It’s not hard to find the graffiti artists who call themselves the Warm and Fuzzies once they give you the general location of their Mount Pleasant basement apartment. It’s the one with knitted streamers hanging from the barred door, and once you’re inside, there’s yarn waiting to be knitted or crocheted everywhere you look. I tracked down the Warm and Fuzzies when I started noticing their knit graffiti in the neighborhood—from hats and scarves for the figures in Mt. Pleasant’s fireboxes-turned-sculpture dioramas this past winter to a yellow frame for a concert poster on an abandoned building this summer.
As graffiti artists, they naturally have street names. “Pasta” and “Ruffles,” both 25, met at the University of Georgia and moved up to D.C. post-graduation to do work in vegan outreach. They first started yarn bombing—the technical term—in 2009. Their main focus has been Mt. P, but their tags have also been seen in Takoma Park (a scarf for the sculpture of Roscoe the Rooster, a former Takoma resident) and Malcolm X Park. “I gave one of the statues crocheted sunglasses when the weather got warm,” says Ruffles.
Only since 2005 has the knit graffiti movement taken off, Pasta tells me. In cities like Austin and San Jose, both men and women (but more often women) are transforming the urban environment into, well, a cuddlier space. “It makes the community happy,” says Pasta, adding that she saw many people admiring and taking pictures of the fireboxes. “One group said they were glad we gave the dead man a blanket,” adds Ruffles, referring to the firebox at the corner of Mt. Pleasant Street and Park Road that features a dying Civil War soldier being carted to an area hospital in 1864.
Like many graffiti movements, yarn bombing also has a political message; it takes an activity that has historically been private women’s work and makes it public. “It’s feminist,” says Pasta. “It gives women a sense of ownership in the community.” Also like most urban graffiti, the art is often taken down soon after it’s put up. Sometimes the Warm and Fuzzies do it themselves, though. Last Valentine’s Day, they hung knitted and crochetedhearts on trees in front of the Park Regent Apartments on Park Road, but took them down after a few weeks. “They just started to look gross,” Ruffles explains.
The Warm and Fuzzies cite D.C. as a prime city for guerrilla knitting because it’s so pedestrian and generally unmarked by graffiti, making it an easy stage for their installations. “There’s also a ton of statues in D.C., and they make good yarn bombing subjects,” says Ruffles.
Pasta and Ruffles have plans for upcoming tags, but they’re first trying to recruit others. Without fellow artists, they can’t easily do large installations, like the street pole cozy they’ve been working on for awhile. This coming Saturday, they’ll be at the Mount Pleasant farmer’s market giving knitting and crocheting lessons. If you go and you’re lucky, maybe they’ll tell you their real names.
Photos courtesy of the Warm and Fuzzies.