Several unfinished knitting projects — baby blankets, sweaters and mittens — crowded the hallways and closets. Colorful balls of yarn sat partially unraveled on the floor. It was frustrating to say the least, so in 2005 two friends came up with the perfect plan to rid their Houston homes of the useless yarn projects and donate their time to decorating the city.
That's when the group Knitta, please! was born. Knitta, a tag crew of knitters, was founded by members AKrylik and PolyCotN. The group name is officially Knitta, while the slogan, or tagline, is "Knitta, please!" The title of the group and the graffiti names of the knitters began as just a funny play on words and gangsta rap. A few other names include Knotorious N.I.T., SonOfaStitch and P-Knitty.
"We wanted this to resemble graffiti, but with knitted items, so it seemed appropriate to take hip-hop style names, mix them up with some crafting terminology, then mess with the spelling a little to represent traditional street art monikers," says AKrylik. "PolyCotN and I came up with our names first, then we all just sat around and brainstormed most of the others. That was probably one of the more hilarious meetings."
On the front page of their Web site ( www.knittaplease.com), there's the motto: Warming the world, one car antenna at a time. But car antennas aren't the only "victims" of the vivacious stitching of art. Knitta leaves their mark on everything from beer bottles to public monuments and utility poles.
All members of Knitta (ages 21 to 70) wish to remain anonymous. The group consists of 10 females and one male: parents, students, business owners, a grandmother, artists, a teacher, graphic designers, a scientist and a chef. Experience among the group ranges from those who have knitted a few months to those who have been doing it for decades. Only one of the members does not knit, rather crochets, but AKrylik says, "We do not discriminate."
On the streets of Montrose — a Houston neighborhood where the graffiti began — door handles, light poles and some trees sit covered in colorful string.
"You know, we just thought that this would be funny to the people in our neighborhood. We live in a pretty creative spot and we thought that a few others might laugh just as loudly as we were," AKrylik says. "We cracked ourselves up and had absolutely no idea that anyone outside of the neighborhood would ever see it."
AKrylik, who works an 8 a.m.-5 p.m. job, finds time during the week to slip into her knitting character.
"I may play AKrylik anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, four or five days a week. It depends on how much time I have to sit on the couch and knit," she says. "House cleaning has definitely suffered for me and mine during the last eight to nine months."
AKrylik says what she enjoys most is instant gratification.
"I can knit something in 45 minutes (an antenna cozy) or a couple of hours (a stop sign pole wrap), throw a tag on it and its done," she says. "I don't have to spend time compiling a crate of merchandise to drag to the next market and hope that it sells, or spend three months working on a sweater set or baby blanket for a friend, either."
But don't get her wrong, AKrylik does knit projects that take a few months, but "It's just nice to do this as a change of scenery. I look forward to this, while the other things sometimes feel like work."
Another knitter, Loop Dogg, says she enjoys seeing the final products sporadically located around town.
"I once saw an antenna cozy on a car in the parking lot where I work — that was huge," she recalls. "I know where to drive to see certain things, but seeing it at random was a big wow for me."
AKrylik recalls only one incident when the group came under minor scrutiny, but even that had a positive spin.
"One police officer was interviewed by a local paper in the greater Houston area saying something to the effect that what we do may be slightly illegal, but much easier to clean up than spray paint," she says.
She adds that for the most part press and public feedback have been overwhelmingly positive.
"I never imagined that this little neighborhood stunt would end up engaging folks worldwide," says AKrylik. "Many people ask if they can join the group, start a Knitta faction in their own neck of the woods or create their own knitting graffiti crew. It's been really exciting."
Knotorious N.I.T. agrees.
"I think the acceptance from the public itself has been most surprising. I figured people would like it, but not to the extent that we've seen," she says referring to the constant e-mails and comments.