When I think about making a website and presenting it to the world, I think about the first scene of the Watchmen movie (which, as a side note, I’ve never seen).
I mean, isn’t this what usually happens? You naively put your stuff out there and blammo! the haters have found and annihilated you.
Of course this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you put up your website and people love it. And…sometimes you make a website and hardly anyone sees what you do. Except the bots. The bots see all.
My website is about yarn bombing, a non-harmful method of graffiti. It’s for crafters and people who enjoy a bit of illegal craft work now and again. My real audience would be my talented classmates (seriously, how are you guys so talented??) and bots, according to my Google Analytics, lots of them. Out of my 309 pageviews, I’m hoping at least some of them were from passionate and crafty people. This is my imagined public.
I’m addressing my public through what is hopefully a fun and unique site. I try to make my writing no-nonsense, but I’m sure most of the time I come off as a self-absorbed hypocrite (this is fine, leave your complaints in the comments section.) I use a lot of images because I believe they work better than me just describing everything I crochet. Also, they’re easy on the eyes.
As for value, I believe most of the value of this website is going towards me. Yes, it’d be cool if other people got value from this site, but I doubt that’s happening. My site is for other people, yet most of the stuff I do really just helps me learn more about the web, gives me time to practice writing and editing, and lets me grapple with website building and design and finding the perfect funny widget that lets you fly a little rocket around my page, blowing things up.
I didn’t want my page to be too clean because what’s the fun in looking like a million other websites? This makes me think back to Travis Gertz’s article on how the machines are taking over because everyone uses the same website template. Whatever, man. People are just going with the flow to make a living, which is fine. People who have money and time or must find money and time for an obligatory publishing class website can make something fun.
To the four people who have given me website feedback, I thank you profusely. It really was helpful, and I made some important changes because of you.
Beyond this page, I’d like to continue to develop my Instagram crochet account and perhaps move all my work from here over to a free place like Tumblr or Blogger or something that doesn’t cost me $45+ a year.
Aside from all my reminiscing and reflection, there is one big topic I’d like to touch on in this essay. It’s something that’s been bothering me for a while now.
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The more I think about yarn bombing and graffiti, I wonder is it really non-harmful?
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These comments seemed so weird to me when I first saw them. What? People don’t actually appreciate vandalism?
Well, duh, of course not.
1) That’s kinda the point of it and 2) it can be destructive and harmful. Number two can be a problem. That’s when I start asking myself some serious questions. Where do I draw the line? Should I have to draw it when it comes to graffiti?
I believe I should. And to figure out where to the draw the line, I’d like to look at some of the most frequent complaints of yarn bombing. From there, I will see if the complaint is valid or invalid depending on my experience as a yarn bomber, and sources from the web.
Yarn bombs hurt trees
They can. It’s true. Shannon Sperati asked the American Society of Consulting Arborists about yarn bombing trees. Arborist Marty Shaw replied that yarn bombing can cause mildew, mold, and insect infestations. Additionally, yarn bombs could hide tree defects that could later cause harm (imagine not knowing that a tree branch was severely damaged and could drop on you at any moment.) He also noted that depending on the yarn, toxins could leak into the tree and damage it.
Solutions: Don’t yarn bomb trees. Yarn bomb trees for a short period of time, and then take down your piece(s). Make yarn bombs that leave lots of breathing room for the tree. Yarn bomb trees only when the weather is dry and cold (this prevents bugs and mildew). Yarn bomb indoor trees. Make a small, non-intrusive yarn bomb for the tree.
Yarn bombs are ableist
In most cases, they are not. This concern stems from people who yarn bomb railings specifically. The website No Award tags yarn bombing as “ableism” in their article “Having a Yarn(Bomb)”, but does not explain this further than saying a yarn bomb “renders mobility and accessibility aids useless or difficult to use” (Barr, 2015).
This is a vast generalization, as yarn bombs come in many shapes and sizes and are attached to a variety of objects. On an inclined railing, such as one for a staircase, I can see this being a problem for a person who needs a better grip on a railing. However, crocheted or knit yarn can often have more grip than a wet metal pole. Further, the yarn bomb No Award pictures in their article (shown above) is on a level railing, which should not make it difficult to grasp at all. However, I don’t have a disability, so I’d be happy to change this based on a more experienced person’s view.
Another issue can come from yarn bombing reflective signs. It could cause danger to drives, which is serious.
Solutions: Don’t put yarn bombs on angled railings. Don’t put yarn bombs on important/reflective signage. Don’t restrict peoples’ accessibility with a yarn bomb.
Yarn bombs get “wet and grimy after the first rain storm”
Completely false. This is by far the most frequent complaint. Some even complain that yarn bombs go grey within a day. This is false. Here I will use my personal experience and a famous yarn creation as examples of the truth.
Three years ago, I turned a lot of scrap yarn into crochet flowers. I hung them up around my neighbourhood. Sure enough, many were gone within a few days. They were cute, so I assume people took them home for decorations. It warmed my heart. Anyway, two of my flowers (both hanging from trees) remained untouched.
Fast forward to now. Those two flowers are still in the places I left them three years ago.
One is still mint green with a little moss growing on it. It still looks like a cute flower. The other was made with grey yarn already, so it couldn’t really get any greyer. This one has more moss growing on it and a spider has moved in. Look at that, I unknowingly made a cute spider habitat.
Those yarn bombs have lasted for three years and are doing fine. Most of my yarn bombs are indoors, so I avoid this problem completely.
My other example is the creepy giant pink bunny that haunted a hill in Italy. The New York Times called it a “big, dead, rotting, silly rabbit.”
You see that orange blob on its belly? That’s an adult. This thing is massive. Look, here are people standing by its foot:
It was made by an art collective of four called Gelitin in 2005 with the help of many others. The picture above was taken shortly after its completion in 2005. The piece stayed pink until 2006. After that, it turned grey but its iconic shape remained for a few more years.
This is what it looked like three years ago:
So no, it doesn’t take one day and one storm to deform and discolour a yarn bomb. This bunny even lasted through snow. You can see other photos of its deterioration here.
Solutions: Yarn bomb indoors. Yarn bomb where there’s some protection from the elements. Remove your yarn bombs after they get grey/start to fall apart/get moldy.
Yarn bombing is a waste of time and resources
Maybe, but then so are most things. This is perhaps one of my least favourite arguments ever. “Why aren’t you doing something more useful with your time and resources?” The real question is why aren’t you? You, the commenter and complainer. What’s stopping you from learning how to knit and make dozens of blankets for homeless people? Why are you wasting your time on comment threads?
This is another big complaint that I find ridiculous. Someone pointed this out on the “Having a Yarn(Bomb)” article:
The co-owner of the website replied:
Erm, okay. I don’t even want to touch this one.
Solution: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Yarn bombing does not send a deeper message
It depends. What counts as a deeper message to you? Many people believe that yarn bombing is all about the aesthetic and doesn’t have the same edgy message as other piece of graffiti. Sometimes, yes. People might just want to brighten something, or make it look pretty. But there are example of yarn bombs such as The Knitted Mile and the tank covered in pink that do mean something more.
Also, does something have to “mean something more” to send a deeper message? If a yarn bomb evokes a smile, on some level, isn’t the smiler interpreting a deeper message?
I believe they are. The person smiling is interpreting a message of love, care, time, effort, and vibrant beauty.
Sure, yarn bombs can be tacky. They can get dirty and wet and fade away to nothing. But if we really want a deeper message, wouldn’t we say that we too are just like yarn bombs?
Solution: Want to do it for the aesthetic? Then do it. Want to make a deeper message? Then do it.
Yarn bombing isn’t as evil and wasteful as people make it out to be. From this examination of complaints, I feel like I can move forward and make truly non-harmful graffiti. Hopefully some of it can be meaningful. Hopefully most of it will make people smile. I hope in the future I can continue to do this thing I love, and encourage others to join me in these silly acts of vandalism.
Oh, and improve my online presence. That too.
Barr, Liz. “Having a Yarn(Bomb).” No Award, 2 Sept. 2015, no-award.net/2015/09/02/having-a-yarnbomb/.
Gelitin. “Hase / Rabbit / Coniglio.” Gelitin.net, 2005, www.gelitin.net/projects/hase/.
Odyssey. “’Yarn Bombing’ Is The New Graffiti, But Is That OK?” Odyssey, 13 Nov. 2017, www.theodysseyonline.com/yarn-bombing-graffiti.
Sperati, Shannon, and Marty Shaw. “Q: What Are Some Thoughts on ‘Yarn Bombing’ Trees?” American Society of Consulting Arborists, 30 Dec. 2015, www.asca-consultants.org/news/267498/Q-What-are-some-thoughts-on-yarn-bombing-trees.htm.
Taylor, Tracey. “Berkeley Library Not Thrilled about Yarnbombing.” Berkeleyside, 6 May 2017, www.berkeleyside.com/2012/04/09/not-all-creative-contributions-welcome-at-library-reopening.