Friday, 11 September 2015

"Yarn-storming" by The Heatons WI

Guest blog by Sally Stelfox from The Heatons WI, Cheshire Federation

“YARN-STORMING: the art of enhancing a public place or object with graffiti knitting or crochet (and running away giggling)”

Following the challenge from the NFWI to find novel ways to celebrate the Centenary, The Heatons WI thought long and hard about what they should do.  One of our members suggested we yarn storm a tree in a local park to mark this momentous event.  What was then a very small project grew (just like Topsy) into a project that involved most members of our WI. 

When our President, Angela Britland, spoke about our plans during the Annual Meeting link-up with the Cheshire WIs from the Imperial War Museum, there was a real buzz around the Royal Albert Hall; we then knew we were onto something special and there was added impetus to our efforts.

Known by various terms, yarn storming, yarn bombing, guerrilla knitting, kniffiti, urban knitting or graffiti knitting is a type of graffiti or street art that uses colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre.

The project was masterminded by Chris Stables, Craft Co-ordinator of the Heatons WI Committee, and we christened the project “Wise Owls”.  For over six months members knitted, crocheted, felted and stitched squares, chains, small animals and birds (including lots of owls) and flowers.  Volunteers stepped forward to form a sub-committee to oversee the project and our fundraising team began to plan how we could use the event to boost our funds.

The venue for the display was Heaton Moor Park, a small but beautiful park in the Heatons, a leafy suburb of Stockport.  The park is cared for by the Friends of Heaton Moor Park and thanks must go to them, in particular the Knitting Friends, for their help in making this event such a success. The local media was bombarded with details about the event and posters started to appear in local shop windows and community spaces.

As the installation took place, more and more trees, bushes, railings, gateposts and benches in the park were festooned with our work.  Pompoms hung from trees and knitted bees buzzed around tree trunks.  Owls peeked out through branches and new varieties of flowers appeared in the flower beds.  Tennis players were astonished to find their games being watched by a huge owl woven into the court fence.  The centrepiece, a huge blanket wrapped around a tree in the centre of the park, contained over 130 squares.

On Sunday, 12th July we held a friends and family picnic in Heaton Moor Park followed by the official unveiling of the display by local celebrity comedian, Justin Moorhouse. 

We were delighted to be joined by a number of members from local WIs who turned up to admire our efforts.   Proceeds from a craft and produce stall will be for the benefit of our members to thank them for the hard work involved in making this event such a success.

The display has generated very positive feedback from the public.  Many people said how much they had enjoyed our work which was both ingenious and witty and they now realise that there is more to the WI than the perceived image of “jam and Jerusalem”.

Photos by Chris Barnes, Lindsey Loughtman and Sally Stelfox

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