Crochet Vandals Do Graffiti ... Like Your Grandma Street artists called "yarn bombers" are committing vandalism in the coziest way possible: aggressively adorning public spaces with their lovingly knitted and crocheted handiwork. L.A.-based artist "Captain Hook" takes us underground with this handmade urban scourge.
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Crochet Vandals Do Graffiti ... Like Your Grandma

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Crochet Vandals Do Graffiti ... Like Your Grandma

Crochet Vandals Do Graffiti ... Like Your Grandma

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Reporter Jennifer Sharpe recently caught up with Captain Hook at her L.A. apartment with a lap full of granny squares.

JENNIFER SHARPE: Captain Hook is taking street art back to the old school.

CAPTAIN HOOK: This is crochet on a statue. This could be happening in 1725.

SHARPE: Most street artists travel with spray paint or markers. Captain Hook, as she's asked me to call her for this story, works with a crochet needle and yarn. Her walls are public fixtures like the bronze bear statue in L.A.'s Griffith Park that stands zombie-like with its paws out. I met up with her as she embarked on what would become the bear's tenth outfit, its St. Patrick's Day attire.

HOOK: I can't make the same thing over and over. I made a vest, and I made some shorts, then I made some different shorts. Then I made some lederhosen. And now, I think I'm going for the full body.

SHARPE: Like a body glove?

HOOK: Yeah, a body glove in four shades of green.

SHARPE: It's ambitious, but she's confident. You see, Captain Hook grew up on a '70s commune, where she was part of the an all-girl needlepoint workforce.

HOOK: You always had to be making something. So in the houses that I grew up in, there's blankets and embroidered dresses and pillows covered in needlework. I mean, we rocked it, we were good.

SHARPE: But when I arrived at her apartment the afternoon of the installation, she was crocheting frantically.

HOOK: I've been hysterical basically. I woke up at six this morning, and I made most of these squares.

SHARPE: And is this still going to be a full body glove?

HOOK: No, it's going to be a shrug with a hood. It's going to be sleeves and a back and then a hood. When you sew it down, it actually looks good. This is it. This is it. Okay, we got it. We got it.

SHARPE: The time to vandalize the bear has finally arrived.

HOOK: Yeah, and it's all pulled down, yeah...

VANESSA XKILLER: Genius.

SHARPE: But in the half hour they struggle with the bear's hood, none of the people exercising, lounging in the grass, or walking their dogs seem to even notice.

HOOK: Vanessa, would you agree with me that it's just weird? I don't know why it doesn't satisfy me in the way that others have.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORN)

HOOK: Thanks. That was that support, right?

XKILLER: That was support, yeah.

SHARPE: Who took it down?

MARSHAL BARRENA: That wasn't me on that one. No, that wasn't me.

SHARPE: As it turns out, the man ultimately responsible for the bear, Marshal Barrena, the park's senior gardener, is a fan.

BARRENA: It just, you know, puts a little spring in your step the next morning when you see something like that.

SHARPE: A little spring in your step?

BARRENA: Yeah, right, exactly. Hey, that's cool, you know.

SHARPE: If, in a place of 10 million people, Captain Hook has succeeded in making one gardener and a few passers-by stop and laugh, she feels she's reached her goal. And she contemplates moving on.

CAPTAIN HOOKE: I was just looking the other day, and there's a bust of Valentino that I think would look really great with a scarf.

SHARPE: Because one of the great things about Los Angeles is that there's always something else out there just begging for a pair of crocheted lederhosen.

HOOK: I saw there's a dolphin in Santa Monica somewhere that is actually standing much like the bear, fins out. When I saw that, I was like: Dude, your days are numbered.

SHARPE: For NPR News, I'm Jennifer Sharpe.

NORRIS: And one final note. Over the weekend, someone outfitted the Griffith Park bear statue with Easter attire, complete with bunny ears. You've got to see this for yourself. Go to npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NORRIS: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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