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 www.ishknits.com. 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:
I subscribe to a few Philly-related flickr streams, mostly to give myself a little visual break when digging through the vast mound of digital stuff excreted into my google reader by Philadelphians every day. I had a hunch I had seen KATIE HOLMES pop up at least once before there, and indeed:
And another (but without the appended ‘SUX’)!
They look like they’re the same handwriting, especially in the K and the M… who in god’s name would choose KATIE HOLMES as their tag?
Anybody seen any other examples of KATIE HOLMES around town?
Quirky news via Jezebel this afternoon. Australian Denise Litchfield is street artist. Only she isn’t using spray paint, she’s using—wait for it—yarn. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Litchfield is part of a growing global movement of guerilla knitters, who stitch their work onto public property. Her goal is to knit cozies for fire hydrants.
“It redefines street art and is also a reference to graffiti,” she said. “It’s absurd and feminine and fun.” Maybe so, but I bet it’s also really, really gross after it rains.
Let’s take a moment to discuss the term “guerilla knitters.” The word “guerilla” is defined by my dictionary widget as “a member of a small, independent group taking part in irregular fighting.” Who are the guerilla knitters fighting against? The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed Emily Howes, an expert from University of Technology, Sydney, and author of a Ph .D. thesis on “indie craft.” She claims that guerilla knitters “see craft as a subversive and politically motivated act—a way of jolting people out of their comfortable reverie.”
Because, really, a fire hydrant wearing a sweater is what’s going to wake me up and make me start caring about global economics and poverty and homelessness.
PW and Guardian readers will recall former Philly Weekly A&E editor Steven Wells’ hatred for knitting and the shit-tons of criticism he received from Philly knitters. They’ve proven to be a strong (and outspoken) community.
So what we wanna know: Are there guerilla knitters in Philadelphia? And if so, are they plotting against Steven Wells as we speak?