Yarn Bombing: Knitting Over The Edge

Has knitting become a subversive movement? In the last few years, knitting has put miles of distance between the images of grandmas in rocking chairs knitting up tea cozies. I just love how hip, and alternative-minded folks are picking up needles and casting a rebellious flair on an otherwise complacent hobby.

I encountered my first brush with yarn bombing after a satisfying lunch with my kids at the popular Boston eatery, Flour. I was totally taken aback when I bumped into an innocent lamppost and came face to face with urban knitting graffiti.

Like many of you, I’m a big fan of individualizing environs – both interior and exterior, and knitting is my number one hobby of choice. As a mostly non-political knitter, my knitting adventures of late have been relegated to gifting my family with hats, scarves and socks. It may sound silly, but this lamppost encounter with its anonymous yarn artistry, absolutely delighted me. It was as if the inanimate object sprung alive and sported a mischievous grin that said, “Tag, you’re it.”

Magda Sayeg, the founder of Knitta says, “It not only turns alive, there is something comforting and loving about it. You don’t look at the pieces we wrap and get angry or mad. You are happy.” Two outlaw knitters, Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain have elevated yarn grafitti to a new level in their book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. Along with the accompanying blog that chronicles Moore and Prain’s research into knit (and crochet) graffiti groups from around the globe, they’ve been “tagging” the world with “yarn bombs.”

Pique your interest? If you are a knitter or crocheter with a flair for fiber artistry and you’re interested in dabbling in the underworld of yarn bombing, join the movement. It’s certainly a great reuse opportunity for your leftover stash. Plus, groups are popping up all over the world. But first, you must be willing to abide by a manifesto of sorts.

England’s, Incognito group (no website link, as they want to stay below the radar) shares a few rules:

1. We anonymously promote knitting as adventure.
2. We aim to soften the edges of an otherwise cruel, harsh environment.
3. We juxtapose vandalism with the non-threatening nature of knitting.
4. We aim to readdress the nature of graffiti with a non-permanent, non-destructive, cozy medium.
5. We are a non-discriminating collective.
6. We aim to recruit members to tag on an international scale.
7. Knitstable today, the world tomorrow!

Ready to join the yarn graffiti force? Even if yarn bombing is too fringe (no pun intended), check out the book…it’s a voyeuristic pleasure not to be missed.

For me, yarn bombing gives new meaning to, “Go hug a tree.” Thoughts? Does knit graffiti desecrate, or do you agree with Yarn Bombing’s slogan, “Improving the urban landscape one stitch at a time?”

Don’t Block The Beautiful, Bountiful Wind

The whishing and shushing of spinning wind towers are just beginning to blot our landscape. Are wind towers ugly? I find wind towers both novel, and an optimistic reminder that we can find a solution to our carbon problem. And as you can see, harnessing the wind doesn’t have to be an eyesore.

Along with being quite beautiful, there are many reasons why using wind turbines to create energy are a clean solution for powering communities:

Wind is free.
Wind is clean.
Wind is renewable.
Wind is non-polluting.
Wind doesn’t harm our health.
But most importantly, wind energy works.

Unfortunately, we may soon see an end to exploring the wind energy option. The wind industry is facing the expiration of a Production Tax Credit (PTC) at the end of this year.

Do we have a cleaner homegrown energy solution? Funny, I didn’t hear much about wind and solar energy from the candidates during the political conventions, did you? Will those who vote to cut this credit be providing us with cleaner solutions?

The way I see it, we have two choices: one based on sound science that supports the public’s want and need for clean, renewable energy…and one that denies and blocks innovations that could end our dependence on fossil fuels.

I would love to know your thoughts about wind energy? Does your community have wind towers? Do you find them appealing or appalling?

Want to learn more? Please read my latest post HERE and find out what you can do to allow wind energy companies to continue to harness the beautiful and bountiful power of the wind.

Check out the nicely designed Hercules Wind Turbine

The World Is My Oyster

Painting ©2012 Nadine Robbins

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” ~ Ernest Hemingway, ‘A Moveable Feast’

What is it about oysters that people either love or hate? It’s a slippery slope, and oysters slide right into one of those polarizing food categories, kind of like cilantro. I happen to love fresh, briny, sweet oysters. But my daughter…not so much. These sea-dwellers don’t float her boat.

Nevertheless, a few weeks ago, while I was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard with my family; my daughter and her partner (in business and life) were in the midst of branding their client, Honeysuckle Oyster Farm. To inspire the design process, early one morning, they set out by boat to go oyster farming. Their research is this photo story:

The seafarers returned with a full bag of oysters. As it turned out, my daughter sampled a raw oyster on the boat and she was still not enamored with the texture and taste. So my recipe resourceful husband decided to make oysters more palatable for her and grill them over an open fire (with a few clams). Here’s his recipe:

Wood-Fired Grilled Oysters 

  1. Scrub oysters clean. If available, use oak or hickory wood.
  2. The fire is hot when you can’t hold your hand above the grate for a few seconds.
  3. Place the deep cupped half of the oyster shell facing the fire (flatter part facing up).
  4. In 2-3 minutes the oysters will open. Immediately, take the oysters off the grill before the liquid dries up.
  5. Can be served with a simple Rose Mignonette sauce.

The beauty of this dish is that it is like inhaling the sea…and while my daughter may not have “lost that empty feeling” towards eating oysters, she was inspired to “make plans” and brand Honeysuckle Oyster Farm.

Photos (except the grilled oysters): Ben Scott for Bluerock Design
Painting: Nadine Robbins

DIY Folding Chairs To Die For

My latest DIY obsession is repurposing old chairs. A while back, we found two Scandinavian chair frames abandoned by the side of the road. Making cushions is beyond my DIY realm – I’m crafty, but sewing a hem musters up a learning curve that I’ve yet to master. Why? Because I’ve always had a lovely sewing enabler in my life. I’m lucky because my mom is my go-to seamstress/upholsterer. And I’m thrilled she’s still willing to aim her magic thimble in my direction. Mom is currently chopping away on a maxi-skirt that I snagged at my local second-hand store, Rupo. It’s a beautiful long, narrow skirt, but torturous to climb steps in. When my daughter was here last week, she whisked the skirt off to mom and asked her to put a slit up the side (probably way higher than I would wear). Bye-bye skirt. But I digress…

I saw these Overdyed Terai Chairs at Anthropologie (above) and was immediately inspired by DIY possibilities. I’m thinking an oh-so stylish bluish, vintage-vibe would give new life to my old chairs.

Here are 3 of my favorite fabric pics:

1. Madeline Weinrib – This Ikat fabric is just stunning. Ikat means ‘to bind.’ I’m bound by love for this hand-dyed and handwoven silk/cotton fabric.

2. Marimekko – Who doesn’t love Marimekko? With its quintessential retro designs, these fabrics wink back to groovier times. This bold pattern from 1964 is almost identical to the ‘flower power’ wallpaper pattern of my childhood room (hence, the blue trend). In fact, I had to buy a few items with this pattern when I was at the NYC Marimekko store recently.

3. Amy Butler – I’ve written about Amy Butler’s designs before. Not only does Amy provide organic fabrics (below, organic velvet), her business philosophy inspires me as much as her gorgeous designs: “Being generous, fair, and honest in business and in life rewards you with grace and is it’s own success. Giving back to your community is sewing what you reap (sharing the love)…Care for YOUR community and it will take care of you.”

DIY Folding Chair Instructions HERE.

Photo: Anthropologie

In The Moon Garden

I recently enjoyed a summer evening dining in a friend’s garden. I loved the way the moon cast a spotlight of shadows, capturing a mood with white flowers and shimmery plants — shining amongst the greenery. Nightfall ushered in entirely new and intoxicating sights and fragrances. Some flowers were shut tight sleeping, while others opened in full bloom. There’s something mystical and romantic about walking through a garden on a summer evening.

What is a night garden?

A night garden incorporates plantings whose color, texture, sound, and scent can be appreciated in the evening. Sometimes night gardens are called “Moon Gardens.”

Are night gardens new?

According to this article, night gardens have been around for a long time:

“A night garden is not new to the contemporary world. Moonlight gardens were planted in medieval Japan using white or pale-colored rocks and sand. Pools of water caught the shine of the moon and white chrysanthemums cast a ghostly profile. In the 1600s India’s mogul emperor planted a stunning night blooming garden using fragrant and beautiful flowers like jasmine, narcissus, and lilies all in white.”

What to plant in a night garden?

DoItYourself lists night bloomers and aromatic plants to set your garden aglow.

Photos: Garden GuidesPlanting Seeds and Miss Wallflower