Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Knitted Graffiti

The surge in popularity of knitted graffiti is one which has left me intrigued and dumbfounded.  When I first saw a picture of knitted graffiti, I was surprised by how much time and energy someone had put into knitting an item which would eventually be dirtied, torn down and thrown away.  Yet after reading article after article, and seeing more and more pictures representing the art that has been placed on display in streets around the world, the appeal of knitted graffiti begins to make more sense.

It all goes back to the concept of knitting as utilitarian.  What once was necessary tool in daily life has become a craft that is done mainly for enjoyment.  What was once a way to bring extra money into the household in times of desperation is rarely used as a means of necessary monetary gain today. 

This is not the first time, however, that knitters are abandoning the useful nature of their craft.  In the Victorian era, it became incredibly popular among those in the upper classes to knit things in miniature.  It went along with their predisposition to hold their needles in a less comfortable way- these women went out of their way to make a distinction between those who had to knit to survive and those who chose to knit for pleasure. 

The motivation behind knitting abstract and useless objects today is clearly not the same as it was for Victorian ladies.  So, then; what is the motivation?  Some large-scale PR stunt for a craft long considered one for the elderly? Another product of the community formed within knitting groups both in person and on the internet?   A fun and harmless way for knitters to 'walk on the wild side?' Tune in tomorrow when I will do my best to answer the question of WHY people participate in knitted graffiti. 

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