Remember how I said I’d be taking you on a tour of Pacific Northwest designers, dyers, and fiber artists? Well, today we’re making our first tour stop in my home neighborhood of West Seattle, WA, where local knitter J-See, founder of the YarnCore yarnstorming collective, has been leaving some artsy presents of late! Want to know what makes a yarnbomber tick? Here’s your chance…
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, J-See! Please introduce yourself.
I’m a 30-something knitter, yarnbomber, fashionista and lover of cats; also a tech, TV and video game nerd.
What do you do?
I recently started YarnCore to make soft & cuddly art for Seattleites to enjoy. In addition to yarn bombing and knitting, I also started canning pickles and jam last fall. I work in fashion, but am kind of a nerd and don’t really fit in in the fashion world. I love my West Seattle community and have a great extended family.
How did you get started knitting? How did you get into yarn bombing?
I’ve always had friends who were knitters, and my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law all knit. One day during a family event after I’d complained about not knowing how, my mother-in-law sat me down with some needles and yarn and I learned to knit that evening. I then went home and watched lots of videos and loved it so much that I moved through different projects and techniques quickly. I’ve knit a lot of hats, some scarves and a few sweaters, but after a while I found that I was not finishing any projects. Last October I went to LA to visit some friends and I saw a bike yarn bomb by Olek, started looking into yarn bombing, and loved the concept. It’s more fun to me than knitting garments because garments take so much time and detail, whereas yarn bombing is more free-form knitting.
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering doing knit graffiti for the first time?
The biggest advice I’d give is to bring a buddy! It’s so much more fun to do with a friend or two than alone, and you feel less awkward when people walk by. Also, carry a fabric tape measure everywhere you go so you can measure things you want to bomb. I get inspired constantly and have my little retractable sewing tape measure with me to measure them.
Some yarn bombers are extremely secretive about their identities; others are fairly public and identifiable. Where do you fall on this spectrum? Are you concerned about backlash from law enforcement or from yarnophobes if they know your identity?
I like being sort of tongue-in-cheek secretive, like being funny about it (hence the photo on my About me page), but a lot of people in the community know who I am simply because they know me and I’m pretty vocal about it. I’d like to stay relatively anonymous, but more for fun than because I’m worried about getting in trouble. I was out putting up a piece a few weeks ago and was approached by a police officer, but when he realized what I was doing he simply told me to carry on! So no, I’m not concerned about law enforcement much at all. It’s all in good fun, and I’m not damaging anything permanently, so I don’t think it should ever be an issue.
Is there anything exciting coming up in YarnCore’s future?
This coming weekend I have new members of YarnCore coming to put up a larger scale project for May Day. It isn’t as big as I’d like it to be, but it’s a start. I’m going to use it partly to promote a large group yard sale for West Seattle Garage Sale Day on May 14th from which all the proceeds are going to benefit someone very close to me who will be undergoing kidney transplant surgery in the coming year.
Do you have a favorite colorway?
RAINBOW! Actually, when selecting yarn, I tend to lean towards the blues and greens, but I really love all colors, especially together in a violently bright way.
What’s one thing most people don’t know, or wouldn’t guess about you?
Hm, that’s a tough question—I’m pretty open about most stuff! Here’s a fun fact, though: I don’t drive and have never had my driver’s license, even though I’m 30 years old!
Is there a fiber artist in the Pacific Northwest that you think others should know about?
The Shibaguyz! They’re really nice guys from West Seattle and fabulous crochet and knit designers. They also spin gorgeous yarn. They aren’t just fiber artists, either—they do dog shows with their adorable Shiba Inus, they cook and garden, and they’re just all-around creative and interesting guys.
If you’d like to know even more about J-See and YarnCore, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter. And be sure to let me know if there’s someone special you’d like to see on the PNW fiber artists tour!