The Softer Side of Banksy

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There is no competition in craft. With hook and thread and winding wrists, thoughts can be looped between fibres with purpose. Between your hands you find creative refuge. You should share it with other people, this is crocheting, knitting, craft — art without frames and best loved when felt against skin.

You will need:

Materials:

–       Some scrap yarn – don’t go out of your way to buy the best baby alpaca blend that you can find, the dregs of string at the bottom of your craft basket will be perfect.

–       4.5mm crochet hook or 6mm knitting needles, depending on the ply of the said yarn residue that you have now mustered and untangled.

–       Some thoughts to strain through your fingers.

–       A location to plant your finished yarn bomb. A good excuse to take the dog for a walk too, he’s been getting twitchy.

–       One darning needle to keep on hand.

Method:

Make

Yarn bombing has been floating around for a while, maybe ten years, when people started to get sick of their cold cities and its sterile casings. You’ve seen it around, and at first not understood it—messages of tangled thread planted in trees and stitched to park benches. And then, you saw it again and understood it. Across the Internet, tanks were being covered in hand knitted blankets; crafters across the world were speaking up, painting the habitual grey with yarn. Concrete cracks filled with spills of colour. You wanted to take part the first time you heard the term ‘craftivism’ and it made you smile. That was the point, the driving curiosity. Hidden messages to find.

 

A slipknot is how all crochet projects begin. Now bring the string and loop it once around your pinkie. Hold it tight across your ring finger and the middle finger. Your index finger is there to grasp the slipknot that ravels into the work. The string must be taut, but still malleable for the hook, pivoting around and between the empty spaces that hold the string. Move the hook first under the thread and twist it. Angle it just so, so that once rotated by a fraction, the hook can grab the string and pull it under and into the work. Let your left hand ease its tension, once you do this, the string will slip easily through the gaps between your fingers. Pull the string through the loop already perched onto the hook; you have now created a new loop. The piece has increased in size only by a fraction. But you know how to create fluidity in your work, your fingers can move across loops and needles like a pissed-off cat’s tail. Back and forth, hardly aware, your method is motion.

Repeat the process. Breathe in the same rhythm as your hands. Mesh your tormenting thoughts between the small ponders beneath the hook, create something.

Plant Bomb

The piece is still fresh in your bag, damp in the patches where you held it tightest, the humidity from your palm lines perspired into the yarn. Your piece, the yarn bomb, can live in your bag for minutes or days. You browse for the spot where you will plant it, a place that will keep the yarn bomb safe and almost unnoticed—a statement of goodwill for people to find only by surprise. Crowded public squares you soon realise will devour small sacrifices in moments. ‘We do not want this here,’ they will say. For your work, you will look for the small crevices of the city, and plant your stitches of thought alone.

Today, a bag of bread bounces against your thigh as a dog lunges against the lead in the suburban Queensland heat. Everything is saturated under the green of the Poinciana trees. The muted cicadas roar behind your eyes. You stop and stand next to a stop sign. You watch with critical interest, as cars trickle by in occasioned pauses. You want to add something to the colour and to the heat, change the atmosphere. You dig in your bag and find the yarn bomb, a rectangle of meshed yellow and blue hooks that you have made just for this. You remove the small pieces of tissue that have felted themselves like Velcro to the fibres. You find the long tail that has been cut far down from the cast-off mark. Your dog heaves in sprays of wired fur, so you try to hold him tightly between your knees. Now you are yarn bombing.

Wind your craft around the public space. Wrap the small square around the metallic sheen and pinch the material tight and firm against the pole. Note how the tiny fibres of acrylic will catch against the freckled metal. Finding the eye you pull the cast-off tail through the darning needle. The dog is trying to dig through the plastic that encases the bread at your feet.

In quick, definite stitches, the ends become woven together, tightening against the stop sign. Cars continue to stop beside you, but no one looks through their windows, nobody bothers. You tuck the loose end left from the needle away into a fold of the work. You step away and your name claim disappears. The piece belongs to the world now and the bomb does not slide down. It sits, comfortable. You are satisfied. A few quick photos, to document your badass university days and then it’s time to walk away. You pick a piece of crust from the bread and give it to the dog as you leave the craft waiting in the world.

Visit

You come back to the site months later. The stop sign is exactly the same. Though the weather around it has changed. At first you think that that the yarn bomb is gone. A flutter of disappointment parks itself inside your chest.

Walking closer however, the blue and yellow soon show up in the grass below. The bomb has sunken to the bottom of the stop sign’s base. Dirt is growing into the seams now, the colours changing into greyer shades. You pull your piece off of the ground and try to shimmy it back to its original position. The fastening seam has almost come completely undone. You don’t have a darning needle on hand, so you use our fingers instead. You space apart the stitches and re-weave the fraying thread. Looking closer, you notice the cigarette burns singed with precision into the rib. The piece is tightened again. And you leave it again.

Disappear

The next time you visit, it has almost been a year. The yarn bomb has disappeared completely. No marker that it was ever there, no floundering message. You are only left to assume that a piece of you is floating somewhere in the world.

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