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News / 23 February, 2012

Hackney gets yarn bombed – Mare Street trees get woolly makeover

The Hackney Citizen meets the mystery ‘Yarn Bombers’ who earlier this week dressed trees outside Hackney Town Hall in knitted woolly jumpers

Yarn bomb, Mare Street Hackney

Photograph: Kirstie MacLeod

With a warm and cosy knitted cheer, Yarn bombers struck in Hackney earlier this week.

Last Sunday evening, when all was dark, ten friends met to assemble garments they had hand knitted onto eleven unsuspecting trees outside Hackney Town Hall. By Monday morning (20th) passers-by were treated to a magical knitted creation.

A collaborative project between Kirstie MacLeod and nine other creatives, this is their first project of the knitted street art kind.

The location was carefully chosen: outside some of the borough’s main public buildings, with traffic passing in front. MacLeod explains the choice of site: “[It’s] close to where the riots broke out last year; so much has happened within metres of where these trees stand. It seemed an obvious choice.”

In a light-hearted spirit, their handiwork has brought an element of fun and joy onto some of the borough’s streets.

Taking five weeks to make, each item was made-to-measure for the individual tree; the garments were designed to be removed and assembled with ease. MacLeod explains: “Unlike normal yarn-bombing where knitted items are stitched very tightly to the objects, these garments each have buttons, toggles or zips on them.” Snugly fitting around the trees like jumpers.

Yarn bombing or knitted graffiti is a form of graffiti where knitted garments are stitched onto street furniture and objects within the urban environment. Its objective is to breathe new life into public place through initiatives like Knit the City,  and “improving the urban landscape one stitch at a time”, which is the Yarnbombing.com motto.

Since the knitting craze started ten years ago, it has taken off around the world; with copycat groups getting inspiration via each work broadcast online. Organic in its nature, the idea has spread very quickly through online social media sites.

Just recently  ‘home-made’ knitting clubs like ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’ and I Knit London have sprung up across cities and there are many more alike to meet the craft uprising. Cast Off is a knitting club that stages knit-ins on the London Underground, enjoining people to “come and join the knitted adventure!”

Sadly the knitted jumpers on these Hackney trees are soon to be removed. So what next?

The group plans to recycle and reuse the garments elsewhere in Hackney and is in the process of measuring up new sites. Says Kirstie: “We are next looking at upholstering objects on the streets of Hackney – like discarded bikes…”

So watch this space. Even better, if you like the idea, why not pick up a pair of needles and join in the fun?

For more photographs go to flickr.

Yarn bomb Mare Street Hackney

Photograph: Kirstie MacLeod

Yarn bomb Mare Street Hackney

Photograph: Kirstie MacLeod

/ 23 February, 2012

7 Comments on “Hackney gets yarn bombed – Mare Street trees get woolly makeover

Margaret & Brian
February 24, 2012 at 9:35 am

Excellent report – what fun…knitters unite!!!!

Leonie
February 24, 2012 at 11:13 am

What better way to give cheer to locals and passers by… Hackney Town Hall and its perimeter is no stranger to art projects: The Hackney born photographer Tom Hunter used the town hall’s steps and facade for some of his staged shots a few years back.

Henry
February 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I passed Hackney Town Hall on Sunday afternoon and the only remnants of this knit blitz were a few balls of wool dangling in the wind! Shame I missed it…

Fe Hill
February 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

They look beautiful! Check out The Knitterati Cafe – we’ll be knitting up trees at festivals this summer…..
followtheknitterati.wordpress.com

Antitwat
February 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Wouldn’t all that yarn be better spent on making warm clothes for the elderly / homeless?

selvedge
March 1, 2012 at 12:17 am

crawl back under your stone twat

Antitwat
March 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Only if you knit me a nice pair of skinny wooly jeans.

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