By Any Media Necessary: Mapping Youth and Participatory Politics

Graffiti Knitting


Graffiti knitting, also called yarn bombing and yarn storming, is a loose international movement that blends graffiti and fiber arts, primarily knitting and crochet.  Graffiti knitters make their pieces in private, often in groups, and then install them in public spaces.  The yarn bombs are temporary, as they are easily removed by cutting the yarn with scissors, and the yarn itself deteriorates after a few weeks of being exposed to the elements.  Just as paint graffiti is known to straddle the lines between art and politics, graffiti knitting groups engage with issues relevant to their local communities and spaces though in an artistic, often humorous, way.  Although graffiti knitting is technically just as illegal as graffiti painting, it is very rarely prosecuted.

Artists had previously used yarn as a medium, but most agree the graffiti knitting movement was founded in 2005 by Texan Magda Sayeg and her group, Knitta Please.  The movement spread via knitters and groups posting pictures of their installed pieces online and sharing them with each other.  Though the groups are physically separate and pursue diverse projects, many come together virtually to install graffiti knitting and upload the photographs on International Yarnbombing Day, organized by Joann Matvichuk in Alberta.

Key Issues

Graffiti knitting is a tactic that can be used to comment on a wide variety of issues.  By its nature, it is often concerned with the use and appearance of public space.  Many groups also comment on issues related to gender, as knitting is often associated with women and graffiti with men, and environmentalism, via sustainable practices like re-using yarn and highlighting nature (or the lack thereof) in urban environments.

Key Organizations

Yarnbombing Los Angeles

Knit the City

Knit the Bridge

Knitta Please

Contributed by Samantha Close

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