Knit the City : Yarn Hackers

Adriana TurmeroIt seems that our grandparents’ relics and traditions are appreciated more than ever.  First vintage clothes, furnitures, goods and now knitting yarns brought out of mothballs. But who would know the action of knitting would turn into a global phenomenon? The latest trend is called Yarn Bombing. It is basically the art of crochet and knit graffiti. A soft but colorful touch on the cities public spaces, way of personalizing outdoor with brightly colored fuzzy works without any socio- political commentaries like in graffiti.  Recently, Malasaña welcomed this movement with Festival de Música Balcónica. Beautiful matronly crafted artworks were slung from balconies as if they were announcing their advent to give its feminine touch to the male dominated neighbourhood full of street arts and graffitis. Adriana Turmero 34 year old Venezuelan, one of the yarnbombers in Madrid, teamed up with her boyfriend Alvero Leónfor customizing knitted coverings in the city and named their movement as ‘Teje la araña’.

Please introduce yourself.

A.T. :  I’m a macro biologist, getting my PHD  on Microbial diversity in burned and contaminated soils at University of Alcalá.  My boyfriend and I moved to Madrid and we’ve been here for 10 years. We have a design home studio where we do crocheting. A.L. :  I studied graphic design in Venezuela and  documentary film making and photography at Del Cine Institute of Madrid.  We do video clips, TV motion graphics and subtitles for movies in our home studio and of course yarn bombing. We call ourselves as ‘yarn hackers’.

download (1)How did you get into knitting?

A.T: Couple of years ago,  I saw a friend doing cute little Japanese toys called ‘amigurumis’.  I liked them very much. I watched some tutorials to learn knitting. Little bit frustrated but then became addictive. Now, I’m enjoying fun of sharing with people. A.L: In my case, I was not really into it when she was making toys.  I started when she wanted to share with public and give it back to people. Then, it made so much sense to be part of it.

A.L: In my case, I wasn’t into it when she was making toys.  I started when she wanted to share with public and give it back to people. Then, it made so much sense to be part of it.

Was it popular in Madrid before you started?

A.T:  This movement started in Texas in 2005 by Magda Sayeg and spread to other countries.  It arrived to Madrid late but the trend is growing.  I think, I did the first work  2 years ago. The downside is that the yarn bombs barely saw the light of day as they were quickly removed by the police so it is hard to tell when it exactly it started.

Is yarn bombing street art or a folk art? Which one do you call?

A.T:I think, all the nations have passed through a culture of recycling things. It is a universal art. Yes, it is folkloric. It is an action of using leftovers to make something useful out of it.

Ixus Oct 09 flashback-0727-2How do you explain your style? How do you plan what to make?

A.T: We are using a popular pattern which is granny square. It is easy to make. We do in group of friends, get all the pieces together. A.L:  We are using similar pattern but everything we see inspires us. The process of making, it is a bit spontaneous as it is planful. We see a bench or pillar while going home or walking then measure the object with hand span and our arms.   It takes 3 to 6 months to finish all patterns. Because we always go big. You have  if you are yarn bomber Otherwise, it won’t give the city  the same effect.


Some of your art is quite ephemeral. Does it sadden you to see it dismantled?

A.T: Of course, it does. If you are lucky, the yarn bomb lasts maximum 2 weeks. We want to give a character to the city, a smile to people who pass by. Sometimes, people remove the works for themselves which is okay. It is a gift to the people.

A.L: When police takes them off, it’s different. We covered trees near Reina Sofia Museum, they lasted for a week. Graffiti is a bit aggressive and expensive to clean out. But why take out a colorful pattern crafted from wool? I think the authorities don’t understand the real purpose and see it as  a new approach of graffiti.

Some yarn bombers are extremely secretive about their identities; others are fairly public and identifiable. Where do you fall on this spectrum?

A.L: We are not secretive at all. But we don’t put our name next to our work. We don’t want to get credit for it. Otherwise it would be promoting ourselves. We want to give smile to people, invitation to people come and join us, show they can create it is not hard. Everybody has a creative side, they should let it out. If people really like it and want to find us, they will eventually.

Is there anything exciting coming up in the near future?

 A.L  :  We want to work with different materials like pieces of unused clothes, plastics etc. to learn how to recycle them.    

 Thank you!

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