Yarnbombing : Pom poms and Politics in Mendocino

When I have a new art idea I always like to try it out in Mendocino, Ca. I think Mendocino is the most beautiful place on the planet , so it is a good place to make streetart, everything looks good there. I”ve done enough yarnbombing in Mendocino that various businesses just ask me what I’m doing this year.

Before I started the installation at the Good Life Cafe I did a little event at the Community Center and I had some cards in hand that people had already written what they are for in their politics. I noticed in subsequent days that people were adding more writing of their own. This was interesting, the interactive element was evolving. Also people squeezed the pom poms as they went by.

I can see the Good Life pom poms from by bedroom window. This is the way to do streetart.  I often wonder what people think of a given piece and now I can sit at my desk and draw and drink water and watch folks play with my pom poms.

The most recent piece I did was a big fall of pom poms at Oddfellows Gallery for a pop up art show called Art Pop. I hung 18 strings of pom poms from the balcony of the building. I tied them in units of 3 so they could blow with the wind. I also hung some small strings inside in the window behind a pedestal . I piled up a bunch of pom poms on the pedestal and put a stack of the cards there  with some pens.

Well the gallery attendees went right to work writing. I guess we all have a lot to say about politics at this point. I kept putting out more cards. After a few days I noticed people were tying the cards to the pom poms and arranging them. This really touched me.

I like the idea that the audience makes the art.

I also liked walking down the street and seeing a building with pom poms floating up and down off it. Somehow it seemed to relate to the movement of the ocean.




Goodlife Cafe Lansing St
Frankies Pizzaria
Gallery Bookstore
Oddfellows Gallery

Yarnbombing Nabolom Bakery – Politics and Pom Poms

When I first started thinking about doing some political yarnbombing in Berkeley California I immediately wanted to do Nabolom Bakery .

Along time ago I used to make my living by teaching knitting  and spinning yarn. I had a student who pretty much single handedly kept me in business by taking every knitting class and coming into my shop every Saturday and buying all my yarn.

Recently that woman , Julia Elliot re-opened Nabolom bakery with her partner Sabra and began to make pizza and cinnamon twists with the same passion and joy that she had been knitting and buying yarn. Everybody in Berkeley who knew Nabolom bakery was ecstatic that Julia re-opened it (it had sadly closed a couple years ago).

This idea of putting up the “Pom Pom and Politics Project”at Nabolom Bakery came to me in May 2017. I came by the bakery and persuaded Julia and Sabra to sit around with me and make a bunch of pink pom-poms. Making pom-poms is a lot of fun and they agreed to let me install on their storefront.

Well many months went by as I tried to get a grip on how you might  make and install hundreds of pom-poms. As with so many brilliant ideas I had no idea what I was doing and no idea that I didn’t know what I was doing. After many maddening experiences with fishing line and alarming experiences with ladders I finally understood how to do a really big pom-pom installation. I guess it’s a pretty strange and even absurd skill to know how to do pom-pom installations but I’m happy to say that we were able to install 400 pom-poms with great pleasure off the roof of Nabolom on August 1, 2017.

Of course people stopped and wanted to know what the deal with all these pom-poms. And I would say it’s an art installation or the pink pom-poms are like the pink pussy cat hats , they symbolize women’s rights and human rights. People were very eager to write on the cards that I tie into the installation, they wrote what they were for in their politics and one woman smiled at me and said “oh I get it , it’s not what we are against but what we are for “.

Pom Poms and Politics Yarnbombing

  I thought it would be interesting to do a yarnbombing that related to the pink pussy cat hats . I wanted to do a project that would be interactive , I really like art that breaks down the barrier between the artist and the veiwer .I found that I was spending a lot of time obsessing over politics and I wanted to make art instead , preferably some art that would provide some relief from constant political reactivity.
I came up with the idea of yarnbombing with pink


Poms . I teach people to make Pom

Poms with this excellent Japanese Pom Pom maker. Everybody can make a Pom Pom , even people who are 4 years old . I also give them a little card to write about

” what are you for in your politics ‘

This weekend , June 24 2017 , I’m starting my first installation of the “Pom Poms and Politcs ” project at Blue Moon Farm on Vashon Island in Washington. 


A Small Yarnbombing in Mendocino


I knit these tags last year but was overcome with yarnbombing laziness. This year I was an artist in residence at The Mendocino Art center all year and I was consumed with drawing the historic buildings in Mendocino instead of being consumed with putting knitting and felting all over them as I did in the summer of 2014.20140902-152402.jpg20140902-152151.jpg

So I drew all year and the knitting stayed in a bag. Ok too be more honest , last year I wanted to yarnbomb my Isuzu trooper and drive it around but it turns out you can’t yarnbombing a totally square car at least I couldn’t so I got very downcast about yarnbombing. So anyway it finally stopped raining in Mendocino in July and I yarn bombed this building which is The Mendocino Market where I have spent all my time eating tuna sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies and I wanted to pay tribute to all that happiness.

I had forgotten how much people like yarnbombing and how encouraging they can be. And how much I like free art that isn’t judged by moneymaking process.





Traditional Yarnbombing at the de Young Museum

imageLast month Dec 2014 I was the artist in residence at the de Young museum . I had a whole gallery space to fill up with my big felted pieces and it was thrilling to see my felt up  on tall white walls , lit with spotlights and stapled into giant swirls and ruffles. I was in the Kimball studio 5 days a week talking to people , making felt and conducting a huge crowd felting installation. It was extremely busy with people who really, really liked making felt flowers for the wall installation.

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This is was all very interesting and I will probably have to lie on the floor thinking and eating chocolate chips for a month to recover. Towards the end we had so many people crammed into the Kimball gallery that I began to go outside and yarnbomb this bike rack to have a few tranquil moments.

This is a really good bike rack , 10 swooping loops to knit over .

imageI have wanted to get my hands and my knitting on this bike rack for a few years. This was not a project I wanted to do as a guerrilla attack , having 10 loops of knitting cut down by the  Golden Gate parks department would have depressed me for 4 months. The de Young owns this rack so I was able to get permission to bomb it during my residency. It’s very satisfying to get to do something that you have wanted to do for a long time.

imageIt is so much fun to stand outside and yarnbomb and look out at Golden Gate Park at the same time. It took 2 weeks to sew all the knitting up.It probably took at least 100 hours to knit the whole thing. I call my knitted yarnbombing “Traditional Yarnboming ” since most of my outdoor urban textile work is now done with felt making.

image imageThe idea for the de Young residency was for people to be able to talk to a working artist while she works. A lot of people talked to me while I was in the Kimball gallery but I often felt that they weren’t exactly talking to me , more like they were talking to the ” artist”. Like I was maybe something different than them. When I was outside yarnbombing people would be walking by with all the distraction and delights of walking around Golden Gate Park and the oddness of someone yarnbombing would catch them off guard. ” Which I love.

You know how people are about yarnbombing, tickled, bemused, pleased to have something to photograph, happy to get to touch the art, the knitting, enjoying watching someone pursue an idiosyncratic ,self directed art entertainment.I felt like people were really talking to me, directly, no projection , just a fresh alive interaction. What could be better than that ?image

When the bike rack was done it felt like it was alive.


Yarn bombing at the De Young museum -Installation


On Tuesday I began installing for my Dec Artist in residency at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. I will be at the Kimball Gallery from Wed to Sun 1 to 5 for the month of Dec.

This residency is called Streetcoloring at The de Young . I have been getting ready and getting ready for about a year. I got the residency for my knitted yarnbombing but as the year went on I began doing installations with my handmade felt. The de Young was understanding about this so the gallery installation is my felt.

On Tuesday I began to truly understand how different installing  an indoor gallery space is from installing outside. It turns out you have to measure and center things.I also overcame my aversion to standing on very high ladders.


This is not one of the high ladders

It is very moving to me to see a whole gallery full of my felt, a lot like seeing a whole street lined with my yarnbombing.

The opening is Dec 13 from 2 to 4. I recently found out that The Kimball Gallery is part of the ” free zone ” at the de Young so you can come and see me any time for free ! I recommend you come to the opening , there will be petit fours.

Yarnbombing and the Return of the San Jose Museum


A few years ago I went down to The San Jose Museum of Art and put up this yarnbomb outside. I was doing a series of yarnbombings of museums. I had found that museums were interested in questions like ” Where should art be shown and does street art give the viewer a particular and vivid experience of art ? ” People are in the mood to see art when they set off to go to a museum and so a piece of urban knitting can be a cheerful and provocative preliminary to the experience.


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‘Most Secret Butterfly ” by Tam Van Tran

After a couple of years of yarnbombing purely for my own pleasure and amusement I began approaching museums to yarnbomb on commission. I did several museum installations in this way, planning out what I would like to do and then approaching the museums with my ideas. I came to believe that I could do anything if I had a really organized plan, a timeline , good pictures and a lot of measuring.

3 months ago The San Jose Museum approached me , told me that they had been following my work and invited me to participate in a show called ” Momentum “. The idea for the show was to ask artists to choose a piece from their permanent  collection . The artist would then create either a response or and Intervention. My understanding is that the kind of yarnbombing I do where I interact with buildings or street fixtures is considered an intervention.

I looked through pictures of many beautiful pieces from the museum’s collection. I found a sculptural painting called ‘Most Secret Butterfly ‘ by a Vietnamese artist Tam Van Tran. The work made me feel very excited and very calm and focused. I chose it as my piece.

Much of this piece is heavily encrusted with staples. I was inspired to uses staples and a staple gun as a way to manipulate my felt into folds and ruffles. I found a cardboard tube that is used to form concrete.  Using the staple gun and the cardboard tube I was able to make the felt free stand with out having to use  a pillar from a building. Studying  ” Most Secret Butterfly ” was like being able to study with Tam Van Tran.



It was slightly intimidating to make this piece for a museum. I tore it apart 5 times. I learned a great deal about staples. When I brought the piece to The San Jose Museum I couldn’t find the loading dock so I brought it through the front door myself and carried it up to the gallery. The pedestal was in front of “Most Secret Butterfly ” the art  was unexpectedly huge. I put the piece on the pedestal. It seemed to be looking back at it’s inspiration.

I named it “Everything” Changed “

Yarnbombing; Felting a House in Mendocino


When I planned the installation”Mendocino Crayon Box ” I wanted the final piece and the finale to be a felted house. I wasn’t sure exactly how to do this. I wanted to felt the jam shop at the bottom of Main St. I went over and got permission from the owner and she also gave me a jar of strawberry rhubarb jam.





Many months went by before I was ready to put up the pieces so I went back to the jam shop and asked for permission again. The owner only asked that we use push pins.

A few days later wen went over and began to put up the large felt panels . They didn’t look right at all ! Each individual panel as fine but they didn’t go together at all. Covering an entire wall is different than covering pillers. I went up and though a lot about buildings and murals. I tried to think of the entire wall as a canvas. I made several more pieces and was excited about how they looked together.






The day we decided to install the wall I was excited and also felt a premonition that something strange was going to happen. Little did I know how strange.




We began to put up the pieces. My assistant Kelly began hemming the pieces and putting them under tension so that they would look flat. I hadn’t known how to put them up exactly so I was learning from her carpentry skills. Just then a woman showed up with a phone. Someone had reported us to the property manage of the building who insisted that we take the installation down immediately. I reassured her that we had permission but apparently we had permission from the owner of the business not the property owner and the building owner. She decided to come over and take photos so she could send them to the owner. We kept installing furiosly. When she arrived she was pretty disturbed .We tried to explain the townwide installation and showed her some other pieces. She departed.

We finished installing and were overcome with how cool the house looked covered with felt.



4 days later we had to take it all down. I have had to do this before with my street art but not with something I had permission for . {I thought } I guess you don’t just need permission you need permission permission. With much art that goes on a street it can only be experienced as a picture.

I’m glad that we put this up and grateful to have had the opportunity even for a short while. When I looked at the finished house it was so strong and full of purpose. I had never seen anything quite like it before and I was delighted to have persevered .

Brand new ideas can be explosive. Now I can sit and steady the idea. And dream of felted cities.



Yarnbombing and Jazz , Mendocino Crayon Box Update



When I got the idea for yarnbombing all down the entire Main St in Mendocino , Ca I thought I was being pretty aggressive and I didn’t want the kind business owners who had given me permission to wrap their pillars to feel jostled . I carefully worked out color schemes for each building that would work well with the paint on the buildings . I especially wanted colors that would look pleasing when you walked along the street and looked past the felted pillars and saw the colors of the sea . I made many blank pieces of felt and dyed the colors . I did this for weeks . I drove up to Mendocino and we began to put the pieces up . They looked beautiful and calming .
When you walked down the street you felt and saw the crayon colors and it was all very soothing . There were many many pillars to sew up and as we kept dyeing the pieces and putting them up I got a little bored . So I started Tie dyeing them . Then I started putting in some patterns .
This was taking weeks of installation and everyone seemed fine about the installation getting more and more colorful so I began to pull out all the stops and put up really complex painterly pieces .
It was tremendously fun to make the striped and dotted pieces and as the weeks have gone by the piece that began in a very ethereal way has become very jazzy . I like that if you walked down Main Street each week all summer you would see a different piece each time . You could feel the colors like they were music steadily going along from soothing into some improvisational jazz .




Yarnbombing; The Mendocino Crayon Box – What is its Purpose ?


The Edge Of The World -2 12 foot handfelted pillars.

One of the things I liked when I started yarnbombing was the immediate feedback. When you stand out on the street installing your art people stop to discuss it . You get a very wide range of comments , almost always positive. Some people say ” Oh how cute ! ‘ ,which I take as positive. Some people are deeply interested in art and look and think for a while. Children are very supportive and often comment that they also really make a lot of art.


The Mendocino Bookstore Pillars 9 ft tall.

For this installation’ The Mendocino Crayon Box ” I am putting up 52 pieces of felt on 20 businesses. People are wondered if I am having a felting festival and I guess I sort of am. The main question I am asked is ” What is this ? What is it’s purpose ? ”


The Mendocino Hotel -7 Pillars 8ft tall.

What I have been saying is ” This is a site specific installation. What that means is – I came up to Mendocino and looked for how I could make a piece of art involving the town itself as part of the art. I decided to make sheets of handmade felt and dye each of them a solid color and put them up on the pillars of Main St so that the street looked like a box of crayons. I wanted to give that exciting feeling of opening a box of crayons and how it makes you want to make art. ”


Dicks Bar 2 Pillars 7ft.