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Yarn bombing

An example of yarn bombing by artist Carol Hummel.

Book unravels art of ‘yarn bombing’

March 5, 2009

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What began as a hypothetical classroom project by master of publishing students at SFU’s Vancouver campus is soon to be a very real book about a new worldwide guerilla-art phenomenon.

The book is Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, by knitting aficionado Mandy Moore and one of the publishing students, Leanne Prain, who’s also a knitter. Yarn bombing combines traditional craft with guerrilla art and politics, creating a swarm of knitting projects that are left to hang on telephone poles, over abandoned cars or from trees.

It all started when Mary Schendlinger, who teaches the book project course, asked Prain and her fellow students Mary Alice Elcock, Alexis Roumanis, Laura Byspalko, Pearly Ma and Julia Monks to develop a proposal for an alternate art press book. From several ideas, they chose Prain’s suggestion. "I read a lot of blogs and had seen the pictures so I knew about yarn bombing," she says.

Joining the publishing program was a natural step for the graphic designer. "Publishing combines my love of writing and art, communicating a message to the world."

The students chose Moore, technical editor for Knitty.com, an on-line magazine with 30,000 visitors a day, as the theoretical "author" of their book. Prain was an acquaintance of Moore’s, but "as it was just a class assignment, I didn’t think to notify her," she recalls.

After pitching the book concept to an industry panel for their feedback, as part their assignment, an e-mail arrived from the Arsenal Pulp Press panelist. They wanted to publish the book.

The students discussed the idea and "urged me to go forward," says Prain, who was surprised when the publisher asked her to be co-author with Mandy Moore. "I sent her an e-mail, saying I hoped she remembered me and I had some unusual news." The book will be released in North America, Australia and the U.K. in fall 2009.

k1,p2tog*

A growing subculture of expert and neophyte knitters and crocheters is about leap onto the international cultural stage as yarn bombers. Some of them are at SFU. A new student club, SFU Knit & Crochet, Etc. has events planned to the beginning of April. Weekly sessions introduce the intricacies of needles and yarn while excursions have included a visit to Three Bags Full on Main and group demonstrations of public knitting and crochet. Where will it end? Hopefully, in some really nice hats and scarves, and maybe a few creative graffiti "tags." More: http://www.sfukc.viviti.com/

*Knit one stich, purl two stitches together

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