Here at Art Attack, we've written a number of pieces on the resurgence of "women's crafts" in modern society, so naturally we were thrilled to see a recent New York Times article on yarn bombing. But even more exciting was the suggestion that what is now a worldwide trend had its roots in Houston with Magda Sayeg, founder of the renegade knit graffiti crew Knitta Please.
Many of these people also reached out to Magda Sayeg, a 37-year-old Texan who is considered by many to be the mother of yarn bombing. By her recollection it started on a slow day in 2005 at Raye, her quirky boutique in Houston. On a lark, she knitted a blue-and-pink cozy for the shops door handle, a piece she now calls "alpha".
Knitting has since taken Sayeg around the world, from the streets of Montrose to Argentina and Indonesia, Mexico City and Milan, and everywhere in between. We were able to catch up with "the mother of yarn bombing" for quick chat on the trend and how life has changed for her since she started in 2005.
Why does yarn bombing have such universal appeal? Sayeg mirrors the article in stating, "It's taking traditional women's work and placing it in the male-dominated realm of graffiti art." But she no longer operates in the manner typically associated with graffiti artists. "No, [it's] nothing like in the beginning, when we would go out in a pack wearing Mexican wrestling masks and knit over a stop sign," she says. "Once people started taking notice and we started doing interviews, anonymity went out the window." These days everything "knitta'd" is well-documented in the daylight, with photos and regular postings on Sayeg's blog, knittaporfavor.wordpress.com.
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We were disappointed to discover that, like fellow street artist Give Up, Sayeg had relocated to Austin (insert sad trombone sound here). At mention of this she says, "I love Houston. It's my hometown".
When asked if Knitta Please would have come about had she been living anywhere else, she replies, "I've often wondered about that. It started on such a whim -- Houston is so overdeveloped and ugly," she says. "There was a need for something beautiful, something soft. So the answer to your question is no. I don't even think it would have happened had I been living here in Austin."