I’m a textile artist
most widely known for startingthe yarn bombing movement.
Yarn bombing is when you takeknitted or crocheted material
out into the urban environment,graffiti-style —
or, more specifically,
without permission and unsanctioned.
But when I started this over 10 years ago,
I didn’t have a word for it,
I didn’t have anyambitious notions about it,
I had no visions of grandeur.
All I wanted to see was somethingwarm and fuzzy and human-like
on the cold, steel, gray facadethat I looked at everyday.
So I wrapped the door handle.
I call this the Alpha Piece.
Little did I know that this tiny piecewould change the course of my life.
So clearly the reaction was interesting.
It intrigued me and I thought,”What else could I do?”
Could I do something in the public domainthat would get the same reaction?
So I wrapped the stop signpole near my house.
The reaction was wild.
People would park their cars
and get out of their cars and stare at it,
and scratch their heads and stare at it,
and take pictures of itand take pictures next to it,
and all of that was really exciting to me
and I wanted to do every stop sign polein the neighborhood.
And the more that I did,the stronger the reaction.
So at this point I’m smitten.
This was all seductive.
I found my new passion
and the urban environmentwas my playground.
So this is some of my early work.
I was very curious about this ideaof enhancing the ordinary,
the mundane, even the ugly,
and not taking away its identityor its functionality
but just giving it a well-tailoredsuit out of knitting.
And this was fun for me.
It was really funto take inanimate objects
and have them come to life.
I think we all see the humor in this,
I was at a point whereI wanted to take it seriously.
I wanted to analyze it.
I wanted to know why I was lettingthis take over my life,
why I was passionate about it,
why were other peoplereacting so strongly to it.
And I realized something.
We all live in thisfast-paced, digital world,
but we still crave and desiresomething that’s relatable.
I think we’ve all become desensitized
by our overdevelopedcities that we live in,
and billboards and advertisements,
and giant parking lots,
and we don’t even complainabout that stuff anymore.
So when you stumble upon
a stop sign polethat’s wrapped in knitting
and it seems so out of place
and then gradually — weirdly —
you find a connection to it,
that is the moment.
That is the moment I love
and that is the momentI love to share with others.
So at this point, my curiosity grew.
It went from the fire hydrantsand the stop sign poles
to what else can I do with this material.
Can I do something bigand large-scale and insurmountable?
So that’s when the bus happened.
This was a real game changer for me.
I’ll always have a soft spotin my heart for this one.
At this point, peoplewere recognizing my work
but there wasn’t much out there
that was wrapped in knittingthat was large-scale,
and this definitely was the firstcity bus to be wrapped in knitting.
So at this point, I’m experiencing,
or I’m witnessing something interesting.
I may have started yarn bombingbut I certainly don’t own it anymore.
It had reached global status.
People from all over the worldwere doing this.
And I know this because I would travelto certain parts of the world
that I’d never been to,
and I’d stumble upon a stop sign poleand I knew I didn’t wrap it.
So as I pursuedmy own goals with my art —
this is a lot of my recent work —
so was yarn bombing.
Yarn bombing was also growing.
And that experience showed methe hidden power of this craft
and showed me
that there was this common languageI had with the rest of the world.
It was through this granny hobby —
this unassuming hobby —
that I found commonality with people
that I never thoughtI’d have a connection with.
So as I tell my story today,
I’d also like to convey to you
that hidden power can be foundin the most unassuming places,
and we all possess skillsthat are just waiting to be discovered.
If you think about our hands,these tools that are connected to us,
and what they’re capable of doing —
building houses and furniture,
and painting giant murals —
and most of the timewe hold a controller or a cell phone.
And I’m totally guilty of this as well.
But if you think about it,
what would happenif you put those things down?
What would you make?What would you create with your own hands?
A lot of people thinkthat I am a master knitter
but I actually couldn’t knita sweater to save my life.
But I did somethinginteresting with knitting
that had never been done before.
I also wasn’t “supposed to be” an artist
in the sense that I wasn’tformally trained to do this —
I’m a math major actually.
So I didn’t thinkthis was in the cards for me,
but I also know that I didn’tstumble upon this.
And when this happened to me,I held on tight,
I fought for it and I’m proud to saythat I am a working artist today.
So as we ponder the future,
know that your futuremight not be so seamless.
And one day, you mightbe as bored as I was
and knit a door handleto change your world forever.