Yarn bombing: Stitching up City Square

Different people show their love for their art and their city in different ways. If you’ve walked through City Square recently you may have noticed that the trees have sprouted a rainbow of colours around their trunks. Rather than being due to a strange biological quirk, the flush of colour can be attributed to Yarn Corner, a bunch of talented knitters who decided to create the largest display of yarn bombing in Victoria. This display is up until 19 February.

We talked to chief knitter and founder of Yarn Corner, Bali, about yarn bombing City Square, plans for Royal Parade and the hazards of being a yarn bomber.

Rainbow yarn-bombed gum tree at City Square

1. Tell us a bit about Yarn Corner and how you got involved in the dark art of guerrilla knitting?

I formed Yarn Corner in May 2011 after detecting a growing enthusiasm from the public, and especially the younger generations, towards knitting and crochet. I had already been yarn bombing for a while and wanted to start a Melbourne-based ‘stitch and bitch’ group that focused on the art form of yarn bombing. We started with three people and now we have over 400!

I got started in yarn bombing when I saw some images on the internet, and then my brother gave me a book on yarn bombing. I was already a jewellery designer and crochet teacher at the time, so moving towards this felt natural.

2. Can you explain what yarn bombing is and how the idea came about to ‘bomb’ the City Square?

Yarn bombing is the art form of covering objects with knitting or crochet. Whether it be a tree, a bike rack or a chair, there is an endless array of things you can yarn bomb.

The idea for Yarn Corner Stitches Up City Square came when we were bouncing ideas around about what areas of Melbourne we could use to create the most impact. No one has done such a massive display of yarn bombing in Victoria, and we thought City Square would be perfect because of its location and high pedestrian traffic, and we thought the bright colours would look great against the plain background of the square.

Rainbow yarn-bombed trees at City Square

3. Did you give the knitters a creative direction to work with?

Yes, this is the second year we’ve done the installation and both years the theme has been rainbows. This year the pieces inside the square needed to follow the colour formation of a rainbow and had to use a stitch pattern. The trees on the footpath, if looking from left to right, are in the colour formation of a rainbow as well, and they had to use a motif pattern.

4. The public reaction seems to have been really positive. What sort of reaction have you had from the public and from the knitters involved in this project?

The overwhelming response from the public is that they love what we’ve done. From emails and Facebook comments, to going down to the square and watching everyone’s amazement, it really is lovely to know that Melbourne is in support of not only what Yarn Corner does but yarn bombing in general.

The artists in Yarn Corner are so happy we’ve managed to pull this off for another year. It’s an incredible display of all our talents and we’re so proud of one another. We like getting out there and spreading the message of yarn bombing, and that’s to bring some colour and happiness to people’s everyday lives.

Tree trunk covered with crochet in purple shades

5. What’s next on the Yarn Corner hit list?

The next big thing on the Yarn Corner calendar is another project that we’ve dreamed up called the ‘Royal Granny Parade’. It will be installed on International Yarn Bombing Day in June, along Royal Parade, stretching from Flemington Road to Park Street. It will entail covering the trunks of 85 trees in knitted and crochet motifs, with the majority being granny squares. It’s going to be another huge installation, so we sincerely hope the public likes it.

6. Are there any occupational hazards to this hobby?

Occupational hazards of yarn bombing relate more to the making of the pieces. Yarn bombing is highly addictive! I suffer from RSI in my hands due to many years of doing hand crafts, but since forming Yarn Corner, it’s become worse because we do so many projects and because I’m so addicted to crochet!

Crocheted motifs in yellow and white