Yarnbombing – How to Take down a Yarnbomb

I never take a yarnbomb down unless I have to. And yes – I remember having to take that yarnbomb down in front of the Capitol building as the policeman stood next to me muttering ” Vandalism . Vandalism ! ”

It was time to take down The Oakland Museum of California  yarnbombing installation. I had been not thinking about this with a lot of concentration. It took more than 2 weeks to get all the pieces up with many knitters sewing. The installation had been up for 10 weeks with a 4 week extension. It could not be put off.

And I felt guilty about the rain . When we put up the installation I had said a prayer for it to not rain until we took the knitting down. And then it didn’t rain .

I decided to make a little film first . I turned on the camera. I walked back and forth filming the yarnbomb. It sat there . It was the boringest film I ever saw. Must think more about film making I started trying to take down the first bannister . It had felted some from being outside in the wind. The stitches were beautifully done , very tight and small.  My sewing is crooked and sloppy. I tried cutting them but that cut the knitting. I tried pulling it apart with my fingers. My fingers started to hurt. I thought of slaves picking cotton.

There had do be some way to go faster . I thought of spending the next 7 days standing there pulling out every little stitch.. It came to me to get out my tapestry needle and pull out each stitch with that . That worked pretty well. I tried to make each movement of my hand graceful and easy . Oh ! That worked . Actually it was fun. OK .

Then Betsy Graham showed up . Thank You ! I showed her how to pull straight down with the needle . We got deyarnbombing  really fast . She told me about how Steve Jobs didn’t bathe.

We got the whole installation down . It was very odd to see something beautiful and unusual go back to being ordinary . The opposite effect of yarnbombing. I miss this art installation. It seems sad that it is all gone . On the other hand I have lots of knitting now to do something big and high risk. So much of art is the pleasure of thinking and imagining about all the great things you might do.

This now is how to take down a yarnbomb , use a tapestry needle and make beautiful relaxed gestures out of each movement.

A  yarnbombing blog post in a mysterious foreign language here

Yarnbombing And Protest -Yarnbombing Occupy Oakland

We were putting up yarnbombs around The Oakland Museum last Oct and I thought it would be interesting to go over to Frank Ogawa park and yarnbomb Occupy Oakland. I wasn’t sure what the protests were protesting at that point but I was sure a yarnbomb would be a good addition .

It was a pretty long walk from The Oakland Museum to Occupy Oakland . The streets were dry looking and I saw many street poles that would have looked a lot better covered in wool . I was in my Streetcolor persona and felt like I could go anywhere and do what ever I wanted .

I was surprised by Frank Ogawa square , surprised in every way . The square itself was beautiful – edged with tall leafy trees , the iron lamp posts were beautifully shaped , the whole space was very balanced . It smelled awful , there was wet straw spread on the ground and many distinct neighborhoods of tent and booths set all around . People were definitely protesting , every one was protesting something different .  Some people were protesting big banks , some were protesting against homosexuals , one man was protesting the lack of a keg of beer . I wasn’t very attracted to the energy but I still wanted to yarnbomb.

I walked all around the square twice trying to get attracted to something . Finally I found a stairway I liked and started sewing up a piece . Soon I realized that I had picked the neighborhood where men were standing and smoking pot and yelling at woman . I ignored this and kept sewing . I was protesting too I realized . I was protesting the ugliness and lack of art .  And beauty.

When I was done Batman appeared . I complimented his outfit. A man stopped and asked me about my yarnbomb .

“I’m just wanting to make the world more beautiful and warm ” I said .

‘It’s pretty ‘ he said kindly.

I would dearly love politics and protests to make the world better . The struggle for fairness will have to go on forever . It’s so hard to keep the big meaning in mind – we all want to have a good happy life .

So don’t worry so much about dessert .

I do believe this one thing for sure   – making art is always a good thing . Art is appropriate for every occasion.

A very nice interview in Oakland magazine here

Yarnbombing And Confession -The Cerrito Theater

I was putting up this yarnbombing installation at The Cerrito Theater when 2 woman stopped and asked if they could take my picture . Immediately my teeth got tense . I don’t like to have my picture taken when I’m yarnbombing .  However – recently I was on live TV so it seemed silly to tell them – no , you can’t take my picture . In the past I have always said  ” You can take my picture if it’s just for you and you don’t publish it ”

This time I gritted my teeth and just said “Yes .

The next day the picture was up on the internet .

This is not what I’m trying to do .

We are so focused on what people look like  that –  we can’t get fed .

What I’m trying to do is get deeper where the rest and energy is , to the ideas of yarnbombing , that the world is a theater to make stage sets and have short , unexpected , thrilling performances.

I feel like I’m performing when I’m out on the street sewing knitting onto everything . People like to talk to me and some people really like to talk to me . I’m a good listener , I listen to every word and unfortunately memorize it . My partner J tells me to stop doing this but I  don’t know how.

So I was sewing this pole up and a man stopped and told me a long story about how he was turned out of the house by his father  when he was 10 and lived for 2 months naked in the caves of the Phillippines.

“That’s a good story ” I said .

“Is it ? ” he seemed surprised .

I have had people talk to me for 45 minutes and tell me their whole life stories. I liked a story that a woman told me about saving and raising a raven . I don’t know exactly why people do this , I guess they are happy to find someone who is standing still .

I love going to The Cerrito Theater , you can sit on a couch and eat hamburgers and salad and brownies as you watch your movie. I grew up going out to the movies and stopped as an adult because I could watch so many at home . But we all miss the festive feeling of being in a theater and if there are hamburgers I want to go for sure .

With yarnbombing I can mark and decorate the places in my life that make my life fun. There is an article in the El Cerrito Patch here.

yarnbombing The Oakland Museum – Part 6

I have been an artist all my life , well since I was 10 , so I have been swiping ideas from other artists all my life .  This is what I do – I find an artist that I think is great and that I can’t stop looking at . Then I make 3 pieces where I copy their work exactly. Then I make 3 pieces of work using what I learned ,  but to my own eye.

This is a great exercise and I think you should try it. It works for writing , filming  , painting , photography ,wire work and of course , yarnbombing .

This yarnbombed bench was from a painter – Squeak Carnwath.

I wanted to refer to The Oakland Museum collection and this bench was it . Squeak Carnwath works with a lot of checkerboards, earth tones and pure primaries and 9 squares floating in black . I rummaged through several painting and picked out thoughts and laid them out and then Liz Serrano knit up 3 squares . They were very hard to install.

I don’t care about being original – I care about learning and becoming more agile. If I truly love an artist there is something of me in them already .

What did I learn from doing this whole big museum installation ? Am I glad I did it ? Was it what I hoped it would be ?

Well I am glad I did it , I thought it looked terrific when it was all up and it did change the feeling of the museum . I had hoped to know more what people felt about it , I’m told people loved it –  but I don’t know what they thought  in any detail . I am very grateful for all the work so many of my friends put into it .  There is something more that I want from it – to get it over more clearly that any part of life can be softer and more relaxed and more beautiful . The knitting says this for me.

Yarnbombing The Oakland Museum – Part 5

I’ve never yarnbombed a tree before.  Well I suppose it’s possible that you never have either. I’ve actually been sort of opposed to yarnbombing trees. I like the contrast of soft cushy bright yarn againest hard dry metal , how knitting looked on a sterile street . Trees are already so beautiful and nature tends to out do us as artists .  But I saw this tree in the central garden of The Oakland Museum and I wanted to include it as part of the yarnbombing installation . As part of the art of the museum.

.When yarnbombers wrap a tree in a thick blanket of knitting I always worry about if the tree is going to like it. I felt that the tree wouldn’t object to a knitted piece of jewelry though –  so I knitted up a bunch of i – cord on my little knitting machine and made this sash .

I like contrast in my art as I just mentioned and I was pleased with the sensation if the rough bark next to the round knitting .  I made the security guard help me tie this sash onto the tree . She was a bit dubious .

This is a very small yarnbomb , just a gesture , but it is part of the idea of yarnbombing the bannisters , furniture and garden of a museum. We go to a museum to see art and so we look at the paintings and sculpture and we think  ” OH – Art ! ‘.

But everything around us is also interesting to look at and feel . Trees especially.

I’m thankful for the rest trees have given me.

I’m not sure what this spanish blog says but the pictures are great here

Yarnbombing The Oakland Museum – Part 4

I wanted to make a group piece as part of the yarnbombing installation at The Oakland Museum and I suggested that we do one when I pitched this installation idea to The Oakland Standard. Then I got over whelmed by all the other crazy knitting ideas I had come up with and I dropped the idea . Then late in the game the people in the museum said ” Why don’t we have a knitting circle as part of the yarnbombing ? ”

This was great , this went along with a helpful tip my father had given me.

‘The way to get people to do something is to allow them to think that it is all their own idea ” he told me when I was young.

So I organized a knitting circle to make a flowered garland – I brought all my many handspun colors , I gave everyone a simple knitted flower pattern and planned to sew them all onto a braided cord later.

The knitting circle was a lot of fun . I had just had some surgery on my face and had a big bandage on . I could hardly open my eye yet no one commented. People are very kind or possibly very oblivious. Some one asked me to speak about the yarnbombing project so I made a little speech . I love public speaking . I felt like a kayaking instructor again.

Some of the knitters who came knew me from my other life and didn’t know that I am now Streetcolor. That was an interesting melding of worlds.  “Call me Streetcolor! ”  I had to keep saying when they said my other name . I only felt a little silly saying that .

There were some new knitters showing up and the more experienced knitters were teaching them how to knit. I was touched by this and inspired. This yarnbombing installation and this collaboration on the garland are part of something that I believe really strongly.

1 . Everyone gets to make art.

2 . Making art is not a competition – it is this steady flow of natural relaxing yet exciting energy.

3 . This is all to have more fun and to enjoy , not to prove something to some one else.

So there we all were having fun and making something beautiful together. Oh I forgot to mention I had bought some cookies from Sweet Adelaines –  every kind they baked – lots of them. The handspun yarn looked very lush. So I was able to follow 2 of my rules for life – use beautiful art materials  as much as you like and make sure to have cookies.

A baby friend of mine came to the opening with her father. They went into the gallery to see the art . When I got a moment I went into the gallery to see how it was going . The baby who is named ” Bay ” , was running up and down the aisles looking at the art and cheering madly. ‘YEAH ! YEAH !’ she was shouting and throwing her arms up in the air.

This is the proper attitude toward art.

Some pictures and a blog about the installation here.

Yarnbombing – The Oakland Museum Part 3

” Yarnbombing ! Yarnbombing ! ” someone was yelling on the street I didn’t pay to much attention to this because someone in my head is always yelling YARNBOMBING!

We were installing our yarnbombing in the Jensen Installation at the Oakland Museum. The Jensen Installation is an array of brilliant white metal chairs and tables that can be arranged into groups or hung up on a huge floor to ceiling black board by the people who come through the Oakland Museum . You can write on the black board too , so the whole thing is fun to play with and interact with and I wanted to interact with it by yarnbombing it. We had laboriously knit 2 slipcovers for 2 chairs , a red one and a blue one . The blue one was knit in 3 strips by three knitters. I had like the idea of the knitting being in primary colors since the chairs were icy white.

Slipcovers are a ton of knitting > I had always wanted to make knitted slip covers but was too much knitting to get through . But I was able to do it because I had promised I would and made it a deadline . { This is my secret to producing extreme knitting }

So there we were sewing these big slip covers on at last And this yarnbombing shouting started up.

In walks a tall handsome man with his slightly shorter handsome young son. He had several strings of shell around his neck. This was Monte – a Miwak activist Native American who works for the city in the Public Works Department removing graffiti . And he knew every yarnbomb that I had up in the city of Oakland and it’s exact location and condition.

” Oh yes ! ” he said . ” We’ve had a lot of conversations about wether we should leave that yarnbombingup or not. But we’re lazy guys so if no one complains we just leave it up ! ”

I was amazed . Some how I had thought that the police were in charge of yarnbombing violations  –  but no  – it is the public works department . And I was really seen as a graffiti artist by the people in charge of graffiti . I had always sort of felt like I was pretending to be a graffiti artist but apparently I had been one all along  . This was exciting news .

” Well now that I’ve met you I’ll make sure everyone leaves your yarnbombing up . ” said Monte. ”  I’ll tell them it’s art ! ‘

I am happy to have those on power on my side.

a link from another blog about these chairs here

Yarnbombing The Oakland Museum Part 2

This installation started when I presented the idea of yarnbombing the inside of the Oakland  Museum to The Oakland Standard.

No really –  the idea started last year when The Russian and I were yarnbombing  the museums of California. We thought it would be interesting to put yarnbombing  on the street and in parking lots around museums  . People are there to see art anyway so we thought it would be a pleasurable sensation to see knitted art on the way in and out of the museum.

I always think it is  good to see knitted art any where , any time . The color and softness is relaxing and centering.

So during this period of yarnbombing museums I had gone over to The Oakland Museum of California and had measured  the various poles on Oak street at the entrance . I had gone in to the museum and had looked over the collection to find pieces that I wanted to reference in the yarnbombing.

As I go along making art I naturally want to make bigger and more ambitious installations. After I had yarnbombed several museums I wanted to yarnbomb the inside of a museum. Actually my idea was to yarnbomb the inside and the outside of a museum , to use the street as a gallery for many international yarnbombers and in addition to make a yarnbomb collaboratively with a bunch of knitters to go in the museum . So my idea had three parts.  This was the idea I presented to The Oakland Standard.

The day I gave my presentation I walked all around the museum and quickly decided to do the bannisters going into the museum, the bannisters going down into the museum , the bannisters going into the garden , 2 chairs , 2 benches and a tree .  I wanted the installation to be so big that you couldn’t dismiss it as just cute .

.These pictures are of the 8 bannisters going down into the garden.

The 8 bannisters are all this simple rectangular shape. I decided to knit them all in the same pattern of colors so that all 8 would connect as one piece. They look like they are walking – striding up the stairs of the garden.

The gardens at The Oakland Museum are free and  are a great place to feel cool and peaceful . I’ve noticed that children in the garden play vigorously with the knitting and it is always sliding down the legs of the bannisters . This looks pretty good I think –  although I do tidy them.

This whole yarnbombing installation is meant to be touched and everyone touches and rubs the knitting as they go by. I don ‘t know if they even notice that they are doing it but even if they don’t notice –  they are enjoying it.

We are all pretty lost in the little details of our lives . Art is always trying to surprise us into coming alive for a moment . Some artists use a shock in their art to disturb people awake. I’m taking objects that are very boring and unseen and making them jump out with bright knitting. Art is a great way to play.

Fun pictures of the installation at The Oakland Standard here

Yarnbombing on “Good Day Sacramento ” – Live TV

I have this funny sort of life where I am so busy yarnbombing that I seem to have no time to write about yarnbombing . Or really do anything else for that matter. We have been installing at The Oakland Museum Of California for three weeks and I want to tell you every detail about that – but I must take a pause in my glacial telling of that story to tell you of today’s thrilling adventure. We yarnbombed the station manager’s office on live TV on CBS ”  Good Day Sacramento “.

I was sitting at home on Wednesday this week savoring that we had finally installed the tree , the garland and the bench at The Oakland Museum and that my hectic life of yarnbombing was finally going to slow down . No more frantic spinning and hounding my friends to knit ! I calmly checked my e-mails and there was a request to yarnbomb on live TV for ‘Good Day Sacramento ” Yarnbombing on live TV ! That sounded like something I’d like so I called Ashley and asked her when would she like this entire office to be yarnbomberd .

This Sunday . Nov. 13 . In 4 days .


“Well Ashley I said , knitting is a slow activity . We had 5 people knitting for 8 weeks to yarnbomb The Oakland Museum . Could we have a little more time ? ”

“Well no ”

I wanted to do this so I said  ” Yes -and could I bring a ukelele player and The Russian ? ”

Yes that was great -it was now Thursday afternoon so I began thinking furiously -how to do this office and make it well bombed and beautiful.

I – cord .

I had been playing with knitting I- cord from my handspun and had used it to make a tree sash and a knitted flower garland . I have a tiny pink plastic knitting machine that you can hand crank and it knits i-cord . It is very time consuming but I like that and the knitted cord is cushy and big. I thought in 3 days I could make enough i-cord to wrap the table and chairs in this office . I began cranking.I don’t know what the term i – cord means .

So I cranked for 12 hours on Friday and it was not enough so I asked my friends to come and turn the crank and it still wasn’t enough so I bought 3 more cranks and it still wasn’t enough and I was giving myself a headache so I decided it was enough.

So this morning we drove over and picked up The Russian and drove up to Sacramento at 6 in the morning and The Russian knit i – cord as we drove . I wasn’t at all nervous about being on TV. ” Good Day Sacramento ” is very local and has lots of artists on it . I was mostly very eager to see how the wrapping would look. I like having ideas in my mind and then having the gamble of seeing if they will look good. The drive was beautiful , the moon was up , the rice fields were green and the trees were bright red . There were nets of small black birds spinning .

We got to CBS right at 7.30 and were greeted and sent to the green room . I tried not to eat the soap samples. After a few minutes we were taken to the bosses office . To my surprise the boss was still in his office. I contemplated yarnbombing him.

He didn’t seem like he wanted to be yarnbombed so we began yarnbombing the furniture . The boss left . It was tricky wrapping the i- cord around the curved shapes of the chairs . The Russian was wrapping beautifully and with total confidence. She is in art school that’s why . Josh began playing the ukelele .

The camera man arrived . He really like the ukelele playing . He began coaching Josh . I hoped that he would come to like yarnbombing. The anchor man came in and asked me lots of great questions . I started to relax. Then I realized we were not on the air. Then we went on the air and were very enthusiastic.

They set up a time lapse camera and went off to film the turkey weight lifting . We wrapped and wrapped.

We wrapped 3 chairs . I wrapped 2 handles . Josh played Christmas Carols . I began to sweat profusely . I’m not supposed to sweat . I began tearing off clothes and microphones. We started wrapping the table . We were down to the last little ball of i – cord.

‘Do you want to end with white ? ” The Russian asked .

‘Don’t you have a little more cord ? ” I asked . And yes she had cranked a tiny bit more in the car . We finished and it looked very cool. I was very hot .

The anchor came back in and we finished up. They took our microphones. I started taking pictures . Josh left . The stop motion camera kept filming .  I felt exhilarated .

But no ! The anchorman is back and they are giving me back my microphone and we are talking about this blog and The Oakland Museum yarnbombing . And Josh comes flying into third base and finishes the broadcast with a few bright ukelele chords.

As we packed up Josh said ” I learned an important lesson about being on live TV today ”

“What’s that ? ”

‘Never leave while the camera is still running ”


You can see us yarnbombing very fast here. CBS Sacramento .

Yarnbombing The Oakland Museum of California – Day 1

” I’m done  ” said Brenda.

I looked over and there was the first bannister finished . We were yarnbombing out on Oak street in front of The Oakland Museum of California . There were 4 skinny 15  ft long metal bannisters to yarnbomb and we were now up one . I had been waiting a long time to see how the knitting would look. There it was – and it looked sparkling , thrilling ! I got little electric jolts when I looked at it – it was fresh and lush and musical. Oh boy .

When I first had the idea to yarnbomb The OMG the idea was extremely exciting in my mind . It took some time and negotiating with The Oakland Standard to get it all set up and time tends to calm our enthusiasm . It was fun to tell people that I had a commission to yarnbomb The Oakland Museum and that it was probably the first museum to ever be yarnbombed inside.

Then after the joy of the idea and the romance of bragging came the 2 months of full time spinning and knitting .

Fortunately I love knitting and spinning .

I think with art it’s best to first find something you adore doing  . Then second  figure out out to make something great with it .

So there I was -getting up every morning and spinning and plying on my spinning wheel all day . Taking breaks from spinning on my wheel  to spin on my spindle. When I had  12o colors spun up I would wind off big soft balls of yarn and give them to my friends to knit up .  This went on and on .  Every day life is very lulling  – I sort of forgot what we were doing this for .

Lots of my friends were knitting with me with great generosity . I have a pronounced tendency to drag people into my various projects with me whether it’s knitting , weaving , bodywork , kayaking or yarnbombing . If I think something is fun I’m convinced that everyone will think it’s fun too .

So the day came -today –  it was time to start the installation . I packed up my car like I was leaving town and going car camping for a couple of weeks. I filled up every suitcase I had with bags of knitting . I had no sense at all that we were actually going to yarnbomb the Oakland Museum .

I drove over to the museum and met The Fibrarian , The Russian , Brenda Loreman and Nancy . Every one sewed like crazy . I ran the crew . I had my portrait taken by Oakland magazine . That was pretty interesting . How do you take a picture of an anonymous person ?

Brenda said ” I’m done ”

And I looked at the yarnbombing and I was  startled by delight.

And I realized that this was the point of the whole undertaking – yarnbombing is beautiful . It lifts the spirits and gives you one of those simple single timeless moments of pleasure .

I’ve come to believe that these moments are the best part of being alive.Come to the Opening Friday Night Nov 4 from 6 to 8 . There will be a knitting circle and yarnbombing more here