Friday, 19 August 2011

Knitters with attitude.

Welcome to the extraordinary world of guerilla knitting. A place where the mundane is transformed into a riot of colour and weave. Offering a stark contrast to the recent turmoil in Britain's cities, guerilla knitting is a spark of life in the human imagination when everything else seems to be going to the dogs.

I was first alerted to this pseudo-urban practice when I came home after a trip to London to see all the bollards round my house decorated in tightly-fitting civic scarves. Now, there's randomly a knitting night on at my local pub that usually hosts nights to such illustrious names as Hessle Audio, Mr Scruff and Anti-Pop Consortium. To begin with I ignorantly couldn't really understand why such a venue would host such an evening, but now I do. In the dark cellars of the Hare and Hounds on a Tuesday night a new, sinister coterie of grannies plot and scheme before taking to the streets of South Birmingham in the bleak hours of the morning to hang their bizarre creations from inanimate objects.

OK, it's not that dark. Your nan isn't really dressing up in a balaclava and plimsols and sneaking onto the streets at night. Though she could be. But she probably isn't. I think.

So, what really is it? Guerilla, or urban, knitting, is the world's least offensive form of graffiti. Simply put, it is the art of knitting something to spice up something ordinary. Think Banksy for spinsters. Except the spinsters aren't your nans and aunties, they're just average joes with a penchant for threads and needles. The fact the practice still doesn't have a proper Wiki page is evidence enough of its underground principles.

It's hard to find information on who exactly started the practice, but a lot of evidence points to hilariously named group, Knitta Please, being the principal innovators. To quote from their page (they do have a Wiki):

"Knit graffiti began with Magda Sayeg, a self-taught knitter also known as PolyCotN. She founded the group with anonymous member AKrylik in October 2005 as a way to deal with frustration over their own unfinished knitting projects. It started with a doorknob cosy for the front door of Sayeg's Houston boutique. She loved it and, unexpectedly, so did the passersby. That inspired them to make more."

Knitta grew and grew, and copy cat groups sprung up around the world. Now hundreds of knitting activists regularly "yarnbomb" public space, with such side-splitting names as "Notorious N.I.T." and "P-Nitty".

Apparently, and rather unfortunately, the Knitta, Please group has now dwindled down to just its creator, but the fact that the practice has spread across the pond to such cultural cold-spots as South Birmingham clearly illustrates its burgeoning appeal. It's like spray-painting for middle-class kids, and of this we approve. The downside of course is its susceptibility to being vandalised itself. Those twenty or so bollard scarves had dwindled down to a rather pathetic three by Monday morning. Damn kids.

It's a shame, but I'm sure the practice will continue regardless. As I said earlier, it's nice to some members of society trying to liven up our lives, rather than smashing up inner-city shops in an apparent rage against a prime-minister they can't even name (though admittedly, he is a bellend). I'll leave you with the opening statement from glittyknittykitty. Stay safe, knittas.

"We, the Knitted Terrorists, are committed to knittivism through the systematic and systemic use of knitted accessories, short rows and felt. We will spread the knittivist word by reporting on knittivist activities - all who fail to heed our message will be condemned to mass production, chilly winters and bad fashion. Join in. Be a knittivist. Knit a revolution. Now."!/CafeDePhresh

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