The art of mischief: Yarn bombing

  • A lovely yarn-bombed tree.

While we were “home” in Arizona, we participated in a little mischief: yarn bombing.

Not sure about it? Google it. It’s a thing. Really.

I tried it last year with my friends Meredith and Jackie and a bunch of other mischievous types. We used knitted and crocheted pieces to wrap trees, benches and light poles in the greenbelt on 48th Street south of Indian School Road. You can read Karina Bland’s article about last year’s effort here.

Unfortunately, the city, thinking it might be some weird religious expression, cut it down in only a few days. But my friend Meredith, the ringleader, called the city and became the new BFF of an official in parks and recreation, educating her about yarn bombing and retrieving our yarn pieces. The official said we should let her know in advance before doing it again, and she’d make sure it stayed up for three or four weeks.

Last year, we spread the mischief to the next generation, giving a workshop on yarn bombing to students at the Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center and helping them bomb a forest of trees on their campus.

Then, earlier this month, it was back to the original scene of the “crime” with bags and bags of knitted materials, step stools, Velcro, needles, scissors, flashlights and a bigger game plan. We expanded our yarn-bombing footprint, fanning out along the 48th-Street greenway between Indian School Road and Osborn, covering every tree, light pole and, of course, the bench.

Because February is the month of love, we had a heart/love theme. Mischief-maker Monika made copper hearts that said “You Are Loved,” and “Eres Amado,” and we hung knitted hearts from our love tree.

Even while we were doing it, people driving, walking, jogging and bike riding gave us thumbs-ups, shouts of encouragement and stopped to tell us how happy it made them. Some even stopped to help.

“Everything these days seems so serious,” one said. “This just makes me smile.”

Meredith continues to see people commenting on social media about how the installation makes them grin every time they see it.

This year’s crew grew to include more friends, including Jeff and Ann, our pals from Yellow Pine, Idaho, who we met two years ago at Cochise Stronghold, the first week we were on the road full time. They were camping nearby and rolled into town to participate, being mischievous at heart. My husband Tom and our son Nate grabbed needle and thread, too. And Reg, another longtime friend showed up. Mom came with her Boston Terrier, Duffy, who met a brand-new friend.

When we finished, we gathered at O.H.S.O., a neighborhood watering hole for drinks and laughs to celebrate our mischief managed.

The next day I went to take pictures and noticed a few naked trees. I could have sworn we’d covered them all. Meredith, her daughter Haley, and I went back and re-covered them. We speculated that a homeless man seen in the area needed a blanket and that was OK with us.

The next day, I drove by and saw more trees undone. I stopped and walked the path, finding the knitted pieces in trash cans. WTF?!?!?! Someone was systematically taking the installation down.

I called Meredith. Haley, incensed, headed out to redo the trees AGAIN.

The third day, I noticed the “vandalism” had stopped.

Haley out-lasted, out-played and out-witted the haters. Go Haley.

Drive 48th Street if you’re in the area, or just enjoy the photos. And stay tuned. There definitely will be more mischief next year.


  1. Reply
    Jim Johnson February 24, 2017

    very cool. Are you on the road again?

    • Reply
      Judy Nichols February 25, 2017

      Thanks, Jim. Yes, headed up the California coast to our volunteer gig in northern California.

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