So, I’ve been on the radio, been in the paper (national and local I might add), so my next step on my path to yarn bombing fame is…”Dilly Tante The Movie”! Well, no actually, it’s not. But I am in a book. Released this week, The Armchair Activist’s Handbook is Ruth Stokes’s journey to find ways that she can make a difference in the world “without getting dirty and cold, without getting a criminal record and without hurting herself or anyone else”.
You might remember at the end of last year Ruth came to visit me and I took her out on a yarn bombing mission. We brightened up some fenced of derelict land, and then popped to a cafe for lunch and a chat. Obviously the first thing I did when I downloaded the book was to search for the mention of me, and I was pleased to see I made the final cut! The book is available on Kindle for a bargainous £1.59. If you want to change the world, and do more than sign an online petition, but less than Occupy Wall Street, this book is a must read.
So I said I would write up my yarn bombing properly, didn’t I? This one was planned (in the loosest sense of the word) a few months ago. Georgia is leaving in two days <sob> and this was to be our swan song. With about a week and a half to go I made a plea on this blog for donations of flowers (hmmm, organisation not my strong point – can I put it down to denial at Georgia leaving?). I got reply from Haekelmonster in Germany promising me some flowers but concerned they wouldn’t get here in time. I promised that if they didn’t I would add them to the yarn bomb anyway. Anyway, a few days later a box appeared at my door. Goodness knows how she did it but this wonderful lady (with a little help from her son) had made 100 flowers for my yarn bomb, as many as I had made in a few months! The power of the internet!
HQ this time was the Exmouth Arms, and this time I had accrued a posse! Two people I knew from Twitter but have been bumping into at a local craft night (one of whom came to my yarn bombing workshop) were game enough to join in. Emma (who blogged about it here) and Ally. Also with us was trusty yarn bombing partner Stitch This. We furiously finished flowers and strung them on chains while supping on wine and cider.
In typical fashion we had picked a target but not really scouted it out. I we had decided that the hospital would be a worthy target, and on the night we rocked up to find the best place for our creations. It became immediately obvious that the pedestrian entrance would be our best bet and we set to work, cable ties and scissors aplenty.
We were watched suspiciously by a car park attendant who looked like he wanted to intervene and we prepared our defense, the main argument being who could have a problem with flowers at a hospital? (It would totally stand up in court…)
Satisfied we our work we took our customary shoe photo (I don’t know why either – I was Stitch This who started it!). Emma was most disappointed that she hadn’t worn her favourite shoes for the photo so I made sure to get a snap when I saw her wearing them!
A couple of days later we made the local press! But fame, or even notoriety isn’t our goal, we just want to crochet, make people smile and have a laugh, all achieved with this one I think🙂
Thanks to Georgia <sob>, Stitch This, Emma, Ally, and Hakelmonster for all being so game and good fun. I’m thinking of starting a yarn bombing mailing list so I can keep track of people who want to join in. So if you are in the Gloucestershire area want to have a go (no pressure to do so), or aren’t in the area but would like to see your creations adorning our fair county email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will keep you up to date.
I thought I’d round up some of my favourite, and some of my most read posts from this year. This is both timely for this season, and also a great excuse for me to produce some content without having to do much work. Bonus.
My most popular post is one about a crochet flower and snowflake pattern. This one gets the most hits and crochet flower pattern is the most searched for term for people visiting my blog. Other popular search terms are ‘tante sex’, ‘homemade dog sling’, ‘naice craft for kids (not that is NOT a typo!) and ‘freaky rings’. I can’t help but feel many of these visitors would have been disappointed.
As always my posts about Mumsnet get lots hits. I bather on about it a lot but this one on the Kindness of Strangers hit a chord with many people.
Not so much a favourite blog post post but a favourite event was when Stitch This, Georgia and I yarnbombed the town hall. It was great fun, and the town hall staff were dead chuffed too!
Capturing the zeitgeist of the Olympic Jubilation this post about the Golden Girls of the Olympics was very popular. If I add up all the variations of her name Jessica Ennis is my most popular search term. I really hope these people are young girls looking for inspiration. Please don’t anyone dispel that notion for me.
Coming just under the wire of the new year these Birthday Butterflies were a gift to my friend who I saw at New Year and am about to go and see again. I was very proud of how they turned out.
A personal favourite was my experimentation with combining two of my passions, craft and psychology. With my upcoming psychology degree dominating a lot of next year I shall have to find more creative ways of keeping my hand in with the craft while studying.
And finally a feminist rant at over privileged male politicians, lacking self-awareness and empathy. Some of my best posts have been rattled off in the heat of emotion, and this was one of them. I don’t tend to edit my posts, but after listening to Caitlin Moran at Mumsnet Blogfest, I realised that like her, I let the posts mature in my head, constructing and editing them as I am running the kids’ bath or driving to work.
Hope you have enjoyed my posts this year. I’d like to know which ones have been your favourites?
Please link in the comments with some of your favourite posts from your own blogs too.
I have long harboured an ambition to wield the sort of power and influence that makes the BBC Radio 4 researchers pick up the phone and ask for my learned opinion on a matter. I always knew this to be unlikely since my areas of expertise are limited to crochet, Mumsnetting and holding simultaneous conversations with my children while speaking to anyone else.
Well today my ambition was realised. In a manner of speaking. Last Saturday, the Saturday Live show on Radio 4 were talking about town mysteries and yarn bombing came up. Never one to shy away from a bit of self promotion I tweeted them a link to my blog. A few days later I received an email from a researcher asking if I’d mind being called to speak on the show. After gauging the angle they were taking I agreed. The lovely Rev Coles and JP Devlin aren’t the type to turn all John Humphries on innocent callers.
The only snag in the plan was that I was supposed to be volunteering at the NCT Nearly New Sale today. After rather sheepishly explaining the situation to the bemused organiser Andy I excused myself about 10 minutes before the anticipated phonecall and had to secrete myself in a quiet space, outside in the end due to phone signal issues.
On cue I received a phonecall from JP who was delightfully reassuring. Then came my big moment, my national radio debut. They asked why I yarn bomb. I said to make people smile and I think I managed to get something in there about subverting feminine stereotypes. They asked who my posse were. I said we were all mums, which wasn’t quite the answer I wanted to give as it makes us sound a bit mumsy and frankly unrenegade. But the reality is that we met through our children and that is how we primarily define ourselves at the moment. Yarn bombing helps us reclaim a bit of our own identity back. Damn, I should have said that!
Anyway, I think it went well. It was mere minutes long. It’s on BBC iPlayer, at around 9.50, which I think is 50 mins into the show. I daren’t listen to it myself so you’ll have to tell me how I sound? Do I sound nasally? I’ve been told I sound very Home Counties, though 8 years in the West Country might have knocked the edge off that. Anyway, listen to me on the cutting edge of the creative zeitgeist:
So, I’ve just missed my one year bloggiversary. The 16th July 2011 was when, after much deliberation over the right name, I launched my WordPress blog. And on the 17th I made my first post. I’m a bit miffed I forgot and missed marking the actual day, but unsurprised. DH and I never remember our own wedding anniversary. It’s usually him that remembers, but not until about 2pm on the actual day. We are sadly quite unsentimental about it. But when we do remember we do try to take just a moment to appreciate what it means.
And what has my year of blogging meant to me? Well, firstly it has meant making friends (in the random Internet sense of course!) like Lynn at Salt&Caramel, Claire at In Again Out Again, Mum of All Trades and LittleMe at Pint Sized Rants and many more. And it has meant becoming close to friends I already had like Stitch This, and the irrepressible-can’t-understand-why-she-doesn’t-blog-herself Georgia, both of whom I have lured into a life of crime in the seedy underworld of Yarn Bombing.
I have kindled a new found creativity, challenging myself with the things that I make, incentivised by the opportunity to show off my work. I have also enjoyed the actual writing of my blog, picking a topic, researching, running the ideas through my head until they come together in a coherent form.
I have found a political voice, joining campaigns, trying to spread messages that I think are important and trying to change people’s attitudes to things like rape and young women’s sexual attitudes.
I have enjoyed the many comments that you have all posted, many of them have made my day and boosted my confidence.
One last shout out and that is to the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, who inspired me to start up my blog and have publicised and supported my blog. I’m also very grateful to the network members who made me feel like part of their community.
No, please don’t play the music! I haven’t finished my speech…
I just wanted to end by saying I have enjoyed every minute of blogging. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. I’m eternally amazed that so many people are interested in anything I have to say. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting and thanks to those of you who write your own amazing blogs.
So, fired up by the Mumsnet “We Believe You” campaign I decided to take my first foray into craftivism, using craft to promote a socio-political message. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I’ve found it hard to get fired about anything. I mean, I can get faux-fired up about things, and off course there is plenty in the news to get worked up about, but my political knowledge is limited, and world events aren’t often at the top of my priority list.
But when I read about campaigns like the “We Believe You” and am reminded about the awful abuses people I know have faced, the embers start to stir a little.
I knocked a couple of things up in the space of last night and this morning. Now, normally I am in total awe of most of the crafters and artists I read about online, and what they manage to achieve. Today was my day at home with Iris, and because I have been feeling a little under the weather and running on empty my lovely husband spent the past 2 days emptying the laundry basket, cleaning the house, and making lasagne so that I don’t have to do anything except stop the baby from killing herself for two days and the go on the school run. So with that and the help of Peppa Pig I managed to produce a couple of craftivist pieces.
More than 80% of women who are raped know their attacker*. Putting these out tonight was a bit of a whim, I drove until I found somewhere to put it. I chose a fence just outside the University campus. I have no research to back this up, but my gut instinct say that University students are pretty vulnerable to sexual attack. Young, sometimes naive adults, with their first taste of freedom, finding their way in the world, coupled with copious amounts of alcohol, close living quarters are almost a perfect storm for sexual exploitation.
The next one I fear hasn’t quite met it’s potential…
Laid out flat it looks cool, but I ended up dumping and running with this one. I drove into the nearby city which I rarely go to because I used to live in the nearby town which I ‘naice’ and the city is not. But the city is now closer and I should really get used to that rather than schlepping 6 miles into Naice Town. I parked my car at the station without paying for a ticket as it was 7pm and I thought I’d chance my luck, but already I was nervous. This was a difficult one too as I had no idea where this yarn bomb would fit so I just picked a post that I thought was suitable and got sewing, conscious of the men standing outside the nearby pub. I wonder if I will ever not feel stupid doing this?! But here is is anyway:
Well, if one person reads it and checks out the hash tag then it has served it’s purpose. Maybe I can inspire some other people to give this craftivism thing a crack. The stupid feeling only lasts about 3 minutes!
I am so ridiculously excited by this yarn bomb. I expect you are all bored of me harping on about it by now, but you have to admit it looks awesome!
I was amazingly organised, I even whipped up a little eraser to rub out previous messages. If this doesn’t last till tomorrow I WILL actually cry! I’m going to check it out in broad daylight tomorrow over a stealth cup of tea. I may even leave a message for my own loved one…
This one is on a nearby bike rack. It reads “Pssst…forget to buy a Valentine’s present? I got your back. Give this to someone who deserves it” and I left my blog dtails. If you picked it up let me know!
And this one? Well, this one is a surprise for someone at a secret location…
This isn’t my big V-day project, this is just a side project that I knocked up yesterday. I’m going to leave these tied up somewhere in town on Valentine’s Day for someone to give to their loved one. Ironically, DH and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all. We may use it as an excuse to get some nice food, but that is usually it. This Tuesday it will be Pizza Hut. The height of romance, no? But that is more due to it being half term and spending the day with Betty than anything else. All you can eat buffet and kids eat free. Don’t tell me that romance is dead.
DH bought me back the book Yarn Bombing from the library (for those that have been following my blog for a while you may remember that I requested that the library stock the book and they did!) and flicking through it again I was inspired by a pattern for monster feet. They are easy enough to do; a rectangle with some claws made out of crocheted triangles. As with most of the things that I make they are, yes you’ve guessed it, quick and easy.
The furry yarn was part of the stash I acquired from the abandoned suitcase full of yarn found by my friend at the dump. It is actually two balls crocheted together, but they were only small balls so I had to supplement with some blue Stylecraft DK.
I stole out in the dead of night (ok, about 9.30pm) to sew them to the bottom of my street sign. As per usual, I just concentrated in the task at hand, not looking at anyone who passed me by, possibly staring at me strangely. The joy of this endeavour was greatly increased by the addition of DH’s head torch that I bought him for Christmas, something I will definitely consider for my future yarn bombing tool kit.
I managed to stop quickly on the school pick up to take a daylight picture. Now, I swear this is the honest-to-God truth, the anagram of my street name is Monster Alive Rd. DH pointed this out to me this morning; how he discovered this I have no idea. You’ll have to take my word for this, as obviously I don’t want to show you all my real road sign. Some of my die hard blog fans may try and stalk me; I’m not sure my real life persona is ready for that kind of fame…But I promise you it’s true!