Can bombs be ephemeral?

Yarn bombing on a stop sign across the street
from my son’s elementary school.

If you knit and you live in my fair — if blazing hot — city of Austin, then you have no doubt seen these wonderful knit graffiti banners.

They are the work of Magda Sayeg, the genius who founded the group Knitta, Please in Houston. They’re the group that by all accounts began the now worldwide phenomenon of yarn bombing or yarn tagging, which is basically the art of leaving knitted or crocheted items somewhere out in public where they become some amalgam of public art, guerrilla graffiti, and anti-antimacassar. People have swathed trees in intricate lace, left knit-covered rocks on the Great Wall of China, and clothed a Smart Car in a sweater. It’s seriously good fun.

But as I drove down Lamar Boulevard yesterday, ready to warm myself in the glow of yarn-covered traffic signs, I was struck dumb. The knitted covers for the signs — they had done gone.

It felt so… wrong, and got me thinking about the ephemeral quality of those yarn bombs. They are tossed out there to the world as a ray of humor, beauty, and good cheer. And they can disappear like that. People sometimes take them, though that happens less often than you would think. More often, someone decides that the piece has outlived its usefulness, and it’s removed.

Like this lovely little piece made by two of my students and strategically placed on campus in the dead of night. My college has a very pretty but rather sterile campus. This lamp post cozy made a wonderful comment on what warmth and community really meant. It got a fair amount of attention.

And then it was time to put the Christmas decorations up. Down it came.

I can’t quite put my finger on why this bothers me. Many yarn bombers say that’s just the nature of the beast. These pieces are made to be ephemera. No harm in them being just that.

I suppose it’s that some of these pieces are ravishingly beautiful. And even the ones that aren’t typically bring some much-needed color to a bland urban landscape. Maybe I just wish more people appreciated what a giving act the yarn bomber makes.

Time for another poll!

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