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Yarn Bombed Critters?

by Shelly Kneupper Tucker on January 30, 2013©

yarn bombed turtle

A picture of this “yarn-bombed” turtle has been making the rounds on Facebook. Have y’all seen any of the images on-line about yarn bombing? It is sometimes called “guerilla knitting,” although it includes crochet. If not, you can Google for images, and you will find that some of it is quite pretty and imaginative. It is basically colorful displays of fiber wrapped around inanimate objects to decorate them. It is yarn graffiti!

Wikipedia claims yarn bombing had a lofty goal: “yarn bombing was initially almost exclusively about reclaiming and personalizing sterile or cold public places.” Personally, I think that some crafters had a large stash of unwanted yarn and too much time on their hands!

I don’t know who yarn-bombed the turtle above, but I immediately cringed when I saw it. It brought back guilty memories of a time long ago:

On a hot summer day, a passel of the kids on Bellaire Drive were playing near the crawdad hole at the end of the street when we discovered a humongous turtle. My mind’s eye pictures him the size of our kitchen table, but he probably wasn’t even as big around as a #2 washtub. Still, this fella was so huge that it took three of us to carry him into my garage to inspect him.

His back was covered in moss (he was obviously pretty slow moving if he let us honyocks catch him), but he had a lovely red stripe behind his eyes. As we gathered around him, marveling at his beauty, my grandfather walked through the garage.

“Whooee!” Papaw exclaimed. “That slider is an old one! Turtles don’t usually survive enough years to get that big around here.”

Obviously, my grandfather knew about turtles, so we pumped him with questions. He told us it was a “slider,” which could be identified by the red stripe on his head, and that it lived in water most of the time. He used to see them around creeks all the time when he was a kid, but he hadn’t seen any in a long time. He admonished us, “Be sure to turn him loose where you found him!” We promised to do so, as Papaw went on his way.

We sat on the cool concrete in the shade of the garage watching that turtle as he eyed us. We talked about how scientists sometimes tracked turtles in the wild; we knew this from the National Geographic Magazines we hid to read (we didn’t just look at those magazines in hopes of seeing nekkid tribal members in Africa, although we were always delighted to see nekkid flesh).

I don’t know who had the “bright idea,” and my memory wants to tell me it wasn’t me, but we decided we wanted to track this turtle. How could we “tag” him so we could find him again?

Someone noticed that my Daddy had left a can of red paint on his workbench. I don’t know how it happened, but in minutes we had paintbrushes and painted that hapless turtle. We painted his whole shell red! When he dried, we turned him loose at the crawdad hole. We were ecstatic that we would now be regular scientists and could track him wherever he went.

We went running to tell Papaw how clever we were, shrieking, “Now, we can always find him!”

Unfortunately, Papaw’s reaction was not what we had wanted. He sighed and shook his head. “Now, everything can find him. God colored that turtle the color of the earth on purpose. It was to camouflage him from predators.” Then, my Papaw cursed at us! At least, it was the only “curse” he used around kids. It sounded like, “I goddies” and I think it meant “by God.” He said, “I goddies, you children gave that poor critter a death sentence.” Papaw walked away from us, muttering under his breath.

We were devastated, and immediately rushed down the street to find the turtle and try to undo what we had done. Of course, we didn’t find him, and although we looked every day all summer, we never saw the turtle again.

Except in our mind’s eye. I don’t know if it affected the others, but to this day, when my conscience is beating me up with guilt, I have nightmares about that poor critter. When I saw the yarn-bombed turtle, it all came back.

I can’t credit the photographer for the photo above, because it is never listed on Facebook… but if this picture is yours I’ll be happy to credit you here for your work. If you yarn-bombed the turtle, feel free to admit it — but please tell me that you took that yarn off of him before you turned him loose. It’s just not right to yarn bomb a wild thing.

Or, you can tell me it was your pet. I can accept yarn bombing a pet.

yarn bombed puppy

My friend Nancy yarn bombed her new puppy while it was sleeping (Yeah, I stole your picture, Nancy, but you are the one who put it on Facebook.), and I have no problem with that. That puppy (named Pippa) will never face any greater threat to her well-being than her jealous “sibling” dogs. Maybe I should see if Nancy wants to yarn bomb one of my cats?

Are you a “yarn bomber?” I admit the idea intrigues me, but I have too many irons in the fire to do it. If you do yarn bomb, would you please leave the turtles out of it? Trust me, thirty years from now you don’t want to be having nightmares about what you did!

{ 1 comment }

Ann Dixon-Smith January 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Love your writing. I’ve missed it!

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