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Graffiti knitting intrigues Weston hikers

Mysterious colorful crocheted “cozies” have made their way onto tree branches at Trout Brook Valley. —Brenda Maggio photo

Mysterious colorful crocheted “cozies” have made their way onto tree branches at Trout Brook Valley. —Brenda Maggio photo

While talking a stroll along the purple trail at Trout Brook Valley on Bradley Road last week, Weston dentist Jim Maggio and his wife Brenda came across something fuzzy and colorful on a branch of one of the trees.

No, it wasn’t a caterpillar, it was an inanimate crocheted yarn “cozy” about two-feet long that would look more at home on grandma’s coffee table than on a tree in the woods.

Fascinated by the object, Ms. Maggio took a picture of it. As they continued their walk, the couple came across three more colorful crocheted items gracefully strung out on tree branches.

“It was a little bit of whimsy in the woods. Where art meets nature,” Dr. Maggio said.

A golden yarn caterpillar slithers down a tree. —Brenda Maggio photo

A golden yarn caterpillar slithers down a tree. —Brenda Maggio photo

Stephan Grozinger also happened upon one of the crocheted items on his daily walk at Trout Brook. “It added a little bit of color to the otherwise drab woods — a little anonymous benign self-expression,” he said.

No one knows for sure who made the items or why they were attached to tree branches, but it clearly involved some planning. The items could not slide smoothly over the branches because the branches jut out at the ends, so someone had to hand stitch each item to the branch, loop by loop.

Graffiti knitting

A likely explanation for the crocheted banners is that they are examples of the “feminine artistic vandalism” movement known as graffiti knitting, yarn bombing, or guerrilla knitting.

The terms refer to a type of street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fiber rather than paint or chalk.

The movement began in 2005 by Magda Sayeg of Houston, Texas, who covered the door handle of her boutique with a custom-made cozy. Since then others have used their leftover and unfinished knitting projects to personalize cold or sterile objects.

The bronze statue of Rocky near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a statue of a bull on Wall Street, for example, have been covered in brightly crocheted yarn by “yarn bombers.”

A global phenomenon, fuzzy, colorful knitting graffiti has appeared in Europe and Asia as well. In Paris, a yarn culprit even went so far as to fill sidewalk cracks with knots of yarn, according to a story in The New York Times.

Though hikers think they're cute, The Aspetuck Land Trust views crocheted creations as nuisances. —Brenda Maggio photo

Though hikers think they’re cute, The Aspetuck Land Trust views crocheted creations as nuisances. —Brenda Maggio photo

What makes this type of artistic expression and vandalism especially intriguing is that it involves crocheting and knitting, which is feminine in nature, and more associated with grandmas than spray paint graffiti counterparts.

Unlike traditional graffiti, yarn bombs tend to be more appreciated and admired because they are not permanent and can be easily removed without damaging or defacing the objects they cover.

Land Trust disapproves 

While it appears Weston may be part of the global graffiti knitting movement, David Brant, executive director of the Aspetuck Land Trust which oversees Trout Brook Valley is not a fan.

“This kind of thing has been going on for a couple years. Our official position is that these things are cute but when they’re pervasive and go on trees they’re problematic because they turn into junk. Our policy is to not disturb the land,” he said.

When land trust board members come across the crocheted items, they’re removed, Mr. Brant said. “We don’t want to encourage the public to do this. It could get out of hand, and birds could get caught in them. We want people to enjoy nature for nature’s sake. It’s not spray paint, but its still graffiti,” he said.

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