The graffiti knitting epidemic

A bunch of ‘graffiti knitters’ are on the loose in the UK – hellbent on liberating us from the forces of drabness. Maddy Costa hits the streets with a woman called Deadly Knitshade

Knit the City take the Thames

Purls allowed … Knit the City take the Thames. Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris for the Guardian

It’s a blustery Sunday afternoon on London Bridge and I’m exercising my right – or at least, the right of freemen in 11th-century London – to herd sheep across the Thames. They’re not real sheep, thankfully. They’re tiny knitted creatures, with spindly legs and multicoloured bodies, and snapping at their heels is a gnarly-looking wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Confused? Welcome to the world of graffiti knitting, or yarn bombing as it’s generally known. If you haven’t encountered it before, you might just over the next few days, as knitters across Britain celebrate wool week by “tagging” lamp-posts with knitted doilies, wrapping public statues in scarves and sending knitted animals scurrying about city streets. I can’t say exactly where, though, as it’s all hush hush.

My introduction to yarn bombing came courtesy of Knit the City, a tight-knit (sorry) London-based crew with fanciful names: my accomplices today are Deadly Knitshade, the Fastener and Shorn-a the Dead. For their Knitmare Before Christmas project, they attacked the statue of a ballerina outside the Royal Opera House with figures inspired by The Nutcracker, while Web of Woe found them installing a 13ft spider’s web, replete with trapped insects and fairies, in the “graffiti tunnel” beneath Waterloo station.

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