Hamilton has been yarn bombed

There is a new art form that is sweeping the country, and it has landed in Hamilton. Like many artistic ventures, it is designed to captivate the mind and imagination, while also slipping in a meaningful statement or two.

Yarn bombing is an art form that allows artists to tag trees, statues, lampposts parking meters or big blue baby sculptures (Hamilton) with yarn instead of paint to make their statement.

Kelli Johnson is a Hamilton resident and teacher at Miami Hamilton. She is a yarn bomber who loves doing it and enjoys the statement it can help make.

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is held each year the week before Thanksgiving, so Johnson was busy yarn bombing to make a statement.

“A few years ago I started knitting and crocheting hats and scarfs and leg warmers to place in public with signs on them about hunger and homelessness,” she explained. “We are supposed to be the City of Sculpture, so I thought it would be good to adopt a social justice component — fighting hunger and homelessness — to attach to that.”

Yarn bombing is usually done in public places, so the arts and craft can be shown off. Seeing the Fitton Center’s Hatched Baby with a knit hat on or Alexander Hamilton’s statue with leg warmers on is meant to remind passers by that it is cold outside, and there are people who need help getting warm clothing.

“I did an educational component about four years ago with the yarn bombing really addressing the issues of hunger and homelessness in Butler County and Hamilton,” Johnson said. “I typically leave the scarfs and hats up for about a week and take them down and then donate those items to the needy.”

Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, executive director of the Fitton Center for the Creative Arts, was delighted to see the yarn bombing take place.

“Our lady outside the Fitton, near the Hatched Baby just got a scarf, as did the Little Girl on the bike…and her dad,” he said. “And I hear Alexander Hamilton now has leg warmers.”

He was correct and Johnson explained that wasn’t an easy thing to do.

“Sewing leg warmers on Alexander Hamilton was a little harrowing with the high winds and on that little island downtown with all that traffic coming,” she said.

Johnson’s 15-year-old daughter, Reilly, a Hamilton High School student, along with her mom, Judy Schaefer, of West Chester, helps with the project. She has a sister, Jan Huss, of Tucson, Ariz., who also pitches in.

“My daughter helps every year with the installation, and my mom and sister help me with making what we use to yarn bomb,” she said.

The art of yarn bombing was started in Texas in 2005 and is now done internationally, where in some parts of Europe it’s known as yarn storming or knit graffiti.

Johnson has been at it for nearly four years and it is also popular in nearby Yellow Springs, Ohio, where two women known as the Jafagirls have been doing it since 2007. They are known for creating a yarn bombing project called the Knit Knot Tree, which gained international attention.

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