Taunton’s first mass yarn bombing, set in motion by GoCreate for Taunton Live Arts Festival, turned out to be far more sensational than anybody imagined.
In October 2014, local knitters and crocheters were asked to participate in producing pieces to dress Taunton for the festival. Existing knitting groups were invited to join in and new groups set up, and there was mention of a cup for the best display.
Soon, ambitions climbed beyond simple knitted squares and on July 17th, when the results of months of hard work were installed for the 8-day festival, the results were stunning.
In the town centre, Bath Place, Goodland’s Gardens and outside the Library were most heavily yarn bombed, and quickly became centres of attention, with narrow Bath Place gridlocked on the first Saturday. Meanwhile, other yarn items popped up elsewhere, on railings and in trees. The only out of town entry came from Ruishton.
An independent knitting expert was asked to judge the entries, and the flower-crowded arch over the door of St George’s church, Ruishton, immediately impressed her as the most spectacular piece she had seen. The theme continued around and inside the church to complete a display ‘perfect in co-ordination, execution and attention to detail’.
In Stitches @ St Georges was presented with the cup (crocheted by ‘Close Knit’ group member Geraldine Field), at the Taunton Live finale on Castle Green. They were greeted by roars of approval from a happy crowd gathered to listen to the bands.
GoCreate thanks everyone involved: your hard work and generosity has been much appreciated.
Pleasure for Everyone
What wasn’t expected was the enjoyment the ‘yarnsters’ would get out of planning, designing and making the pieces, or the pleasure the displays would give the public. Several people commented that ‘Taunton was wearing a smile’ and was ‘buzzing’.
The Bath Place Knitters’ yarn extravaganza really excited visitors, whilst car loads turned up in Ruishton to see In Stitches @ St Georges’ beautiful display, made up of hundreds of knitted flowers.
Goodlands Gardens were gorgeously and wittily transformed by the Silver Street Baptists Knit & Nat group, whilst the Knittin’ n Sippin’ @ the Shed group decked the Shed café behind Debenhams with a cornucopia of fruit, cake and ice cream. Somerset Museum wrapped their gates and dangled from each cross piece ingenious little knights, their bodies made from wine corks.
The Library Knit & Natter dressed Paul Street – just two of their show stoppers were cobweb-covered trees and a covered bicycle with it’s basket full of knitted veg. Outside the Brewhouse theatre, Somerset Square was dressed by the Close Knit group, and Saints Mary Magdalene’s and James’ railings were decorated by church members. Other areas were also decked, and the mountain on a pole, outside Multiyork Furniture Store on East Reach definitely required a visit: all of it was the work of Julia Davis, from the lower flowery meadow to the tiny, bobble-hatted climbers and the yeti on top.
And There Was More…
GoCreate was asked if the newly taken-down displays could be reinstalled in Vivary Park for the Taunton Flower Show, and thanks to helpers from the main knitting groups, they were…even the buggies that drove visitors to and from the car parks were yarn bombed!
Once again, the pieces caused a lot of interest and pleasure. The cobwebs, birds, beasties and bugs were in the Children’s Area, along with apple pom-poms made by children during Taunton Live workshops, and other pieces looked magnificent on the bridge and in the trees that led to Wilton Lands.
Some of the work will be installed around the marquee for the Stand Against Violence (SAV) event, on September 25th, and during Somerset Art Weeks many of the flowers will reappear amongst other works at the Craftivist Showcase, at the Genesis Centre, Somerset College.
Magritte Knits are currently looking for gallery space for their Barmy Brollies, from which tumble surreal items: raindrops, snowflakes, clouds, leaves, mice, worms…the knitters are expanding the number of umbrellas, so look out for strawberries, knives…maybe even cats and dogs.
And Next Year?
We are looking for more groups to start knitting.
Now that people understand the concept and can see the fun it can be we hope they want a piece of the action! Whether you want to join an established group or set up your own, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Bath Place Traders found their knitters through Facebook, and have really benefited from increased footfall, so we shall be approaching other retail areas, suggesting they follow suit.
And we really would love to get some men involved, as so far the knitting groups are all female.
Traditionally, men such as sailors and submariners knitted, and even up to the First World War there was a healthy cottage industry of men knitting socks for the troops. Recently, yarn shops have recorded an upsurge in male customers and there are now men’s knitting websites – plenty of proof that it’s cool again. Look at yarn bombing online to see what’s been done elsewhere – and by who: Aston Kucher, Russell Crowe, David Arquette…then contact email@example.com to learn more about the project and how to start a group. Some of our ladies will be happy to give knitting/crochet lessons.
Knitting and crochet are great stress-busters and right on trend this year, so unleash your inner yarn artist!!!
Yarn Bombing began around 10 years ago in Houston, Texas, and has spread across the world. Usually a guerrilla activity, installed in the full knowledge that pieces may be taken down or stolen, it has nonetheless become a serious art form and there are now several installations in prestigious galleries.
This is a community art project for all – that’s age, gender or knitting skill. And if you think it’s a lot of work for just a few weeks on display, some of our existing groups knitted tree-wraps with the idea of joining them into blankets for the homeless, and others are selling their pieces for charity. The rest are building on what they already have for next year, so they can mount an even bigger exhibition.
Donations of yarn are gratefully received at Taunton Library or CICCIC, during office hours.