Knitterview by Stacey Greenberg

AKrylik and PolyCotN, two busy moms who couldn't find the time to finish their knitting projects came up with a crazy, organic solution. They started Knitta, a knitting graffiti crew, to tag their neighborhood with small, easy projects like antenna covers and beer cozies. Stacey Greenberg, the creator of the zine, Fertile Ground: For People who Dig Parenting, recently interviewed AKrylik to see how sometimes in balancing motherhood, work, and art we have to listen to ourselves and be brave and know when it's time to change and refocus our energies. She found that if we can just learn to do that, we may wind up with something even more amazing that what we'd started out with.
 
Knitterview
 
Stacey Greenberg: Tell me a little bit about Knitta
 
AKrylik: We are a group of 11 Houstonians, 10 female (PolyCotN, AKrylik, WoolFool, LoopDogg, Knotorious N.I.T., Purl Nekklas 14kt, SonOfaStitch, P-Knitty, GrannySQ and Knitiot) and 1 male (MascuKnitity), ages ranging from 22 to 55 (actually, I'm only guessing at GrannySQ's age, so we're not entirely sure where the range ends). Four of us are moms. I have one little person. She's 10. PolyCotN has three, ages 3, 9 and 12. WoolFool has two, 9 and 5. Some of us have full time jobs out of the house. Some of us have full time jobs inside of the house (that definitely includes our one full-time mom). Some of us are students. Some of us own our own businesses. NONE of us knit full time. In fact, though we all like (are even obsessed with to a point) knitting, I think what brought us together was our creativity levels and the combined need to make this hobby a tad more edgy and stimulating. This is an interesting little side project for all of us that has developed into something really unbelievable. We only thought that we were embarking on some crazy, humorous adventure that the folks in the neighborhood would get a kick out of. Never in our wildest dreams did we guess that it would get this huge.
 
SG: How do you choose your targets?
 
AKrylik: Sometimes we tag randomly (car antennas, door handles, stop sign poles, park benches) and sometimes we choose larger, more specific targets. The random tag nights are usually "come if you can", while we knit with a purpose for the larger targets. For one large project we did (24' scarves on two statues in Houston), we all knit piecemeal, then crocheted all the pieces together to form the giant scarves. Those were nice. Occasionally, our targets come to us. We get requests every now and then. We'll still bomb those requested targets under cover of night, in order to retain some sense of anonymity though. Every once in a while, we knit and knit and knit for a trip out of town to spread Knitta out a little. This coming weekend, for instance, four of us went to New York City for 4 days of crazy tagging. We had an extra suitcase full of pieces that will grace the streets of New York (for at least a week or two, we hope). MascuKnitity just got back from a 3-week trip to China, where he was able to leave a little Knitta presence on the Great Wall. We still haven't figured out how we're going to top that one.
 
SG: What has the response been locally? Do people like getting tagged?
 
AKrylik: I would say that the response to this has been overwhelmingly positive. The pieces don't stay up that long and, with the exception of a couple of items, it doesn't seem like they're being taken down and thrown away. We have folks contact us just to tell us that they took one or more to keep. It's crazy.
 
SG: So how HUGE is Knitta? How many projects do you do in a week/month/whatever?
 
AKrylik: As for quantity of projects, I really can't say how many tags we've thrown since we started this. Probably hundreds of antenna cozies. We covered lamp posts on three local highway bridges with 6 foot, hot pink wraps the night before New Year's Eve. We laid 24 foot scarves at the end of January. We had a big night of tagging on Valentine's and again for St. Patrick's Day. While we were in New York last weekend, some of the others tagged a portion of the Rice University campus for their annual KTRU Outdoor Show. We have plans for a big event here in mid May, then another in June. I can't even count how many times we've been out, casually distributing car antenna wraps and beer bottle cozies in the neighborhood pubs. My hands are cramped most of the time from knitting.
 
SG: What did you knit in NY?
 
AKrylik: Oh, wow...what didn't we knit in New York! We hit Union Square Park, a couple of spots in Brooklyn, a few subway platforms, Louie Armstrong's house in Corona, Queens, Times Square, Central Park, a subway headed North into Harlem, a lamp post near the Queensborough Bridge, multiple spots around the Lower East Side, Soho, China Town and Little Italy, St. Marks Place, The Williamsburg Bridge... I really can't remember more than that. It was crazy. And it completely paid off! We were mentioned on the Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live this past weekend! It just doesn't get any better than that.
 
SG: On the website it says you got tired of unfinished projects so you knit a door knob cozy and that's when the idea for Knitta came to you. I want more details. Like how did you even think to do a doorknob cozy? Do you have past experience with graffiti?
 
AKrylik: We were bored with the usual knitting projects and get-togethers. Personally, I get tired of a project that takes more than 2 or 3 days to complete. I call it crafting ADHD. I had plenty-o-unfinished projects laying around my house that I'd simply become bored working on. Those projects, along with artistic tendencies and a pristine door handle on a local boutique that begged to be covered, led us to begin tagging with knitted pieces. I don't have any past experience with graffiti, myself, except for being incredibly awed by much of it. I can't speak for everyone in the group though. I think I can say, with a certain amount of confidence, that none of us have ever been full-time graffiti artists or taggers.
 
SG: How did you pick your crew and what is the overall dynamic like?
 
AKrylik: Poly and I started this together. Initially, we though that this would only be local humor. Still, we knew that we'd need another knitter or two to help cover the area that we had envisioned. So, we just began asking a few of our closest pals that we knew were also knitters. A couple of family members joined in. We gained another member through the journalist covering us for a story last October. Now we're at 11. With what's coming up for us this summer, we may just need to find a few more members to keep us afloat! The group dynamic is fabulous. With an age range from 22 to (possibly) 95, the ideas and reactions keep everyone constantly on their toes... and constantly laughing.
 
SG: Do your kids know what you're up to with Knitta? Are they involved at all?
 
AKrylik: All of the Knitta offspring are aware of our ridiculous new "jobs". GrannySQ's grandson is even standing in for her in her "Crew" photo on the webiste. He came up with his own tag name (Cartoon Knitwork) and is learning to knit. My chica has been pondering a Knitta name for herself and claims she's ready to go through Round 2 of "How to Knit" with moms. It didn't really take the first time around. I'm not the world's greatest teacher. They just roll their eyes at us a lot. All we've said about it is that they shouldn't talk about it at school or with anyone who doesn't already know. They've been pretty good with that so far.
 
SG: How has Knitta affected you personally? As an artist? A woman? A mother?
 
AKrylik: Personally? Its opened up a great, creative outlet for me that I didn't have before. Sure, I knitted for friends, family and craft markets. That can be satisfying, but in a different sense. You do things for friends and family to make others happy. You use your creativity in a craft market or bazaar setting, not only to make what you enjoy, but for financial satisfaction. This is just for me. This makes ME happy. It's personal.
 
SG: What advice would you give to someone who is home with a newborn and thinks she doesn't have time to do anything creative?
 
AKrylik: If you're staying home with the newborn, then all the little pesky chores that still have to be done around the house move right onto Dad's list of things to do, dammit! While he's washing dishes and doing last week's laundry, you're knitting. You're supposed to sleep when they sleep, right? Yeah, right! I remember that I could NEVER seem to drift off when I should have. So throw in that movie that you've been meaning to watch for 2 weeks now and grab some yarn and a crochet hook. Get to work, man! Instead of shopping for a blanket or crib gear, get that sewing machine down and make good use of all of the maternity clothes that you want to throw out because you're sick of looking at them! Make a "This is what I was forced to wear for 10 months" throw for the crib! You'll look back on it and be glad you put those panel pants to good use!
 
SG: What advice would you give to a mom with older kids?
 
AKrylik: Start a knitting graffiti crew, teach your kids to knit, then let them make up their own "tag" names and hit the town with you. PolyCotN's kiddo (also GrannyS's grandson) decided he wanted to be involved, so he learned to knit, made up his Knitta identity (Cartoon Knitwork), and proceeded to "blanket" the neighborhood with us.
 
SG: How can other mamas/knittas join the movement?
 
AKrylik: Knitta is only the 11 here. We started this as a play on graffiti. So, just like there are graffiti crews and artists everywhere, knitted graffiti crews should follow suit. We are Knitta, or Knitta, please! If you want to start your own knit graffiti crew, go for it. Make up your own crew name, your own tag names, and hit the streets. If you want, send us your crew information and some photos of your tags and we'll add you to what will be a "Other Knit Graffiti Crews" page on our website. (When I find the time to add another page!) We didn't invent knitting and we didn't invent graffiti. We probably weren't even the first people to wrap something in public. We just started a new little movement and gave it a category. Our name helped a little too, I think. We think it would be amazing to see crews pop up all over - just make up your own names, please. The Knittas are from the Montrose (area in Houston, where most of us live).
 
Originally published on Hipmama.com in 2006. For more information about Knitta, click here. The Knitta website can be found here. Stacey Greenberg is the creator of the zine, Fertile Ground: For People who Dig Parenting. She lives in Memphis with her husband and two sons.

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