Knitters have been getting a bad rap in the letters pages of local newspapers across South Wales lately. Not just any knitters mind you, but knitters who yarn bomb in the name of humour, joy and community spirit such as Swansea’s Yarnachists. Another victim of ‘Knit War’ is Swansea artist Ann Jordan (a director of Elysium Gallery) whose giant blanket project – Cwtch – has been receiving hate mail for daring to create art and not spend her time better by knitting for charity. Perhaps the people writing such letters should have spent the time they took to write their letters of wrath more charitably, and used their hands to knit some blankets for good themselves, instead of spreading such disdainful malaise. Needles at dawn, anyone?
The Swansea yarnachists – a secret society of knitters who have vowed never to knit anything useful – meet in clandestine code-protected corners to knit subversively over wine of a weekday evening. Their first yarn bomb was for Valentine’s Day and saw the disguised bombers dawn raiding Uplands to hang knitted space raider hearts on railings and from trees and wrap up lampposts with loved up scarves. So far, so quirkily cute, right? Last Wednesday’s Evening Post had a letter from Llangyfelach Bethel Chapel knitting group calling the yarnachists ‘sadly self centred’ for wasting wool and talents by not knitting for charity! I imagine a future yarn bomb of community bonding loveliness is quite likely to take place outside Bethel Chapel. It sounds like the area needs such care and attention. At any rate the yarnachists promise to ‘spin more yarns in the future’ as they attempt to become Swansea’s eco-friendly answer to Banksy. Their latest Facebook status states: ‘Yarnarchists are love and peace people and want to be friends with everyone, including the church ladies of Llangyfelach and will take their …comments on board. Perhaps we could make amends by cheering up the streets of Llangyfelach…’
Tomorrow Ann Jordan will launch her new Black Mountain art project: Cwtch onto the public. Her giant white lambswool blanket has been knitted from 12 miles of wool spun by Ann with the help of volunteers. The 12 miles is significant. It is the exact distance that the coffin trail which has informed the work stretches — from Ystradgynlais to Llanddeusant. In the morning Ann and her audience will conduct a four hour walk which will trace this route, first installing the spiral-patterned blanket, allowing it to line a prominent Bronze Age Cairn on the summit of Y Garreg Las, overlooking the coffin trail. She is a contemporary artist who works to engage the environment with social histories and mythologies hugging all together in one big ‘cwtch’. How can she receive hate mail for something purely creative, personal and communal? For sharing a vision? Or perhaps it is for bothering with art at all, where such public reactions and controversies can become common place. Still, I wonder if there would be this much outrage over communal crochet or sock darning sessions?
So it is official, Knit-Purl is badass and wrong. Put down that crack pipe and cast on sinners.