Well here she is, folks: the mystery yarn bomber of Function Junction. Her name is Hayley Wirsching and she works at Happy Pets in Function Junction. But many of you already knew that, didn't you?
Last week, after noticing several crochet bombs around Function, I implored the mystery bomber to step forward so we could celebrate her heroic efforts to beautify Whistler's industrial park. I received quite a few responses from community members, including one who chastised me for failing to recognize the difference between knitting and crocheting (thanks Lisa, whoever you are!).
The day the piece ran, I received a call from Wirsching herself. She asked not to be photographed for the piece in order to keep a little anonymity but, was happy to talk about her work. As it happens, she's rather passionate about yarn bombing — or crochet bombing, as she likes to call it.
"I'm trying to make yarn bombing more professional looking," she says. "Some of them aren't that special... There's just these odds and ends that people use and there's strings hanging off of them." She shakes her head. "Yup. So mine are all sewed up nicely."
She started in February, decorating the old bridge in Cheakamus Crossing. Today, every bar along the guardrail is adorned with what is essentially a crocheted legging, each one with a different colour.
She bombed the bus stop bench at the corner of Alta Lake Rd. and Millar Creek Rd., which was taken down shortly after. She has now made a door handle cover for White Dog Gallery at the behest of the shop's owner. She's created a purple and green sweater for the stop sign at the same corner. She made the bike rack outside of Cracked Pepper rainbow coloured. She made a little crocheted mushroom hat for a scrap of rebar along the Function bike path, which has since been stolen.
Wirsching began crocheting when she moved to Whistler from Ontario over 10 years ago. She started out making toques, which she sells in stores throughout the village and in Invermere. She also makes crocheted beavers and other critters, which she sells through her blog site www.smallcabbagecrochet.blogspot.com.
Her philosophy is simple: she does it to beautify the neighbourhood in order to make people smile. She revisits her bombs once a week to make sure they're still intact and fixes whatever needs fixing.
"Just for people to see it makes me happy," she says. "The feedback has been amazing. People drop off wool all the time, which is pretty awesome," she says.
Note the hint, Whistler: donations will be accepted.
Yarn bombing, or guerilla knitting, or graffiti knitting has taken off in the last three years, and is particularly big in Europe where entire buses, trees and sides of buildings are bombed. Earlier this month, the Whistler group Knitty Gritty bombed the Inukshuk at Gateway loop with a giant scarf, which was taken down after a few days. Knitty Gritty is planning more bombs through the summer and creator Anna Lynch says they're encouraging others to do the same via social media. Visit their website www.knittygrittywhistler.com for more information.
Wirsching says she has her own plans for Function, which we'll keep a secret to maintain that element of surprise for everyone. She says there's also something large-scale planned for Whistler Village, which she's working on in conjunction with the Whistler Arts Council, but she's keeping mum on that project as well.
So, stay tuned...