Knitted street art
June 24, 2010 4:12 AM   Subscribe

The history of knitted cozies around bike racks...

Walking around Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, I noticed that someone had knitted a cozy around a bike rack. A friend had mentioned these are pretty temporary as they are removed by the city fairly quickly.

Is this something unique to Philly or an idea transplanted from somewhere else in the US or the world? Are there galleries or other pics that document some history of similar bits of "knitted graffiti", for lack of a better term, or street art that involves knitting?
posted by Blazecock Pileon to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's not just for bike racks. See Urban Knitting: the world's most inoffensive graffiti.
posted by piratebowling at 4:22 AM on June 24, 2010

This needs to make it to the blue. It's awesome.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:23 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: It's all over Sydney too.
posted by taff at 4:24 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: I saw a tree cozy in Edinburgh in April.

It's been going on for long enough that an advert has been made from the idea:
posted by mippy at 4:25 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: I particularly love the intricacies of tree cozies.
posted by piratebowling at 4:25 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: All around downtown Windsor, Ontario (Canada).
posted by kidelo at 4:28 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: Sorry to keep popping in, just remembered "yarn bombing" is a phrase that you are looking for.
posted by piratebowling at 4:29 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: Knitta Please
posted by like_neon at 4:32 AM on June 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There was one knitted tree sweater in my old neighborhood here in Chicago. It was blue and green striped, and had a BUTTON. It stayed up for a long time...I don't know if someone eventually took it down because it got gross or if it just disintegrated.
posted by phunniemee at 4:44 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: Yarnbombing book.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 4:57 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: I love my (Chicago) neighborhood tree cozie.
posted by jeanmari at 5:00 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: There's a bicycle on the lower east side of Manhattan thats been getting moved around the neighborhood for the past month or originally started in front of ABC NO RIO, which is a community/Arts Center, and also the home of Times Up, that has the monthly bike rides. ABC has also had knitted camoflage windows for about the same duration.
posted by newpotato at 5:02 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: I saw a bike rack like this in Seattle in about 2004; I thought it was so the bikes wouldn't get scratched when locking up.
posted by katinka-katinka at 5:08 AM on June 24, 2010

I knew before even clicking on the photo that it was going to be *that* particular bike rack cozy! It's just a few blocks up the street from my house, and it's been there for months now -- other tree cozies and rack cozies in the nieghborhood have been cut away, but that one's survived for some reason. Last year it seemed there was a whole spate of yarn-bombing going on here, and then I guess the trend waned. But it always gives me a smile to walk past that one, so I'm glad it's stuck around.
posted by mothershock at 5:45 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: A picture of the one on the tree outside Cleveland Heights City Hall was my desktop wallpaper for almost a year and not until this AskMe did I know its location or origin.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:01 AM on June 24, 2010

All bike racks should have knitted cozies! Less scratching of bikes! Fewer paint transfers! Smiles for all!
posted by Pineapplicious at 6:27 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: These are all over trees in my Boston (ok, Somerville) neighborhood. It is my favorite type of graffiti, ever.
posted by hungrybruno at 8:33 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: Interesting. I've seen a bunch around bike-mecca Portland OR; I think the first I saw was last summer. I can't imagine why a city would feel the need to do work removing them.
posted by olecranon at 9:07 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: Berkeley recently got a political yarn bombing by a group of knitters showing their solidarity with Oakland. Knitta, please.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:53 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: Yeah, I see these around Portland all the time. I think they're great. It's hard to believe my tax dollars pay someone to go around taking them off and throwing them away.

I'm equally bothered by the city's need to take all of the little horses off the horse rings on the sidewalks. Does the city really have nothing better to do?
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:20 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hee! I'm always tickled to see people's reactions to knitted graffiti. Yarn Bombing is a great book for any knitters who are interested (and I'd say so even if I didn't have a pattern in it).

As to your literal question, this sort of thing has been around for a while. Who started it? It's hard to say. A lot of people and groups seem to have spontaneously gotten the idea all at the same time, myself among them.

I put a sweater on a tree (self-link) in December 2005. Not the first time someone had done something silly and public with a bit of knitting, surely. But it was picked up by a local photographer, who submitted his photo to the local alt-news weekly paper, which put it on their cover, and things sort of took off from there.

posted by ErikaB at 10:47 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also previously
posted by filthy light thief at 10:53 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: That looks like crochet, not knitting. Darksiders represent!
posted by asperity at 11:32 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There are a few parking meters with knitted... sweater... thingies around the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque. (They're over by Popejoy.)
posted by NoraReed at 3:19 PM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: Seen in Brisbane too.
posted by Pinback at 5:23 PM on June 24, 2010

Response by poster: I set up a Metafilter thread here, collecting links from your comments and from elsewhere on the web. Thank you for your answers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on June 25, 2010

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