Yarn bombing catches on at UAF

Valerie Schleich/Sun Star Reporter
September 4, 2012

August is the most colorful time of year at UAF. Flowers are in their prime, and the leaves are beginning to change from green to yellow, greeting students with the bittersweet remembrance that cold, bleak winter is on its way.

This year, a bit of color will stick around on campus even after the trees drop their leaves and the flowers are covered with snow.  Last winter, tree sweaters started appearing on the birch trees in Constitution Park, on lower campus near the post office.

Trees on lower campus have been given a mini face lift by a random knitter. Sept. 4, 2012. Maleaha Davenport/ Sun Star

Yarn bombing has hit campus.  The creative graffiti, also known as guerrilla knitting or yarn-tagging, is a growing community of knitters and crocheters that add works of art to public spaces such as subway terminals, parking lots or college campuses.

The knit graffiti phenomenon started with a small group of knitters led by Magda Sayeg in Austin, Texas in 2005.  Their art grew quickly into a global community of artists decorating bleak areas with brightly colored yarn.

Constitution Park displays 11 incidents of yarn bombing in the form of ‘tree sweaters’. The first yarn bombing on campus began last winter, when Lander Ver Hoef, a senior mathematics student, noticed score marks and the message “cut here” carved into the bark on a birch tree outside the Wood Center.

“We thought that was ugly and crude,” Ver Hoef said.  With a group of friends, Ver Hoef created  sweaters to cover the marks on several of the trees.  They put up the sweaters at 2 a.m. on school nights to avoid detection in what they called, “random acts of duty: replacing something that defaces with color and brightness.”

“The mystery is the cool aspect,” Ver Hoef said. “Everyone goes home at night and then the next day, there’s something colorful.”

Since then, yarn bombing has caught on at UAF, with new yellow and blue regalia appearing on birch trees in time for New Student Orientation. The creativity has inspired other students to knit their own yarn bombs around other parts of campus, such as outside of the Sustainable Village and Cutler Apartments.

This type of guerrilla art shows the UAF community’s love of whimsy cheer.  Students love the color it adds to campus. “It’s a very creative way that the student body has shown school pride,” archeology student, Melissa Schulze said.  “They will liven up the dark winter!”

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1 Response

  1. Liz Moss says:

    Thanks for enlightening this 92-year-old grandmother. I think this a great hobby– better than roller skating!

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