Having a yarn(bomb)

No Award says no to yarn bombing.  It’s a waste of yarn, potentially damaging to trees (we keep hearing different things on this, so it may depend on the tree), interferes with things that live in trees, renders mobility and accessibility aids useless or difficult to use, and if it’s not hideously ugly to start with, it will be by the time the yarn goes mouldy.

Literally the only yarnbomb I’ve ever seen that I didn’t detest was small and subtle — tiny red crocheted flowers loosely tied around the branches of a naked tree in winter.

“But it’s so clever and subversive!”

No, it’s just a mould that accompanies gentrification.  It’s about as subversive as Banksy or Julian Assange.  Yarnbombing is to underground art as manic pixie dream girls are to well-written female characters.

Luckily, the argument that yarnbombing is in any way underground, clever or subversive has just gone out the window.

A guy in a hi-vis vest attaches some yarn to a trailing at a tram stop.
Thanks to Official Photographer Zoe for catching this!

Is that a guy in a hi-vis vest applying machine-made crochet* to a tram stop?

I was going to put on my Intrepid Journalist hat and investigate the tram stops in person on my lunch break, before conducting an in-depth interview with a sweet potato with cheese bacon and onion for Liz’s Lunch Magazine.  But I had a lot of errands to run, so I just stayed at my desk and used Twitter.

Twitter exchange between Liz and Yarra Trams, confirming that it is real yarnbombing.

Corporate fake yarnbombing.  Stop the bus tram, everyone go home, it’s over.  We’re done.

* We assume it’s machine-crochet.  Though Official Potato Moya notes, “the idea of Yarra Trams having, like, a back room full of bearded hipsters knitting quietly away at their yarnbombing, being paid in lattes, that’s kind of delightful”.

In conclusion, use your knitting powers for good instead of gross wet wool evil and find out which charities accept donations of blankets.

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10 thoughts on “Having a yarn(bomb)

      1. By the looks of it all rolled up on the ground there, it’s probably either a knitting machine or just a ‘looks like’ fabric. It’s the most corporate thing ever though.

        So many good uses for yarn instead of yarn bombing. Like crocheting small Snape dolls . . . .

  1. Seriously, if you’re wanting to create things to keep stuff warm, why not start with keeping people warm, and make blankets, scarves and jumpers? Particularly with the growing rate of homelessness in our capital cities, making blankets and giving them away is probably a far more ethical use of surplus yarn than using it to warmly wrap up a tree, park bench, or other object which doesn’t actually feel the cold…

  2. I’m not a huge fan of yarn bombing–I feel like all too often, even when it’s cute at first, it’s often left to moulder and slump and go depressingly dirty-grey, and it’s frequently garish and unattractive even when fresh.

    But that said, I sort of hate this argument. By the same logic, why do a watercolor when you could go paint houses with Habitat for Humanity? Why cook a delicious, extravagant meal for a few friends in your home when you could go cook at a soup kitchen? Why busk or do street performances when you can help organise a benefit concert? Why create anything at all, really, when when there’s surely a way that you could use those skills and supplies and time and energy to do something ~important~? It just rubs me wrong. Art doesn’t become unimportant or unworthy because it’s not to our taste, or because we feel that it’s not really art–Marcel Duchamp and Andres Serrano are still in museums, for example; Banksy’s hideous graffiti is still considered art.

    Which kind of makes me wonder why we’re so quick to argue that this specific thing is a waste. And what I keep circling around, uncomfortably, is the idea that knitting is coded feminine in a way that other arts are not, and women as a demographic are expected to be useful and nurturing in a way that “people” are not.

    There are certainly plenty of arguments to be made against yarn bombing, some of which you’ve made here, but I think that this particular argument is one that we should really think twice about using.

    1. I don’t disagree that perhaps the vehemence is related to our internal misogyny, and that’s something we have to deal with here at No Award (and also within our society). And yarnbombing certainly in many ways started off as ladies being subversive!

      (Also a reminder that you *could* paint houses with Habitat for Humanity (please don’t, because we also have feelings about unskilled voluntourism http://the-toast.net/2014/01/21/actually-making-difference-avoiding-voluntourism-traps/), but painting a watercolour with your time and paint won’t potentially actively harm others in your community in the way that yarn bombing can.)

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