Yarn bombing


Old Navy Bumper Cars Yarnbomb


You’ve seen our epic yarnbomb of a 1950’s Chevy truck in Old Navy‘s San Francisco Flagship store (up til January 2015). Now get ready for the second epic yarnbomb: three yarnbombed bumper cars in Old Navy’s New York 34th St Flagship store.

How awesome is Old Navy to choose yarnbombing to celebrate #OldNavyStyle in a season full of fashionable knitwear for the people! We were so stoked that they asked us to do this second project on the same block with the Thanksgiving Day parade. It’s our little Miracle on 34th Street. Forget Santa’s lap–go snuggle your derrier into one of these vintage babies this Christmas. (And I know you want to but sorry, they don’t move around.) Be sure to tag us in your pics (@knitsforlife @thedappertoad @oldnavy) so we can see you!

For those of you who are interested in learning to step up your work to more ambitious yarnbombing projects, get your scroll on and I’ll tell you a bit about our process. It’s basically three steps: design, construction, and installation. But first, the pics!

Old Navy Bumper Cars Yarnbomb Old Navy Bumper Cars Yarnbomb Old Navy Bumper Cars Yarnbomb Old Navy Bumper Cars Yarnbomb

1. Design includes a sketch and engineering. Old Navy did the sketch and we translated it into knitting and did the engineering. You translate the colorwork elements in the sketch (snowflakes, letters, etc.) into charts. We input the charts into our Brother KH-270 knitting machine. While it sounds easy and is certainly faster than hand-knitting, it’s still quite a laborious process of mostly prep. Read more details about charting in this post.

bumper car yarnbomb
Final design for the Old Navy bumper car yarnbomb

To engineer how you’ll construct the yarnbomb, you break down the overall design into panels to seam together. We conceived of a few ways to do it and chose the one with the best stitch alignment and seam location. One consideration is whether you’ll knit rectangular panels or custom shapes. We braved knitting rectangular ones to cut to shape on site. The fear of unraveling fabric is great within knitters, but a simple whip stitch around cut edges secured them nicely and we conquered in the end.

These @oldnavy #yarnbomb installations are teaching us all kinds of courage. 🙀🙈✂️

A video posted by Lorna Watt (@knitsforlife) on

Old Navy bumper cars yarnbomb
One of our sketches for getting measurements from afar.

Once the panels are mapped out, you take measurements to get their dimensions. We did all our nail-biting over the fact that we didn’t fly out to take the measurements ourselves. Instead, Old Navy’s team sent tons of photos, we sent back diagrams of our required dimensions, and they took careful measurements. Since knitting is fairly forgiving, we could bring back-up panels, and we were on a 2-week timeline, we figured the risk was low enough that it would work out, and it did!

The final engineering step is to translate each panel’s dimensions to a stitch and row count based on a swatch of knitting in the same yarn, gauge, and tautness as the installation. Calculate thrice, knit once!

2. Construction, as every knitter knows, is the fun part. The Brother KH-270 knitting machine is like a cross between a circular knitting loom and a weaving loom. It has an input for the colorwork to tell the needles which color to select for each stitch, and a bed of needles over which you manually pass a carriage for each row. Each bumper car comprises 11 panels, so with the sign we had 34 panels to knit.

Yarnbombed Truck
Knitting a panel for the yarnbombed truck on the Brother KH-270 machine. We goofed.
Old Navy Truck Yarnbomb pieces
The bumper cars yarnbomb comprised 34 individually-knit panels.

3. Installation is equal parts sewing and ingenuity. This step is also a huge consideration during the design stage. It seems every installation we do these days requires us to dream up a new installation technique. First there was the staple gun (no, it doesn’t hurt trees). Then there was fishing line and plastic canvas. Now we turned to decals, Velcro and hot glue. (Here’s a great deal on bulk Velcro tape.) First we applied a vinyl decal layer in places where the bumper car paint job might show through the knitting too much, muddling the color. Next we applied sticky-back hook Velcro tape around edges and center areas to hold the knit panels. Finally we hot glued around the borders a huge crochet chain, made on a jumbo 16 mm hook with yarn held triple. Sounds easy, but that’s a lot of layers for a lot of edging. Elsewhere the panels are mattress and Kitchener stitched together for the best-looking seams. Voila! It’s crazy that even though this project only used 1/4 as much yarn as the truck project, it took the same amount of time to install!

Old Navy Bumper Cars Yarnbomb 1
The fun Old Navy bumper cars before yarnbombing.
Old Navy Bumper Cars Yarnbomb
After installing the bumper car yarnbomb with a super cute knit sign.
Old Navy Bumper Cars Yarnbomb
After installing the bumper car yarnbomb.
Old Navy Bumper Cars Yarnbomb
Jumbo crochet chain edging.

Technically, there’s a fourth step: sharing! We love photographing, posting, and tagging our work. But the best part about it is that we can see how much fun people have interacting with the #OldNavyStyle yarnbombs. Our friends in New York were the first to hop in for a ride!

Yarnbombed Bumper Cars Polaroid

Remember if you go see it to tag us in your pics so we can see you! (@knitsforlife @thedappertoad @oldnavy)


Lorna & Jill

New Patterns

New Knitting Pattern: Knit Snake Yarnbomb

Last month I told you about the new crochet pattern for our fun Snake Yarnbomb design. As fast as our little fingers could go, we’ve knitted and purled and sewn and photographed and typed to get you the knitting pattern version of the same popular design. With no further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the Knit Snake Yarnbomb!

Knit Snake Yarnbomb Knitting Pattern

This whimsical yarnbomb knitting pattern is a fun and easy way to brighten up your neighborhood. Brighten up your favorite bike rack at the library, your office, the grocery store, or anywhere people need a surprise and a smile.

knit snake yarnbomb knitting pattern

The yarnbomb knitting pattern works up quickly by using yarn held double on size US 11 (8 mm) knitting needles.

knit snake yarnbomb knitting pattern

The pattern is worked from the top down. You’ll make two lips, then join them and continue working the body. The mouth, eyes, optional fangs and forked tongue are worked separately, then sewn on.Knit Snake Yarnbomb Knitting Pattern

You knit the body as a flat rectangle, which you’ll then sew onto the pole. We recommend installing in broad daylight so people can tell you how much they love your work–because we guarantee they will! Play around with colors and invent your own embellishments. Express your imagination!

knit snake yarnbomb knitting pattern web 3

Share your projects on Ravelry and tag them @knitsforlife on Instagram and Facebook. Be sure to include hashtags like #yarnbomb, #yarnbombing, #streetart, and your city so people can discover who made it!



Lorna & Jill


New Patterns

New Crochet Pattern: Snake Yarnbomb


We love yarnbombing street art that transforms everyday objects into surprising characters. While we expected kids to love these crochet yarnbombs, we were surprised how much these characters took adults out of their daily doldrums by adding a little fun to their lives too. Now with this yarnbomb crochet pattern, you can help fill the world with whimsy and bring a smile to the faces in your neighborhood. Purchase this Snake Yarnbomb Crochet Pattern on Ravelry, Etsy, or Craftsy.   Snake yarnbomb crochet pattern This new snake yarnbomb crochet pattern includes instructions for a ridgeback or flat body. It also suggests how to adjust the pattern for extra small or large poles. We’ve found that most public works departments use poles of similar sizes, so these should fit most bike racks, meters, and signposts. If you want to learn more about how to make custom fitting yarnbombs, be sure to take Ishnknits’s excellent self-paced online yarnbombing course here. Snake yarnbomb crochet pattern The snake yarnbomb crochet pattern is worked from the top down. You’ll make two lips, then join them and continue working the body. The mouth, eyes, optional fangs and forked tongue are worked separately, then sewn on. You crochet the body as a flat rectangle, which you’ll then sew onto the pole. We recommend installing in broad daylight so people can tell you how much they love your work–because we guarantee they will. snake yarnbomb crochet pattern Play around with colors and invent your own embellishments. Here are some other snake and worm yarnbombs we’ve crocheted and knit in all kinds of colors on all kinds of bike racks. Snake yarnbomb crochet patternSnake yarnbomb crochet patternSnake yarnbomb crochet pattern Snake yarnbomb crochet pattern Snake yarnbomb crochet pattern You can get inspiration from our other crazy yarnbombs. But most importantly, express your imagination! Have you ever tried yarnbombing? Tell me about your yarnbombs and feel free to ask a question in a comment below. xxxo, Lorna & Jill


Story Time Yarnbomb at the San Mateo Library


A few months ago I tried out my new Addi Express knitting machine on a few bike rack worm yarnbombs. The Very Hungry Caterpillar yarnbomb from the popular children’s book was so loved by patrons at the San Mateo Public Library, that when it recently got shaggy I knew I had to replace it. My sister Jill and our new intern, Magine, dreamed up a new installation to span all 6 bike racks with characters from kids books. That required we expand our search to include any tube-shaped character, and we found 5 more! So, pop quiz: how well do you know your kids lit? The answers are in the photo titles of this Flickr album. story time yarnbombWe used both knitting and crochet on each character, spending about a full week of work for 2-3 people. Yeah, call us crazy–it was for the kids! First, we machine knit a body on the Ultimate Sweater Machine. This machine has no electricity or pattern capabilities so it’s faster than hand knitting, but still quite a slog–kind of like churning out a novella on an old-timey type writer. Next we sketched out the elements of each character from images by breaking its main features down into basic shapes, just like in cartooning. We crocheted all the details and painstakingly sewed them together in the studio. This time we learned our lesson about working for hours in the sun and purchased some PVC pipes of the same diameter as the bike racks in order not to have to assemble all the details in the field. You don’t think about it at first, but the eyes for example must be placed where they’ll go on the tube when it’s fully stretched, and guesstimating that will quickly make you go either grey or bald.  Pipe also works great for test swatches to calculate the number of rows and stitches in each body. Finally, we installed on a Friday evening after closing so the racks would be empty–which they almost never are. Yay for cyclists! Now comes the fun part! We can’t wait to see all the pictures of kids playing with the characters, and hope the library dreams up a fun contest for kids who guess them all or read all the books. story time yarnbomb Alice in wonderland yarnbomb James and the Giant Peach yarnbomb Harry Potter basilisk yarnbomb Richard Scarry's Lowly Worm yarnbomb The Jungle Book Kaa yarnbomb The Very Hungry Caterpillar yarnbomb IMG_5506 The San Mateo Public Library is just off of 3rd Ave and El Camino in downtown San Mateo, California. I hope you get a chance to see them while they last. Be sure to tag your photos #knitsforlife so I can see your fun snapshots! xxxo, Lorna


New Buttmunches Yarnbomb: Monster Benches at the Ferry Building

When my sister, Jill, and I aren’t working on publishing new knitting and crochet patterns or a commissioned installation, we do what we love most: yarnbombing. If you haven’t checked out our new zine called Fuse that’s all about what yarnbombing it is and why/how people do it, get with the program here!
Ever since our big Squid Tree yarnbomb in San Mateo, we’ve wanted to design a new character-based yarnbomb in a great spot. We got the perfect chance when CCTV-America asked to film us installing a yarnbomb for their new show about creativity called Full Frame: introducing our newest monster bench yarnbomb we’re calling Buttmunches!
The best part of yarnbombing to us is seeing what happens to it once we give it to the public. Jill considers it a social experiment to discover how people interact with our yarnbombs, whether they steward, steal, destroy, or hug them. These Buttmunches generate so much love so far we can’t stop stalking them on Instagram! Here are few highlights:

Buttmunch yarnbomb monster bench ferry building

Our inspiration was to find a picturesque site in the city where both locals and tourists could enjoy our work. We love the way the waterfront is transforming into a new, vibrant heart of the city and wanted to show it some love. The Ferry Plaza is also sentimental to us since we have fond memories from the 80’s of taking the ferry to the Embarcadero to have lunch with our grandfather who worked at PG&E. Our mother also worked near the Embarcadero, and we’ve been going there since we were kids. I usually walk around areas on Google Street View looking for objects to transform into silly things with yarn. We think it a noble endeavor to make grown-ups smile. The benches had a gorgeous backdrop on all sides, and the idea of giving them a local bite, as it were, just came to me. Some objects shout at us, others need intense psychotherapy to coax it out.
ferry plaza benches
We started yarnbombing guerrilla style, but our laborious yarnbombs are easy to steal or damage, so we prefer to get permission and confirmation that the site will enjoy it and become a kind of steward of the work. Many artists are forced to create guerrilla style public art because they have no other recourse. This becomes the distinction between public art and street art: one is welcomed, while the other refuses to be forced out by economics or government. Cities like Oakland and San Mateo are not only becoming new art hubs because of rising big-city rents. They’re attracting artists with welcoming attitudes in local government and business. We asked to do a free public art installation all over SF, but got turned down again and again. The company who manages Ferry Building also manages a property in San Mateo that we’ve worked with, so we suspected they’d be amenable to an installation, and they were!

Buttmunch yarnbomb Monster benches san francisco ferry building

Buttmunch went up on April 16. The whole thing stitched up about 3 miles of yarn, took 30 hours to construct, and 3 hours to install. We knit the bodies, arms, legs, and mouths on the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine with Knit Picks Brava Sport and some value acrylic from the craft store. We crocheted the hands, feet, eyes, teeth, horns, and other details using more value acrylic from our stash. If you can believe it from looking at our yarn wall, we actually needed to buy orange for this project!

cctv america full frame yarn wall studiocctv america full frame yarn wall studio


One of the things we love about our new art studio to work in is having so much SPACE! Even though we measure and calculate gauge again and again, there’s always a nagging worry about how a yarnbomb will fit. This time, we just pinned it on the wall in the right proportions and were able to sew the deets on just like we were in the field. It rocked so hard we’re psyched to start another project!
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset


@thedappertoad presents this special sneak peek of our next #yarnbomb at the #SF Ferry building.

A video posted by Lorna Watt (@knitsforlife) on

We’ll post a link to the show on Facebook when it airs, so be sure to follow my Facebook Page and Instagram!


Buttmunch yarnbomb Monster benches san francisco ferry building Buttmunch yarnbomb Monster benches san francisco ferry building
 When they get badly damaged or soiled we’ll remove them and surprise people with something new. Until then, we hope you get a chance to see them in person. Be sure to tag us @knitsforlife and @thedappertoad so we can share in the fun!

We Knit a Window Display for our Local Yarn Shop


I wanted to share one of the things Jill and I worked on lately. We have an EPIC project going up next week, but in the mean time I’ve managed to squeeze in another fun job.

Downtown San Mateo’s local yarn shop, Nine Rubies, is wonderfully supportive of local crafters and yarnbombing, so it’s no surprise they recruited us to spruce up the huge front window for the holidays.

If you’re in the Bay Area, Nine Rubies just might convince you to get out of the house on Black Friday: they’re offering 40% off everything! Check out the details on their Facebook page here.

Knit Christmas Window DisplayKnit Christmas Window DisplayKnit Christmas Window Display

You might recognize the pom-poms from Jill’s pop-up art gallery installation:

pom pom curtain by the dapper toad

We cut the pom poms off and strung them on green i-cord to make a Christmas tree, which we’re calling a “pom tree.” Ha ha, get it?

If you choose to make your own “pom tree,” I recommend getting a pom-pom maker to speed the process and just start busting through your stash. Jill and I ignored color, trusting randomness to do a good job of making a colorful assortment–and it did. Each pom pom takes about 5 minutes to make, and it takes about 100 to make good impact, so plan accordingly. I’d say a skein of Red Heart Super Saver yarn makes about 3-4 big pom-poms. You can save  money with Caron One Pound Yarn.

knit christmas window display

I knit a faux i-cord on my Elna knitting machine–it’s actually a 7 stitch x 14,000 row rectangle, which rolls in on itself when pulled tight. I knit 1,000 rows in just 10 minutes! That’s way faster than those hand crank i-cord machines you can buy at craft stores. Here’s a video of me at the Elna knitting  machine cranking out the faux i-cord.

Today's work: 14,000 rows of knit I-cord for a Christmas tree window display. I'm 1/3 done…

A video posted by Lorna Watt (@knitsforlife) on

We anchored the i-cord between a hook on the ceiling and bricks on the floor, yarnbombed in red and white knit stripes. The yarnbombed bricks jumble in with other candy colored presents under the tree and some toy samples from the shop.

Knit Christmas Window Display

I knit this chevron wrapping paper on my Elna knitting machine with a punch card, baker’s twine for white, and tiny size 10 crochet thread for red. It took forever and my machine jammed, so for the larger presents I switched to Knit Picks’ Brava Sport acrylic yarn on the Bond Ultimate Knitting Machine.
Machine Knit Chevron Wrapping Paper

Don’t you think it would be fun to sew knit wrapping paper on all your Christmas gifts? Just imagine the confusion when your family ponders how to open them.

Knit christmas window display

Such fun! I hope people enjoy the window and that it brings lots of passers-by into the shop.

Stay tuned for our huge new yarnbomb installation going up the first week of December. You can follow our progress on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.



New Products, News, Yarnbombs

A whirlwind first quarter for 2013


So much has been happening lately that I’m excited to tell you about!

I went on vacation to Manchester, England and left a yarnbomb at my favorite tea + cake shop. Anyone catch the Little Britain reference?

Yarnbomb at Teacup Manchester

The people at Purl City Yarns in the Northern Quarter were absolutely lovely and had some nice English heritage yarns.

Purl City Yarns Manchester

The clerk was wearing Berroco’s Beatnik sweater, which is now on my knitting list!

Beatnick pattern by Norah Gaughan

Next up was the city of lights, Paris–on Valentine’s Day, no less. Did you know about the growing trend to click a padlock onto the Pont des Arts? The bridges overflow with lovers’ tokens.

Pont des Arts

Of course I had to leave one in yarnbomb style–on Valentine’s Day evening with sparklers while the Eiffel Tower twinkled on the hour. Très romantique! (Obviously photography was not my focus at such a moment.)


One day in Paris I took a walking tour of some yarn shops and discovered a few beautiful ones: Le Bon Marché, L’OisiveThé, and a cute shop in a Marais courtyard.

Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche

L'Oisve Thé, Paris

Paris yarn shop

Upon my reluctant return, I finished my iPhone yarnbomb and made the front page of my local paper! My sister over at The Dapper Toad made some wonderful photographs.


Knits for Life in the San Mateo Daily Journal

I realized I’ve never seen a yarnbomb in my city. Have you? Since I see them every day in The Yarnbomb Daily I forget how rare they are.

In Manchester I discovered a stellar string artist so tried my hand at it in my local park. I’m planning to do a big one on my wall next.

Knits for Life string art Knits for Life string art

Guests are the only way my house gets clean, and this month I had two. Yarn organization plan, activate! I went from a pretty good storage plan to an amazing one! Grab a yarn winder and some pegboard and DIYODS (do it your own damn self). You can even knit or crochet from the skeins on the wall. I call it knitting like a boss.

Knits for Life yarn stash

Knits for Life yarn wall

All play and no work makes… well, no money! I wrapped up two unique custom projects that turned out just swimmingly: a fangirl hat based on the cheetah movie Duma and a replica of a vintage Christmas stocking. The stocking pattern dates all the way back to 1935. How cool to help keep a family tradition alive–and they want 4 more!

Custom Crochet Beanie Personalized Knitted Christmas Stocking

And speaking of products, chain scarves and lacey laptop sleeves are getting popular lately. I’m designing new products for spring, but it seems these will stay alive–in popping, new colors.

Knits for Life chain scarf Knits for Life chain scarf Knits for Life chain scarfKnits for Life chain scarf Knits for Life chain scarfFashion Laptop Sleeve

Phew, what a year so far!



New Products, News

Yarnbomb Your Own Furniture


Some graffiti artists use paint, some use stickers. We crafty types use yarn. If you haven’t heard of yarn bombing or knitted graffiti yet, get yer google on! If you have, maybe you – like me – see the world a little differently than most; a taunting swirl of shapes and structures challenging you to wrap them in bright, snuggly yarn. Ok ok, yes – I surrender! Let’s cover everything in textures and energy! Goodbye to plain statues and trees that don’t hug you back. Hello newborn graffiti artist.

And then the walls inside my apartment began to talk. Psst! Why bomb the bike rack down the street? You’ll only see it when you go for a walk. You could enjoy your graffiti every day in your own home.

Egads, I’m hooked, as the crocheters say. Five skeins of 100% recycled yarn and one reclaimed Ikea chair later, here’s my prettily “upholstered” chair. (Here’s a pic of it in progress.) It will soon be for sale online and in a local gallery, but I have three more pawing at me with their little legs – almost as inconveniently as the Sesame Street U laid in to Smokey Robinson. Wish me luck!

3/7/12 update: The yellow and brown chairs are done too! Come see them here: http://knitsforlife.com/2012/05/07/yarn-bombed-furniture-at-studio-gallery-in-sf/