Yarn Bomber Adds Color to Bed-Stuy Streets

By Paul DeBenedetto on September 4, 2013 9:47am 

Slideshow
 London Kaye O'Donnell, 24, crochets designs all over the streets of Bed-Stuy.
Bed-Stuy Yarn Bomber
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A young clothing designer is tagging the streets of Bed-Stuy with a very different style of graffiti.

Bed-Stuy resident London Kaye O'Donnell, 24, has combined her love of crocheting with street art to "yarn bomb" her neighborhood with multicolored images of people, animals, hearts and more.

The project, which is documented on O'Donnell's Instagram page, started as a 30-day challenge and has since ballooned to almost 80 pieces on fences, lamp posts, trees and mailboxes, a task she said was personally rewarding.

"I thought when I put them up they would be taken down right away," O'Donnell said. "But I just can't believe how much feedback I've gotten. It's really exciting. I think that's what keeps me doing it."

O'Donnell began crocheting in her hometown of Santa Monica when she was 13, after an injury sidelined her from her dance team for a year. In her free time she began to crochet scarves for the other dancers, and eventually started a business that allowed her to buy her own car in high school.

A 2010 graduate of NYU, O'Donnell started yarn bombing about four months ago by taking leftover scarves and crocheting them to trees, a process she said can take about 30 minutes.

"I'd made so many scarves over the holidays, so I'd take the scarves out, wrap it around the tree, and it wouldn't look like a scarf anymore," O'Donnell said. "It got a little boring after the first week or so of just doing trees, so hearts were a good next go-to, then I started making people."

Now O'Donnell has branched off into other kinds of designs, like a logo for the television show Breaking Bad crocheted to the entrance of the Bedford-Nostrand G subway station— a design local restaurateur Justin Warner described to Gothamist as "crotchitti" after spotting it earlier this month.

The designs have garnered attention from other Bed-Stuy locals. O'Donnell, who leaves her contact information on each design, said she received an email from a woman letting her know that she and her granddaughters stopped and marveled at each one they passed on the street.

Twenty-six-year-old actress Louisa Collins said that whenever she sees a new piece, she snaps a photo and sends it to her mother, who loves to knit.

"I love them," Collins said. "It's like kitsch graffiti or something."

Hector Colon, 45, said the designs have added a bit more color to Bed-Stuy.

"I've never seen that before," Colon said. "Every time I walk and see a [design] I stop and look."

Though much of her designs can be found in Bed-Stuy and in the Meatpacking District where she works at the Apple Store, O'Donnell said she's also made her way to Times Square, the Lower East Side, uptown, on subway cars and even as far as Boston.

The self-promotion has paid off. O'Donnell said she was asked to participate in this year's Fashion Week with designer Tia Cibani.

The young artist said she ultimately hopes her project helps her pinpoint what the next phase of her life will be, whether that be designing clothing or accessories or something else entirely.

"The purpose is really, at the end of it, to learn what I'm going to be doing," O'Donnell said. "I've learned a lot. But we'll see."

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