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

Yarnbombing And Little Gifts

‘It’s 100 degrees in Palm Springs “my brother told me . We were all going to Palm Springs for a family reunion and I was wondering about the temperature. 100 degrees ! That didn’t sound like a good temperature . That sounded like we were all going to fry like little eggs !

“Oh , it’s dry heat ‘my brother continued dryly.’You can sit in the pool . So – Are you going to yarnbomb while you are here ?”

‘Um , sure. I can bring something .” I said . Most of the tags I have are 15 ft skinny bannister covers for the Oakland Museum .

“Maybe you could yarnbomb the house itself !’

Hmm , that actually sounded fun and like a good little house warming gift for the owner . I had been seeing yarnbombing in Roche Bobois catalogues. I wanted to yarnbomb my own house but I always want more fame and glory than I can get for that .

We flew to Palm Springs and were driven to our vacation house . The house and pool and tennis court and 2 waterfalls and hot tub and 6 bathrooms were supreme. I had never seen a house with an outdoor kitchen . There were so many bedrooms that I could never find mine. The lighting was done by a Broadway theater lighting guy. I just stood around lighting things .  This house definitely needed a little yarnbomb.

I decided to yarnbomb one of the pool chairs. I wanted something pretty that you would notice –  but subtle , nothing very aggressive.

I thought it was a good little gift . Knitting is always about giving gifts to the people you love . Yarnbombing is also a gift – just to a wider and more unsuspecting audience . I like the idea of going to friend’s houses and sneaking off and yarnbombing their furniture.

This little vacation in Palm Springs was a gift.  To be with lots of people you love all at once -what could be more complete ? I try to remember that all of life is a gift to enjoy. I remember this about once a month .

And dry heat ? Great.

A little yarnbombing link here.

Yarnbombing And Change

Last weekend I went to a big wedding and saw some old friends that I hadn’t sen in a long time . This was good , they hadn’t heard of yarnbombing before so I could talk a lot about it . I look forward to this -my regular friends and my sweetheart are already hearing as much about yarnbombing as anyone could possibly stand .

So we were sitting at a table after dinner eating cake. We really had a lot of cake , the wedding cake had 3 layers –  carrot , chocolate with white frosting and red velvet . I think we had 3 pieces of each and Beverly had gotten me a glass of milk too . I was talking about the Oakland Museum of California installation. We have 7  bannisters  , 2 chairs and one bench knitted. We have one bench , 8 short bannisters and a tree to go. I’m also organizing a street show of International yarnbombers for the streets of Oakland – I have 6 pieces for that so far. { I know some of you know all this already and I am repeating myself –  but maybe some people don’t know yet !}

I was talking about imagining your biggest dreams -letting your imagination go as far as it could , make it really wild , really big . { I got this idea  from my writer friend N. } My big idea right now is to take big rolls of chain link fence and bead them and put them out on the street and in galleries.

My friends were listening nicely to this and Holtz said ” That’s great -I think about my great ideas but then I think that I would fail if I tried them !”

” Yes -I know what you mean -I think about it differently now . I think about my ideas and I think –

How would I need to change in order to be able to do that idea ?”

Everyone thought about that for a moment and then we took our cake and went outside and danced the last 2 wedding dances .

So we are looking at pictures of the knitting for the bannisters for the Oakland Museum installation. The Oakland Standard has put up a page about this installation here.

One of my yarnbombs was on  ABC News Good Morning America   last Thursday . This seems like it would be very exciting but it was kind of silly . And they mislabeled my yarnbomb as Domus , N. Y. instead of Streetcolor. Sorry Dad.   You can take a look here.

Yarnbombing And Beaded Fences

Why have male artists  often been more successful than female artists ?  I think one reason is that men can be more comfortable using many people’s energy for their ideas . Woman can fall into caretaking everyone in the group . This drains a woman’s energy  instead of building it . Men can sometimes drain the group for themselves . This makes for big projects and miserable groups. I know that it is possible for a group to build a strong , exciting energy that inspires everyone and doesn’t exploit anyone . I’m thinking about how to do this for my large streetart installations .

When I started yarnbombing I really didn’t want to have a crew . I wanted to make art that was about my own fun – not about how supportive could I be to everyone else .   I wanted to be known as Streetcolor ,  I wanted to get some anonymous fame . Later I joined with The Russian and I found working with a partner made me more daring  and got me to yarnbomb every week.  And  it was more fun to yarnbomb with someone .   If I could resist thinking I had to take care of her .

After I had fully satisfied my needs for attention I started to have new needs. I needed to make really big installations that I could do with  a museum and I persuaded The Oakland Museum Of California through The Oakland Standard to let me yarnbomb their building. This installation is taking 6 knitters for the inside and over 18 for the outside . I’m really enjoying this bigger energy-everyone having fun as one – everyone supported by art.

Yarnbombing has taught me that the  whole world is an art gallery . I have been looking at chain link fences for years wanting to bead them . I started beading these fences a few weeks ago near my home . I like the contrast of the coarse barren metal with the shining delicate beads ,you have to come close to the fence to see all the beauty of beads . Now I want to cover the whole world with beads.