I am writing this from my sick bed at the moment but I wanted to share with you today’s yarn bomb. This was quite a quick and spontaneous one. A friend came to knitting group with a suitcase full of yarn that she had just found at the dump, all in great condition, just lots of odds and ends. Obviously the owner hadn’t discovered yarn bombing as way of using them up.
Anyway, I picked this yarn out because I thought it looked nice and Chrismassy, all spicy colours combined with snow. It was, however, quite a challenge to crochet with, and actually quite abrasive! Still, I knocked this up pretty quickly. I felt the Minotaur in this statue in town deserved a little something to keep his yule log warm (yes, he does have one).
I did this in the middle of town, heaving with people. Fortunately, most of those people were more concerned about getting to the shops than I what I was doing. Still, I decided to call DH up and talk to him on the phone while I was doing it to distract me, and also to give me an air of insouciance.
Let me tell you yarn bombers, if you don’t already know: cable ties are your friends. How can I not have realised this before? My fairy lights are still where I left them last week, held fast with cable ties. For this one, I tied the long length of crochet with a knot but added a cable tie for security. Happy Christmas Minotaur!
This was a rather spontaneous yarn bombing. This snowflake has been hanging around for ages. It was a prototype that I had adapted from a flower pattern, and I used it for trying out my paste-on fabric stiffener.
We took the kids out for a bracing walk and I stuffed this in my pocket on the way out. Managed to hang it and get a picture before it got too dark.
Betty and I also spent much of the afternoon making a mess Christmas cards with cut out sponges. It was one of the activities in her advent calendar.
Apologies for the dreadful title. How long do you think before I get fed up with trying to make things rhyme!
In between frantic present making and buying I had time to make a quick yarn bomb. And this one really was quick. A string of crochet fairy lights. Tutorial here, though you barely need it as they are so simple to make. As you may have realised, I like quick and easy, and these took less than and hour. The biggest drag was sewing in all the ends. I tried just tying them off together but the knot broke when I tried to crochet them to the chain, so I swiftly abandoned that idea.
I was unsure how to secure them, so asked my Tweeps (Twitter peeps for all you Luddites) who suggested zip ties. It was only after googling them I realised they meant cable ties. WE CALL THEM CABLE TIES YOU WEIRDY TWEEPS!
I popped into Poundland and was distressed to find that none of their ties would fit around my intended post. It was only after a good five minutes that I realised I could join them up to make them bigger. I know, could I be more dense? Picked up a pack for, obviously, a pound. Yes Mr Chap on the Poundland till, I actually would like to add a pack of 3 Caramacs to my purchase.
Off to my target, which I had already marked using Google Earth. I picked a lamppost near the Art Gallery and Museum outreach centre. The actual museum and gallery is shut for major refurbishment. But they really liked the horse of theirs which I defaced, so I thought they’d appreciate it. They may be the only ones!
Shadow Stitch has initiated a Yarnvent Calendar, which she is trying to get other people involved in. How she has had the time in this busy season I don’t know. Don’t think I can get 24 out before Christmas but here is a start.
On Saturday I dragged my children around the the tents at the Literature Festival. To be fair there wasn’t much going on for kids by that stage, but I wanted to leave my latest yarn bombs that I had worked up especially, so they traipsed around complaining. I started off making bookworm bookmarks, complete with bookish glasses. My plan was to give them literary names. Then I realised that the glasses were making them look a little Harry Potterish, so I decided to go with it and make some Harry Potter bookmarks. I didn’t have time to do a Hermione but I managed a Ron and Harry.
If you weren’t following my yarn bombing mission on Twitter (and why weren’t you? Get with the 21st Century man!) here is my heart-stopping account. I’m telling you, they’ll be writing books about me one day…
I donned my disguise and went to rendezvous with Georgia, my partner in crime. After she’d faffed around trying to find the right cap, her bag and her felt bomb (“The kids were playing with it earlier”), and I stood around wondering if Clyde had to wait this long for Bonnie, we were finally on the road.
Once we’d got to our mark we stood around while drunken students took pictures of it, and debated the sensibility and morality of what we were doing, after all this is someone else’s artwork. However, the beauty of yarn bombing is that it’s not permanent, and it isn’t ruining anything. And we’ve made the yarn bombs anyway! Here’s the before picture:
I swear, as soon as we sat down to get started a police 4×4 drove right past us! I hadn’t really seriously thought about what I might say if we were approached, but fortunately I didn’t have to worry as they drove on by, probably to corral some drunken 20 year olds.
Anyway, we got down with our sewing, momentarily perturbed as two men started shouting at us, but turns out they were just asking where Tesco Express was.
I think the horse seems pleased with the overall effect.
Then off to the pub for a celebratory drink.
I’ll leave you with this ballad to round off our little escapade. Until the next time…
*updated as I’ve figure out how to embed You Tube videos! Yay!
You’ve two choices when you yarn bomb, according to the book Yarn Bombing: leave your bomb when it’s late, dark, and you have less chance of being apprehended; or go out in the light of day and just act like you are supposed to be there, confident and unruffled. I’m not very good at the former, it gets to about 10pm and, quite frankly, I am ready for bed. I’m too tired to muster up the energy to go and bomb, and I want to enjoy the process.
The latter is fine, except when you are trying to manage two young children at the same time. Fortunately today I had arranged to come over the only friend I have who wouldn’t think I need sectioning when I told them what I was doing, and the only one game enough to help. She is American so I’m going to give her an American pseudonym: Georgia, after the State (she vetoed my first choice of Brittany-Ann, and pointed out that she had already commented using her real name, but this is more fun for me!).
We had four children between us, so to get them involved I told them my plan. “Why?” Betty asked, quite reasonably. To make the world a more beautiful place, I explained. Plus, I had a fun idea that we would take them all in disguise. “Why?” my daughter asked, again, a reasonable question. How to explain it without making it seem naughty or wrong? Fortunately Georgia sensed my panic and saved me. “It’ll be a surprise for your neighbours!”. Ah, the magic word surprise. We have a rule in our house that we don’t have secrets, only surprises. It’s to try and avoid anyone else trying to make the children keep secrets from us. Any nice, legitimate secret can be a surprise. It’s a small thing, but it’s a way of trying to protect them.
Anyway, there we were, me, Georgia, Buzz Lightyear, Captain Betty, a fairy and a pumpkin in a pushchair. It wasn’t far to where we planned to bomb, on a busy crossroads. Buzz and Captain Betty scrabbled for stones on the pavement and pretended they weren’t with us. I got to work whip stitching the cozy onto the pedestrian light. Despite my initial fears, it was a perfect fit. I had measured the pole, but I always have trouble assessing the length of foundation chain I need to make the required width.
The book, which seems to have become my Bible, also says that most yarn crafters out there will have a stash of yarn that they thing they are will never use, their Stash of Shame, full of nasty acrylics in gaudy colours donate by some well meaning relative. Well, I raided my such stash and found a predominance of orange, which gave me the idea of adding varying shades of pinks that would give it an air of a sunset.
The bumpiness on the pole is a laminated advert for a ladies only night, apparently involving semi naked men. It’s been on the for ages and is pretty bad taste, as well as probably illegally flyposted, so I didn’t feel that bad covering it up.
I just concentrated on my sewing. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone stopped at the lights, confident, confident, I really am supposed to be here, I’m performing a civic duty. According to Georgia a guy on a motorbike was trying not to seem interested. As I was sewing a police car drove past. I forgot this is the road the station is on. No-one bothered me though, and it took less than 10 minutes.
This is my latest creation, his name is Henry. He was a last minute creation for a raffle at the 9th birthday party at BAPS, which, for those who have read my previous post on the subject will know, stands for Breastfeeding and Peer Support, a group run by the GBSN. The GBSN is a charity which runs support groups for breastfeeding mothers in our county. BAPS is one of the groups that I used to go to, and I was asked by one of the peer supporters, no doubt stunned by the brilliance of the crocheted boobs I made previously, to crochet something for the raffle. Seeing as it is a group for mothers of young children I thought a baby toy would be appropriate.
Henry is based on this free Lion Brand pattern for a wiener dog, except here in the UK we call them sausage dogs! I decided to make him a bit longer and fatter, but wish I hadn’t as his head is now a llittle out of proportion. I’m not too sure about the colours either. I used some of the Sublime Organic Cotton, and wasn’t sure if I’d have enough of the brown, so added some stripes. Just not sure if the rainbow colours go with the brown, but tis done now. I’ve decided I really like cotton for baby toys, it has a lovely feel and soft look to it. I hope the winner likes it. I gave him a tag with my blog address so hopefully they will come a take a look. It’s a really easy pattern, and I will be giving it another go soon. Iris is a bit dog obsessed at the moment (or “do-do’s” as she calls them, and every other animal!). I’m not sure how well you can see but I stitched a little bit of patterned fabric under each ear, a different one for each. That and the Mrs Mittens Purse I made last month are the only times I have mixed crochet and fabric. I need a bit of practice to make the stitching more discreet!
I am still in love with the Yarn Bombing book, and have a lovely strip of crochet on the go which I am hoping to put on a nearby sign post, so watch this space!
This afternoon I have had the pleasure of a couple of hours to myself and a new craft book to read. I’ve been longing for the Yarn Bombing book for a while now, but haven’t been able to justify buying it. My local library didn’t have it anywhere in the county, but I know that you can request that they buy certain book. With all the budget cuts in the public sector I thought it might be a bit of a pipe dream, but I duly filled in the online request form, and when they asked why I wanted this book I said ‘So I can crochet pieces of street art to cheer up the town’, or words to that effect. Someone must have appreciated it as 3 weeks later I double check the library catalogue and it is now in stock!
I absolutely love libraries. I love reading, though I don’t get time to do it much (you can’t craft and read at the same time unfortunately). But more than reading, I just love books. I feel that books are the answer to all life’s woes. And libraries feed into to my inherently miserly nature. (As an example I have spent the whole morning, with the baby, volunteering at the local NCT sale. It’s great fun, with nice people, you get to do a bit for charity, but the best thing is you get to shop before the masses and get bargain clothes and toys!). To be able to go and get up to twenty books for free, then leave them for someone else to read, it just the most amazing thing.
When I was a young teenager my haunt on a Friday afternoon was the mobile library, a large articulated lorry which would park in the parade of shops nestled between the three council estates which made up the local community. There I would pick up piles of books, Drina Ballerina, Little House books, and later Point Horror and Sweet Valley (yes, I had amazing taste even then!). Now I spend an awful lot of time in the library with the children (partly because DH works there!), and I see these young children, especially at the beginning of summer, taking piles of books up to the counter. They’ve nothing else to worry about or do for 6 weeks but read for sheer pleasure. It just makes my heart swell with pleasure just remembering those times.
We were at real risk at losing our local library earlier in the year. Our area is a large suburban village, so large it is a good half an hour’s walk from one end to the other (well, it is with kids anyway!). There is not a lot else to walk to in the area, and the library is a regular haunt for many of the local community. When our local authority announced the cuts of several libraries, including mobile libraries accessing rural locations there was uproar. The local community protested vociferously and fortunately the power of the people won and the local parish council stumped up the money to keep the library going, on reduced hours, for the foreseeable future. Due to the reorganisation as a result of the rest of the cuts DH will no longer work at the local library soon, but will work at the main town library. This is sad for several reasons, mainly of convenience to my family; also because, as one of the local mothers said to me, it is a shame the the two male workers are leaving the library. They are really role models to her two boys, showing them that it is cool for boys to be interested in books too. It is her eldest son that I regularly see taking piles of books out that he whizzes through, it’s just so heart warming to see.
Even when DH moves on, we will still be regulars of the local library. DH’s other colleagues have taken my daughters under their wings. The girls potter around, the eldest picking out piles of books to take home, and the youngest destroying the DVD and book displays, which no-one bats an eyelid at, despite my blushes. Sometimes Betty even gets to check out her own books, which she loves.
Whenever I tell people DH works in the library everyone says “Oh, I’d love to work in a library”. But clearly not every really does as the libraries aren’t overflowing with former hedge fund managers or GPs. The reality is, working in a library doesn’t mean you get to sit around reading books all day. In the same way that I think I would like to own a tea shop. I don’t really want to work in a tea shop. I just want to be able to sit in one and eat cake and drink tea for free all day! No, working in the library is less about working with books and more about working with people. Old and young, rich and poor. Jobseekers trying fullfil the terms of their dole allowance, creepy looking men accessing dating websites, the lady who is deaf as bat, with a thick country accent who slipped a fiver into my hands for the baby (I told you I spend a lot of time in the library!). You get all sorts. And for some it is their only human contact. The thought that it may be taken away chills me to the bone. I can’t remember who it was but there was a famous person in the media who’s CV apparently read ‘Education: Streatham Library’. Not everyone can afford to buy books, that is not to say that I think books are too expensive or have no value. They absolutely do, which is why it is right that the government subsidises libraries so that books and education, and god forbid, even just reading trashy novels for pleasure, becomes affordable for everyone. You can’t put a price on the value libraries bring. It’s intangible. But go into any library and see a young boy or girl heaving a stack of books up to the counter and you will see the profit being made etched on their face.
To tie this topic back in with crafting; I am hoping to run some introductory crafting workshops in my local library. I have never done anything like this before and have no idea how it will work but watch this space!
My heart is pumping, I look left and right to see who might be watching me, in the dark of the night. My hands quiver as I try to quickly tie up my package. I curse myself for not picking the ideal position in my anxiety for haste. Too late now, I have to finish the job I started. I whip my blade out to cut off the ends. I stand back to survey my work. With my camera phone I take two quick snaps as evidence then quickly walk back the way I came, hands in my pockets, aiming for casualness, but not quite carrying it off. I chance one last glimpse behind me. Is that someone stopped in the spot where I was just standing? Will my package be where I left it by morning? Or will the short arm of bureaucracy sweep away my symbol of hope in a world of steel and concrete, for no good reason other than doing the Right Thing rather than the Nicest Thing. I don’t know how long I will last in this game. If anyone asks, you haven’t seen me right? You know nothing.