Yarn Bombing: Take up your needles & KNIT!

I’ve had an avid interest in Street Art since Banksy’s first book Wall and Piece was published back in 2005.  Banksy’s prolific work and widespread publicity undoubtedly led to a greater appreciation of graffiti, and ultimately to its acceptance as a true form of Art which opened the way for other Artists.

From graffiti and stencil Artists my fascination broadened to include pavement Artists creating amazing 3D illusions (such as Kurt Wenner & Edgar Müller) and the hidden Street Art of Creatives like London-based Slinkachu, whose miniature street installations focus on the mini dramas of modified train set figures which he abandons and leaves to fend for themselves in vulnerable situations.  I completely LOVE his work…check out his blog HERE.

Many of these disciplines have now moved from the street into art galleries and auction houses and the pages of books and have become familiar, accepted and respected.  Yet it wasn’t until relatively recently I became aware of “Yarn Bombing” (or YarnStorming as it’s often referred to in the UK) – the act of making and installing knitted and crocheted pieces in public places.The Telephone Box Cosy in Parliament Square above was Yarn Stormed by the brilliant sneaky stitching team behind Knit The City in London.  Take a bow ladies!  Why did they do it?…because they can…that’s why!  Thanks for making London a more colourful place & making us smile!  Founded in 2009 by Deadly Knitshade, we follow their antics on Twitter.  Oh if anyone knows who knitted the bobble hat for the bus stop please let us know and we’ll be happy to credit or link to them!  Email us at designteam@scarletopus.com

Also known as “Knit & Crochet graffiti”, this guerilla practice started in Texas back in 2005 (with a little red jumper on a tree), but has gradually spread to become an international movement with wonderfully woolly installations creeping their way around parking meters, benches and statues across the world.

I really started to take note of this emerging Street Art when the Charging Bull on Wall Street, NYC was given a nice jumper for Christmas 2010 by the Artist Olek:

You can watch a video of Olek fitting it to him during the wee small hours of Dec 25th HERE.  The precision of the pieces she has created is amazing…wait until you see her putting the knitted pieces onto the bulls horns.  Perfect fits!  Olek gave this piece of Street Art to the people of New York as a gift, wishing everyone well for the year ahead….nice lady!

Then last month Olek put her fancy graffiti knitting techniques to good use again, this time creating a colourful piece of knitting for a black London taxi:

You can see the full photo shoot over at the HookedBlog HERE.

But my favoured source for keeping up-to-date on these joyful projects is Mandy Moore & Leanne Prain’s blog www.yarnbombing.com which provides comprehensive and passionate coverage of the work of Guerilla Knitters around the globe.

Allow me to introduce you to the lovely lasses:

As well as being a blogger, Leanne Prain is the co-author (with Mandy) of the bestselling book “Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet & Knit Graffiti”, and the author of “Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery” published this year.  She co-founded a stitch & bitch group called ‘Knitting & Beer’ in order to expand her skills while knitting at the pub.  The Genius!  She is a professional Graphic Designer and holds degrees in creative writing, art history, and publishing. She lives and knits in Vancouver.

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Mandy Moore is the technical Editrix of popular online knitting magazine Knitty.com, and of various other knitting & crochet books and publications.  She blogs with Leanne at www.yarnbombing.com, co-authored the Yarn Bombing book, and also lives in Vancouver.

LOVING this shot of Mandy by Jeff Christenson.

 

Above: A selection of pages from Leanne & Mandy’s Yarn Bombing book

Unusually Yarn Bombing is a predominantly female-dominated Street Art, bringing a refreshing injection of colour, softness and femininity to the hard, grey, masculine aesthetic of our cities.  Mandy agrees that “the juxtaposition of soft, impermanent, handmade objects with the hard, impersonal urban landscape is striking, and inspires people in such a variety of ways!  Some crafters seem affronted by the idea of using your time and skill to make something, and then abandoning it to an uncertain fate; we feel that it offers unique opportunities for artistic expression!”

Mandy & Leanne have been fans of Yarn Bombing since they first heard about it, but it wasn’t until they began writing their book in 2009 that they started actively Yarn Bombing themselves – “We don’t do a lot of it, but it is so fun and rewarding when we do!”

Mandy & Leanne join other graffiti knitters to work on a special piece on International Yarn Bombing Day  – June 11th

Mandy explained to me there is no coherent Yarn Bombing manifesto or agenda.  Different groups and individual knitters do it for different reasons; to elevate the perception of needlecrafts, as an exciting secret hobby and Mandy believes “many bombers simply do it to delight themselves and others!”

I started talking to our Trend seminar audiences about Yarn Bombing this year and it never fails to make people smile!  Earlier this month a number of members of the UK Press waited to speak to me after one of our talks to say they loved the whole concept of Yarn Bombing and some of them wanted to take up their needles and start graffiti knitting themselves…Yey!

One of the great things about Yarn Bombing is you don’t have to be a highly skilled knitter to get involved…if you can knit a square then you can become a Graffiti Knitter this very week!

Although I’ve seen examples of extraordinarily complex, intricate and accurately executed pieces, there are also many fabulously simple projects which involve little more than a considerately placed tube of knitting or string of knitted flowers.  It seems to me that some of the most effective works are successful because of the knitters determination to realise a clever concept, their quirky attitude and generosity of spirit to make our cities & towns more colourful and interesting places to live.  They are quite simply random acts of knitting!

Yarn Bombed Cherry Tree

So why not take up your knitting & crochet needles and brighten up the town or city you live in.  Even if you can’t knit, there is plenty of time to learn and plan a cheeky cheerful project before next year’s International Yarn Bombing Day on June 11th.

    • To learn more about Yarn Bombing and follow updates on global projects visit www.yarnbombing.com
    • Mandy Moore & Leanne Prain’s fab bestselling book “Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti” (the definitive guidebook to covert textile Street Art, packed full of beautiful photographs, interviews and easy step-by-step instructions for knit & crochet installations) is available from www.arsenalpulp.com
    • And you can watch a short video of Mandy & Leanne showing projects from their book at an event at ‘3 Bags Full’ HERE.  I LOVE the knitted picture frame…such a brilliant idea!!!
    • And why not check out Leanne’s new book Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery HERE

    I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s posting as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together.
      Be sure to check back next Monday for The Graduate: Part IV with Anthony when he’ll be looking at our Autumn/Winter 2011/12 trend, Defend & Destroy.

How to Sell Interior Products to Men or Women

In our final posting of the week in celebration of International Womens Day we have a posting for men by our Dreamweaver – Phil – on Selling To Women:

Men like Stop Lights & Women prefer Roundabouts!

 

Trends, consumers, business, sales, marketing, interiors

Get a Big Cat she said!

“The 1st thing perhaps to state is that what you are about to read is the humble opinion & experience of 1 man only and is not intended to offend anyone, or to be anything more than something for you to consider.  Some of the opinion and ideas offered are derived from generalisations of specific experiences – now is that clear boys!?  After all, how can you take seriously a guy whose job title is ‘Dreamweaver’!  They are opinions from a man’s viewpoint about how to successfully engage with women in business and maybe a little in life.  During International Womens Day celebrations, an event we don’t have, we (men) need all the help we can get at a time when the smarter anyway sex, feel at their strongest because they really know how to use ‘group power’ in a way we don’t even realise exists!

In general (as I said) when it comes to any sort of work environment, men & women see themselves in some sort of competition.  Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, men of all ages will allow their reactions toward women in business to be influenced on some level and to some degree; by the ideas placed into our heads as a result of the evolutionary process.  And not to be completely exonerated, women (in general) will be ‘on guard’ for the same reason.  In today’s world we all (I know I do) like to think that we have gone beyond this and to a very large and positive degree we have.  But here’s the thing that I have learned – women have learned how to cope with the situation and then use it much more than men have, or probably ever will.  Particularly when it comes to a sales/purchasing activity.  In fact, when you think about it, almost every business activity we conduct uses the skills necessary in these 2 roles.  Managing a person requires influencing their behaviour and actions and in doing so selling ideas and solutions to them.  We need in business to negotiate something with someone every day.  It is not only when with suppliers or clients that this is done.  So in most respects women are very good in these areas because we men have over decades forced them to negotiate/sell/contract in almost every aspect of their lives.  Our (men’s) only advantage left (not a great word but for now the best I could think of) is that not all of them have realised this yet!

I have spent all of my adult working life (being very young that’s not so long!) learning about people in order that I can improve my abilities to sell, manage & develop them in business.  At the age of 18 a great guy and mentor to me – Graham Petty – gave me a gift one Christmas; a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book How To Win Friends & Influence People and being a man I read the 6 principles in it and then took the next couple of decades to accept that Dale was right!  The most important skill required in business, if not in life, is found in this book.  In general men, and oddly in particular salesmen, are not very good at this skill even though they think that they are.  Women however, seem to have a natural flair and ability for it even when they are talking!  What is it I hear you ask – it is LISTENING.  So if you want to be good at selling to women then you have to get on board double quick with the idea that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth and at the very least should use them in that proportion.

In dealing with the modern woman in business you must have a high degree of confidence, excellent knowledge of your subject, a good memory and flexibility.  Now I will tell you why this is my opinion. 

 Confidence:

In general women spot weaknesses readily and seem to then place them to one side without feeling the need to exploit them.  But they have this knack of letting you know (when they are ready) that they have spotted this but will not exploit it.  Have a guess what that does to the weakness?  Men also spot weaknesses, but we are a little blunt, quick and basic in our attempts to then highlight the weakness as we see it as a competition (irrelevant of whether we are speaking to a man or a woman).  Guess what this induces in our opponent – the same weakening of the weakness that a woman can induce?  Nope!  An aggressive gladiatorial defence mechanism – well done guys, way to go!

Some guys (well most actually) when engaging with women in business suddenly experience/develop an infant like understanding of our language.  Confidence is quickly confused with arrogance, know–it-all and condescension in the misguided belief this will impress a woman or ‘show her how it’s done’ – oops!

So development a quiet and reassuring confidence about yourself, your business and your role before engaging with a woman.

Excellent Knowledge:

Men like to be sold to, or to believe that they have made a buying decision – you see to us it is all a competition no matter who we are dealing with.  It is a challenge, a game however the process is described we see it as something to win.  A woman simply doesn’t.  She wants a fair and equitable deal where she feels comfortable that the process was beneficial to both parties.  In fact, in general, women are prepared to come out of the ‘deal’ slightly worse off than those she engages with as long as it feels good for all and she in essence achieves her goal.  How dangerous is that?  What this all means is that to conduct business successfully with a woman, you must simply provide information of a high quality in a truthful way and then wait and listen for the questions.  A woman will lead you to the sales you seek without the ‘combat zone’ that as men we believe is an essential part of the process.  Remember 2 key facts: Women will inherently distrust a man until he demonstrates he is trustworthy.  Men generally give men the benefit of the doubt and so we are not expecting the reverse and so may not take the right opening shots.  Women will inherently not believe marketing messages but will look for confirmation.  Men?  Well how many of us challenge a Ferrari advert before we have decided that we just want to drive it?

So develop a thorough knowledge of your subject in order to be able to supply any information requested about it – if you do not know never try to ‘flannel’ a woman – they have built-in radar for that, thanks to our actions over 100’s of years!

Good Memory:

A simple short subject (especially as you get older!).  In a group women discuss things but not with any particular structure or in any particular order.  Men like order, straight lines, agenda’s and time blocks.  Women don’t need these things I have found.  If you let their conversation flow and listen very carefully, they cover enormous ground and everything they need to and in the end spit out a conclusion that is as good as any group of guys – and this has often left me thinking “where the heck did that come from it could n’t have been this conversation?”  And is it just to annoy us or confuse us, but more than 1 woman will speak at once and ‘they’ all hear all whilst we hear the loudest – it’s really weird.  So don’t stop this seemingly disjointed methodology, let it flow and listen well and develop the ability to remember key points.  They will.       

Flexibility:

This is the best saved until the last…all men in business need to know this one.  It will save so much time and provide so much more enjoyment and success.  It links everything said above and is the point of my title.

Men love straight lines, turning left and turning right, having a destination and getting there, knowing when to stop and when to start and enjoy having the rules.  Men sit revving their engines for the unspoken competition, guidance and structure that stop lights at road junctions the world over                                 provide.

Women meander, dream, flow, don’t need rigid structure and rules to avoid crashes and fights, get to their destination after they have had time to drink in things that they see en route.  Women prefer roundabouts where a general set of rules apply with courtesy, forgiveness and if you make a mistake no matter just go round again you’ll get to the intended                                 route again in the end.

We happen to be in Interiors where it is said that women make more than 85% of the buying decisions.  Personally, I have concluded that a woman somewhere makes the larger portion of decisions in all walks of life – they just don’t shout about it so much because they are used to (thanks to us yada yada…) not getting the credit publicly and can live with that happily.  

So take a look at your retail outlet /design plans / design schemes / products and see if they reflect the fact that most of your sales and potential business will come from a decision made by a woman; and do the processes that you have in place reflect and accommodate the way a woman thinks and behaves?”

What advice do you have on this subject? Leave your comment let me know…..

How to Sell for the non-Salesperson

Being in business often involves the need for someone to take on the role of salesperson, at some stage. This often falls on a person who didn’t sign up for it, doesn’t want to do it and possibly has all sorts of misconceptions about what it is and who can do it.

This post WILL HELP YOU. A lot of complete ‘rubbish’ is spoken about the subject and some (not all by any means) people are actually in business to make it seem like a complex, difficult task and one that needs lots of training, perfecting, processes, procedures, etc etc. And, there is a place for all of this; but this place in not in a small business full of creatives, technologists, engineers.

You are building up contacts, making appointments and getting close to the point of having to carry out that most frightening of all steps – Selling. It’s easy for those of us with the ‘gift of the gab’ and even simpler for those of us referred to as ‘natural salespeople.’

Sit down & pin back your ears for some really great news – there is no such thing as a natural salesperson and neither is being thought of as having ‘ the gift of the gab’ a good thing. It’s better expressed in my view as being ‘gobby, full of yourself and generally being an idiot!’

Each one of us can win new business from new customers, or from existing customers in other words – SELL.  How so I hear you ask? Absolute gem coming up so pay attention.  This is why:

‘People do business with people they like’

Now, unfortunately, I am able to claim to have been a ‘salesperson’ for more than 30 years – which does not necessarily make me good at it but, it means that for 30 years I have been reading books about how to sell, attending seminars being told how to sell, being put on training courses to be shown how to sell and I’ve spent thousands of hours with ‘professional’ salespeople. After an extraordinary amount of money has been spent on me do you know what I have learnt?

‘People do business with people they like’

Learn how to be liked (yes this is something you can learn) and you will never look back. Don’t switch off now, stick with me and you will see that it is not about being the centre of attention, nor is it about being the life and soul of anything, or being in the limelight. Here is the second absolute gem:

‘Be genuinely interested in the people you meet’

However we were created, the end result was that we have two ears and a single, solitary mouth; you must practise to make sure that you always, without fail and never forget, to use this equipment proportionally to the numbers in which you own each then you will have taken a huge step toward being a very successful winner of business.

I mean, speak for no more than 1/3rd of the time and listen for the rest – in fact if you can get this to an 80 / 20 split you will be flying!  However, when you are doing this it is essential that you use your ears to LISTEN and not to hear. It is just as important that in your early client meetings you use your mouth to ask questions about the person, their business and their problems. Do not use your mouth (until much later in the process) for speaking too much about yourself, your business and your product or, service.  This is because in very simple terms – no one is interested.

The key to being liked is very simply:

‘Be genuinely interested in the people you meet’

Altogether there are 6 basic principles that if you put into action you will be liked by most people who meet you and you will therefore become hugely successful at winning business. It might surprise you to know that – again my personal opinion – a huge proportion of ‘salespeople’ are actually not very good at it. They’ve read too many poor books, been got at by too many people making a living out of training salespeople or, have had the dubious benefit of learning from experienced salespeople who weren’t very good to begin with. Imagine that, a whole bunch of salespeople who think they Can, but actually Can’t. This leaves the field wide open for any of you reading this and willing to put the preparation and effort in. Selling is all about preparation and hard work – along with being liked.

So back to those 6 points for you to put into action – I should say that they are not my words of wisdom because if they were I would have no need to be sat here this morning writing this for you. The cool fact about these wise, wise words is that they were written in 1935 by a guy called Dale Carnegie – and I can confidently tell you, despite many attempts to find one, nothing better has been written since. I attend colleges, universities and seminars to listen to how selling is taught. In modern, fancy language, supported by theories for this and that; they all basically say what Dale said more than 70 years ago!

P1: Become genuinely interested in other people.

P2: Smile.

P3: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest & most important sound in any language.

P4: Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.

P5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

P6: Make the other person feel important – but do it with sincerity.

Now is that simple or what!

As I mentioned earlier, many thousands of pounds have been spent on building me into the salesperson I am today and I can with all honesty say to you; the best money ever spent on making me into anything was the £3 my then boss, Graham Petty, spent in 1983 when he made a present of Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ book to me. Sadly, I can’t make a present of the actual book to each of you lovely readers, but I can make a gift of the knowledge and suggest that you rush out as soon as possible to get yourself a copy and read it cover to cover – to read it will take you less than a day and yet the knowledge will last you a lifetime.

To buy the book for under £7 or $10 visit: http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Win-Friends-Influence-People/dp/0091906814/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254819555&sr=1-1

Let me know how it goes for you and what successes you gain from it, or feel free to ask me any questions that still remain about ‘Selling’ phil@scarletopus.com

How to Improve Your Time Management

Four colourful alarm clocks isolated on white background 3D

Time Management is a skill and discipline for life, not just for business. You will be surprised to discover how much your life can be enriched just by applying this discipline to all areas of your life. You might even discover that compared to how you manage your time now, if you begin developing this skill there must be many more hours than 24 in a day.……mustn’t there? 

Today our Lead Business Transformer offers tips for improvement: 

Time Management comes quite naturally to absolutely nobody…..unless you are in the military! It has to be worked at and our work/life balance can be a farce if we continue to let in the time gremlins disguised as on aging pop group – The Temptations of Distractions! For these are the reasons we don’t do what we kid ourselves we planned to do.

There will always be distractions that do require our immediate attention; a call from a customer, or if you are a working parent, from a child. Apparently, we make plans that ‘Life’ then takes over?

Try the suggestions below and if they don’t work – you aren’t trying hard enough, or you are the one person in the world they will not work for and you can make yourself a fortune writing a book about it!

Emails, phone calls, text messages, family or friends calling, colleagues with seemingly more important ‘stuff’ you should focus on – these are distractions. There is only one way to deal with these distractions and that is to manage them.

So here is a way to stretch the day:

Break the main actions/objectives of your day/week down into bite size pieces and start by asking 3 questions:

1.      What do I want to achieve today/this week?

2.      What do I need to do to make that happen?

3.      How long do I need to achieve this goal?

To do list – Everyone should have a daily list of Things To Do – we all know this but not many of us do it. Most of us make a list and then ruin the sense of achievement as we work down it ticking off what’s done.  How? We keep adding to it! The list can only ever contain what you can realistically achieve in 1 day. Why do this? “Simples!” A sense of achievement is a great feeling and will keep you motivated.

Post (Does anyone ever still get any?) – Deal with your post ONCE a day. Handle each piece of post only once! Do not read something and put it down to deal with later; either pick it up, read it and deal with it or, leave it until you know you will. Do not open junk mail, bin it.

E-mail – If you go to your Inbox every time you spot/hear your particular notification signal, then you will find yourself clicking through to interesting looking websites; ringing someone you do not have in your plan and probably don’t need to; composing replies that could wait. You know what? Half an hour just ran out of the door! Allocate an amount of time to deal with your emails once or twice a day. However many times you do this put it into a plan and make it happen.

Time Blocks – Make sure that your daily/weekly plan gives you periods when you can build in ‘emergencies’ and accommodate the unexpected as for sure they will happen. What you have to be able to do is manage dealing with them with flexibility but without destroying your plan, as you would be able to swap a couple of ‘time blocks’ around with each other.  

Family and Friends – don’t they have jobs? Do they know anyone who does? Then they ought to know when you are not working and therefore when is best/acceptable to contact you?
Let your family and friends know your working hours so that they can avoid disturbing you during these times. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean that you are always available.

Identify and Use YOUR Best Time – We all have a time of day when it seems we can conquer the world – unfortunately mine is between 6am – 11am. So find ‘Your Time’ as this is the time you will be more creative and strategic. It’s the rest of the day in which you should deal with your To Do List.

This is by no means an exhaustive training course in Time Management but is a very good start even if I say so myself! I hate those little sayings that course trainers love to use so much as if no one ever heard them before; but despite myself I can’t help but bring one to mind right now and so I leave you with this thought ……………

Plan your work and then, work your plan!