Yarnarchy [CURRENT]

A yarn bombing festival 1 – 14 September 2024

A Pae Tākaro Place of Play Project: Place of Play is a new programme to establish Ōtautahi Christchurch as a world capital of Urban Play.

 

 

Bombardments

In August 2022 Gap Filler launched Bombardments  – part street art, part craft, part graffiti, and a whole lot of colour and positive vibes. We joined forces with Stitch-o-Mat and Tiny Shops to activate the central city through a series of fun and playful yarn bombing installations.

Bombardments played with the infrastructure of the city – statues, seats and streets, fostering another way of looking at the city and investigating opportunities to play with what we have in our urban environment. We wanted to have fun with the city and invite others to do the same.

In 2023 we became Yarnarchy a two-week long yarn bombing festival. The fun continues in 2024!

Yarnarchy 2023 artist profiles and installations

 

Megan Blakie  | Comfy couches Worcester Street near Cambridge Terrace

With contributions from Kate Boardman, Marette Wells, Catherine McKellar and others.

We often walk or drive past city infrastructure and amenities without a second glance; it struck me that the backdrop in this area – the fenced off building – exacerbates this tendency. Rather than allowing ourselves to subconsciously blot out the ugliness, I want people to be surprised by the gaudy colours, quirkiness and invitational comfort of the couches.  Maybe even to stop and take a seat!  

A group of us did ‘guerilla’ textile and yarn bombing after the earthquake. Our intention was to bring colour, beauty, hope and a sense of fun to the city. 

For me, bringing joy to people’s lives is a spiritual practice…it helps transform people and communities. 

Echo Laing | Crochet granny squares

I started crocheting during lockdown, two years ago. I could not stop crocheting afterwards. I enjoy making things by hand as well as sharing them with my friends and family. 

This is the first time I have contributed something for yarn bombing. I saw it on social media. And it is such a lovely idea to show the community how yarn-made things inspire people’s life! I love to contribute and engage in community projects like this. 

I think yarn-bombing is a combination of art, craft and creativity. I always admire people, who can create things by hands and imagination. 

I want people to enjoy these classic granny squares. If they can bring any smile onto their faces, that will be a lot.

For more information follow Echo on Instagram:  
@Echo-crochet-nz2023 where she shares her creations and information about craft fairs along with some free patterns.

Carmel McSherry | Taniwha on Worcester St Bridge over Ōtakaro/Avon River

I have a B.A and diploma of fashion design and established curious industries in 2004 as a platform for my textile art. All of my dollies and creatures are one of a kind items and mostly made from repurposed materials. I feel that I am giving new life to what is seen as useless, turning it into quality, quirky and interesting pieces. Commissions welcome.

For more information follow Carmel on Instagram and Facebook:  @curiousindustries

Deb Robinson | Flowers for Ōtautahi, bunting and monster feet

I’ve compiled two works from smaller contributions from multiple crafters around the city (and my mum in Australia). Flowers for Ōtautahi is a collection of flowers from lots of people combined into a hanging flower bed, and a wide variety of bunting triangles are strung together to decorate trees near the Cathedral. I’ve also been inspired by photos online of monster feet so I couldn’t resist the urge to create my own feet which grew into a whole “No Entry” monster.

How did you get started knitting or crocheting?
I have a very arty-crafty family and grew up around fabric and yarn. My mother, grandmother and aunts were always making something and showing it off to each other.

Have you yarn-bombed before? 
Not really. I’d seen pictures before and was fascinated. Then I started with helping add to a crochet butterfly last year with Gap Filler, and now I’m hooked. 

I love the surprise of seeing something soft and handmade in contrast to the built environment or even natural environment that I feel I have no control over or connection with. I love how crafters will see it and be drawn in to the connection with something they are familiar with. And I love a bit of brightness, cosiness or humour to make people smile.

What would you say to encourage other people to yarn bomb?
All the little flowers in the garden are beautiful put together, you don’t have to be an expert creator. Crochet is also very forgiving to have a go at. It is a fun way to connect to your place.

For more information follow Deb on Instagram:  @debsasparkle

Salvo | Cinnamonbun the bulldog at Rollickin’ Gelato New Regent Street

I’m a fibre artist from the South Island, surrounded by green and sheep fluff! My passions are fibre selection, natural dyes and knitting. I’m addicted!

How did you get started knitting or crocheting?
I started spinning fibre following a leg injury that prevented me from running and training. I turned an uncomfortable and otherwise crushing experience into a promising and interesting opportunity! I started spinning the fleece of a whole llama and soon realised I was unable to use it in a purposeful way, that again turned into a different opportunity! So 4 years ago I learned to knit and crochet a little – now it’s an obsession, a healthy and creative one of course!

Have you yarn-bombed before? What drew you to yarn bombing?
No. I love the idea of colourful and creative chaos! I love the idea of manipulating free form fluff (fleece) into an organised contained shape (yarn) to then make it burst and explode into something that can create emotions and ‘wows’ in people!

How do you want people to experience your work?
I’m hoping they will interact with Cinnamonbun, make it theirs for a few minutes, take pics/selfies and tag me on them, cause I don’t want to miss out!

For more information follow Salvo on Instagram:  @papa.knits

 Shirley Symns | Corgis at High Street tram stop & Flowers for Ōtautahi

My crochet journey started (more years ago than I care to remember) with granny rugs made using leftover yarn from my numerous knitting projects for my family. When crochet became fashionable again a few years ago I picked up my hooks and made several mosaic crochet rugs and began experimenting with different textures and patterns. I love the designs of Tatsiana Kupryianchyk and the Icelandic textile artist Tinna Thorudottir Thorvaldur

2023 is my introduction to yarnbombing. For Yarnarchy, having been invited by my daughter Stephanie, I made 17 meters of vine and leaves, a few flowers, then many more as I enjoyed playing with a huge range of flora ideas and patterns discovered on Google. Found it is faster to crochet a flower than grow one in the garden and the personal choice of colour combinations is very satisfying.

I also made coats for two of the corgis on High Street. I like to think they will keep them a bit warmer as the nights become frostier!

Anyone can learn to knit and crochet and you too can be part of Yarnarchy. Google ‘crochet classes’ to find those near you.

I hope you enjoy the artistry of the colourful and well crafted installations around the city that bring a bit of springtime to our wintry days and make us smile.

 Faye Greenwood | Flowers and vines  

I was taught to crochet at 10 years old when I visited my Grandmother after school.

Over the years I have crocheted a wedding dress and bridesmaid boleros, Baptismal gowns, a ton of hats, scarves, sheepskin slippers and rugs. I am now enjoying crocheting cardigans for my granddaughter.

As I live in the inner city I love the Gap Filler events and decorating the city with yarn seemed a cheerful Idea. Not having yarn bombed before I see my work as art from an everyday non-professional artist.

I have crocheted a vine with flowers and symbols of peace such as a rainbow, dove, hearts and birds. I hope it creates smiles and will live on when I attach it to a blanket for Women’s Refuge or other cause.

Lynne Lawson | Tree wraps in Cashel Street near the Bridge of Remembrance

I’m installing four yarn bombs. All have been previously used for yarn bombing in an annual yarn bomb of about 40 trees in Greerton a suburb in Tauranga. Each of the yarn bombs has a different theme:

  • New Zealand icons
  • Charlottes Webb 
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Hundertwasser 

It’s great to see them all up and to see everyone coming to look at them. I loved listening to the comments and seeing people taking pictures of my work. There are different themes every year. You do the yarn bombing for a charity who receives the money if you win the vote. 

I love reusing and remodeling the yarn bombs to use again. I love to get family and friends involved as well. I have been in yarn bombing groups where we got up in the wee hours to transform a statue or fence. I enjoy making people smile when they see it.

In 2015 I went on holiday to Italy and yarn bombed Italy. Such fun. Here are some pics. I hope this installation excites people and makes them smile and enjoy craftiness more!  

 Tessa Mein | Yarnarchy banner and bollard jellyfish on Cashel Street

Tell us about the yarn bomb/s you’ve made for Yarnarchy 2023. 
I have two contributions for the project, the first being a banner for a lamp post made of knitted panels spelling out “YARNARCHY” and the second a series of jellyfish on top of the bollards that line the tram line on Cashel Street. The inspiration for both came about quite organically. For the banner I was just trying to use up as much of the spare acrylic in my stash as possible as I prefer not to use it to make garments but still wanted it to be used rather than thrown away. As panels were added and the length increased it was a natural jump to add crochet letters – something I have never attempted to make before but a really fun technique to have picked up. The idea for the jellyfish came when I was visiting Cashel Street scouting out lampposts to attach the banner to and the bollards immediately jumped out to me as a great location for a second project. Jellyfish allowed me to be super colourful with my yarn selection whilst also being the perfect shape to sit atop the bollards. All in all both projects exemplified two major tenets of my knitting and crochet practice; making do and using what materials I have whether that be scrap yarn or inherited needles of various sizes, and secondly learning through the process of creating and never being afraid of trying out something new.

Like many Kiwis I learnt both knitting and crocheting from various family members. There is a photo of me at the age of six or seven sitting on my Granddad’s lap as he is teaching me to knit a scarf.

However, the craft really only stuck about four years ago when my Mum promised to knit me a sweater and I asked her to teach me the basics again so I could knit some scarfs for my friends. Throughout the years I graduated from her tutelage to Youtube videos slowed down to half speed and trial and error as I learned to read patterns. I think knitting and crochet is so special in the way that it can be passed down the generations like that. I still cast on the way my Mum taught me, and tension the yarn when crocheting like my Step Mum showed me. A lot of the yarn used in the “YARNARCHY” banner was gifted from my Nana’s stash and sitting at home I have an Alpaca fleece from my aunts up in Blenheim if I ever get around to learning how to spin with the wheel passed down to me by my Grandparents. Recently I knitted some baby clothes to welcome the arrival of my new niece and it feels like the cycle is continuing.

Do you see yarn bombing as art, craft, activism or a combination? 
I think my opinion of yarn bombing is largely shaped by the fact that I have lived in Christchurch all my life. I was eleven when the February quake hit and as a result I barely remember the city when it was still completely standing. Instead, when I think of the city centre my mind is drawn to all of the art installations and murals that went up in the empty spaces where buildings used to be. I think I didn’t realise at the time how important art was to both the city’s recovery and state of mind was but looking back I am super grateful to all the artists who helped reinvigorate Christchurch in the wake of such a tragedy, even now as reconstruction is covering up a lot of the works that were done. To me yarnbombing works on a similar principle. On a smaller scale than the murals I grew up alongside, yarn bombing can fulfill the purpose of being a break from the ordinary city landscape, something fun and different as they walk past that will hopefully put a smile on their faces. I don’t think there’s any better purpose than that.

Margaret Egan | Snake 

I was Inspired by Kate’s snake and imagining the Avon river flowing through a jungle with snakes slithering along the steps to the river and curled around the trees branches.

How did you get started knitting or crocheting?
Started knitting 70 years ago when I was 4 years old

Do you have any favourite artists or yarn bombers who you follow?
Australian Artist Annette Fitton.

 

What would you say to encourage other people to yarn bomb?
Look up Trivento International Yarn Bombing for inspiration and ask Gap Giller how to become involved!

So, what exactly is yarn bombing?

A yarn bomb is a knit or crocheted installation that covers a natural or human-made structure. These “blankets” are often brightly coloured and temporarily installed in public places.

Yarn bombs have covered everything from buildings to buses, from trees to park benches, from parking meters to stop signs. They are quite literally a warm and fuzzier version of graffiti.  Yarn bombing is a form of ‘craftivism’ that aims to bring life, warmth, and a feeling of belonging and community.

Tūranga Library has the following books you can check out:

Yarn Bombing the Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, by Mandy Moore

Crochet With London Projects and Ideas to Yarn Bomb Your Life, by London Kaye

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Who, what, where, when

Date: Workshops and meet-ups from now until festival launch. Yarnachy runs from 1 – 14 September 2024

Locations: Various in the central city

Client/Funder: Christchurch City Council

Key people: Kate Finnerty, Deb Robinson, Sally Blake

Values: Experimentation, Leadership, Participation

Support/Sponsors: The yarn-bombing crew including all the crafters, teachers, gifters of yarn and wonderful humans who make community events like Yarnarchy possible!