Several years ago, a very close friend of mine gave me a set of knitting needles. It had been decades since I’d done anything craft-like, but I was inspired to pick up the hobby again. Little did I realise that that ‘gift’ would lead to an almost obsessive love affair with all things needle and yarn. (Thank you so, so much, Brad!)
Whilst I thoroughly enjoy creating items which serve a purpose—that is, hats, scarves, blankets, jumpers, etc.—guerrilla knitting fits with my overall philosophy in life in general. Guerrilla knitting—or yarn bombing and yarn graffiti—has taken root in many knitting circles as a way to bring a bit of beauty to urban landscapes through the simple act of leaving a colourful knit or crocheted fibre object on existing structures. Guerrilla knitting began with the works of a Houston-based self-taught knitter Magda Sayeg, also known as PolyCotN, who formed the group Knitta Please in 2005. Originally intended as a way to deal with unfinished projects or objects (which are affectionately known as UFOs amongst the yarn-obsessed), guerrilla knitters target public architecture such as lampposts, parking metres, telephone poles and signage with the mission of making street art ‘a little more warm and fuzzy’.
Think of it as fibre community activism.
Last summer, I engaged in my first yarn bomb. My own local knitting group has long discussed yarn bombing the city’s landscape with knit fish or kippers. Given that we knit in public, and the acronym most commonly used by the group is KIPpers, fish are an appropriate mascot. After finishing one of my larger projects and looking for a suitable purpose for the insane number of tiny leftover balls of yarn, I decided to knit a bunch of fish. As I was doing so, I came up with the idea of creating an aquarium at our local bus stop.
On a sunny Sunday summer afternoon, my husband and I strung up about 40-something knit fish and a few bits of crocheted ‘seaweed’ to go along with the fish. To our delight, that first yarn bomb remained in tact for the neighbours to enjoy for about two months. We both spied individuals gazing at the fish, taking pictures with their kids or just looking at it with puzzled looks and quiet smiles. It was a treat to see.
Another fellow KIPper has taken yarn bombing with the group’s mascots to an international level, leaving fish and signs in Iceland, Denmark and Germany along with those strung and hung in Finland since last summer. Just doing our part to bring smiles and a bit of fibre joy to the masses, you could say.
More recently, some of the ladies from my local KIPpers group decided to combine our love of fibre with a bit of civil disobedience in support of social justice. Marriage equality has been on the political agenda in earnest here in Finland this year, with various groups gathering signatures to demand a debate and vote in Parliament making marriage equality a right for all. As a part of that, we decided to yarn bomb Parliament with rainbow-themed knit triangles.
I suppose you could say this is simply our way of trying to make the world a little bit better for everyone and a little lovelier as well.