ONE. The vibrancy of yarn bombing cannot be escaped. From the young and the young at heart (104 year old!), people are crafting tactile graffiti where public objects are wrapped in crocheted or knitted conviviality. Magda Sayeg is considered the mother of yarn bombing often known for her Mexico City yarn-bombed bus. Reasons for yarn bombing vary: from subversion, activism and/or beautification. Whatever the intention, a similar outcome remains: observers are greeted with a visual feast. The public is invited to take pause from their daily schedule and contemplate if even for a microsecond (whether in appreciation or disgust is between them and their gods). The photographs above and below were taken from Melbourne Fresh Daily of Mill Park Library in the City of Whittlesea, Victoria. That fluoro pink granny square down below? Yep, that’s me.
TWO. Read this week’s book: Extra Yarnby Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen. The protagonist is Annabelle who uncovers a box filled with yarn. As you do, she decides to knit a jumper for herself. Observing the extra yarn, she decides to knit a jumper for her trusty canine, Mars. With the discovery of endless yarn, Annabelle embarks on knitting articles of clothing for everyone and every thing in town. Annabelle and the town become something of a marvel. An archduke ‘who was very fond of clothes’ landed one day and attempted to buy the box of yarn from Annabelle. A sinister plan was hatched to acquire Annabelle’s box of yarn. Needless to say, the story concludes with Annabel in a yarn bombed tree, completely happy. The illustrations of the town pre-yarn bombing are sparse and invoke the somber of a quiet snowed-covered town. For some odd reason, Scandinavia comes to mind. But the pages illuminate with a muted luminescence as Annabelle weaves her magic. For fans of Klassen, characters from his stories make cameo appearances.
Let’s get past the fact that this book is about YARN BOMBING. I’ll admit, Ankle biter 1 doesn’t really -get it- right now. I reckon we’ll try again next year when his dexterity may allow for some hand weaving. We did, however, read it religiously to him when he was first born. He didn’t seem to mind then. And if you are going to read to your children, it might as well be something you yourself enjoy. This book is that and it is one of my favourites. My cherished part of the book is when she decides not to knit a jumper.
Mr. Crabtree, who never wore jumpers or even trousers, and who would stand in his shorts with the snow up to his knees.
Annabelle makes not a jumper but a hat for Mr. Crabtree. This book, besides its creative subversion is also about compassion, generosity and eccentrics. This is my type of urban imagined. What is not to love?
I haven’t read the books. Apparently The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up is sweeping households and advocates minimising possessions to those that ‘spark joy’. That’s fine and we did invoke such decisions on our move. (Although I am still bewildered how our can opener failed to materialise while Basic Television mocks me from the bookshelf). But what about if you are a precociously cheeky anklebiter and everything the colour of digger yellow or dump truck orange and/or “is mine” or anything that is “not mine” all spark immense joy? Oh and the fact that we don’t have the money nor desire to purchase new things. (Sorry Anklebiter 2, you never had a chance at new stuff. But you do have a brother!) In tandem to tidying up, Simplicity Parenting caught my eye in the early days. A quick gander of its contents reveal it’s along the same lines of sparking joy but in the realm of childhood. It promotes unfettered creative play.
All this minimal simplicity had me thinking: which experiences spark joy and engage the ‘imagination’ muscles? Therein lies my underlying mantra when I wake up, for myself and my children. Such experiences alone require a minimalist childhood. It is evident every time we venture outdoors and I see anklebiter 1 grapple with branches, embed detritus into his fingernails and proclaim “I’m making dinner. Come eat.” Or how he likes to run his fresh fingers along the cobbled cold walls en route to the library and then stops with orbit eyes. “There’s a garbo over there. Let’s go see.” The neighbourhood is effervescent stimulation.
So with this long-winded intro, I bring you this week’s book, The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000 by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski. Set in a futuristic world, eight double-page settings are populated with the inhabitants of Mamoko. Other than the first double-page spread introducing the cast of characters, there are no words. Readers are invited to follow along the re-occurring protagonists /antagonists and create their own narratives. Anklebiter 1 finds it an adventure to search out the chosen character of the day. Every time we open the book, a new story unfolds especially as ankle biter 1 is discovering his voice. “Owwww apples. He’s going to make pies.” “They planting (flower) ‘cuz they picked one and they weren’t suppose to.” Um yea, projection. The level of detail is captivating and the sturdiness of its pages, rewarding. It is my hope that as the anklebiters age, their words will divulge unique and vast stories. Minimal wording but an ebullience of joyful and imaginative experiences. If that’s what a minimalist childhood entails, so be it.