Guerilla knitting. Street art that sings the same yarn-flavoured tune I do. Always had vague fluffy plans of releasing my knits into the city I am in all kinds of love with. Always admired those who have done it before me.
Never really dreamed I would be standing nervously in the shadow of St Paul’s cathedral, pockets full of stocking stitch and fat tapestry needles, on the lookout for ‘the filth’ patrolling the historic building front, while the American queen of knitting graffiti deftly wrapped a lonely zebra-crossing beacon in knitting I had frantically created with my sticks and string the night before.
Magda Sayek sat across the table from me in a lunchtime-loud London pub an hour earlier. At her feet was a handbag of Mary-Poppins proportions, stuffed full of pre-knit graffiti bits. Tubes and strips of every colour sprung from it like knitted vipers whenever it was unzipped.
Magda, who began Knitta Please much like Stitch and Bitch London, with a few knitters, a bit of wine, and delusions of knitting grandeur four years ago, was on a flying visit to the UK to be on a chat show. Yarn has wrapped itself around her life, as well as the street signs and lampposts of her city.
Knitting; so utterly inoffensive. I have used it to calm distrustful strangers on trains in spice-scented lands, and to reach across language barriers to produce ‘my grandmother does that too’ smiles. Knitting is sort of the solid (yet spongy) ground I can always stand on when things are at their shakiest. But here the purly beast at my side grows another, altogether more tangled, head.
Guerilla knitting spins the idea of grandmas, moth balls, and too-long sleeves in an unexpected direction that leaves passers by dipped in thoughts of art, graffiti, sweet little old ladies, and daring deeds.
I asked Magda if paint graffiti artists ever felt she was stepping on their toes with her woolly street art. Magda shook her head and said emphatically “No way! I tell them ‘My yarn is as bad ass as your spray can.’”
Looking at what we did to London’s South Bank this chilly February morning it was clear Magda was preaching to the knitting choir.
When the adrenaline subsides and you stand back in the shadows to watch passers-by crack smiles and point excited fingers you can’t help feeling you just made the world a little more interesting through making it a woollier place.
Guerilla knitting. I can feel you tugging at my sleeve with your woolly fingers of knitted sneakiness. Not sure how long I can resist another outing. And, quite frankly, I am not sure that I want to resist.