Talk about coming late to the party. I had never heard of yarn bombing until I encountered it on the road leading to Highfield Hall. The yarn bombed trees are a lead in to the great outdoor exhibit, Portals and Passageways, that is currently gracing the property.
It seems that it’s actually a global phenomenon. Trees are far from being the only recipients of this yarn art. Lampposts, mailboxes, cars, and even the bull that guards Wall Street have been the targets of what is sometimes called “grandma graffiti.”
From what I can gather, this all started in 2005 when Magda Sayeg, owner of a boutique in Houston, knit a pink and blue cozy for the door handle of her shop. It attracted a lot of attention, and provided her with the encouragement to move on to covering more public spaces with her handicraft. And the rest is history.
Since that time, groups have formed to spread the art (or craft or both). According to a 2011 article in the New York Times, there was a collective in Seattle called Hardcore Chicks With Sharp Sticks. London had a group called Knit the City.
Much of the original work had to be done under the cover of darkness, since yarn bombing is technically illegal in public places. Needless to say, the police tolerated the process and were reluctant to stick to the letter of the law on this one.
These days, yarn bombing is part of a resurgence of handicrafts in art. The wrapped trees that are part of Highfield’s exhibit are true example of the ability of art to gather you in and make you smile with delight.