Sweden: Where graffiti is prohibited, urban knitters make a new street art

Nathalie Rothschild
Knitting graffiti covers a street post in Stockholm.

A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

STOCKHOLM – “I saw a wonderful statue earlier. I always knew it was there, but today I measured it and soon we’ll knit a sweater for it. We’ll meet up on site to stitch it and take a picture for our blog.”

Maskan (“the stitch”), one of three code-named female founders of the Stockholm “guerrilla knitting” group, Stickkontakt, is telling me about their upcoming knitting graffiti action. Inspired by the Houston group, Knitta Please, Stickkontakt decorate everything from lampposts and bins to park benches and tree trunks with colorful yarns. “We often have political messages,” Maskan tells me. “But sometimes we don’t. Once, we decided to celebrate Sweden’s few female statues by dressing up four of them as super heroines.”

There is a zero tolerance policy for graffiti in Stockholm; any unauthorized street art must be removed within 24 hours. But that hasn’t dissuaded guerrilla knitters.

“We’re hoping that our actions – which can hardly be called vandalism – will serve as a kind of gateway to making people more open to street art in general,” says Maria, cofounder of another knitting graffiti group called Masquerade.

Maria and her friend Lina, the other cofounder of Masquerade, see knitting graffiti as fun, harmless, quirky, and soft, with the potential for a global impact. In fact, they recently returned from a trip where they used knitting graffiti to “tag” along the Trans-Siberian railway in Russia, Mongolia, and China.

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