This week, I am so excited to be bringing you an extra special guest post from none other than knit graffiti artist extraordinaire, the Rock Vandal. When I started off on my travels, I really wasn’t expecting to hear about another knitter backpacking her way through Southeast Asia (never mind a Canadian knitter!), but I came across a post mentioning the Rock Vandal, we got in touch, and the rest is history. This Newfoundlander creates inspiring knitted art wherever she goes, including in the countries you would least expect to find it, such as Thailand.
But how exactly does a knitter transition into yarnbombing? Read on to learn how you too, can start creating inspiring knitted art in public places in just five easy steps …
According to behaviour change theory, we all progress through predictable stages when taking on new health related habits. This process applies to all health-promoting activities, everything from beginning a yoga routine to taking a more focused approach to nutrition. Given that knitting is well known to have stress reducing, meditative effects, it seems only logical that yarnbombing would be at least equally beneficial in its ability to simultaneously stimulate and soothe the mind.
So, now that we agree that yarnbombing is a health inducing activity, we can move forward with the behaviour change theory serving as our guide through the highly exciting transition from knitter to yarnbomber.
Pre contemplation phase
During the pre-contemplation phase, you don’t identify a problem. You navigate through the world, not recognizing the amazing potential that yarn has in lifting the spirits of your community. You pass bare trees, statues, park benches and don’t even think twice about how lovely they would look with a bit of coloured yarn hugging them tightly. You carry on happily knitting socks, hats and sweaters for your loved ones and life is very good indeed.
One day, while out walking, you notice a Yarnbomb and feel your heart beat with joy! You start to wake up to the idea that more yarn means more happiness, and realize that this extends to public spaces. You start to consider the pros and cons of the lack of yarn in your community as well as your current knitting routines. You tantalize yourself by thinking about the fun-factor and the prettiness potential, but also spend time reflecting on the risks and impact. During this phase, which can last some time, you weigh your options.
During the preparation phase, you are aware that more yarn means more happiness and also aware that if you can knit, you have the skills to pull a Yarnbomb off. You conclude you want to give it a go. You start actively searching out inspiration on Google, Pinterest and Instagram, reading articles about the ethics of yarnbombing, looking around for neglected spaces, you even start eyeing your stash of unused yarn, taking the benefits of natural/synthetic fibers into account.
You’ve read the articles and you’re inspired, now you’re read to stitch it all together. You find a space that gets good pedestrian traffic and is on your regular route, you measure it, remembering that knits on vertical poles sink easily into leg warmers. You ask permission… or you don’t. You begin knitting a simple Yarnbomb, following the Stop Sign Flower pattern or making a large “swatch” to wrap around your chosen item (tree/post/sign/fence/bench/
You prepare an installation kit with your knitting, cable ties or a darning needle to sew your Yarnbomb into place, scissors, camera and some sort of tag to direct people to your blog or Instagram account. You put together a sweet yarnbombing outfit, grab your kit and a friend, and slip into the night feeling very mischievous.
You’ve made a beautiful Yarnbomb and you feel very proud. You begin knitting another one, all the while keeping an eye on your early work, adjusting and fixing until it reaches its best before date at which time you remove it.
You wash it, tuck it away in your basement and wait for inspiration on how to give it life again. You reflect on the communicative potential of knitted street art and aim for your future projects to have a beneficial and beautiful message.
While there are five stages to pass through on this journey it is not guaranteed to be a linear experience. It is possible that you relapse to previous steps or get ‘stuck’ on one step for an extended period. All I can suggest, should this occur, is that you keep on keeping on and reach out for support.
Despite their suave personas, yarnbombers are a warm and friendly bunch who just want to knit the town red! If you have questions, need more encouragement or want someone to celebrate your pending yarnbomb success, definitely get in touch! I’d also love to hear comments on what your experiences have been with yarnbombs. Have you ever seen one in real life?
Yarnbombing has sometimes found itself lurking around the back of my mind, and Rock Vandal’s post on how to make the transition from knitter to yarnbomber spoke to me in so many ways (I think I’m lingering somewhere in between the Contemplation and Preparation Phases!) If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating and rebellious art form, do get in touch with her. She can be found on her blog, on Twitter, and on Instagram.