Mysterious knitting ninjas ‘yarn bomb’ De Beauvoir on Women’s Day

Courtesy of Amanda Lovegrove

A mysterious “yarn bomb” – a knitted or crocheted form of street art – sporting the slogan of International Women’s Day, “Be Bold 4 Change”, has caused a stir among local residents of Hackney.

The woolly memo was spotted at the junction of Northchurch Road and Southgate Road on Wednesday morning. Alongside its supportive message, the yarn bomb is decorated with mini-pussy hats, a reference to the anti-Trump feminist protests in Washington.

This is the second anonymous yarn bomb in less than a month after another, larger work was installed on Valentine’s Day next to St Peter’s Church before being removed within a few days.

Courtesy of Amanda Lovegrove
Courtesy of Amanda Lovegrove

The works were initially assumed to be the knitting of the De Beauvoir Women’s Institute, but a subsequent denial from the Institute’s President has led to new rumours of a different underground network of knitting ninjas.

“I’m a keen knitter myself, but I couldn’t possibly confirm that this is the work of the Women’s Institute,” Amanda Lovegrove, President of the De Beauvoir Women’s Institute, told the Hackney Post.

“I noticed that there was a tag on there this morning and an Instagram account – it looks like they’re a new group.”

#woolly valentines art in #debeauvoir

A post shared by Dominic 'Ski' Oakenfull (@ski_oakenfull) on

Kirsty Norman, former Chair of the De Beauvoir Residents’ Association, raised the possibility of “under the cover of darkness” operations: “It’s quite difficult to do something like that in De Beauvoir without people knowing as it’s a small community. I can only think they’re doing it at 4 am to avoid being spotted!” she said.

“It’s a bit of a mystery. Everyone assumed it was the Women’s Institute so it’s more interesting that it isn’t. It’s caused a bit of chatter partly for that reason.

“Maybe it’s like Banksy doing murals: it’s fun to be anonymous and build speculation,” she said.

While the search for the nightly knitters continues, their fleecy graffiti seems to have been met with the approval of their local  Hackney residents.

Ski Oakenfull, 46, noticed the Valentine’s Day yarn on his morning walk to work from Stoke Newington to Hoxton: “I love the concept of embellishing mundane objects with wool art,” Mr Oakenfull told the Hackney Post. “The one I saw in De Beauvoir brightened up my Valentine’s Day no end. It was beautifully surreal. More please!”

Ms Lovegrove also backed Wednesday’s support of International Women’s Day by the group, saying that the yarn seemed to be “making people smile” and helped highlight the event.

Yarnbombing has become increasingly popular over the past decade, with knitting clubs such as ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’ and I Knit London, springing up across the capital.

In 2012, ten “yarnbombers” knitted garments around the trees outside Hackney Town Hall to mark the events of the 2011 riots.

The movement’s stated aim is to revitalise public spaces and “improve the urban landscape one stitch at a time”, according to the motto of Leanne Prain, a website dedicated to yarn bombing.