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How to Yarn Bomb Without Going to Jail

Maybe you want to show your favorite teacher how much you appreciate her. Or maybe you want to do something splashy for your parents' anniversary but you can't afford a trip to Paris. Maybe you just think that tree outside the post office would look great in a sweater. Yarn bombing is the art of putting knitwear on inanimate objects and it might be the perfect way to show your love for friends, family and community.

Just don't get arrested because yarn boming is also considered vandalism.

I plotted for years to yarn bomb an entire park in my neighborhood. The plan was to cover trees, benches and even a flagpole in colorful Dr. Seuss-like stripes. I wanted to show my daughters that this form of art could be used to bring joy to the community and also give back to those less fortunate. After the installation, we would take the yarn down and make blankets for women living in shelters. I proposed my plan to the board of this private park and they approved it.

But sometimes you don't want to ask for permission. Because sometimes you know your ideas won't be approved. And to those guerrilla artists out there, I salute you.

Choose Carefully: I know, that statue of the Revolutionary War hero in the center of town sure would look great in a crocheted bikini. But have you scoped for security cameras? Is there a neighborhood watch patrolling about? Is it in a high traffic area that would attract unwanted attention while you're installing? Choose something you can actually access and take the time needed to bomb. You have a great idea and don't want to get shut down before fully realizing your vision.

Measure Meticulously: Once you've chosen your mark, you need to know how much to crochet. If you're yarn bombing your neighbor's collection of lawn gnomes for example, you'll either have to measure while they're gone or while they're sleeping. In many cases measuring in daytime is best, as you look less suspicious and you can see what you're actually measuring. I drew each object-to-be-yarn-bombed in a notebook, and wrote the measurements on each picture.

Make Furiously: Once you know the measurements, it's time to get crocheting. Get your moms and grandmoms to help make the pieces. Be sure to leave "tails" on the ends of your rows so that the pieces can be crocheted on to the objects on-site. Label each piece for quick installation. Even though I consider myself a very fast crocheter, the work took much longer than I expected: three months. Yes, you might also want to plan for a carpal-tunnel wrist sling.

Install Deftly: If your yarn bomb is a surprise, wait for nightfall to install. I used a tool belt that included clips, scissors and zip ties. Place your pieces where you want them, using clips to keep them in place. Then stitch the pieces together using the loose ends (tails). If covering areas up high or out of sight, zip ties work well. And of course, bring a ladder. Most importantly, bring a trustworthy friend to hold said ladder.

Act Thoughtfully: Don't harm the trees. Avoid using staples and nails. If you see a nest in a tree, leave it alone. And after the reveal of your incredible yarn bomb, give it sufficient time to make its impact, then be a responsible citizen and take it down. It's simple Yarn Bombing Ethics 101.

Communicate Clearly: A friendly statement will explain your project. Let the recipient know it was an act of love and they'll be less likely to call the cops. Unless it was not an act of love—in which case, you should've used toilet paper.

Images via Street Art Utopia and Jeff Lipsky

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