Guerrillas or Rogues?

Recently two friends in the San Francisco Bay Area, neither of whom is a knitter or crocheter, emailed me news items about yarn bombers.  One article was recent and looked at yarn bombers in Scotland; the other article was a few years old about yarn bombers in Oakland, California.

The Huffington Post, calling her the “world’s oldest street artist,” focused on Scotland’s 104 year old Grace Brett who, as part of the Souter Stormers, yarn stormed (yarn bombed) in Selkirk, Ettrickbridge and Yarrow:

YarnbombedboothGrace Brett is part of a group of “yarn stormers” who are taking to the streets to showcase their craft. As part of a week-long arts festival in Scotland, Brett and the Souter Stormers knitted and crocheted dozens of pieces to display across three cities. Among the pieces were a bench covering, a cover for a classic British red phone booth and various other hanging ornaments — all of which spruced up the city with colorful yarn. 

The UK’s Daily Record called Mrs. Brett and the Souter Stormers “guerrilla knitters.”  Scotland’s The Press and Journal referred to Mrs. Brett as part of a secret band of guerrilla knitters.”  (Given the interview with Mrs. Brett and the very public nature of their group, I don’t think “secret” was the right word to use.)

Of the Oakland yarn bombers, the San Francisco Chronicle dramatically reported:

Rogue knitters encamped along the Berkeley-Oakland border with lawn chairs, tea cakes and knitting projects to protest the city of Berkeley’s order that they remove an 8-foot knitted tea cozy they sewed over the T in a public sculpture they believe insults Oakland.

RogueKnitter“Rogue?”  Did the author not have a dictionary?  In what dishonest or unprincipled behavior were the knitters engaging?!  Well, maybe the mask-wearing knitter inspired the author to use that particular term.   (A more educated and nuanced analysis would be to focus on the use of what has traditionally been in “women’s domain” in a political protest – as women have done many times in our history.)

I like the U.K. journalists’ terminology:  Guerrilla Knitters & Crocheters!  (Perhaps the Guerrilla Girls will consider granting Mrs. Brett honorary membership in their group.)

What do you think:  Guerrillas or rogues?!


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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13 Responses to Guerrillas or Rogues?

  1. Your comments made me grin. You bring up interesting points! I’ve knit sweaters that get auctioned off for charity events, and I’ve met lots of people who knit for “Caps for Kids.”


  2. are looking for blankets for the 500 children who are ophaned a day in South Africa. It drives nuts seeing people standing with their yarn bombing…if you are primping in front of it its not yarnbombing…I prefer to see a certain kind of yarn installation more akin to Street Art. However…too much of the time knitters and crocheters are happy to be exploited to give publicity to organisations and even businesses via yarn bombing.


  3. Hmmm … I know of a couple of charities … one is “Caps for Kids.” Throughout the years knitters and crocheters make hats and bring them to a LYS which then distributes hats to local shelters. The local shelters let the LYS store know the number of hats and for which sex and age. The local shelters then include the hats in Christmas gift baskets for their residents. I know of another that makes hats for infants who die before they leave the hospital. And I heard of another that makes knit “fillings” for bras for women who’ve had mastectomies. Oh, I also heard of another that donates knit or crocheted blankets to homeless.


  4. Susan says:

    Yarn storming……….cool. Saw some in Germany last month.


  5. yarnsneak says:

    Rogue all the way. I hadn’t thought about the connotations of the phrase “yarn bombing” vs “yarn storming”. Here in the US, it is mainly referred to as yarn bombing

    Liked by 1 person

  6. yarnsneak says:

    As a fledgling yarn bomber, I have often thought about what I could do for charity. I talked to a homeless shelter in my city, and they don’t need hand made hats and sweaters. They need toilet paper. They need tampons. They need professional clothes in good shape.

    Most charities need money. Very few need woolly blankets. However, I am interested in finding charities where I can put my crafting skills to use. Any recommendations?


  7. I agree with the waste of time and yarn sentiment for the most part, especially when the work becomes dirty and bleached and starts falling down from whatever it was originally attached to. If its a synthetic yarn who knows how long it will take to degrade. But having said that, the phone booth in your photo looks most artful.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. thehookstook says:

    I agree with liwella and her friend Deadly Knitshade – I don’t like the word yarn bombing for its terrorist/war connotations.(Yarn storming is surely more appropriate, as the yarn settles on its object like snow!) For the same reason, I’m not a fan of the use of guerilla. And remember, rogue can have a cheeky/impish implications too. So my vote is for rogue!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I have seen it too, but not often. (Maybe it’s more popular in the larger cities?) I am hopeful the fiber is a source for birds looking for nest lining! >


  10. Very well said!


    Liked by 1 person

  11. liwella says:

    A friend of mine is the awesome Deadly Knitshade, who invented the term yarn-storming for the UK (on the grounds that bombing was a bit insensitive given the history of terrorist violence the UK has suffered). She also knitted the original telephone box cosy. I think there’s nothing guerrilla or rogue about public art like this. It’s playful, brings joy into people’s lives and makes them think about their environment differently. And art is certainly not a waste of time or yarn.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I’ve heard it called yarn bombing and have seen evidence of it in various places. Frankly though it’s amusing to see, I think what a waste of time and yarn– so many great items one could make for charity if you have so much time and yarn!


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