Community Papers

Yarn bombers take on West Van library

Leanne Prain, a yarnbombing pioneer, covers a tree in Vancouver with knitted swatches. - Cynara Geissler
Leanne Prain, a yarnbombing pioneer, covers a tree in Vancouver with knitted swatches.
— image credit: Cynara Geissler

A controversial handicraft is taking over West Vancouver Memorial Library.

Yarn bombers are adding strategically placed pops of colour in unexpected places along the aisles and in between book stacks.

On their lunch breaks library staff even knitted a dress and top hat for a pair of wooden statues near the front entrance.

“They’re literary themed,” says Sarah Felkar, digital access librarian, holding two knitted book holders and a scarlet-and-gold Gryffindor scarf from the Harry Potter series.

This is the first time the library has delved into yarn bombing, a temporary form of public art that is most often seen covering tree trunks.

More recently, however, yarn bombing has been used to add a soft touch to urban geography, such as light posts and benches.

The library is devoting Feb. 22 to all forms of knitting.

Leanne Prain, a yarn bombing pioneer who coined the popular term, is hosting an introduction to the craft. After the lesson, the guerrilla knitters will place their creations throughout the library.

“In the last five years yarn-bombing has become less anonymous. It’s less incognito,” she says of the Lower Mainland’s evolving guerrilla knitters.

Although yarn-bombing may seem like a wholesome pastime, it has caused quite a stir in North Van.

In February 2012, a North Vancouver Community Arts Council request for $7,500 for yarn-bombing kits was met with skepticism that it was a waste of taxpayers’ money. The request was denied, but later accepted in a 4-2 vote after North Van city council had a change of heart.

This doubt, however, didn’t dampen the spirits of North Shore yarn bombers who later covered trees at a Central Lonsdale park with brightly coloured wool.

“It opens a dialogue about what art is. How do communities come together?” says Prain, author of the first book on yarn-bombing.

Shortly after organizing a “knitting and beer” night at pub at Metrotown mall in 2005, Prain was introduced to the knit graffiti movement via the internet.

Now she’s a go-to source on the subject.

Her workshop, Yarn Bomb Primer and Pom-Pom Making, is at 10 a.m. on Feb. 22. The “pom-pom bombs” will be hung as a form of public art.

For details on Yarn Storm at the Library, including registration and information on presenters, visit

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