Interview with guerilla yarnbombers Lorna and Jill Watt
If you’re a fan of the ever-growing crocheting/knitting community, chances are you’ve seen the works of creative siblings Lorna & Jill Watt. They’ve yarnbombed trees, benches, telephone booths, mailboxes – basically anything they can get their hands, or yarns on, rather. In this exclusive interview, they talk about their creative process, their future projects, and most interestingly, sibling rivalry. [Read our original post about Lorna and Jill Watt here.]
How’d you get the inspiration for the monster benches?
We like to walk around on Google Street View imagining what public objects could be transformed into with yarnbombing. There was a great shot of the Bay Bridge from these benches behind the Ferry Building Marketplace, a foodie mecca. Lorna thought they’d make funny monsters, and then decided it would be unfair for them not to have a gourmet bite like everyone else.
How long did it take for you sisters to knit those?
The yarnbombed benches took about 30 hours to construct and 3 hours to install, so 66 woman hours.
Please take us through your creative process whenever you’re planning a yarnbomb.
Once we choose a spot and have an idea, we sketch out different possibilities. Then we measure the object’s dimensions and map out the pieces. Getting the right fit then requires making a reference swatch to calculate the number of rows and stitches in each piece. When choosing colors we go to our 100-square-foot yarn wall to select a palette of bright, photogenic colors.
Our approach is to use whatever technique looks best. So some pieces are best crocheted and others knit, and some designs require we invent a new technique like using plastic fencing as a backing or machine sewing shapes. The pieces come together pinned to our studio wall until they’re ready for their big installation day. We like to install in broad daylight on weekdays, when there’s lots of light for photos and people around to interact with.
Finally, adding a hashtag so we can stalk our work on Instagram is half the fun.
You guys have an extensive yarnbomb portfolio. What installations/pieces are your favourites?
Our favorite is always our most recent project. It’s hard to leave the studio with it–we just want to keep everything we make. That said, our Squid Tree is still going 7 months strong, and for that we love it.
People love our mailbox monster feet, but Lorna has a soft spot for her ‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That’ piece and Jill had quite a hard time giving up the monkey for our Banana Tree yarnbomb at a local schoolyard.
Are there ever times that sibling rivalry gets in the way of your work? Like do you compete to see who the better knitter/crocheter is?
Oh, you mean like knife fights? Not since we were kids. We actually work extremely well together. It’s hard to imagine how solo artists do it. We always have someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to build up our confidence or put our ego in check, someone to help.
Working as a team also doubles our strengths, interests, and experiences. Jill’s the photographer and is better at not jamming up the knitting machine, while Lorna’s rocks communications and is a faster crocheter.
What’s the most ambitious yarnbomb event you guys have thought of/planning to do?
We’d like to plan a big, crazy installation for the next Bay Area Maker Faire. We’re teaching knitting and crochet at this year’s faire and will set our gears in motion for 2015. It would be fun to incorporate some new techniques.
Recently, we started a yarnbombing zine called Fuse, for which we’re interviewing other yarnbombers like HOTTEA and Moneyless. It’s exciting to see the diversity of street art people make with yarn and Fuse is a fun place to explore this new culture.