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In the loop 3: the voices of knitting recently inspired some yarn bombing in the Hartley Library at the University of Southampton. All images are from the yarn bomb with permission from Jayne and Verna.

Winnie the witch

Two colleagues who acted as “knitting ambassadors” to the conference heard the paper given by Alyce McGovern, a criminologist from New Zealand, entitled “Guerilla knitting: the craft of subversion”. Like the University Librarian they found it very interesting. It was also illustrated with some fine examples of this recent sometimes controversial craft form which may be found in the urban landscape, on actual buildings and in the countryside. Of course it may appear anywhere. But do you need to permission to yarn bomb? Is it actually a criminal offence? Is  it solely decoration or can it also have a political message? Alyce McGovern attempted to illustrate and answer these questions in her challenging and thought-provoking presentation. 

Spooky creatures

Yarn bombing is sometimes regarded as part of “Craftivism” which brings craft and action together, this is a theme covered in the book In the loop: knitting now edited by Jessica Hemmings published from the first In the loop conference held in 2008.  The section – Site and sight: activist knitting – includes works by Sophie Horton and Lacey Jane Roberts. Yarn bombing started in the early 21st century and has become, some would argue, a distinctive part of reclaming and reinterpreting the once traditional domestic skill of knitting. The Knitting Reference Library includes books covering this somewhat unexpected aspect of making public art through the use of knitting. So do take a look at titles such as Radical lace & subversive knitting and Knit, knit profiles + projects from knitting’s new wave. 

Halloween mobile

 

Meanwhile it was a surprise to see in November  yarn bombing in the Hartley Library, guerilla action had taken place for Halloween. Both knitting and crochet had been used to create an installation leading to the University Librarian’s Office. On the day I visited and saw it the installation appeared to amuse and interest the many library staff passing by, indeed many of us took pictures on mobile phones. The bombers had been at work for quite some time making during their evenings using their creative camaraderie to develop and create  a scene redolent of a fairy story. However not everyone celebrates Halloween so it also had its critics.

The owl sat above the Librarian’s office

The yarn bombers, Verna Acres and Jayne Tweedle, both learnt their textile skills as young children  from their mothers whom they remember as constant knitters. Jayne admitted that she had not taken up the crochet hook for a long time but the technique came back to her fairly quickly once she started again for this project. Verna has always knitted, now partly for health as it helps if her hands stay active. She likes making and knits on her own, with others, for presents, and will give away her work. She is now also interested in more public projects.  

Jayne and Verna had made me a knitted card following the conference which itself is an example of what In the loop sets out to do for the very broad community it has developed. Their mind map inside the card covered – creativity, academic, thought-provoking, inspiring, inclusivity, research, and renewal. From this small item their yarn bombing project then grew so I look forward to their next yarn intervention perhaps others will join them.

WebCat named after the library catalogue

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