A Small Yarnbombing Disaster : Yarnbombing The North Berkeley Library

We were having a good time yarnbombing The North Berkeley Library last Friday , getting ready for their grand reopening. We had 4 glass blowing inspired knit tags and they really looked good against the new rosy tile. Lots of locals were stopping and taking pictures and thanking us. I love libraries so much and have yarnbombed many , many of them. The librarians had been pleased.

I was a little perturbed too though , the maintenance man had come by and said ‘ They will make me cut those off for sure !  I didn’t believe him- I’d done this all over Berkeley and Oakland and everyone had always liked them  .Besides -what was I going to do , be scared and just go home ?

Saturday morning I wanted to take more picture before the opening so we drove by.  The whole installation had been totally removed . I felt punched . We noticed 2 woman talking on the steps so I went over . ” Hi- I put up a knitting installation for the opening -” I started to say .

“Yes ! ” said the librarian . ‘ We took that right down ! This is the opening, people are coming to see the construction . You shouldn’t have done that ! You should have asked for permission ! You shouldn’t do anything here with out asking permission ! Don’t ever do anything here again in the future unless we ask you ! ‘ And she turned and walked away .

I was so startled. No one has ever yelled at me for making them a yarnbomb. Even policemen have always been very nice.

The other woman was smiling at me kindly .”We have it inside  ” she told me and went and got it . As she handed it to me she said ” We were very careful with it .

I looked in the bag and the pieces were flawless. That was something.

I was truly stunned . I thought about this all day and was alternatively discouraged , mad , hurt and confused .Wasn’t the whole point of street art that you don’t ask permission ? That the artist can interact with streets and cities and people on the street freely and immediately ?

Aren’t libraries for the whole community ?  Don’t they belong to us all ?  Should only one person decide everything ?

I woke up on Sunday with that feeling that something bad had happened and my mind started to churn .

I thought ” OK , you have to get past this . Find some good thoughts ! ‘

I tried – You didn’t do anything wrong . No help there

You should stop doing graffiti . nope.

Then I thought  ” This is yarnbombing ! You don’t ask permission for yarnbombing -you don’t have to get any one’s permission to do what you want to do !

That was it – I was ready to jump up and live to fight another day.

Just another yarnbombing story !

“Thank you Berkeleyside for the article here

17 thoughts on “A Small Yarnbombing Disaster : Yarnbombing The North Berkeley Library

  1. Unbelievable! It’s not like you spray-painted, or installed a giant bronze sculpture. And in Berkeley of all places! Color me mystified.

  2. I work at a library in Lodi, CA and we just put up a yarnbomb this morning to celebrate National Library Week. We got the whole community involved, placing and ad in the paper for contributions, and so far everyone loves it! It’s funny that they did not want it up because it would keep people from seeing the new library construction because we put it up so people WOULD see the library.

  3. I think part of being an artist is that some people just aren’t gonna get it, and you can’t always be there to explain it to them. Glad they saved them, hopefully you can put them up again later, or somewhere they’ll be better appreciated (like my house).

  4. Hey, come and yarnbomb us here in Jingletown. (We’re part of Oakland). We LOVE yarnbombing.

  5. I find your installations beautiful! This one in particular was especially appealing to me. I don’t know why people get all crazy over temporary things such as this. Fun and unexpected that brings a smile.

  6. What a shame they got so bent out of shape about it. 😦 At least they didn’t unravel it. That would have been criminal!

  7. Sorry they took down your installation…personally I think they look awesome. You might be interested in what was done here in Cambridge (Ontario, Canada) a couple of years ago, draping a bridge in knitting (for charity): http://knittyblog.com/?p=282

    Best wishes from Canada!

  8. I have a feeling it was more that it was her brand new library that no one had seen complete yet? Does that make sense? Like an artist paints something really important and it takes forever and they put a lot of work into it and then someone decorates the frame some way they don’t expect right before the opening. She wants it to be complete and perfect for the opening. And I bet if she’s the one in charge of it, she is nuts at the moment poor woman, can you think what doing something like that must be like?

    Anyway, I’m all up in arms they dared touch my childhood refuge! That was *my* library! I hid there when I ran away from school! How dare they! Ok, not freaking out that much, but there’s a little bit of me that did when I heard about it 🙂

    But I think if you put them back up in a month or two they’ll stay. I think it had to do more with the picture in her mind, than in what she actually thinks of yarnbombing.

      • Well, for all of what we say about Berkeley, the thing it does try it be is empathic, and I was born at Herrick and educated there up through a BA at Cal and didn’t leave till I was in my thirties, so Berkeley and my parents are to blame! And North Berkeley Library didn’t hurt! 🙂

  9. You do beautiful work that brings a smile to my face and awe to my knitter’s heart. What a marvelous color sense! The Berkeley Library and its patrons lost out on a vivid and engaging art “exhibit” — art in the world is powerful and they were afraid.

    Keeping yarnbombing!

  10. Gorgeous work, too bad she was threatened by it. I’d rather park my bike up against soft yarn, rather than the hard metal. It sounds like this lady had little say in much of anything regarding the new library, so she unleashed her anger on you 😦

  11. Hello! I’ve been reading your site for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Dallas Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!

  12. Hello,

    I was one of those passer bys in Berkeley and saw your yarn bomb. I thought they were fabulous and was so disappointed they were taken down. I don’t know about the politics but seeing your work sent a spring to my step when I passed by them. I even send my knitting sister a photo of it. Your art may be missing but it will not be forgotten. keep it going….

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