Yarnbombing: Moscow

a ‘yarn bombed’ street light outside Gorky Park in Moscow

I’m a rather fascinated with yarn bombing at the moment. It feels looks like fun but also a crafty bit of rebellion. As the wonderful Streetcolor Art says,  

“some think that yarnbombing is just silly and it is fun but it is also full of soul . Our cities belong to us’
 I saw quite a few of these street lights, wrapped up in little knitted coats, around Gorky Park when we went to Moscow.  They seemed really incongruous, mainly because I had a (unrealistic) vision in my head of the bureaucracy of Russia never allowing anything like this. But they were also really gorgeous against the backdrop of the snow…
This rather refined gentleman had been given a little woolen beanie to keep him warm in the freezing temperatures.

I’ve been wondering a lot about the value of yarnbombing. Some may argue that it seems rather pointless, it doesn’t have a direct message – what does covering lampost, statues, even buildings in knitting actually say to us? Or is it purely a statement, like Streetcolor Art says, about the ownership of our towns and cities? Our towns and cities are dominated with advertising and municipal statues and structures. Does yarnbombing empower people in customising their surrounds in a non-permanent and fun way? What does yarnbombing say to you?

I’m a piece: The Craftivist Jigsaw Project Launch

On 16th October 2012, members of the craft community from all over the country descended on glamourous surroundings of Mary Portas’s Living & Giving charity shop in London’s Primrose Hill to stitch together. But this wasn’t your average cupcake-fuelled craft evening – it was the launch of the Craftivist Collective’s and Save the Children’s Craftivist Jigsaw project – more commonly known in these social media savvy times as ‘I’m a piece’ or #imapiece.

embroiderers at work

Hard at work in the Living & Giving Shop: Photo courtesy of the Craftivist Collective/ Save the Children

Launched on World Food Day and the focal point of the project being next year’s G8 meeting, the aim is for people to make three jigsaw pieces, stitched with provocative but encouraging messages to remind people that we all have a role to play in tackling inequalities across the world:

  • One of the pieces will go towards creating an art installation to raise awareness that we all have a role to play and show that the craft community wants the Government to use its power and influence as host of the 2013 G8 to tackle injustice. The last time the G8 was hosted in the UK, the public responded with the Make Poverty History campaign. So this could be a big opportunity to make historical change.
  • The second piece is for you to keep as a reminder to be part of the solution – a reminder that can all do our bit in so many ways – from buying local and reducing our carbon footprint, to raising awareness and talking to our MPs about important issues like food prices and biofuels.
  • The third piece is to give to your MP to ask them to be the positive change they wish to see in the world.
Cakes and embroidery

One of my finished jigsaw pieces at the project launch: Photo courtesy of the Craftivist Collective/ Save the Children

The philosophy of the Craftivist Collective is that we can all change the world stitch by stitch and this project aims to show that we are all connected and our actions make a difference, whether that be through what we decide to buy, vote for, how we treat people etc. There is no one solution to the problem of injustice but the Craftivist Collective strongly believe we can all play a part in a movement for change.

fabric jigsaw pieces say 'We are all part of the solution'

‘We are all part of the solution’: Photo courtesy of the Craftvist Collective/ Save the Children

I’m an unabashed fan of the work of the Craftivist Collective and wear my ‘Craftivist’ badge with great pride, but this project has got me really excited. Firstly I get really enthused about mass-particiaptory pieces of crafted art work – I have written about Desconocida Unkown Ukjent, but I also love ‘In a war someone has to die‘ – I think a group (however it is organised) creating something together is beautiful and empowering. So I am looking forward to seeing the completed created for the G8.

But I also really love this project because it tackles the apathy that we can all often feel (*holds up hand* I know I do). It provides a quiet but thoughtful reminder that everyone has a part to play is dealing with issues such as poverty or malnutrition – they are not just things that happen in other countries – and that we are all part of creating a solution. Despite currently studying poverty and development issues, I often need reminding that I can also do more in my ‘everyday’ life to be a better global citizen, to think about the wider consequence of my choices. Sitting down, stitching, creating gives me a chance to reflect on that. And I truly believe that when other people see these beautiful unobtrusive but strong jigsaw pieces, they might find some inspiration, they might find something in them that they hadn’t previously considered and might start thinking about how they can make their own change, in their own way. Positive and powerful. That’s why I’m proud to say that #imapiece.

embroidery that says #imapiece

#imapiece: Photo courtesy of the Craftivist Collective/ Save the Children

You can read more about how you can become a piece in solving this puzzle on its dedicated website and also see loads of information and vlogs on the Craftivist Collective site.

Living next door to the biggest party on earth

In the summer of 2012 East London hosted what was billed to be the biggest sporting party on Earth – the Olympic and Paralympic Games. During the games, we walked along the Herford Union Canal in Hackney Wick (which adjoins the boundary of the Olympic Park) to have a look at what it must be like to have such an infamous neighbour…

Hertford Union Canal

We all hate the Olympics

Stadium roof

Imagine

No cycling

stadium

You can also read about my visit to the Paralympic cycling road racing or see all my London 2012 photos on Flickr.

A little celebration of craftivism: It’s only fair

This was a little craftivism project back when I worked for Lush, the blog post was originally published on 18th April 2012:

My last weekend working in a certain high street handmade cosmetics shop was during Fairtrade Fortnight. It was time to party and I organised an in-store tea party to promote fair trade practices and products.

We were encouraging people to step forward  and to change something they probably use everyday (like tea or lotion) to fair trade products. By us choosing fairly traded products through our consumer choice, we can help offer farmers and workers a better chance to work their way out of poverty, through fairer wages, safer conditions at work and investment in projects to improve life for their whole communities.

So we had fair trade tea, we had fair trade cakes and we even had people powered fair trade smoothies. But it’s a party, the shop needed decorating. I have been well and truly bitten by the craftivism bug and made this bunting to help decorate the shop and to also enforce the fair trade message.

This was the first time I have made bunting and it was surprisingly easy. To save time I cut the flag shapes from some vintage fabric (I think it was once bedding) with pinking shears to prevent fraying. The letters are made from felt off cuts (so they also didn’t need any additional hemming) and were simply handstitched on to the flag shape. The flags were then attached to some bias binding and machine sewn.

I think it was pretty but with an effective and strong message. Plus the eagle-eyed amongst you will also notice that it is grammatically correct…

I’m already embarking on another ‘craftivist’ project. It feels good to have found an outlet that meets my desire to be involved in craft and activism. Watch this space…

In celebration of the Craftivist Collective launching a crowdfunding scheme for their first book, I’ve been sharing some of my favourite personal craftivist projects on the blog this week. You can see more of my little celebration of Craftivism posts here.

 

It’s only fair

This was a little craftivism project back when I worked for Lush, the blog post was originally published on 18th April 2012:

My last weekend working in a certain high street handmade cosmetics shop was during Fairtrade Fortnight. It was time to party and I organised an in-store tea party to promote fair trade practices and products.

We were encouraging people to step forward  and to change something they probably use everyday (like tea or lotion) to fair trade products. By us choosing fairly traded products through our consumer choice, we can help offer farmers and workers a better chance to work their way out of poverty, through fairer wages, safer conditions at work and investment in projects to improve life for their whole communities.

So we had fair trade tea, we had fair trade cakes and we even had people powered fair trade smoothies. But it’s a party, the shop needed decorating. I have been well and truly bitten by the craftivism bug and made this bunting to help decorate the shop and to also enforce the fair trade message.

This was the first time I have made bunting and it was surprisingly easy. To save time I cut the flag shapes from some vintage fabric (I think it was once bedding) with pinking shears to prevent fraying. The letters are made from felt off cuts (so they also didn’t need any additional hemming) and were simply handstitched on to the flag shape. The flags were then attached to some bias binding and machine sewn.

I think it was pretty but with an effective and strong message. Plus the eagle-eyed amongst you will also notice that it is grammatically correct…

I’m already embarking on another ‘craftivist’ project. It feels good to have found an outlet that meets my desire to be involved in craft and activism. Watch this space…

In celebration of the Craftivist Collective launching a crowdfunding scheme for their first book, I’ve been sharing some of my favourite personal craftivist projects on the blog this week. You can see more of my little celebration of Craftivism posts here.

 

A little celebration of craftivism: You could put something really great here?

This little celebration of Craftivism is in honour of my friends, the Craftivist Collective, and the launch of a crowdfunding project for their first book. It is collection of my favourite personal craftivist projects. This is was originally published elsewhere on 12th March 2012:

I’ve been fascinated with guerrilla craft and craftivism (craft used for activism) for a while now. I like the way it can make people think, how it can prompt conversation. But I also like how it can be used to reclaim the human environment, so full of adverts and the constant bombardment of corporate images, yet being softer than more common street art. A little bit more incongruous.

This was my first mini-protest banner, made from a kit bought from the Craftivist Collective. The area outside of Reading train station is full of empty offices and a poorly designed 1960s arcade and bus station. It is run down and deemed beyond repair. Recently development consultants, employed by the local council, have put together a master planning vision to redevelop the area – to demolish the existing buildings and build flats, offices and shops. Completely uninspiring and a development that appears to not respond to any community needs. This is a town full of empty offices, full of empty shops, full of housing that people can not afford. A problem that isn’t going to be resolved by building more market flats.

Frustrated with the planning processes for the town where I live, my protest banner is a message to ask people to think about what else can be done to regenerate towns. I also hoped it might make someone think about the space around them and what it could be, not just what property developers think it should be… You could put something really great here?

This was my first piece of craftivism/ guerrilla craft. But it probably won’t be my last. I love the way working on it focused my mind, I found it a bit of a release. And, just between you and me, I loved putting it up and reclaiming my little bit of my town.

You can find out more about the Craftivist Collective here, buy your own mini-banner kit here and read more of celebration of craftivism posts here. Ta!