Stitching up City Square 2013 – The Yarn Bomb Approximation

I borrowed a great book from the library, 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton, and I’m using some of the designs in my City Square yarn bomb. I really like these squares with star and waterlily motifs but I’m wondering if they make the squares I did earlier look crap in comparison?

I’m also having some problems with measurements. The earlier squares were 13 cm x 13 cm; these newer ones are 15 cm x 15 cm. I’m planning to make my rows up out of either five small squares (65 cm across) or four of the bigger ones (60 cm across). Obviously this will lead to rows of different widths, which is no good. My solution, I think, will be to add a border to the larger squares to bring them up to just over 16 cm x 16 cm (meaning four across comes up to 65 cm in width), or to loom some small pieces to fill in the gaps. I’ll figure it out nearer the time.

At the moment my main concern is the length of the piece as a whole. It’s currently on 1.08 m, which took five weeks to do. It needs to be 4 m in total so let’s approximate by saying I need to do three times as much again. I want to finish by the end of the year but there are only 11 weeks to go, not the 15 I need if I continue at the same rate. So I need to pick up the pace a little.

From now on I’m going to aim for 16 cm x 16 cm squares and I reckon I need around 76 of them to complete the piece. That means I need to produce 7 squares a week, or one per day.

This is going to be quite a challenge but I think if I put some serious time in at the weekends it should be all right.


Slow It Down

A short post today just to say that my friend Anna (you know her from such adventures as the yarn bomb trail, bats over Abbotsford Convent, and the mysterious case of the dangling shoes) has launched an Ezine, Slow It Down, which is dedicated to making time for the more thoughtful, imaginative and subtle things in life.

It’s beautifully designed, informative and interesting with articles on eco-friendly, sustainable living, street art, blackberrying and baking, to name just a few.

There’s also a cheeky wee article from me on there.


Stitching Up City Square 2013 – The Work Begins

I mentioned that I was keen to get cracking with a new yarn bombing project to keep my fingers busy so I’ve started making crocheted squares for Yarn Corner’s installation in City Square next January.

It will be the second year that Yarn Corner has stitched up City Square and this time even more trees are to be yarn bombed. I have a whole tree to myself (just a small one, but still, I’m super excited about it) and I’m going to cover it with a patchwork of motifs in green. Over the last week or so I’ve made 16 squares. I’ve calculated (see, I learn from my mistakes) that I’ll need 150 squares for the whole piece so I’m well on my way.

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

When I came back to Melbourne I started going to meet-ups of Yarn Corner, the group that taught me how to crochet and yarn bomb.

I was just getting enthusiastic about yarn bombing again when a notice went up on their facebook wall saying that they urgently needed volunteers to yarn bomb a tree at the Royal Melbourne Show. The group had agreed ages ago to yarn bomb a tractor so most of the core members were busy making their pieces for that.

I raised my hand. Why not? It would be good practice for me. I can knit a few squares, I commented on the post. By squares I meant shapes with four sides of unequal length, such is the inconsistent nature of my tension when crocheting.

The measurements for the tree came in. 4 m long and 1.8 m circumference. Four people had volunteered to make the piece. Two piped up straight away to say they would do 1 m x 1.8 m so I said I would do the same.

In my enthusiasm I didn’t stop to think quite how big a piece that is. It could wrap round a whole person. When the enormity of the task finally dawned on me, I quickly pushed my worries aside. At the last Yarn Corner meet up I’d learned how to loom, which was faster than knitting or crocheting so it shouldn’t be a problem.

In two evenings I’d already loomed a 1 m long strip. I was pleased. I could make loads of them then stitch them together to make a vertically striped piece. I measured the width of my strip. 5 cm. So if I did 5 cm in two evenings, I could do 10 cm in four and 180 cm in… bollocks. 72 evenings. I didn’t have 72 evenings. I had 21.

I switched to crochet, which would allow me to make large panels instead of strips. This time I tried to be scientific about it from the outset. Single crochet would involve fewer yarn over hook movements but double crocheted rows had more space between them. I predicted that single crochet would be faster since there would be fewer movements required to create every stitch.

I was wrong. With each subsequent row the tension became tighter so the rate at which my crocheted panel was growing became slower and slower.

I revised my yarn bombing pledge and reduced it to 1 m x 80 cm, less than half of what I’d originally planned.

I began making another panel in double crochet this time, and bought chunky yarn to make a third panel. These two sections grew much more quickly than the single crocheted panel, but still I had to take a ball of yarn and a crochet hook with me everywhere I went and add to my piece it at every possible opportunity.

I crocheted on the tram on the way to work and during break times in the staff room. In those few foggy minutes between getting up and making my first cup of tea, I added another couple of rows to my panels.

I made a few rookie errors in the production of my yarn bomb: I ran out of chunky wool and had to buy some more. I bought the exact same yarn but from a different dye lot, which turned out to be markedly different in colour.

When I sewed the sections together, I started at the top and worked my way down to the bottom. Although each of the sections came out at just over 1m in length, when I stitched them together, none of them joined up neatly at the bottom. Sometimes there was a huge difference in apparent lengths. I had to unpick a lot of the stitching and start again, but this time I secure the two ends before joining the two sections in the middle.

I finally finished my piece and handed it in.That’s it in the photo above. I’m pretty pleased with it. On the tram on the way home after dropping it off at Yarn Corner HQ, I had no idea what to do with my hands. I’ll need to get started on a new yarn bombing project straight away!

An Artsy Weekend in Melbourne

It’s official: Melbourne is awesome. On Saturday I wandered through the Love, Evelyn Markets and the Rose Street Artist Market, picking out stuff I want to buy once I get paid. Until then, I can only justify spending money if it is something I would die without. (That list includes coffee, but not funky jewellery unfortunately, although I really tried to think around that one.)

In the evening I went to check out the Gertrude Street Projection Festival with some friends.  It’s on for another week so if you’re in Melbourne try to stop by. There are lots of fun animations, films and light displays projected on buildings all along the street. Light Lovers is fantastic, just try not to get run over by a tram while watching it.

Today I went along to a meeting of the Yarn Corner crew. They were yarnbombing the B.East burger bar in Brunswick East. It looked amazing, and I helped out a little by stitching together some of the granny squares on member Casey’s seat cover.

Yarn Bombing

I moved back to Melbourne last weekend and within only a few hours of being here, I was already convinced that it is the coolest city in the world.

On the way to brunch with some friends we spotted a bike rack on Lygon St that had been yarn bombed. That is, someone had given it a lovely knitted cover. Yarn bombing is like graffiti, but in woollen form. Some people consider this ‘guerrilla knitting’ to be vandalism, others street art. Personally, I think it’s beautiful. I would never buy a can of paint to spray a slogan on a wall, but I’m tempted to learn to knit so that I can make a woollen sleeve for a lamppost.

Perhaps I’m underestimating the political power of yarn bombing, but it just doesn’t seem like a naughty or controversial thing to do in the way that spray painting a wall does. Don’t get me wrong, I like graffiti and I think a spray painted scrawl is just as much a work of art as an image by Banksy, but I can understand why some people dislike it and why councils have it removed. At its best it can be inspiring, challenging and attractive; at its worst it can be ugly, hate filled and offensive. Yarn bombing, well, it just looks nice, doesn’t it? What everyday object cannot be improved by dressing it in a cheerful knitted jacket?

Over brunch in L’atelier de Monsieur Truffe (another one of Melbourne’s hidden cafés, where I had the most beautifully presented and delicious hotcakes ever), Grace, Anna and I decided to go on a yarn trail to discover more of the city’s knitted artworks.

The following Tuesday we went for a walk around Brunswick where we discovered pieces by the Brunswick Bomber, Poppy Tonka and Yarn Corner, along with other untagged works. We started out at Charles Street Market then made our way up Sydney Road. It’s amazing how easy it is to miss these yarn bombed objects if you’ve not got your eyes peeled. Sometimes we walked past one two or three times before we spotted it. All in all, though, it was a successful trail with plenty of yarn bomb sightings.

A few days later, Grace reported back that one of the knitted covers we’d seen on a bike rack in Charles Street had been removed. Only a fringed pink cuff remained. I wondered if the perpetrator was someone who disapproves of yarn bombing in general or who just objected to the combination of pink and teal stripes? Either way, the fact that someone was motivated enough to rip it off suggests that yarn bombing is perhaps more controversial than I initially suspected.