‘Yarn bombers’ pull wool over Boulevard’s eyes


‘Yarn bombers’ pull wool over Boulevard’s eyes

I was wondering about the recent “tree bombing” along the Boulevard. It was a delightful scene. It must have taken hours and hours to knit girdles for all those trees. I’m sure there is a message in there somewhere, but only the bombers could answer that. In the meantime, I enjoined the varied knits that enhance the trunks. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all the trees bombed along the Boulevard? I’ll volunteer for one tree. It may take forever to knit, but I’d be happy to give it a go. – Susan Davies

In case you missed it, the trees in the median of East Third Avenue between 7th and 8th streets were clandestinely clad in hand-knit scarves, wraps and throws.

Not surprisingly, the incident occurred right before Snowdown.

So sit back while Action Line spins a yarn about Durango’s latest form of subversive outdoor accessorization.

What happened on the Boulevard is more accurately called “guerilla knitting” or “yarn bombing.” It’s a type of graffiti, only instead of spraying paint, taggers make sweaters for things.

By one account, yarn bombing began in 2004 in the Netherlands. However, a story in The New York Times points to a Texas woman named Magda Saveg as the mother of yarn bombing.

On a slow day in 2005, she knitted a blue-and-pink cozy for the door handle of her quirky boutique. It was an instant hit, and people made special trips just to see it.

Inspired, she knitted a leg warmer for a stop sign down the block. “From there she slowly infiltrated Houston with her stitchery,” the Times reported.

The practice of installing covert textile street art has spread worldwide, especially since the 2009 publication of Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain.

The book features inspiring photos, tutorials and tips such as wearing “ninja” black when hanging nefarious nocturnal knitting.

Closer to home, the local yarn bombers operate behind a woolen veil of secrecy.

But Action Line, through his extensive underground network of informants, was able to contact a member of the cable-stitch cabal.

“Yup, we did it,” the knitter confessed. “And we are going to do it again!”

Action Line pressed for details, but the yarn bombers wouldn’t reveal any hints as to the target of their next project or its timeline, other than it will take “a while” to create enough knitting.

So the Durango yarn bombers are toiling away. As they say, no skein, no gain.

Could it be a lovely shawl for a trolley-stop shed? Perhaps there could be a slipcover for the homely mud bench in Buckley Park.

Imagine what could else be created. Action Line would love to see the Toh-Atin Native American swaddled in a gigantic knitted vest.

Whatever the yarn bombers do, it will be a surprise. And this town needs more good surprises.

Sadly, the Boulevard’s colorful creations have already been removed and the median restored to its original condition, featuring gray tree trunks and piles of dirty snow.

Was there a “message” in crafting comforters for trees?

It could be to show the uptight Boulevard Neighborhood Association can stop “commercial creep” from happening, but is powerless to stop subversive knitters.

Or maybe not. Maybe the local yarn bombers have no agenda at all, other than to needle Durango and keep its residents in stitches.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you have a bumper sticker that says “Knit Happens.”

‘Yarn bombers’ pull wool over Boulevard’s eyes

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