Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 18, 2013

Dressing up downtown

Yarn bombing another sweet idea from businesswoman

BY BILL WOLCOTT bill.wolcott@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Think graffiti, but don’t say the ‘g-word.’ Yarn bombs are an art form, a home-spun phenomenon, coming to your downtown street, maybe to your business or school.

Yarn bombing is not done in the dark, out of the eyes of the law, but in the light of day, within the law, to brighten the streets and make you smile. 

Ellen Martin of Sweet Sixteen Cafe is launching “Sweet Yarn Bombing” for the holidays and is confident the plan will brighten the paths of shoppers and visitors. 

Martin, who has had success with three sweet projects, Sweet Harmony, Sweet Chalk and Sweet Idea, didn’t invent yarn bombing, but liked the idea that reportedly started in Texas 10 years ago and is spreading world wide. It was spectacular in Pittsburgh over the Andy Warhol Bridge.

“Yarn bombing is a new phenomenon,” Martin said. “The community gets to together, knits or buys scarfs, and put them on trees and poles up and down down Main Street for a holiday festive look ... It’s not destructive, like tagging or spray painting, and does not harm to trees of poles.  It’s fun, it’s public art and supposed to bring a smile to your face when you see it.”

Martin’s motivation is to drive business downtown, but the decorations may reach schools. Groups from the Dale Association, the Spires Apartments and the Town and Country Club are participating.  

A non-practicing attorney, Martin said there are are lots of knitters and knitters groups in the city. “People said, we’ll knit. I’ll start knitting now,” she reported. 

Sweet Sixteen began offering knitting sessions on Friday afternoons at the cafe two weeks ago.

The scarves can be any color. They can be hand-knitted. Participants can clean out their drawers and closets, or buy the scarves at Goodwill.

“We are inviting everybody in the community to knit scarves,” said Martin who is knitting five and buying 10. “The whole community helping. It’s just a fun kind of event. People are expanding it. Kids are involved.”

The launch date is Nov. 16 and the city has given permission. The scarves will be embracing signs until after the holidays.

“We’re doing everything, anything that doesn’t move,”  Martin said.

The scarves will be hung vertically, with zip ties at the top and bottom. The middle will be sewn together. It will be labor intensive, but Martin expects help from the community.

“It’s all voluntary, do it wherever you want it,” Martin said. “The idea is, you’re driving down Main Street and say, that’s mine! That’s kind of fun, goofy thing.”

Yarn bombing is about reclaiming and personalizing cold public places. Participants don’t have to register, just do it, Martin said.