Graffiti tag knitting, gritting (graffiti knitting) or knagging (knit tagging) … whatever you want to call it, it’s big news at the moment. Actually I made that last one up, but you get the drift.
Never one to miss the chance to point out the blatantly obvious, so … the ethos behind graffiti knitting is similar to that of conventional graffiti art – find an otherwise ordinary urban environment, attach a handmade knitted item to a blank object or space et voila, your own personal bit of subversive, urban-art-made-statement (you can see some fine examples at the Yarn Bombing Flickr Group).
The start of graffiti knitting is largely credited to Houston-based group Knitta who started out in 2005 “with a mix of clandestine moves and gangsta rap”. They are now a global phenomenon. Their public self-outing encouraged many other unconventional knitters out of the closet, irritated by the conventional view of knitters, full of pent-up creativity, passionate about their craft and determined to bring it to light. Well, that and the fact there is huge potential for fun and humour in collaborative, public outbursts and inventing tag names – wouldn’t you get a kick out of calling yourself PolyCotN or The Notorious N.I.T.?
Since then we’ve seen an explosion of new-wave knitters, expressing themselves in public with acts of knitted granarchy and recording it through their blogs. Some get political, many do it for the sheer joy of seeing members of the public doing a double-take and grinning as they pass. ‘Grrl + Dog’ in Sydney recently decorated a 100-year-old public toilet in her ‘Knitted Convenience’ project in July. Here in blighty the ‘Knit The City’ collective strung a delicate web trapping tragic and lovelorn creatures (and the odd sweary butterfly) on London’s South Bank, then swiftly followed it up with beautifully crafted episodes from the nursery rhyme ‘Oranges & Lemons’ in the City of London.