12 April 2011

Is Yarnbombing Vandalism?

Last week, a thread on Ravelry turned in a heated discussion on whether yarnbombing (the practice of knitters or crocheters covering something with something they've made) is vandalism.  I posted my opinion on Twitter, which -- with its 140 character limit -- wasn't really enough space to adequately convey my thoughts on the subject.

I meant to return to the subject on my blog much sooner, but I had other things to say or get to first.  So, on to the topic at hand.

Vandalism: willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property 
(from the Merriam-Webster dictionary)

The latest example (at least in Philadelphia) is that a knitter took it upon herself to knit a giant pink sweater and put it on the Rocky statue that stands in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  To be clear, this knitter was NOT the sculptor the Rocky statue.  She does not OWN the Rocky statue.  She decided that it was fine to change the statue's appearance because she wanted to.

Never mind the fact that if the yarn she used was made of wool, it would attract bugs.  Or if the yarn she used was acrylic, it would contain oils that would get on the statue and could potentially damage it.

And yarnbombers have taken to doing this to trees, public transit seats, pretty much anything they want to.

Which bring me to my next point...  the sheer sense of entitlement.

What the hell gives them the right?  "Oh hey, I'm a knitter/crocheter, and I feel like this pole, subway seat, bike rack, parking meter pole, NEEDS a cosy.  So here it is!"  Um, no.  JUST NO.

When people with cans of spray-paint do the exact same thing, it's called vandalism, it's a crime, and it's punishable by jail time.  Because these people have yarn and needles instead, some people in the crafting community think it's cute, creative, and should be encouraged?  The only time we DON'T call the spray-paint artists "vandals" is when they do a mural in a place that was specially selected for that purpose.  And guess what - knitters and crocheters have a place and time for practising their art.  And it ISN'T on other people's private property (or public property, in which case my tax money is paying to cut this "yarnbombing" down, and that really pisses me off).

In the words of one of my friends, as we were discussing this, the other day, "If I was into macaroni art, and I decided to do a macaroni art picture on the front of your house without your permission, would that be okay?"


  1. MTE. I also feel this way about seed bombers.

  2. what's a seed bombing??

    but anyway... YES!!!

  3. Yarn bombing is fun and rather awesome. I hope to do it some time. But it is most definitely vandalism, and if I decide to do it, it will be with the understanding that I deserve a ticket and will get one if I get caught - and that some one is going to remove it as defacement of public property. (I love graffiti, too, though I don't do any myself).

    This is just as ridiculous as arguments about copyright on Rav - people get all up in arms about how they think things ought to work without doing any actual research on how it really works. I've started just wholesale ignoring such discussions; they're not worth the frustration of dealing with ignorant, argumentative people.