A close knit Valley
Dave Karraker / by Paul Rattay Photography
Some of my fondest memories growing up were the hours spent with my great Aunt Doll. She was a tiny woman, maybe an AARP card short of five-feet tall. She liked to tell you she was five feet, two inches, but those extra inches actually came from a bun of fake spun grey hair she pinned precariously on top of her own wispy locks, which resembled the worn stuffing her toy poodle Cookie would often pull from the faded Levitz sofa that had seen one too many Christmases.
Aunt Doll, who lived to be 102, had a fascination with knitted items. It seemed in her modest home no chair, table top or calcium-depleted back could escape the colorful hug of a well-crafted knitted treasure. I always marveled at how many things around the house were improved, in Aunt Doll’s failing eyes, by being incased in polyester yarn from Jo-Ann Fabrics (why is it not Jo-Ann’s?). Items you never suspected needed a slight fashion-forward update or a country-kitsch kiss, soon found themselves hiding behind an intricate cable knit.
My favorite was always the cozy that encased the paper roll perched on the back of the toilet. It was my favorite because it had the head of a French poodle attached to the top of it, like some Frankensteinian SPCA and Michael’s Arts and Crafts experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong (this is where the Labordoodle came from, by the way).
I miss my great aunt’s woven wonders, so you can only imagine my delight when I started noticing knitted novelties popping up all over Sonoma Valley. And, they are magically appearing in the most interesting places – on street signs, lamp posts, and other bland structures where form typically takes a back seat to function.
Take a closer look at the vertical monuments in your area and you may be delighted to discover they have been yarn-dazzled with a little knitting. A bandit is on the loose. Her weapons of choice: two knitting needles, yarns of every color and a whole lot of moxie.
By reluctantly utilizing the world wide interwebs, I have discovered this practice isn’t exclusive to Sonoma. It has been chronicled by sharp-eyed citizens from around the country. It even has a catchy, Millennial-friendly name: Yarn Bombing.
I can’t seem to find anyone who knows who is beautifying the Valley with her homemade handiwork, but I imagine if I were any kind of an investigative reporter, I could figure out who she is. There must be witnesses. It would be hard not to notice a senior pulling up to a street sign on her Rascal scooter, covered from head to toe in knitting.
In my mind, Sonoma’s yarn bomber is obviously an octogenarian. This geriatric gem is a true patriot, so unwaveringly fond of the red, white and blue motif as to have a full knitted pantsuit in these colors (including a matching woven cowboy hat for special occasions). Her colorful, comfy outfits are always adorned with a waterfall of buttons shouting bold, punrific statements like “Knitters are Knice” and “Looms are for Lovers.” She is incredibly focused as she sits there after church, attaching her sign post leg warmers… knit one, purl two, knit one, purl two.
Some might call her a vandal, but I disagree. She is doing her part to beautify the Valley in her own special way. I am sure her masterpieces go unnoticed by many, which is a real shame. So I encourage you to look up from your iPhones and Blackberries for just a minute as you stroll through the Valley. You might be delighted to find that the sign your Labordoodle is relieving himself on has been made just a little more lovely, by Sonoma’s knitting bandit.
The Accidental Vinophile is Dave Karraker, a comedian and writer who splits his time between Sonoma, San Francisco, his two Rhodesian Ridgebacks and 61 Ford Thunderbirds. You can find more on Dave at www.davekarraker.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dave on Twitter: @davekarraker.