There I was minding my own business on the STS tram in St Etienne and I saw a familiar but unexpected sight – a tree with a sweater. I recognised it for what it was – an attack of the Yarn Bombers. Jumping off the tram at the next stop, I ran back hoping to find a website or some other information that would provide an explanation.
The first time I came across Yarn Bombers was in Albany, Western Australia. A group of anonymous crazy ladies from the local arts community seemed uncomfortable with the conservatism and complacency of their community and so undertook ‘yarn bombing’ raids late at night and basically illegally.
Yarn bombing, yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, kniffiti, urban knitting or graffiti knitting is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk.
So it is type of street art. There is a Yarn Bombing Facebook page, with images of crocheted car covers from the Women’s Institute in Cumbria, elaborate flower arrangements in trees in Italy. Over the last few years, buses, army tanks and even trains have been wrapped in knitting – and crocheting if we are being technical. Check out the Bustle.com article Ugly Holiday Sweaters Have Yarn Bombed Portland Oregon. Come to think of it, even the sculpture deer outside the train station in Obihiro, Japan where I lived for a while had winter scarves.
In the words of one part time yarn bomber Sarah Hardacre, from Salford, Manchester
“It is about the community taking pride in their surroundings and making it look nice and colourful. UK Telegraph, January 2009.
Now here it is again in St Etienne and luckily there IS a website – Auprès de nos arbres .
Auprès de nos arbres roughly translates as ‘Among Our Trees’ and their mission is to honour the trees of the Loire region. Local people were asked to ‘choose a tree in their village and imagine how to honour it with textiles’. One tree is wrapped in fabrics, another has wool wound around it. One of the huge linden trees in the Place Juan Juarez has a giant thread draped through it.
TatouJuste is the organisation behind the project in St Etienne and surrounds. Link –Tatoujuste.org . They are based locally and their mission statement is to ‘highlight the thousand and one ideas experienced by inhabitants of our territory and elsewhere for better living, in harmony with their environment, whether urban or rural, at home, eating, culture, transport etc. They undertake a major project each year and in 2015, yarn bombing or ‘Auprès de nos arbres’ was it.
The yarn bombing project was launched last November and will finish at the end of March 2016. There is a map available in hardcopy and on the website, which is a treasure map, marking all 65 installations.
What a great idea.
This blog is linked to #AllAboutFrance, coordinated by my good friend Phoebe Thomas at Lou Messugo. You can get back to the link here .