Gallery: KNITTA PLEASE: Graffiti You Can Cuddle Up To

 

Hugging trees is all good, but our arboreal buddies get a lot more snuggly after a visit from one of Houston’s most notorious graffiti crews. Knitta Please, a team of 11 women and men who bomb urban landscapes with remnant knitting projects, are definitely not your grandma’s graffiti artists. Suddenly bike racks and stop sign poles aren’t just mundane urban objects- they’re blank canvases.

Founded by Magda Sayeg in October 2005, the crew and its ambitions started small. Original Knitters AKrilik and PolyCotN took unfinished personal projects and knit them onto door handles, beer bottles, and other urban artifacts around Houston. As their rep grew, the crew fanned out to more and more cites. Today, they have left their marks on places as disparate as the Great Wall of China, Notre Dame Cathedral, Harlem, and Seattle Washington. With any luck you’ll peep them knittin’ down your block one day.

+ Knitta Please

Via Metropolis Magazine

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23 Comments

  1. Green Guerrillas «... April 7, 2008 at 9:10 am

    [...] blocks. They knit scarves for telephone poles or stair rails. They began in Houston, TX, and have spread their work to “Great Wall of China, Notre Dame Cathedral, Harlem, and Seattle [...]

  2. NesiJean March 7, 2008 at 7:56 am

    What’s the Maca’s thing? Can you (or anyone else) give a link to where I can check it out? Ta!
    By the way that Penguin thing was soo cute Wendy.
    I was confused when I heard someone here asking for words, does Graffiti always need words? What about Fafi etc?

  3. xellen November 13, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    i just attended a marketing conference and one of the speakers showed a spot his pr firm worked on for mcdonalds. apparently mcdonalds is trying to sell iced coffee and so one of the things they did was knit polls with their logo. ACK! i am outraged that a local pr firm sold your wonderful knitta expression to a corporation. keep on knittin for the betterment of scciety (not for profit!) thank you knitters! x.

  4. Loki June 16, 2007 at 12:30 am

    Awesome just awesome. I’m going to knit a piece for the pole outside my house first, see what happens to it.

    People saying it’s useless: gee is art useless then? “Ohhh, art is so self-indulgent, get a real job!” “Ohhhh you think you’re activists, go get a reaaal activist job!” Anyway, these objections just crack me up. “Ohhhh, you think you’re being so pretty, well it’s gonna be reaaaalll ugly let me tell ya!”

    I love that the pieces are making a statement about public space not being so public unless we resort to breaking the law, the fact that modern cities are so utilitarian and impersonal and joyless and ugly. Knitta is taking the domestic and taking it out into the public domain, turning it into a stealth guerrilla action. I love that it defuses that tension between the legal and illegal, it is personalising resistance, making people smile to see something not officially sanctioned, something creative and DIY and unpretentious that’s real and tactile in front of them. Resistance doesn’t have to be aggressive, and these pieces are showing that those doing sometihng outside the law, the system, aren’t dehumanised monsters or whatever the stupid popular stereotypes are. Which is powerful because I feel that it invites more people in in a non-confrontational way, to resist in their own ways, without thinking they have to change themselves to be suuuper hardcore aggro or whatever they imagine activists to be, or without thinking they have to change themselves to be suuuuper hardcore arty types or whatever they imagine artists to be.

    I think the positive effects like I said, are subtle; I think a sense of wonder and delight and inspiration and gained by something so low-budget DIY unsanctioned are important. If we’re going to change the world, well, we need to do positive actions, show alternative mindsets and visions, as well as reactions to fucked-up things (the ‘activism’ that most people think of). I think the world of George W Bush and all the big media and big corporations have a very very different mindset from Knitta, so bless em for showing a different way and putting it out there because we can’t just make a new world by directly destroying the old one (although that’s very important too), we’ve got to show that pleasure and satisfaction in life can really really be derived from simplicity and beauty; that’s where most activists are at when we oppose the values that spur on huge destructive exploitative wasteful alienating polluting systems.

  5. Jeanne April 29, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    This is good…
    I come from a family of Lithuanian women quilting, knitting, darning and sewing up holes and knitting to cover up all the ugly in our homes… holmes.

    I love and understand the sarcasm and reality of what you are doing. Who knows how to knit anymore, its about the same as who knows how to tag something. Its very distinct and I get it. Its funny to read so much anger that people have been writing about knitting…. come on NOW. Knit up or shut up.
    Jeanne

  6. Sheila April 12, 2007 at 4:37 am

    There is a Mnitta commercial for Pressbyran Sweden airing on tv right now. I probably would have been a big proponent of the cause if it hadnt been for the super westcoast-tongued narrator claiming a piece had “a toadally hardcooore feel abowdit” . I mysef am from the westcoat and probably have the exact same accent but I have to hit mute on the remote before she says it it. There is nothing fing hardcore about knitting. You can not convince me. Go knit a guitar strap so you can continue to write songs about that guy who liked your friend more than you in 2001. Everyone else…KNIT ON!

  7. royal March 7, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Being someone that never lived in a big city, I never understood this waste of time “urban art” crap. Where do such people find the time? Why do they think this is a good thing? “To get people to think about urban space ina new way and re-explore their environment” is often the excuse. Stupid. Spend your time making something useful with that knitting–like a DIY cappillary action plant watering device. Or something. Sheesh.

  8. Art of Graffiti February 13, 2007 at 10:06 am

    you said graffiti ? but where are the words ?
    je rejoins mods la dessus, what is the message ?

  9. Annmarie January 25, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Hey, I’m on the west coast and following the work of Knitta Please for several months. I teach several younger co-workers knitting and groups like this really inspire one to draw outside the lines. I say keep it up

  10. Mod January 19, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Quel message veut transmettre le groupe “knitta” à travers le tricot de rue?

  11. Betsy January 19, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    My favorite part of this public art/graffiti project is the enevitable decay, which so many have point out as its downfall. I would love to watch the beautiful yarn rott a little more every day, getting dirty, frayed and trampled as I lock my bike to the bike rack or pole. It if got in the way, I’d cut it off and toss it.

    Public art and graffiti is not perminant, and it doesn’t have to be pretty either. And knitting is rad.

  12. Urban Retro Lifestyle -... January 16, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    [...] This will prove that the stereotype of graffiti artists being thugs and trouble makers is not always true. Knitta Please is a team of 11 women that are going around and using their knitting skills to create street art aka graffiti. In another words they are making your boring lampposts, hand rails and bike racks look very pretty and cuddly. Not my kind of thing but neat idea. [link via inhabitat] [...]

  13. Bill in Chile January 13, 2007 at 10:26 am

    Suggested frame around most entries on Inhabit might be…. let this unfamiliar thing fire your imagination and your creativity.. Criticism is cheap. What can I do with this that would feel more to the point ? Personally I tend to like _no_ graffiti, any more than I like auto parts signs covering whole facades of classic buildings for blocks in Chilean towns – the architects would be traumatized. I say design and decorate for beauty and utility and do it well, then give the originators their due.

    Posts might have more art or originality than utility or necessity, and consume materials or space. I don’t think the point in advancing to sustainability is to monk ourselves down into sterile dictates. Have fun getting there — great penguins!

  14. Cynner January 12, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    “Knitter Please” sounds like a play on N—- Please. I just hate it, hate it, hate it when mainstream america co-opts ghetto sytle/language/whatever you want to call it. It’s as bad as those Kirstie Alley Jenny Craig commericials…”way girlfriend”. Ugh!

    The idea is cute, but after day or so I imagine the installations do look nasty. Does this merry band of crafters pick up (no knitting pun intended) after themseleves?

  15. Kate January 12, 2007 at 12:15 am

    Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a poo-pooer–I’m a keen knitter myself and I’m all for encountering art and colour in unexpected places–I just think sometimes these projects can be ill-considered.

    In my undergrad days, I attended a meeting of a group called the “Revolutionary Knitting Circle” with high hopes of melding my love of crafts with activism, but the whole meeting consisted of idle chatter occasionally punctuated by someone saying, “So how can we use knitting to advance the revolution?” It was all pretty daft, really. But I digress.

    Anyway, as I said, the Knitta projects look cute on day one–I just wonder how long before they become just another piece of soggy, smelly trash. But penguins in jumpers? That’s utterly delightful!

  16. Wendy January 11, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Sorry, I forgot to include the link to the article about penguin jumpers. Prepare for cuteness!
    http://www.abc.net.au/canberra/stories/s1392592.htm

  17. Wendy January 11, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Very cute – what’s cuter (and more useful though not as visible) is knitting jumpers for penguins that get caught up in oil spills. Then again, the penguin people don’t take loosely knit items and I guess you pretty much need to knit loosely when you’re using offcuts and remnant bits of wool!

  18. Rin January 11, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    I think it’s absolutly adorable. Besides being a fresh take on urban art, it makes those unfriendly metal poles look so cozy and cheery.

  19. Matt January 11, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    The comment about the knitting turning into litter is valid, however. One of my coworkers ran across a Knitta Please piece on a subway after it had been up for a while. It looked all bedraggled and scuzzy and she moved to another part of the train! I guess like all graffiti these works walks both sides of the line between public art/public nuisance. A piece of soggy yarn is a lot easier to remove, tho, than a dripping tag etched with acid.

  20. Bruk January 11, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Don’t listen to the negative ones…..they are always going to put their two cents in. I think this is a great way of advertising and a very unique idea. Cheers!

  21. Kate January 11, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Um. Right. Because if there’s one thing that poor children in Africa need, it’s poorly knit stripy jumpers. More equitable trade practices and fair distribution of wealth? Nah. Better access to health care? Nah. Send them some failed craft projects!

    But snarky comments aside, I can see how this guerilla art/graffiti could become a bit of a nuisance. While the works look cute and cheery the day they go up, I can only imagine what they must look like after a few weeks exposed to weather and urban grime. And I don’t find the prospect of locking my bike to a soggy, stinky rag-covered bike rack very appealing. There seems to be a fine line in this case between art and litter.

  22. JS January 11, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    how about knitting for poor kids in africa instead of telephone poles in NYC?

  23. Sean January 11, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    I must say that I absolutely LOVE this!!! Knitters unite!

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