While Mr. Forager & I are on the road, making our way to California, we’re rerunning Artsy Forager’s most popular posts. This post originally published on July 18, 2011. Enjoy!
This being my first summer in the Pacific Northwest, I knew the climate would be much cooler than summers in Florida. But no one told me that even the trees would be wearing scarves!
G and I were in Seattle on Saturday and our first stop was Occidental Park.. I was dying to see large scale yarn bombing in person. Suzanne Tidwell’s bright warm colors juxtaposed against the dark trees under a cloudy sky would melt the heart of the Grinch himself.
I mean, let’s face it, here in the PNW, we have a lot of gray days. So why not help nature along a little by adding some color and whimsy? I think the trees approve. They just look so much happier, don’t they? ( Wait, did I just inadvertently quote Bob Ross?! ) And of course, those bony lamp posts HAD to have been cold, being steel and all. Now they’re super cozy.
Yarn bombing is a type of street art, which instead of using chalk or paint, utilizes colorful installations of knitted or crocheted yarn. Begun as an attempt to enliven and beautify cold, urban environments, it has grown into a full-on art movement. These aren’t just grandmas and bored housewives looking for a creative outlet and a bit of mischief. Many yarn bombers are fiber artists who connected with the whimsical style and slightly rebellious nature of yarn bombing.
In many cases, the yarn bombing is done illegally, just like traditional graffiti and often under the cover of night. However, bombers are rarely prosecuted, if caught. Perhaps due to the playful, non-threatening nature of the “tagging”. It would be like arresting Tinkerbell.
Fiber artists have tagged iconic public sculpture such as the Rocky Balboa statue in Philadelphia, a traditional red London telephone booth and Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull sculpture ( But don’t call that one yarn-bombing to the responsible artist, Olek. She takes offense and considers her own work art, while the work of others to be trite. Not sure I see the difference, but that is her prerogative, I suppose. ) What began as a clandestine art movement is now moving into mainstream favor, with artists, like Seattle’s Suzanne Tidwell, being commissioned to produce large scale public installations and corporate projects.
There is so much darkness and despair in our world today. I say thank you, yarn bombers, for seeking to bring a little sunshine and fanciful wonderment to our world. Long may you knit.
If you’d like to learn more about Suzanne Tidwell, whose work is featured in Occidental Park in Seattle as part of the summer ArtSPARKS program, check out her website and Facebook page. To learn more about yarn bombing, check out this website, run by two knitters living in Vancouver, BC who also wrote a book about the phenomenon, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti.