You know that moment when Valencia is quiet? Early before all the shops open? I show up to work and there’s a woman out front knitting quietly on a little folding stool. A real live yarn bomber.
I wasn’t expecting her to be so open or charming. I thought yarn bombing was done anonymously in the shadows. I started asking questions and here’s what I learned.
Emily Stauffer (fogknits.com) has been doing this since 2010. As sweet as she is, she started out of snark. “All my friends kept sending me this yarn bombing story that had gone viral. It got kind of old saying ‘Yeah, I saw it. Thanks.’ So I decided to yarn bomb something so that I could say yeah, ‘I’ve done it. Thanks.’”
“5 years later, this is probably my 200th bike rack.”
Emily has bombed pansies in a garden, statues, fences, mail boxes and pink flamingos in a neighbors yard (the only time she’s yarn bombed on private property). But her favorite thing to bomb is bike racks.
“I’m so opposed to yarn bombing trees. Trees are beautiful. They don’t need improving. Let’s add some color to something that needs some help. An ugly fence. A steel bike rack.”
“It took me by surprise that the bike community appreciated it,” Emily said. “I used to just cover the very top of bike racks – the most visible part. But I kept noticing that people would slide the yarn down to one side. Eventually I figured out that bikers were doing that to protect their paint from getting scratched by the rack. Since realizing that knitting racks was actually functional, about 95% of my yarn bombing has been on racks.
Emily’s work tends to stay up anywhere from 24 hours (in the Castro) to a year.
When strips get boring, Emily throws in an Easter egg like this Charlie Brown stripe.
Do you recognize this pattern? Take your best guess in the comments below.
So how long does it take to yarn bomb 5 circular bike racks? Emily does most of the work in what she calls “found time.”
“10 minutes while waiting for the bus. Another 10 minutes because the bus was full and it just passed me by. 20 minutes on the bus. I don’t really sit at home and work on a project like this.” When pressed, Emily confesses, “I probably spent 60-70 hours on this one.”
I thanked her for her contribution and with a smile she corrected me, “my egregious act of vandalism.”