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Yarnbombing And Commissions ; The Sonoma Valley Museum Of Art – Part 1

2 May

I was measuring a large piller in the main gallery of The Sonoma Museum Of Art when the director looked over at me and said ” Oh -you can’t yarnbomb in the gallery bitself , it changes the curation of the show that is here. ‘

Ok that made sense . The Sonoma Museum had invited me out to discuss a yarnbombing commission to go along with their gorgeous Color show. I was very pleased to be asked to yarnbomb this museum , usually I do yarnbombing unasked in front of museums as an alien landing . I had tried to yarnbomb The Sonoma Valley Museum last summer but it’s poles were to big and I couldn’t do it.

So here I was very excited to be asked. Apparently the local yarnbombers had been asked first and had been to busy. I was the ringer.

I abandoned measuring the pillar and headed for the cafe .

” Mmm You can’t yarnbomb the cafe either ” said the director ” The Color show will be in there too . Or any of the furniture in the cafe “

“Ok , is there any thing else to know ? ” I asked

“You can’t yarnbomb the front awnings or hang anything off the front of the building – the city won’t allow it. “

Oh boy , that had been my whole plan . I was feeling bad so I told myself wait , wait , wait , let something new come along . We stood and looked thoughtfully at the museum.

‘What about the hanging signs ? We have 3 signs that hang from magnets , you could cover them with knitting !’

This was brilliant – the signs are already accepted by the city and it makes the yarnbombing have more meaning – the sign about the museum becomes the art itself . It was such a good idea and all the more interesting because there were no signs up that day , that had all fallen down in the heavy winds.

It’s best to not give up , even when you ‘ re told that nothing can be done.

So I will be yarnbombing the sign , a table pedestal , 2 door handles and a large unauthorized secret real yarnbomb this Friday  May 4 in Part 2.

A Small Yarnbombing Disaster : Yarnbombing The North Berkeley Library

9 Apr

We were having a good time yarnbombing The North Berkeley Library last Friday , getting ready for their grand reopening. We had 4 glass blowing inspired knit tags and they really looked good against the new rosy tile. Lots of locals were stopping and taking pictures and thanking us. I love libraries so much and have yarnbombed many , many of them. The librarians had been pleased.

I was a little perturbed too though , the maintenance man had come by and said ‘ They will make me cut those off for sure !  I didn’t believe him- I’d done this all over Berkeley and Oakland and everyone had always liked them  .Besides -what was I going to do , be scared and just go home ?

Saturday morning I wanted to take more picture before the opening so we drove by.  The whole installation had been totally removed . I felt punched . We noticed 2 woman talking on the steps so I went over . ” Hi- I put up a knitting installation for the opening -” I started to say .

“Yes ! ” said the librarian . ‘ We took that right down ! This is the opening, people are coming to see the construction . You shouldn’t have done that ! You should have asked for permission ! You shouldn’t do anything here with out asking permission ! Don’t ever do anything here again in the future unless we ask you ! ‘ And she turned and walked away .

I was so startled. No one has ever yelled at me for making them a yarnbomb. Even policemen have always been very nice.

The other woman was smiling at me kindly .”We have it inside  ” she told me and went and got it . As she handed it to me she said ” We were very careful with it .

I looked in the bag and the pieces were flawless. That was something.

I was truly stunned . I thought about this all day and was alternatively discouraged , mad , hurt and confused .Wasn’t the whole point of street art that you don’t ask permission ? That the artist can interact with streets and cities and people on the street freely and immediately ?

Aren’t libraries for the whole community ?  Don’t they belong to us all ?  Should only one person decide everything ?

I woke up on Sunday with that feeling that something bad had happened and my mind started to churn .

I thought ” OK , you have to get past this . Find some good thoughts ! ‘

I tried – You didn’t do anything wrong . No help there

You should stop doing graffiti . nope.

Then I thought  ” This is yarnbombing ! You don’t ask permission for yarnbombing -you don’t have to get any one’s permission to do what you want to do !

That was it – I was ready to jump up and live to fight another day.

Just another yarnbombing story !

“Thank you Berkeleyside for the article here

Yarnbombing And Getting Rich ; Yarnbombing Lark Books – Again

6 Apr

Yarnbombing is a poor way to make money . Although when I have been out yarnbombing on the street sometims someone will stop and hand me a five. I spent so much time last year yarnbombing that I had to give myself a loan. But the great thing about money and yarnbombing is this-  yarnbombing showed me that if you are willing  to not get paid , to not ask permission and to be calm about policemen -

you can do anything you want..

And almost everything you want.

I love Lark Books . They make the most beautiful books about Art Craft on the planet . I visited them last year and yarnbombed the outside of their building and had a delightful visit with 3 of their editors and Beth Sweet gave me 3 books which was the best reward for yarnbombing I could imagine .

However the city of Asheville took the yarnbomb just a few days later.

This left me with an interesting quandary . Should I put up a new yarnbomb in front of the Lark building this year when I knew it would be taken right down again ? I looked at my beautiful handspun hand knit yarnbomb and I couldn’t do it.

I let my problem sit calmly in my mind. Last year Amanda Carestio had rashly given me her business card and I had carefully saved it. So this is what I thought – if i didn’t feel good about yarnbombing the outside of the building – maybe Lark would let me yarnbomb the inside of the building. I have found that people will let me yarnbomb anything if I ask , it’s quite amazing. So I e-mailed Amanda and she said  ” Yes !”

Amanda kindly sent me some pictures and I dug around in my embarrassingly large bag of yarnbombs . I packed up a huge bag of knitting options and flew off to Asheville. Amanda ushered me into the building and I saw this thrilling bright red staircase and knew that this was the perfect item to yarnbomb so I began sewing it up.

The director of lark – John Serena was interested in this activity – fortunately – and came out and talked to me . Book publishing is very interesting and some day I’d really like to write a book . After a nice chat John looked at me and said  “Last year we gave you a book didn’t we ? “

” Yes – 3 books ! ‘ I said fondly .

” Well I tell you what – I’m going to take you down to our store room an give you a box and let you take as many books as you like and we will ship them to you “

Oh my God.

We went downstairs through a big maze of furniture and boxed books . John showed me a whole room of shelved books , gave me my box and said ” Take whatever you want  .”

I looked at all those hundreds of books and said ‘” This is like a dream “

I began looking through books . I was happy to see I owned many many of them already . There were books on glass bead making , knitting , crocheting, wire jewelry , artist journals , pottery , glass blowing , photography , cupcakes – everything you could possibly want . It was 5.oo . Every one was leaving the building . I could hear things being locked up . I became gripped by the idea that I would be locked in all night with all these books .

I picked out books faster . Was I being greedy ? Yes !

I hesitated but pressed on. I wrote my address on the box which was full and picked out a crocheting book and a glass beadmaking book to take with me . Just in case they changed their minds . And I left

I felt supremely rich .

Yarnbombing And The Wandering Heart

25 Mar

All yarnbombers hate having their tags taken down . It makes me feel sad , mad , insulted , vaguely persecuted and a little silly .  But you have to take that risk to yarnbomb  , no romance with out rejection apparently.

And it’s such a wonderful thrill , a miracle when everyone silently agrees to leave a yarnbomb up on a fence for weeks and weeks  ,  so many  people being kind .

When I started this felt heart street art series I knew that it would be tricky – the hearts are really fun to own and put up on your own wall  . I knew I would be putting out a big marshmallow and asking everyone to to not eat it .

I put this big blue heart up at a construction site on a temporary Tri City fence . After a month I drove by one day and not only heart was gone but the whole fence was gone . Poof ! I posted  a picture of the felt heart and the fence on my Facebook page and told all my friends that my heart was gone .

The next morning I got up , put on my brown handspun sweater , drank a quart of water and went to my computer to look at Facebook . They tell us that Facebook is keeping us from our flesh and blood friends but my physical friends don’t want to talk about yarnbombing first thing in the morning . So I opened up my Facebook page and there was the most amazing thing .

My heart was sitting on that same Tri City fence but now it was up in Sonoma !  The fence had come down in Berkeley with the heart still attached and had gone back up again at a different site  with the heart still on it.

This made up for all the moping and grinding of teeth over my many disappeared hearts . The first traveling yarnbomb !

This is what it said under the picture . ” You have friends in many mysterious places . The felt heart stayed out all night wet and frozen and now it is  a perfect hardness. ‘

I was so happy to find my hard blue heart .

Sf Weekly post with yarnbombing here

Yarnbombing And The Safeway Fence

27 Feb

This construction fence started my whole felt bombing project . This is not a bad fence , it’s just a very big domineering fence . I looked at this fence and wanted to yarnbomb  it.

I’d been thinking a lot about chain link fences and how they make us feel . This big fence went up suddenly and really changed the neighborhood visually. I felt kind of pushed aside by it and it made me think about – who decides what we have to look at ?

We look at so many things every day that advertisers are making us look at . Plus bill boards . Construction projects . Harsh metal fences on empty abandoned corners.

It makes me want to cover everything with knitting .

I’ve gotten a little soft in my yarnbombing after spending so much time doing The Oakland Museum commission. I was really jittery about yarnbombing this big , public privately owned corporate fence. This is good , it’s important to go towards what scares us.

I started yarnbombing by walking all the way around the fence looking for the right spot and for security guards. A well equipped guard walked slowly by . I decided he was guarding The Bank Of America. Wiring , wiring , I got a heart up in 5 different squares. And they didn’t look right at all ! .

I realized that the 5 hearts together were a new art piece and they needed composition .  Composing an installation is the same as composing a piece . I took them all down and started all over. Very nerve wracking.

And then I thought ” Oh what the heck , what”s the worst thing any one can do to me ? Yell ? “

That’s when the meter maid pulled up and started ticketing my car .

I decided that I should group all the heart tightly on 2 panels . I wanted the color and the pattern of the hearts to be startling and strong .As I wired them up the fence began to look like an art show. People began to stop and look and take pictures.  I knew then that I had gotten it right.

This was installation was only up for 2 days before someone – probably the fence owner – took it all down. I knew that it was extremely likely that this would happen and I wanted to do it anyway. For most street art it only lasts as a picture and I was very happy that I knuckled down and took the time to make an installation that would make a fine photo. All the rest of the hearts are still up and I get to see them as I drive all around.

    Berkeleyside had a contest to identify all 6 yarnbombed hearts installations. The prize was a box of chocolate. i really wanted to enter , I could have won for sure . The contest here.

Yarnbombing And The Real Purpose of Bike Racks : Awaken Cafe

22 Feb

I went off to yarnbomb Awaken Cafe in Oakland .  It was a celebration for their Opening Day. This was a request yarnbombing . The owner Cort Dunlap , saw my bike racks at Lake Merritt and  found me on Facebook . I get requests for yarnbombing pretty often and they can be a little complicated . For instance I might get lost trying to find the place . Or the energy of the site might be very unfamiliar and I find it harder to ground myself..

I drove around and around and around and finally there it was – Awaken Cafe ! I went in and saw that it was a surprisingly big , open, elegant space . I met Cort who is full of joy and enthusiasm and we went out and looked at the 2 racks . A kind  barrista came outside and moved her bike off one rack and I started sewing .

Yarnbombing out on a big city street in the middle of the day can be stressful . I was a little uncomfortable. I felt my breathing. I looked around for things to enjoy and admired the look of the swooping buses. I appreciated the handspun wool in my knitting.

A woman came up to the bike rack with her bike and started to lock up her bike

.” I’m sorry would you mind using one of the other racks? ” I said “There are some over there .  Awaken cafe asked me to put up this yarnbombing for their opening . “

Her face got cold and still .  She glared at me. I was very surprised . I often ask riders to leave a rack free when I’m putting up and every one has always been very genial. She was out raged

A man friend of her came rushing  over .

” This is not what these are for ! ” He yelled at me . ” You are impeding our access ! “

I was so shocked by this idea that my mind left the conversation and I started thinking deeply. Bike racks are only for bikes and not for making art with ? I couldn’t grasp this . I stared into space thoughtfully as he continued to berate me. Isn’t every thing  , every object a possible material for playing with , for making art. Isn’t the whole world something wonderful to play with in any way possible ? Are bike racks forbidden art  objects ?

Help appeared suddenly. “This is art ! ‘ A woman said strongly  ” This is an art co op ! ‘

It is ? I was getting very confused .”No , it’s just me . ‘ I said .

“Oh you young people . ” The woman shook her finger at the angry bike people  .” You don’t understand art ! “

‘ The man started yelling at my defender. I stood up and moved aside  while the riders huffily locked up their bikes and stomped off .  I looked down at their bikes and for one delicious, vengeful, moment thought of yarnbombing them . Put I knew they would just cut it all up so I refrained.

A big man in full gangsta rap clothing came walking by . He looked down at the yarnbombing and a big smile came over his face . He nodded at me approvingly .

“That’s cool ! ” he said .

Yarnbombing And Heart Felts – Part 2

14 Feb

We got in the car and drove to our first secret yarnbombing location . Still raining.

‘Do I have to get out of the car and stand over you with an umbrella ? ”  my sweetheart said resignedly .

‘Oh no ”  I said ‘”Just wait  , it’s very quick to wire a felt heart to a fence “

I got out and squished along the fence looking for the perfect spot  . Everything has a perfect place , vases of flowers , tables in resturants , a spot of red in a painting , a heart on a fence . You can fell it in your body when something balances.

I found the perfect spot on the fence and started wiring . I got the heart barely sewn on when a huge truck pulled right up to the gate and a man got out and glared at me  . I walked briskly over to our car and got in.

‘Can you drive away  now please? ” I whispered to my sweetie .

” No , he’s blocked our car ” he said

We all sat and looked at each other and then he opened the fence , drove through it  and let out his 2 big dogs .

‘Let’s go now and come back later ‘ I said and we quickly drove off.

We drove to our second fence and I got out and stood at the fence . A security guard came and stood at the other side of the fence. I felt like such a vandal ! I went across the street and found a different fence and put up this felt heart. My sweetie and I both agreed that the red heart was a little lost against the red fence but I think the artists in the building will like having  the art

So off we went to fence 3. I picked this fence because a dear friend works at this secret place and I hope he notices .

By now the sun had come out . I was starting to lose my grip . I can never tell if people are going to come and yell at me or think this is the best thing ever. I sewed up my heart. A bunch of kids wandered by. Oh no ! Kids always notice what I’m doing unlike the adults in cars and on phones.

” Person ! Person ! What are you doing ?

I needed a little rest. And lunch . Can’t people tell if I’m a boy or a girl ?  We went home . I needed to ready myself for Heart Fence Supreme…..here I am again here

Yarnbombing And Heart Felts , Berkeley Part 1

13 Feb

When I woke up this morning it was dark and raining. Oh no . I don’t have many rules for my yarnbombing being a lawless yarnbomber  but I have always followed one law. I don’t yarnbomb in the rain . But I had 8 felt hearts to put up by tomorrow – Valentine’s Day .

I lay in bed , my mind all wired up with questions. Where should I put the hearts? Would I be freezing cold ? Would security guards get me ? Would people swipe my hearts as fast as I could put them up ? Would my car start ? Why do I always think up these insane schemes ?’

This is just for fun ‘ I told myself . That didn’t work .

“This is just street art ‘ Still very anxious.

‘Put the hearts in easy favorite places ‘ That was kind of relieving .

My sweetie came in the bedroom and got in bed with his coffee.

‘ I’m worried about how much you have to do today and I want to offer my help .’ he said .

‘Will you drive me all over Berkeley while I yarnbomb ? ‘ I asked .

‘ I knew you were going to say that . ‘ he said .

I had already put up 3 hearts last Friday . These are the hearts in these pictures we are looking at . I wanted to do a trial run to see if the hearts would be left up or taken down . My plan was to put them all up on chain link fences. Most chain link fences are private property . In the past I had only persecuted city poles and bike racks with my yarnbombing – not private property . This series was a little pushier.

When I yarnbomb I want to be able to take the work down but I want it to be sufficiently annoying to take down that every thing won’t get swiped. Not that many people would want a strip of knitting but more people might want a heart. I had started by using fishing line but had switched to wire .I really liked how wire looked with the felt so that was a sign that it was the right way to go .

I packed up my wirecutters and pliers , my spool of 24 gauge wire , my tapestry needle , my camera and it’s little felt case and my heavy roll of felt hearts . Little did I know the dogs , security guards and meter maid that waited in my future . { To be continued }

A good picture of a heart on A blog here - What I Saw in Berkeley Today

Yarnbombing and Valentine’s Day – Being Encouraged

11 Feb

I was sewing this big felt heart onto my local fence when Tanner showed up . He seems to drop from the sky when ever I am doing  street art in our neighborhood.  I didn’t recognize him at first because his yellow hair is shorter and his teenage face is in the process of moving from prettiness to strength.

“I like what your doing here ” he said looking at my street heart . ” And I liked the snow flakes too. I took a lot of pictures of street art when I was traveling . I’ll show them to you later . ‘

And off he went .

The very first time I ever yarnbombed , a very little tiny knitted sock on a pole –  young Tanner came out in bare feet to tell me he like what I was doing. I love a teenager being out in the world encouraging artists to make street art . Right away as it’s in progress .  A little encouragement , it can be so little , can make the difference to so many brave , big  , ridiculous  , wavering art experiments .

I also appreciate the people who yell out their cars -

‘ Thank You  !” to me as I am sewing up .

And to the people on Facebook who tell me ” Get your hearts out there ! “

So this is a new series of street art called ‘Street Hearts ” and it is 15 big felt hearts that I am putting up all over Berkeley to celebrate Valentines Day. See if you can find them .  And go encourage somebody .

yourself too. You are so great . I like what you are doing.

Yarnbombing – How to Take down a Yarnbomb

22 Jan

I never take a yarnbomb down unless I have to. And yes – I remember having to take that yarnbomb down in front of the Capitol building as the policeman stood next to me muttering ” Vandalism . Vandalism ! “

It was time to take down The Oakland Museum of California  yarnbombing installation. I had been not thinking about this with a lot of concentration. It took more than 2 weeks to get all the pieces up with many knitters sewing. The installation had been up for 10 weeks with a 4 week extension. It could not be put off.

And I felt guilty about the rain . When we put up the installation I had said a prayer for it to not rain until we took the knitting down. And then it didn’t rain .

I decided to make a little film first . I turned on the camera. I walked back and forth filming the yarnbomb. It sat there . It was the boringest film I ever saw. Must think more about film making I started trying to take down the first bannister . It had felted some from being outside in the wind. The stitches were beautifully done , very tight and small.  My sewing is crooked and sloppy. I tried cutting them but that cut the knitting. I tried pulling it apart with my fingers. My fingers started to hurt. I thought of slaves picking cotton.

There had do be some way to go faster . I thought of spending the next 7 days standing there pulling out every little stitch.. It came to me to get out my tapestry needle and pull out each stitch with that . That worked pretty well. I tried to make each movement of my hand graceful and easy . Oh ! That worked . Actually it was fun. OK .

Then Betsy Graham showed up . Thank You ! I showed her how to pull straight down with the needle . We got deyarnbombing  really fast . She told me about how Steve Jobs didn’t bathe.

We got the whole installation down . It was very odd to see something beautiful and unusual go back to being ordinary . The opposite effect of yarnbombing. I miss this art installation. It seems sad that it is all gone . On the other hand I have lots of knitting now to do something big and high risk. So much of art is the pleasure of thinking and imagining about all the great things you might do.

This now is how to take down a yarnbomb , use a tapestry needle and make beautiful relaxed gestures out of each movement.

A  yarnbombing blog post in a mysterious foreign language here

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