Yarn Bombing: Take up your needles & KNIT!

I’ve had an avid interest in Street Art since Banksy’s first book Wall and Piece was published back in 2005.  Banksy’s prolific work and widespread publicity undoubtedly led to a greater appreciation of graffiti, and ultimately to its acceptance as a true form of Art which opened the way for other Artists.

From graffiti and stencil Artists my fascination broadened to include pavement Artists creating amazing 3D illusions (such as Kurt Wenner & Edgar Müller) and the hidden Street Art of Creatives like London-based Slinkachu, whose miniature street installations focus on the mini dramas of modified train set figures which he abandons and leaves to fend for themselves in vulnerable situations.  I completely LOVE his work…check out his blog HERE.

Many of these disciplines have now moved from the street into art galleries and auction houses and the pages of books and have become familiar, accepted and respected.  Yet it wasn’t until relatively recently I became aware of “Yarn Bombing” (or YarnStorming as it’s often referred to in the UK) – the act of making and installing knitted and crocheted pieces in public places.The Telephone Box Cosy in Parliament Square above was Yarn Stormed by the brilliant sneaky stitching team behind Knit The City in London.  Take a bow ladies!  Why did they do it?…because they can…that’s why!  Thanks for making London a more colourful place & making us smile!  Founded in 2009 by Deadly Knitshade, we follow their antics on Twitter.  Oh if anyone knows who knitted the bobble hat for the bus stop please let us know and we’ll be happy to credit or link to them!  Email us at designteam@scarletopus.com

Also known as “Knit & Crochet graffiti”, this guerilla practice started in Texas back in 2005 (with a little red jumper on a tree), but has gradually spread to become an international movement with wonderfully woolly installations creeping their way around parking meters, benches and statues across the world.

I really started to take note of this emerging Street Art when the Charging Bull on Wall Street, NYC was given a nice jumper for Christmas 2010 by the Artist Olek:

You can watch a video of Olek fitting it to him during the wee small hours of Dec 25th HERE.  The precision of the pieces she has created is amazing…wait until you see her putting the knitted pieces onto the bulls horns.  Perfect fits!  Olek gave this piece of Street Art to the people of New York as a gift, wishing everyone well for the year ahead….nice lady!

Then last month Olek put her fancy graffiti knitting techniques to good use again, this time creating a colourful piece of knitting for a black London taxi:

You can see the full photo shoot over at the HookedBlog HERE.

But my favoured source for keeping up-to-date on these joyful projects is Mandy Moore & Leanne Prain’s blog www.yarnbombing.com which provides comprehensive and passionate coverage of the work of Guerilla Knitters around the globe.

Allow me to introduce you to the lovely lasses:

As well as being a blogger, Leanne Prain is the co-author (with Mandy) of the bestselling book “Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet & Knit Graffiti”, and the author of “Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery” published this year.  She co-founded a stitch & bitch group called ‘Knitting & Beer’ in order to expand her skills while knitting at the pub.  The Genius!  She is a professional Graphic Designer and holds degrees in creative writing, art history, and publishing. She lives and knits in Vancouver.

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Mandy Moore is the technical Editrix of popular online knitting magazine Knitty.com, and of various other knitting & crochet books and publications.  She blogs with Leanne at www.yarnbombing.com, co-authored the Yarn Bombing book, and also lives in Vancouver.

LOVING this shot of Mandy by Jeff Christenson.

 

Above: A selection of pages from Leanne & Mandy’s Yarn Bombing book

Unusually Yarn Bombing is a predominantly female-dominated Street Art, bringing a refreshing injection of colour, softness and femininity to the hard, grey, masculine aesthetic of our cities.  Mandy agrees that “the juxtaposition of soft, impermanent, handmade objects with the hard, impersonal urban landscape is striking, and inspires people in such a variety of ways!  Some crafters seem affronted by the idea of using your time and skill to make something, and then abandoning it to an uncertain fate; we feel that it offers unique opportunities for artistic expression!”

Mandy & Leanne have been fans of Yarn Bombing since they first heard about it, but it wasn’t until they began writing their book in 2009 that they started actively Yarn Bombing themselves – “We don’t do a lot of it, but it is so fun and rewarding when we do!”

Mandy & Leanne join other graffiti knitters to work on a special piece on International Yarn Bombing Day  – June 11th

Mandy explained to me there is no coherent Yarn Bombing manifesto or agenda.  Different groups and individual knitters do it for different reasons; to elevate the perception of needlecrafts, as an exciting secret hobby and Mandy believes “many bombers simply do it to delight themselves and others!”

I started talking to our Trend seminar audiences about Yarn Bombing this year and it never fails to make people smile!  Earlier this month a number of members of the UK Press waited to speak to me after one of our talks to say they loved the whole concept of Yarn Bombing and some of them wanted to take up their needles and start graffiti knitting themselves…Yey!

One of the great things about Yarn Bombing is you don’t have to be a highly skilled knitter to get involved…if you can knit a square then you can become a Graffiti Knitter this very week!

Although I’ve seen examples of extraordinarily complex, intricate and accurately executed pieces, there are also many fabulously simple projects which involve little more than a considerately placed tube of knitting or string of knitted flowers.  It seems to me that some of the most effective works are successful because of the knitters determination to realise a clever concept, their quirky attitude and generosity of spirit to make our cities & towns more colourful and interesting places to live.  They are quite simply random acts of knitting!

Yarn Bombed Cherry Tree

So why not take up your knitting & crochet needles and brighten up the town or city you live in.  Even if you can’t knit, there is plenty of time to learn and plan a cheeky cheerful project before next year’s International Yarn Bombing Day on June 11th.

    • To learn more about Yarn Bombing and follow updates on global projects visit www.yarnbombing.com
    • Mandy Moore & Leanne Prain’s fab bestselling book “Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti” (the definitive guidebook to covert textile Street Art, packed full of beautiful photographs, interviews and easy step-by-step instructions for knit & crochet installations) is available from www.arsenalpulp.com
    • And you can watch a short video of Mandy & Leanne showing projects from their book at an event at ‘3 Bags Full’ HERE.  I LOVE the knitted picture frame…such a brilliant idea!!!
    • And why not check out Leanne’s new book Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery HERE

    I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s posting as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together.
      Be sure to check back next Monday for The Graduate: Part IV with Anthony when he’ll be looking at our Autumn/Winter 2011/12 trend, Defend & Destroy.

How to Sell Interior Products to Men or Women

In our final posting of the week in celebration of International Womens Day we have a posting for men by our Dreamweaver – Phil – on Selling To Women:

Men like Stop Lights & Women prefer Roundabouts!

 

Trends, consumers, business, sales, marketing, interiors
Get a Big Cat she said!

“The 1st thing perhaps to state is that what you are about to read is the humble opinion & experience of 1 man only and is not intended to offend anyone, or to be anything more than something for you to consider.  Some of the opinion and ideas offered are derived from generalisations of specific experiences – now is that clear boys!?  After all, how can you take seriously a guy whose job title is ‘Dreamweaver’!  They are opinions from a man’s viewpoint about how to successfully engage with women in business and maybe a little in life.  During International Womens Day celebrations, an event we don’t have, we (men) need all the help we can get at a time when the smarter anyway sex, feel at their strongest because they really know how to use ‘group power’ in a way we don’t even realise exists!

In general (as I said) when it comes to any sort of work environment, men & women see themselves in some sort of competition.  Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, men of all ages will allow their reactions toward women in business to be influenced on some level and to some degree; by the ideas placed into our heads as a result of the evolutionary process.  And not to be completely exonerated, women (in general) will be ‘on guard’ for the same reason.  In today’s world we all (I know I do) like to think that we have gone beyond this and to a very large and positive degree we have.  But here’s the thing that I have learned – women have learned how to cope with the situation and then use it much more than men have, or probably ever will.  Particularly when it comes to a sales/purchasing activity.  In fact, when you think about it, almost every business activity we conduct uses the skills necessary in these 2 roles.  Managing a person requires influencing their behaviour and actions and in doing so selling ideas and solutions to them.  We need in business to negotiate something with someone every day.  It is not only when with suppliers or clients that this is done.  So in most respects women are very good in these areas because we men have over decades forced them to negotiate/sell/contract in almost every aspect of their lives.  Our (men’s) only advantage left (not a great word but for now the best I could think of) is that not all of them have realised this yet!

I have spent all of my adult working life (being very young that’s not so long!) learning about people in order that I can improve my abilities to sell, manage & develop them in business.  At the age of 18 a great guy and mentor to me – Graham Petty – gave me a gift one Christmas; a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book How To Win Friends & Influence People and being a man I read the 6 principles in it and then took the next couple of decades to accept that Dale was right!  The most important skill required in business, if not in life, is found in this book.  In general men, and oddly in particular salesmen, are not very good at this skill even though they think that they are.  Women however, seem to have a natural flair and ability for it even when they are talking!  What is it I hear you ask – it is LISTENING.  So if you want to be good at selling to women then you have to get on board double quick with the idea that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth and at the very least should use them in that proportion.

In dealing with the modern woman in business you must have a high degree of confidence, excellent knowledge of your subject, a good memory and flexibility.  Now I will tell you why this is my opinion. 

 Confidence:

In general women spot weaknesses readily and seem to then place them to one side without feeling the need to exploit them.  But they have this knack of letting you know (when they are ready) that they have spotted this but will not exploit it.  Have a guess what that does to the weakness?  Men also spot weaknesses, but we are a little blunt, quick and basic in our attempts to then highlight the weakness as we see it as a competition (irrelevant of whether we are speaking to a man or a woman).  Guess what this induces in our opponent – the same weakening of the weakness that a woman can induce?  Nope!  An aggressive gladiatorial defence mechanism – well done guys, way to go!

Some guys (well most actually) when engaging with women in business suddenly experience/develop an infant like understanding of our language.  Confidence is quickly confused with arrogance, know–it-all and condescension in the misguided belief this will impress a woman or ‘show her how it’s done’ – oops!

So development a quiet and reassuring confidence about yourself, your business and your role before engaging with a woman.

Excellent Knowledge:

Men like to be sold to, or to believe that they have made a buying decision – you see to us it is all a competition no matter who we are dealing with.  It is a challenge, a game however the process is described we see it as something to win.  A woman simply doesn’t.  She wants a fair and equitable deal where she feels comfortable that the process was beneficial to both parties.  In fact, in general, women are prepared to come out of the ‘deal’ slightly worse off than those she engages with as long as it feels good for all and she in essence achieves her goal.  How dangerous is that?  What this all means is that to conduct business successfully with a woman, you must simply provide information of a high quality in a truthful way and then wait and listen for the questions.  A woman will lead you to the sales you seek without the ‘combat zone’ that as men we believe is an essential part of the process.  Remember 2 key facts: Women will inherently distrust a man until he demonstrates he is trustworthy.  Men generally give men the benefit of the doubt and so we are not expecting the reverse and so may not take the right opening shots.  Women will inherently not believe marketing messages but will look for confirmation.  Men?  Well how many of us challenge a Ferrari advert before we have decided that we just want to drive it?

So develop a thorough knowledge of your subject in order to be able to supply any information requested about it – if you do not know never try to ‘flannel’ a woman – they have built-in radar for that, thanks to our actions over 100’s of years!

Good Memory:

A simple short subject (especially as you get older!).  In a group women discuss things but not with any particular structure or in any particular order.  Men like order, straight lines, agenda’s and time blocks.  Women don’t need these things I have found.  If you let their conversation flow and listen very carefully, they cover enormous ground and everything they need to and in the end spit out a conclusion that is as good as any group of guys – and this has often left me thinking “where the heck did that come from it could n’t have been this conversation?”  And is it just to annoy us or confuse us, but more than 1 woman will speak at once and ‘they’ all hear all whilst we hear the loudest – it’s really weird.  So don’t stop this seemingly disjointed methodology, let it flow and listen well and develop the ability to remember key points.  They will.       

Flexibility:

This is the best saved until the last…all men in business need to know this one.  It will save so much time and provide so much more enjoyment and success.  It links everything said above and is the point of my title.

Men love straight lines, turning left and turning right, having a destination and getting there, knowing when to stop and when to start and enjoy having the rules.  Men sit revving their engines for the unspoken competition, guidance and structure that stop lights at road junctions the world over                                 provide.

Women meander, dream, flow, don’t need rigid structure and rules to avoid crashes and fights, get to their destination after they have had time to drink in things that they see en route.  Women prefer roundabouts where a general set of rules apply with courtesy, forgiveness and if you make a mistake no matter just go round again you’ll get to the intended                                 route again in the end.

We happen to be in Interiors where it is said that women make more than 85% of the buying decisions.  Personally, I have concluded that a woman somewhere makes the larger portion of decisions in all walks of life – they just don’t shout about it so much because they are used to (thanks to us yada yada…) not getting the credit publicly and can live with that happily.  

So take a look at your retail outlet /design plans / design schemes / products and see if they reflect the fact that most of your sales and potential business will come from a decision made by a woman; and do the processes that you have in place reflect and accommodate the way a woman thinks and behaves?”

What advice do you have on this subject? Leave your comment let me know…..