Yarn on Trees in Cincinnati

September 30, 2011

If you’ve driven down Central Parkway in downtown Cincinnati recently, you may have noticed colorful (and elaborate) yarn decorations on the trees along the way.  You may have wondered, What’s going on?

What’s going on, apparently, is a “yarn bombing”.  Last week, in an Art Works project named “Operation Bomb Central”, a group calling themselves the Bombshells went downtown and painstakingly wrapped yarn around trees, other fixtures, and even a Metro bus!

See pictures at the Bombshells’ Web site and Mikki Shaffner Photography; see also Cincinnati Enquirer pictures of when the Bombshells decorated Cincinnati’s statue of Romulus and Remus.

Why did they do it?  Watch this one-minute video about the Bombshells, or take it from their Web site:

We anonymously promote fiber craft as adventure. We aim to soften the edges of an otherwise cruel, harsh environment. We juxtapose vandalism with the non-threatening nature of fibers. We aim to readdress the nature of graffiti with a nonpermanent, nondestructive, cozy medium.

See more photos and videos of the Bombshells at 5chw4r7z (also includes an interview), Kate’s Random Musings, and WCPO.

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5 Responses to “Yarn on Trees in Cincinnati”

  1. Tevyeh Says:

    When I was a kid, my friends and I would do something like this every Halloween. Except we used toilet paper instead of yarn.

  2. SAVEtheTREES Says:

    Ummm, when people covered trees with yarn in YS wasn’t there a sudden alarm for the health and safety of the trees? Wraping trees up restricts there growth, but maybe only in the spring time. So much for non-destructive. Anyway, that is funny.


    • It’s a sad, sad day when knitting and the environment find themselves opposed.


    • Wow, yeah, I had forgotten all about that controversy. Now that you’ve brought it up, I’ve tried to verify whether being wrapped in yarn is bad for trees, but I can’t find anything from any source that looks authoritative, just people giving their (conflicting) opinions: Some say it’s bad for the trees, some say it’s not. And some say that artists should remove their work after a reasonable period of time, in which case I suppose it wouldn’t matter.

      To the Board of Aldermen of the town of Carrboro:

      After 1-2 weeks, the artists take down the pieces.

      This outdoor installation will NOT do any harm or damage to trees or property. Yarn is lightweight and can be fit snug or loose to any one object. To remove pieces, one long stitch, for each object, needs to be pulled apart.

      A commenter on the “Win” section of Failblog:

      These “yarn bombing” things generally don’t harm the trees, the wool/ yarn stretches enough that the amount it grows while its on isn’t impeded, and with weathering they eventually fall off of the trees (or benches, or bike racks, etc)

      From two Yellow Springs bloggers (with pictures of “yarn bombings” they’ve done in Yellow Springs!):

      Worried Knitting Will Damage Tree? To date there is no evidence that any trees have been damaged due to yarnbombing . . . .

      The same bloggers commenting elsewhere:

      I have seen no evidence that yarnbombing damages trees,(yes we checked with local tree experts before we did ours 2007) . . . .

      On the other hand:

      I’ve heard about this, and I’ve worried that it does harm the tree a bit by restricting the trunk and branch growth. I may be crazy — a tree SHOULD be able to grow through yarn — but I just don’t know.
      . . .
      Comment by The Modern Gal

      A tree is not just something to look at. It is a microcosm of life, from fungus and insects to birds and mammals. The yarn could contribute to rot, provide pests with a foothold, interfere with nest builders, etc. Trees are perfect just the way they are. No human embellishment required! Now, park benches and fences are another matter….
      . . .
      Comment by Abby

      Yarn wrap NON LIVING THINGS ONLY!

      Yarn Bombing is UNHEALTHY for trees!!

      Most yarn being used is ACRYLIC, which is PLASTIC, is NOT biodegradable & gives pests a safe cover from birds looking for food a place to hide while they bore into the tree, weakening it.

      PLEASE, Yarn wrap NON LIVING THINGS ONLY!
      . . .
      Comment by AccompliceKim

      Yarn bombing would be harmful to trees for the reasons given by AccompliceKim and others.
      Not good for other structures, such as fences, benches, bike racks and such as it will hold in moisture that would normally evaporate, causing rust on metal and rot on wooden structures.
      If enough of this is done, then somebody has to be paid to remove it, same as other forms of graffiti.
      . . .
      Comment by Urly Grace


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