Friday, August 26, 2011

article in the Record

I went in earlier this week to meet with Michael Fitzgerald regarding our yarnbombing of California Street. We had a pretty good chat in his "corner office" (his desk is in one of the corners of the newsroom) about what Knitorious 209 is doing, why I personally like it and a bit of background about my interest in crafts. I knew an article was going to be in the paper later in the week (Friday or Sunday) but wasn't sure when, or what all would be in it.

Cue the text messages, starting shortly after 7 am. "Have you seen the front page of the Record?" was the first.

My first thought? "Oh dear... my mother is going to kill me."*

Our article is actually on page A-3 (and continued on A-4), but when I dashed off to the 7-11 on my way to work (yes, I don't subscribe anymore - sometimes I didn't have time to read it, and unopened papers would pile up in the basket inside the door, making a comfy bed for the cats to sleep on).... I wasn't sure what to expect.

My jaw dropped when I saw the top of the paper.  (and I like that below is the headline "Nightmare Scenario". Not that the East Coast is in danger from a hurricane, just how it reads: "Stockton Goes Knits.... Nightmare Scenario".)

The "pom-bomb" on the cover is the one we left for Mr. Fitzgerald on the front door of the Record's office, back in June.

It is an amazing article, and Knitorious appreciates the publicity! We also hope it inspires others to yarn-bomb the area as well.

[ETA:] We've also been featured on his blog today as well. Check it out, here.

* She didn't kill me, BTW, but when I called her up - before she'd read the paper - she asked if I was quoted in the paper, and when I confirmed it, she said "Oh, no...."

Spool Knitting...

My dad taught me spool knitting, using a spool he had used as child. It was made by a relative of one of his childhood friends. I loved working on it during car rides, especially when I tagged along with him on vacation when he went to the Santa Cruz and Tahoe regions. After he passed away, going through the storage unit he kept and sorting through things to sell, keep or trash was my job. I cried when I rediscovered this spool in a box of miscellaneous toys and things from my childhood.

I'm currently working on a project for a friend and co-worker in pastel blue/green/lavender variegated crochet thread. Sorry the picture's a bit blurry.

A similar item, called a Wonder Knitter (by Clover) was used to make some of the items for the June 11th yarn-bombing; specifically the snakes and the cherry stems. I also hope to make antenna cozies to put on automobile antennas.  :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yarnbombing: Patterns and ideas...

You don't have to be an expert knitter or crocheter to yarnbomb; a knowledge of the basics is all that you'll need.

There are two ways that Knitorious 209 approaches yarnbombing. One way is to pre-make little items using scraps of yarn: flowers, butterflies, pom-pons... quick and easy projects that can take only a few minutes to do. Add a knit or crochet strap or attach to a larger piece, like a rectangle. This way, you can always carry some with you in case you find a spot in need of a little color.

Many of our patterns have been found here: Crochet Pattern Central and Knitting Pattern Central. We've also free-handed many items (crochet works great for this, but knitters can do it, also). If you want a little variety, check out different stitch patterns. Granny squares, basketweave stitch, puff stitch... These all add a bit of texture and interest.

The other way we've yarnbombed is pre-planning and designing, like we did with MLK Jr. Plaza. I used Google Maps to find the place, then switched to street view to get an idea of the place and the neighborhood around it. What kind of fixtures were there: statues, monuments, light poles, benches? What kind of plant life did we have? Was there anything else interesting nearby?

After that, we actually drove over there (in a light rain) and three of us wandered around the park after dark; brainstorming. We had tape measures to get some measurements of parking meters, benches, flag pole, statue. We eyed the trees and how low the branches were, and looked around, watching for pedestrian and street traffic patterns.

The evening of, we dressed normally; nothing bright or flashy. Purses were not brought; just car keys and ID, zip ties and round-tipped scissors (in case we get caught and have to take things down), and dark tote bags with the "bombs" inside, separated into their own plastic bags so nothing will tangle. (This is crucial with items like the pom-bombs.) It is quick and easy to use a zip tie or two to secure a yarnbomb. Some people sew or crochet together the ends of the item - that can be difficult in the dark! There are people who yarnbomb in broad daylight... so far, we haven't tried that option.  :)

This weekend, I'll post the instructions for how some of us make our pom-bombs! We use fancy pom-pon makers, but you can make your own out of some cardboard!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pictures from the California Street yarn bombing!

As I was in downtown Stockton this afternoon, I decided to check in and see how our yarn bombing was holding up.

My first (and favorite) monster foot was gone. For some reason, bus stops seem to lose their decorations quickest. I don't know why... is it a city worker? someone on the street?

Some of the paper tags were gone on things remaining up. I don't know if people are removing them, or they're being whipped around in the wind, or what. May have to experiment with stronger paper...

Anyhow, I took pics of only one side of the street, as I did not want to run across a busy street to get the other side's "bombs". I did see several still up, some with the papers waving in the breeze.

Is this what they call a California Stop? Well, it has a foot on the bottom of the pole; maybe it will hop out and attack you!

 A closer view of the foot. Much nicer tagging than the sprayed graffiti on the ground.

A flower on the corner of the fence. Tag was gone, and it looks like someone gave it a good yank.

This "pom-bomb" did not last - someone either wanted it, or didn't like it, I'm guessing.

Another monster foot on the No Parking sign. This one was missing its tag, also.

Close-up of the foot.

A little flower wrapped around a pole; again, missing tag (no, that's not it in the bushes behind). This was turned to face the other way; I twisted it around before taking a photo (yes, I'm advising it was staged. Well, "adjusted".)

Another flower bomb, this one placed up high. Yay! Still a tag attached!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

California Street "bombing"

Last night, three of us went yarn-bombing along California Street, between Alpine and Pine Streets. We did quite a few little things, especially in front of a children's clinic, where some of the poles got monster feet. We snapped a couple of pictures - hope to go back tomorrow or Monday and take some daylight pictures. I'm hoping to see if anyone comes here because of the new tags on the yarnbombs - we added a QR code to them.

We were supposed to be accompanied by Michael Fitzgerald from the Record, as he was unable to make it in June and had wanted to come along and participate, but he did not materialize or phone me, tho I had responded to his email requesting my cell number.

Our original plan had been to bomb the Miracle Mile for the street festival that was supposed to take place today, but 1) it had been bombed already by someone else on the 4th of July, and 2) the festival got cancelled.

Note to other yarn-bombers: do not buy zip ties at the 99 cent store. They break easily! Will be sticking with better-quality zip ties in the future.

We have a few large "art projects" in mind for next year, though they will take some planning (and hopefully more participants - yes, we welcome volunteers!). Meantime, we will probably do one more bombing in the next couple of months... we want to do places that need a little fun and color, where there's a good amount of foot traffic. Suggestions welcome!

And I want to thank the UPS Store in Lodi for their awesome job in helping us prepare our paper hang tags. The previous time, we got them printed at another store, but for some reason, the embedded fonts in my .pdf file don't save correctly, so some of the text comes out with pictographs. The original store had fixed the issue back in June, but apparently has new, less-proficient staff working the copy center. The owner of the UPS Store was able to fix the issue and get the copies printed ASAP, without charging a "rush" fee that the original store was going to charge me.

Off to work on some pom-bombs for the next time!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Are you here because of a "tag"?

Did you find something like this floating around somewhere unusual?

We've been placing small yarnbombs in cities around the 209 area code since June of 2011. Yes, it can be viewed as vandalism, though it is temporary and shouldn't harm anything. We're being very careful about how we're doing this, to be considerate of property and plant life.

If you found our tags... What did you think when you noticed the yarn? Did it remind you of something, someone, or an important memory? Did it please you? Annoy you? Baffle you? Please comment and let us know.

Yes, we realize there are much more "worthy" things we could be doing with our scrap yarn. But it's ours. We have made blankets, scarves, hats and other items for charity groups in the past - most recently for Warm Up America earlier this year. We are entitled to have fun, too, aren't we?  :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quiet but busy July...

This has been a busy month for several of us. Fortunately one of the members of our group decided to have a quick and impromptu yarn-bombing in Lodi on Friday night. Three of us went out after preparing butterflies, bees and flowers and strolled down School Street to leave our mark.

It was her first yarn-bombing, and I think she had wanted to do it at a park originally, but the two of us who had done it before said School Street would be better.

The first time you yarn-bomb, it can be a bit anxiety-filled. You worry about drawing attention to yourself, you worry about some authority figure coming around and arresting you... it feels like you've got a spotlight on you. It can be hard to act natural.

We did pretty good last night, walking in a group with "bombs" in-hand; we would occasionally stop and "chat" or "make a cell phone call" while one of us quickly tied something on. Benches were good; we could sit and attach something. There are a LOT of security cameras on this street; while "window-shopping", we would try and scope out cameras to determine if we could put something outside without being caught. I'm sure we were, but we did try and minimize our film time.

Also, downtown Lodi has police officers riding by on bicycles. While our first-time bomber attached her striped wrap around one of the bicycle poles outside the Chinese restaurant, we stood in a group (well, she was hunched over, crocheting) and were acting like we were just standing around, using our cell phones as the cop pedaled by. He said something like "you ladies doing okay?" and we said "fine, thanks" and he didn't even slow down, just kept on going!

We are making plans for a larger-scale bombing in August sometime. If you're interested in participating, let us know. We're going to be having a planning meeting next weekend.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Holiday crafting...

The Knitorious 209 had a planning session again this weekend - some of our tags were compared, we brainstormed, we've laughed and we're eager for our next event!

I've received word that the flagpole wrap is still up at MLK Jr. Plaza. Hooray! I guess the red/white/blue & gold star "patriotic" theme has kept people from stealing it. Or maybe they think it's ugly? (I can say this - I'm the one who made that item.)

I spent today at a relative's house for a birthday party for a couple of family members. I pulled out my crocheting and instantly I had four of my nephews at my feet, mesmerized. I was working on a simple, baby pink flower, and they took turns guessing what it could be. (Hints like, "what kinds of things could be pink?" produced some hilarious guesses, like shoes, backpacks, a dinosaur... these are BOYS, mind you. One said "Pigs are pink!")

Finally finished it up (oohs and aahs) and one of the boys asked if he could give it to his mom, so I obliged. Another one asked me for crochet supplies for his birthday, then wanted to know when I could come back for another "sewing lesson". I wound up showing two of the boys and one of my nieces how to do foundation chains, and got a request for a pterodactyl. That's going to be a fun one to figure out - any patterns out there?

Needless to say, there's an inner part of me cackling with glee that boys are wanting to learn this. They SHOULD know how. My father knew how to knit and do needlepoint; he's the one who got me started with spool knitting and every thing I ever made him (including the scarf I gave him for Christmas, four months before he passed suddenly) was treasured. That last scarf, a soft hazel-blue wool that I thought complimented his gray hair and hazel eyes, was only worn to lodge meetings with his suits; in his mind, it was too good to be his "everyday" scarf. He was eagerly awaiting my learning how to knit socks, so I could make him some - he still had a pair of wool socks that his grandmother had made for him in his late teens, some 50 years ago.

To this day, I haven't had the emotional strength to get interested in sock knitting, because the feelings are still too raw, that I won't be able to make a pair of socks for him.

But I fervently believe that crafting should be gender-neutral. Boys have knit, made lace, crocheted, sewn and mended over the decades: read more here and here and here. There are a few men who are in the Knitorious 209's social circle and we are thrilled to have them.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


*That was my best evil-laugh attempt.

Excitement is building for our next impending group yarnbombing. What started as one simple, subtle idea has exploded into something even more crafty (pun intended). This was a level 5 brainstorming. More people are getting interested, so we should have a good group and number of items to "tag" with. Having a large group of people is good; I worry that if just four or five of us are wandering around, back and forth, "loitering" somewhere, it will be obvious. Having a dozen or more people strolling around in small groups or by themselves would be more casual and less attention-grabbing.

In addition to our knitted and crocheted tags, we do have some other things we've got to prepare:

1) make new paper tags. Probably business cards (yay for Vistaprint's free stuff), as they are smaller than the ones we had last time, and a little thicker.

2) obtain a bunch of yarn needles. We'll probably grab a few packs of these. We will still use zip ties on some things, but we'd like these to last a little while longer.

The next few weeks are going to be busy for those involved as we work to create items

In other news, I did not get to do a yarnbomb in Manteca on Saturday. The location we were at was indoors, and on private property. I looked for a suitable spot down the street, but there were too many people around in broad daylight. My personal goal is to get something else "bombed" before July 1st!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tagging Manteca

I'm up way past my bedtime prepping for a vendor booth tomorrow at a street faire in Manteca. This is a very last-minute plan; I found out about it at 1 pm today. I don't have as much stock as I'd like, but am sharing a table with a friend, so shouldn't be too bad.

Very annoyed that my new toy, a Square ( is not working. When I got it a month ago, it did! I spent an hour troubleshooting, uninstalling, reinstalling, rebooting and researching, to no avail. I can still use it with typed-in card numbers but the service fee is higher.

Of course, I intend to yarnbomb something while I'm there, if time permits. Will take pix. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crafty goods, musings and WIPs (works in progress)

As I tweeted earlier today, last night I had a dream where I was standing near a railroad crossing about a mile from the house I grew up in, when the guard rails came down and a train rolled past at a slow speed. I saw on several of the cars obvious signs of yarnbombing: green, yellow and pink striped panels, beige and lavender squares hanging off the ladder rungs. I remember being so excited to see it, wondering where the yarnbombs originated from and how far they'd traveled... and I wanted to snatch one of the items off the train so I could analyze it!

Graffiti on trains has always been fascinating to me. I love the huge pictures and stylized letters done in several colors. Where did the artwork originate? How long did it take? I have been known to sit at train crossings where the train goes extremely slow *cough*Lodi*cough* and put my vehicle in park and watch the cars as they go by, to look for interesting artwork and colors and try to figure out how I could somehow copy the colors or shapes into something I can make. Yes, what they're doing is vandalism, but I wish shipping companies could incorporate that into their railcars somehow - leave the areas where the specs are printed alone, but have stylized logos and scenes done by artists. It surely would be a lot more colorful and appealing than the sides of the U-Haul trucks.

There used to be some kind of program in Stockton where convicted taggers were put to work (perhaps community service) creating murals on the sides of businesses. This was probably 1995 or 1996. I always wondered what happened to that - it seemed like a good idea.

I've been working on some items for our next yarnbombing. I'll take my workbag along with me to my job and pull out some scrap yarn and a hook and work on them during breaks, slow periods or when I'm on the phone. Co-workers will stare, or come ask what I'm working on. Some of the things I'm working on now are kind of cute, in a bizarre way. I need to bust out my Crochet Harmony Guide and try out more new stitch patterns. The one I was attempting today looks off, somehow. I shouldn't fuss about it - I realize it will either be cut off and thrown out, or someone might steal it, but I'm still a perfectionist.

Crochet has become so habitual to me that I can work patterns from memory, without looking at the project. Makes it handy in the movie theatre when I'm fidgeting over the smell of movie popcorn! I can work on a dishcloth or scarf or yarn-bomb and still focus on the movie. Knitting, not so much, yet. 

What seems to be common with a lot of knitters or crocheters is that's not all we do. Several of us do both, some spin their own yarn, some weave, some do cross-stitch, sew, make jewelry, paint, sculpt, bead, etc. I think it's a creative bug that we never really get over. It definitely can drain one's bank account, even with Internet specials, and 50% off coupons for JoAnn's and Michael's.

I just received some hairsticks I ordered, to work on some items I plan to sell at craft fairs or on I had made a custom item for another one of the our yarn-bombing "crew" that gets a lot of attention whenever she wears it. I also just splurged on a huge assortment of rhinestones, and an application tool (like a soldering tool, really) to work on other projects, after being inspired by a hair accessory I saw a woman wearing today. This in addition to my weekend purchase of some ruffle yarn and buttons that mimic the puffy friendship hearts from the 40's... I'm glad I use coupons and comparison-shop online as much as possible. Still, my craft room is full to bursting!

No, I swear, I'm not Leslie Hall (see video). I don't even own a gem sweater...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yarnbombing for money?

Well, not quite. We definitely won't be doing any of this for advertising a business.... It would take the fun and spontaneity out of it, otherwise.

On June 11th, as we were preparing our items for our yarnbomb by adding tags and finishing up last-minute items, we were approached by someone who wondered what we were doing. We didn't quite let her know the whole story at first, but after conversing with her for a little while, spilled some of the beans (the what, not the where).

She liked our items well enough to ask one of us if she could commission custom-colored "pom-bombs" (like what went on the parking meters) for a sports club her child was involved with.

40 pom-bombs later and there are some sore fingers from all the winding, cutting and tying. It was a lot of fun, though. Now we have some extra money for yarn and supplies!

We just created a Facebook fan page for Knitorious 209, administrated by one of the members of the group. We're hoping this is a way for other local yarn-bombers to display their handiwork! Please don't forget to "like" our page, if you're on Facebook, also!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mentioned in local media...

Psyched that Michael Fitzgerald from the Record has featured our yarnbombing in an article on his blog.

Also - we are on Twitter. Feel free to follow! We'll be giving glimpses of our upcoming projects, as well as sharing pics of yarnbombs done by individuals in the Stockton area. I'm hoping other knitters and crocheters in the area get some inspiration and start tagging Stockton, too!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Yarnbombing, one week later

Drove by to check out things at the park. Most of the stuff has been removed; however I saw a few flowers on poles, and cherries in the trees. The flagpole wrap has slid or been pulled down toward the base of the pole... I'm going with pulled because the bottom zip tie is gone.

Won't anyone go push it back up higher on the pole?

I wonder where the items have gone. Many have visited this blog, but no comments left. Did you take something? We'd love to hear from you...

Next project due in August. Will have sneak peeks from time to time. And we'll be keeping our skills up with random tagging in the area. Watch for pics!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Where should we yarnbomb next?

We had so much fun Saturday night that of course, we're going to do it again, Stocktonians! The question is: where? It needs to be public, where a lot of people are exposed to it.

We want places where we don't have to worry about a strong police presence, nosy security guards or tons of cameras... this can be considered vandalism, even though we are being careful and considerate of property and plant life. Is there a statue in need of a new outfit? An ugly bike rack or bus stop? Give us your suggestions!

Also... if anyone is willing to donate acrylic yarn to our project, yes, we will gladly accept! Even partial skeins are welcome.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Aftermath of yarn bombing, June 12th

We just received pictures taken this afternoon... it sounds like other than three bees (enjoy, whoever you are - will you post a comment on the blog, or send pictures of the bees in their new adventures?) and a few flowers, things are still there...

We have this same sign photographed in the dark!

More pictures of MLK Jr. Plaza Yarnbombing

Our first "warm-up" yarn bomb. Not ten minutes after this was up, a young kid (about 11?) was sitting at the table, completely unaware there was a flower above his head.

Second tagging - same restaurant.  :)

Getting things sorted and ready to go...


Last night as we yarnbombed Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza (amongst other smaller tags left around town), we were surprised at the lack of acknowledgement. There was a huge event at the Civic Auditorium across the street, cars were parked all around the park, people walking on the sidewalks past us, lots of traffic driving by.

Not once did anyone come up to us, or call out to us. Granted, we were trying to be nonchalant, and it was fading from dusk to dark, but you've got to wonder why several girls are wandering around the park, putting things on trees, fixtures and parking meters for a good hour or so... right?

We also noticed people being oblivious to bright yarn decorations hanging where they shouldn't be. No curiosity, no awareness... wouldn't you want to know why brightly-colored pom poms are attached with a fluttering paper tag to a parking meter? or why a bright yellow and pink flower is tied to the lampshade above your table at a restaurant? We left paper tags on each item, with this blog's URL, a brief explanation of what this was, and that we meant no harm.

Obviously if you're here and you didn't click on a link somewhere, you ARE observant and you DID wonder what was going on. Kudos to you!

Again, we ask: What did you think when you noticed the yarn? Did it remind you of something, someone, or an important memory? Did it please you? Annoy you? Baffle you?

Please comment and let us know.

Decorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza

It took a good hour or so, but we managed!

To the owner of this car - I hope you aren't angry with us... the rack was too tempting to pass up.

Vietnam Vet Memorial, with flagpole in the background.

Some of the things we put up... we were careful to use zip-ties and not damage the plants or fixtures around the park. They can be easily clipped to remove... but we hope they can stay up for a little while!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Did you find us because of a "tag"?

Did you find one of these floating around somewhere unusual?

We've already placed a few small "yarn bombs" up in Stockton... more to come tonight. Pictures too, of course. Yes, we're a little nervous about it... it can be viewed as vandalism, though it is temporary and shouldn't harm anything. We're being very careful about how we're doing this, to be considerate of property and plant life.

If you found our tags... What did you think when you noticed the yarn? Did it remind you of something, someone, or an important memory? Did it please you? Annoy you? Baffle you? Please comment and let us know.

Yes, we realize there are much more "worthy" things we could be doing with our scrap yarn. But it's ours. We have made blankets, scarves, hats and other items for charity in the past - most recently for Warm Up America earlier this year. We are entitled to have fun, too, aren't we?  :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

International Yarn Bombing Day

The Knitorious 209 will be staging their initial bombing somewhere in downtown Stockton, CA on Saturday evening, June 11, 2011.
YARN bombing, that is. Did we get your attention? 
This Saturday is International Yarn Bombing Day....
We, the Knitorious 209, intend to beautify an area in downtown Stockton with knitted graffiti; we do so in the hopes that we can engage the general public, draw attention to something you might ignore, make you recall something hand-made from your childhood and hopefully bring some positive publicity to the city.
 Stay tuned...