Meet Pittsburgh’s scarf bomber, and other artists bringing warmth to PA

Meet Pittsburgh’s scarf bomber & other artists bringing warmth to PA

Photo courtesy of Canva

By Kalena Thomhave

February 14, 2024

Suzanne Volpe is warming Pittsburgh necks with her crocheted acts of kindness, and yarnbombing artists throughout the commonwealth are warming Pennsylvania hearts with their textile art creations.

Have you heard of Pittsburgh’s scarf bomber? Suzanne Volpe leads a group of knitters and crocheters who are spreading warmth and joy throughout their communities by dropping off free, warm scarves during the cold season in areas with lots of foot traffic.

But scarf bombing comes from the long established practice of yarnbombing, a type of street art popularized by women in the early 2000s. Yarnbombing represents a sort of removable graffiti, as it is colorful textile art found in public spaces. Volpe is warming Pittsburgh necks and yarnbombing artists throughout the commonwealth are warming Pennsylvania hearts.

Read on to learn more about Volpe’s efforts as well as other yarn bombers and textile artists working across the state.

Suzanne Volpe, Pa. Scarf Bombardier

Penn Hills resident Suzanne Volpe is a quick and efficient crocheter, able to fashion two to three scarves a day. Rather than simply using these scarves as fashion statements, Volpe “scarf bombs” her community to share warmth with her neighbors this winter.

In fact, Volpe has been scarf bombing in different Pa. communities for years. She drops roughly 400 crocheted scarves throughout the streets each winter, tying them to trees and utility poles, with little tags informing people that the scarves are free for the taking. In turn, Volpe gets warm words from her neighbors who are grateful for her act of community care.

“[T]o me, it’s a small thing,” Volpe told Pittsburgh’s WTAE. “But to somebody who’s cold, I guess it’s not.”

Accessible Art in Altoona

Last fall, Altoona knitters and crocheters came together to craft a large yarn art project on a downtown street. The yarn art installation was coordinated by the city; as yarnbombing street art has gotten more popular, sometimes cities want to greenlight projects themselves to promote public art — and to endorse a kind of graffiti that unlike spray paint is removable.

As reported in the Altoona Mirror, the group of participating knitters and crocheters consisted of more than 60 artists whose ages ranged from 12 to over 70. Many of the fiber artists worked side-by-side to create their pieces. Some crafted large blankets that were wrapped around light poles while others made smaller squares that, when combined with other small squares, formed a larger piece of art. All in all, the yarn art totaled 270 feet in length.

After the outdoor exhibit ended, the city planned to donate the knitted and crocheted pieces to groups needing scarves, blankets, bags, and the like.

Meet Pittsburgh’s scarf bomber, and other artists bringing warmth to PA
Photo courtesy of the City of Altoona via LinkedIn.

Community Days Crocheters in Cranberry Township

A committed group of volunteer knitters and crocheters in Cranberry Township have an annual tradition: focusing their efforts on creating colorful displays on trees for the community to enjoy. These public yarn displays are set up during Cranberry Township’s Community Days, Cranberry’s biggest festival of the year.

Meet Pittsburgh’s scarf bomber, and other artists bringing warmth to PA
Photo courtesy of Cranberry Township via Facebook.

Jessie Hemmons, Ishknits

Ishknits is Jessie Hemmons, a longtime Philadelphia street artist who uses yarn as her medium. Ishknits embodies the feminist spirit of yarn bombing, through which a typically feminine hobby (an act of care, no less) is pushed beyond the domestic space and into the public sphere.

You can follow Ishknits’s work on Instagram. Be sure to dive into the archives, where you’ll see Ishknits transform well-known Philly landmarks — like the Rocky statue — with her textile art.

Meet Pittsburgh’s scarf bomber, and other artists bringing warmth to PA
Yarnbombing Rocky by Ahd Photography (knitting by Ishknits circa 2011) // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Deed

Nicole Nikolich, Lace in the Moon

Nicole Nikolich is Lace in the Moon, the name for Nikolich’s textile art business. Lace in the Moon began working with yarn as a street artist, using the streets of Philadelphia as a canvas for her crocheted creations.

Now, in addition to public artmaking, Lace in the Moon makes yarn murals for clients, from small businesses to large corporations. She also sells some colorful, irreverent crochet pieces in her online shop. Follow Lace in the Moon on Instagram to keep up with Nikolich’s work.

Meet Pittsburgh’s scarf bomber, and other artists bringing warmth to PA
Tina Fey by Nicole Nikolich/Lace in the Moon // Photo by C. Benner, courtesy Visit Philadelphia.

And You?

Do you want to get into yarnbombing?

If you know how to knit or crochet, there’s no reason you can’t start yarnbombing now — it’s street art, after all, and thus open to you. If you want to learn to knit or crochet, check out your local library for fiber arts groups or beginners’ courses, or see if there’s a local yarn shop in your area that may have classes or helpful suggestions for those new to the fiber arts.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Meet Pittsburgh’s scarf bomber, and other artists bringing warmth to PAMeet Pittsburgh’s scarf bomber, and other artists bringing warmth to PA

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