The unlikely terms "knit bombing" and "graffiti knitting" will become familiar to Salt Lake residents as an underground network of yarn guerrillas begins a three-month "total-domination" campaign to adorn trees, benches, parking meters and traffic poles with woolly sweaters.
"Yes, it's ridiculous. That's why we do it," says Sheryl Gillilan, as she and two co-conspirators put the last purls (or is it knits?) in a green sweater that warms a tree outside the Coffee Garden at 9th and 9th.
The Coffee Garden, incidentally, has been a safe house for a knitters' cell for the past 20 years and even provides the group with a table and good lighting for their work.
Gillilan and two other self-described "rogue knitters" are having a dispute over how to tailor their one-armed sweater onto the tree trunk and a low branch. "It's a question of how to knit a sweater on a tree," Gillilan explains. "Do it the ADD way or just do it?"
It's a snug fit in the end, while a tag hanging from the stitched-on cardigan explains that this is a "Random Act of Art."
Knit-ins will continue through June, as organizers hope to outfit Washington Square downtown in knitwear as part of World Wide Knit-in-Public Day on June 15.
Scouting and measuring are already under way, and the knitting frenzy will continue through the Salt Lake Arts Festival, which begins June 23.
"It's being done all over the world," says project leader Ellen Christensen of the fuzzy street art. "So far, there's only been three reports of people being arrested."
Gillilan grimaces at the mention of arrests. "It's community art," she says. "You can connect the community by bringing people together who ordinarily would not get together."
So far, partners in the program are the YWCA, City Academy charter school, the Salt Lake City Open Classroom and the Road Home shelter. "The world can be a dreary place sometimes," Gillilan says. "This is our way to bring some life and humor into it."
P A workshop on "knit bombing" will be 1 to 4 p.m Saturday at the Utah Arts Festival Headquarters, 230 S. 500 West, Suite 120, Salt Lake City. Besides planning for the "total knitting domination," the close-knit group will provide training in "graffiti knitting." For more information, visit www.uaf.org or contact Ellen Christensen at email@example.com.