Ally Kraus is a student of the Yarnbombing Skillshare course and I wanted to interview her because her first yarnbombs were off the chain! (pun intended). Here are her answers below. Check out her craftsmanship, it is really beautiful. I know the urge to get out there and yarnbomb can be overwhelming, so I really admire when new yarnbombers have the patience to perfect their piece… Much respect to Ally!
I know that you learned about yarnbombing from your friend, and I was wondering what inspired you about it so much that you wanted to learn how to knit and start yarnbombing?
I love little surprises and discovering things. Every time I see awesome street art or find an inventive geocache it makes me happy – they make the world a better and more magical place. Yarnbombing seemed super fun, colorful, and appealed to my love of crafts.
-So have you only been knitting since 2011? How did you learn? Kudos on your skills by the way, they are very technical and professional!
I am terrible at hand-knitting! After several attempts at learning, I’ve finally accepted that it’s not the craft for me. I found a Bond knitting machine at a thrift store, and without knowing anything about knitting machines, I took a chance and bought it. I taught myself how to use it with YouTube and some instruction manuals I found online. Knitting machines are awesome! They are kind of like a loom, and allow you to focus more on the pattern. I just recently got a second one for finer gauge yarn.
-What made you want to take my yarnbombing skillshare course?
I had an idea for a yarnbomb, but I didn’t know where to start and needed some advice on measurements and all the logistical stuff. I reached out to Knits For Life since I was really inspired by her and the Dapper Toad’s Squid Tree installation in San Mateo. She recommended your class! It helped me break down the project into more manageable pieces. I also liked having the excuse that I was working on an art project for a class assignment — in case anyone ever asked why I was measuring benches or taking fittings. It sounds a lot more legitimate than “I just want to cover this in yarn”.
-What was the inspiration for your installation? I know it was at the library, but what made you choose to knit a quote and that quote in particular?
My initial inspiration was a graffiti artist in Berkeley, CA who wrote random words and phrase on sidewalks. I used to live in Berkeley and every time I spotted one, I would stop, look around and try to find the reason for that label. Why “Pizza Police” and why that particular location? The words made me observe my surroundings in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise.
I live in Sunnyvale now, and spend a lot of time at the local library so that was the first place that came to mind when I was scouting a location. Words and libraries naturally go together. I thought a quote from a book would be the most relevant, and picked the first line of a book I had recently read and liked: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami.
– How long did it take to knit the piece?
It took me 8-12 hours to knit the whole thing. My knitting machine does solid color stripes really quickly but I had to select the needles and knit the second color by hand for letters/sheep. I made it in five separate pieces because of how the bench was constructed and to give me some more flexibility with the length.
-How did it feel to install the piece? Were you nervous? Did you do it at night? Give us the details.
I was so nervous! I installed it early on a Saturday morning and dragged by boyfriend along for moral support and also to take pictures. I thought about going at night, but I didn’t know how long the piece would stay up and wanted to get some shots before it was taken down. (It’s still up and looking great over two months later!)
The bench is only a high traffic area when the library is open since it’s off the street. A few early risers actually actually dropped off their books while I was installing the piece but no one said anything or even really looked at me. That was really surprising!
– Did you receive a reaction from the library and/or the community?
The library and the City of Sunnyvale actually took at lot of great pictures and posted them on their social media sites. My piece has stretched a bit and since it’s on a bench people use frequently, the letters and sheep often get spun around so they’re not as visible from the front – it never occurred to me that might happen. I have some unknown guardian angels who help maintain it and line up the letters, and I’m really grateful for them. I’ll have come up with a solution for that for future pieces.
The reaction has been really positive from everyone I’ve encountered. That alone was a lot of encouragement to keep making new yarnbombs!
– Have you yarnbombed anything else since? Do you have any projects planned for the future?
Yes! I did another piece on a bike rack at the Santa Clara library at Central Park. That one was a lot less technical to make, but getting the pattern to line up right was much more challenging because of the scale.
Since then, I’ve been working on getting my new knitting machine up and running and learning how to use it. I have a new piece planned for Castro Street in Mountain View, CA that I hope to put up in the next few weeks. This yarnbombing thing is tons of fun, and I feel like I’ll be doing it for awhile. I’ve started yarnbombing under the name Robohoot, and have even made a facebook page for people to follow me. http://facebook.com/robohoot