Found an interesting article in today's newspaper; it deals with the local take on yarn bombing as well as local attitudes toward men knitting. Translation below the article.
A Knitting Operation in Taksım Park
They call themselves “Örgü-t”*! The ever more popular worldwide trend of Guerilla Knitting or Yarn Bombing, is in Istanbul
They are the guerilla knitters of Istanbul…the 20-person group is half women, half men. Most are knitting for the first time in their lives. Sometimes they knit alone; sometimes they meet at each other’s houses or at cafes.
Then they put the pieces they’ve knit together and sew them over objects, “dressing” them. This is the most risky, and possibly the most fun part of the job.
They were going to dress a boat
They met on Couchsurfing, a site for free accommodation; the idea to meet was suggested by Finnish Erasmus student Laura Hagnäs. Laura’s first dream was to yarn bomb a passenger boat, but later they pared down her goal and turned to the bull statue in Kadıköy. Then following the Van earthquake, they wrapped the bull in knits with the word “Van” on them. Organization member Hazar Tunca tells us that the next day they went to the square as “civilians,” and asked passersby “what in the world is this?” They were pleased when they got the answer, “What don’t you understand about it?” Fearing that it would be ripped off, they only left the knitting on the bull for a day, but even in that short time photos were taken and entered into many archives.
Their next target was Taksim Park. After a rumor that the trees in the park were going to be cut, they spent two months knitting enough fabric to cover the trees, and dressed their first trees during celebrations held as part of the Taksim Platform in March. First security came up to them; then plainclothes policemen. “Who are you? Are you protesting something?” they asked. But they say “Now the police have warmed up to it; we hear that they show the tree to tourists for them to take photos of it.”
Unlike the bull, they couldn’t bear to unravel the work on their tree. When the abortion issue came into the news a month later, they dressed their second tree with knits reading “Abortion is a right.” “Abortion is a right” lasted ten days and was finally taken down.
The men in the group say that in this society knitting is perceived as “something women do,” and that they enjoy breaking this perception. Istanbul University archaeology student Hazar, says he had a difficult time getting his knitting needles into school. “As I was entering the campus with knitting needles in my pack, their eyes widened,” he said. “I had to show them the things I’d knit to make them believe me!”
Hazar tells us what knitting means to him: “I’d wanted to learn to knit for a long time. For me, it’s both a stance against mechanization, and a grass-roots, non-hierarchical and spontaneous way of organizing. In one sense it’s also a political stance. Most people aren’t used to seeing a man knitting. Recently I was knitting in Eminönü, and an older woman came up. ‘My boy, what are you doing?’ she asked. I shrugged my shoulders and said “I’m waiting for my friend, and am knitting to pass the time.” I guess she was a little disappointed. We talk about the “efforts of the workers,” we talk about “societal gender.” Actually, they should arrest us!
*This is a play on words. The word “örgüt” in Turkish means “organization” but here mostly refers to political organizations, especially leftist and/or illegal ones. “Örgü” means “knitting.”
RADİKAL Newspaper, Jul. 22 2012