Yarnbombing The Berkeley Public Library

2 May

Boy oh boy, I was nervous about this yarnbombing. I had been knitting for 4 weeks nonstop, I mean all day every day. This yarnbomb would be 80 ft long ,knitted in 10 sections, all handspun, to go up all at once on the 10 looped Berkeley Public Library bike rack. I had asked a crew of 5 people to help me sew it up. The 2 documentary guys were coming to watch. A writer was coming to talk to me. I had a pretty good idea of how the day would go and  I  thought it might include policemen.

I got up Sunday morning , packed lots of cheese and eggs to stay calm and drove over to the library. I had picked this site because I love this library so much, especially the art floor. It also had a huge bike rack and I wanted to make something much more ambitious.  I was saying a little prayer I made up to calm down and it wasn’t working. I tried some self talk ” You are a very good artist .You have nice hair” That didn’t work either. I finally said to myself:

“This is just to amuse yourself you know!” That actually made me calm.

  I got to the library and parked.  It was sunny and calm, a great day for yarnbombing . I noticed I had forgotten all my sewing yarn and called my sleeping partner and pleaded for him to get up and find my yarn. Mrs. Wong my first crew member arrived. I ripped up some knitting to get some wool and we started sewing  my knitting to the pole. Monica the writer took pictures. Leo and Jeremy arrived and started filming. Josh arrived and gave me my yarn and some hot chocolate . It was going well. More crew members arrived to sew. I’ll call them The Norwegian, Hargus Moon And Muddy Rose. It was getting quite festive. I can see now I was losing control of the situation. 3 police cars arrived.

  Has anyone  else noticed the police cars?” I asked ” You know when police arrive I usually pack up and move quietly away.”  We packed up quietly and I moved a little bit away and watched the police go into the library. I just sat and calmed downed the energy. I wanted to be there if they wanted to talk to me. They finally came out , looked at the bike rack for a while and drove away. I kept sitting.  My next crew member arrived.  She is a librarian so we’ll call her The Librarian. She is a very upstanding but fearless lady and she thought we should keep sewing. ” What can they do?” she said calmly.” They’ll just talk to us and we’ll talk to them”. So we sat down very inconspicuously amidst the bikes and sewed. I accidently sewed a strip around a bike lock. The bikers were very nice.

The bike racks were getting completely full of bikes, this is a very popular bike rack. The librarian was a sewing demon. I was a little chagrined that I has caused such a ruckus in front of the library and swore to be polite and discreet from now on. We finished the 10 loops It looked quite astonishing.

When I came back later to photograph it was already getting torn. This made me sad but I had to do it.

None of the woman in these pictures are me.

An interesting essay on International Yarnbombing in Forbes here

Berkeleyside Article here

Beautiful essay on yarnbombing  here.


32 Responses to “Yarnbombing The Berkeley Public Library”

  1. Fizz May 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    That’s lovely! I can’t wait to see it–I’m currently devouring that library’s copy of Eaarth, so it shouldn’t be long before I’ll be there to bring it back. 😉

  2. wilma May 3, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Beautiful colors an patterns. I need to check it out in person! Thanks for creating and sharing your work with the world.

  3. annie machale May 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Looks great! Love all the pattern and color variations and I am extremely impressed that you used handspun yarn!

  4. Lexica May 3, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Pity it was getting torn down so soon. As a bicyclist, I quite like the idea of colorful knitted padding around the rack to help protect my bike from getting (any more) banged up.

  5. Stefan May 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Just a random library patron who uses the bike racks every time– I saw this and it made me smile and feel good for at least an hour on Monday. Great work, all of you; made the world more beautiful.

  6. lostalaska May 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    That is awesome, wonder if there is some way to make it more durable so it would look all Dr. Seuss-a-fied a little longer.

    Not nearly as creative, but I took a bunch of old bike innertubes and cut them into long strips and tightly wrapped our bike rack at work with them. The bike rack was made out of these triangular pieces of welded metal that’s only design was to seemingly punish any bike with nicks and chips on the paint when locked to it. It was also super rusty so I knocked off all the rust I could with a wire brush then wrapped it.

  7. Roadpizza May 3, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    Fantastic project. Just one small quibble. People who ride bicycles are called cyclists or riders or just about anything but bikers.

  8. loveit May 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    My kids and I rode our bike by the library just today and happened upon your latest piece. Fabulous! Your work always puts a smile on my face, even the installations that I drive by every day!

  9. Eileen May 4, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Thank you for living. Don’t stop.

  10. N May 4, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    I had to drive over to see it in person and it’s incredible. A shock of color and art which gives me a glimpse into a different, brighter world.

  11. Christina May 4, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    I love this….thinking about doing it in Nashville.

  12. Chris C. May 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    THAT IS PURE VANDALISM AND YOU SHOULD BE LOCKED UP!!! (just kidding!) I absolutely love this idea. Really… what harm is this causing. None. It makes people smile and the world a better place. Keep it up!

  13. KirraQ May 5, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    This is wonderful!! I’m new to the concept of yarn bombing but think it’s awesome and want to give it a go. Your patterns are really nice and I’m impressed you used home spun yarn. As I bike rider I think this is a great idea and might try something similar. Pity it got torn though. Please keep doing it! 🙂

  14. Maureen May 5, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    Hope they leave it a long time! Nicely done!

  15. Dropstitch Murphy May 6, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    So cool! I haven’t done one that big yet. We’ll see…

  16. Amananadiana May 7, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    I think it’s hilarious! I can just see some hyperventilating knitters being arrested for refacing public library property. Just so many jokes there!

  17. Jack May 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    I visited the library the Saturday before the installation. When my bike and I returned the following Monday we were delighted to find your beautiful work welcoming us. This is what public art should do: surprise and reawaken our sense of beauty. Thanks for adding some much-needed art — and whimsy — to Berkeley’s public space.

    More art! More beauty!! Bombs away!!!

  18. MRM May 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    I’m a cyclist and a librarian. I wish someone would yarnbomb us at Brooklyn Public. Beautiful!

  19. bluesbee May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    Wow. The bikes look happy to be there. 🙂

  20. Micro-Fiber Militia May 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    This is the best bike rack installation that I’ve ever seen or put up ourselves.

    I am in awe. Complete and utter awe.

    Love the narration of the entire escapade considering that police and knit graffiti are a fun and wonderfully gray area that we all play in.

    Again, I’m in complete awe.

  21. streetcolor May 21, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    hey micro -fiber militia you have been a huge inspiration to me-thanks so much for this thrilling compliment!

  22. marie April 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    The bike racks were lovely happy colors with the yarnbombing. We are a public library in Michigan and the librarians yarnbombed a huge indoor tree in the popular materials department. It has been received with smiles and appreciation by administration and public alike and makes us all happy. CMPL


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