town.  Right now it’s just my friend and I, and her piece is wrapped on the lightpost in front of Oscars (15th and Sansom). I’m planning to have a big display soon at City Hall, which may or may not last.

Hey, Oscars is right down the street from Philly Weekly! Neat! She sent us pictures of the one in front of Oscar’s as well as a couple more places in the city. I felt it was prudent not to put her or her friend’s names or emails, but if you’re interested in yarnnbombing and want to get in touch, you can leave a comment here or at her ishknits page. And now, pictures!


Here’s the one outside Oscar’s…


…And here’s one on Walnut…


…And on Chestnut. Now here’s a few not by the people we talked to:


Well, it doesn’t exactly look like this person knitted these him or her self rather than just dissecting a bunch of old sweaters, but this is a picture from West Philly, at 46th and Baltimore, so I thought I’d include it.



The two above are by Knittaplease, based in Austin. Describing herself, the founder says: “When Magda Sayeg began Knittaplease in 2005, it was her response to the dehumanizing qualities of an urban environment. By inserting handmade art in a landscape of concrete and steel, she adds a human quality that otherwise rarely exists.”


Artist Carol Hummel clearly is not the guerilla type, as it must have taken days to do the tree above, and she does some really awesome stuff with yarn other than wrapping trees. Anybody watch Dexter? It’s kind of like that, but with more colors.


The Jafagirls in Yellow Springs, Ohio did this one.


Another from Yellow Springs, Ohio: the Knit Knot Tree.


Sydney, Australia.



Two from Helsinki, Finland.


A granny square in McLaren Park in San Francisco.

walseAnd a tree in the woods in Wales.

emily g | Feb 3 2010 10:15am | philly, 19103, graffiti, yarnbombing | Comments 12

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Felicia D'Ambrosio  says:

Pretty cool! This isn’t vandalism; it’s not even semi-permanent. I’d love to see a series of those granny squares throughout a big chain-link fence!

Feb 3 12:15 PM

b  says:

ha! i saw the one in Rittenhouse after I was coming back from New Year’s eve celebrations and wondered who did and how did they do it. I’m amazed its lasted so long and no took it down sooner. This idea is really cool and interesting, it creates something for the community to look at and talk about.

Feb 3 1:45 PM

aida  says:

I think it’s great idea, as long as the artists come and take them down after a week or so. Once they become all grimy and shit, then I think it goes from art to trash.

Feb 5 3:21 PM

esther  says:

this is cool as hell

Feb 10 12:05 AM

More yarnbombs, PHAG closing, zombie MJ | PW Style | A blog about style, fashion, beauty, arts and culture by Philadelphia Weekly  says:

[...] did an interview with a couple of local yarnbombers a few weeks ago, if you’d like to read [...]

Mar 10 12:44 PM

jafabrit  says:

aida, Our knit and textile graffiti can stay up a year in Yellow Springs Ohio and not be smelly and rotten (sun bleached is a problem but we spray with uv spray nowadays). We remove, wash and recycle some of it. If you go to my current blog entry about graffiti alley in ann arbor you will see a bottom pic with knit graff that’s been up a year and not too bad considering.

Mar 18 4:20 PM

Knit tube necklaces | PW Style | A blog about style, fashion, beauty, arts and culture by Philadelphia Weekly  says:

[...] necklaces were between $80 and $120, sad). Although they do kind of remind me of the tubes the yarnbombers make, maybe it’d be possible to make some myself? emily g | May 11 2010 1:27pm | jewelry, [...]

May 11 1:11 PM

Epic Yarn Bomb | PW Style | A blog about style, fashion, beauty, arts and culture by Philadelphia Weekly  says:

[...] stitched into the center and the amazing use of various stitching patterns. Click here for more Philly yarnbomb sightings. Share this [...]

Jun 24 9:06 AM

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