Deirdre Pinnock is no stranger to yarn bombing, having left random knitted and crocheted acts of kindness all around Vancouver, but she’s truly excited about her latest project.
The Mount Pleasant crochet queen is sending a call out to fellow needle and hook enthusiasts to help craft hearts so Vancouverites can show some love to local shops shuttered by COVID-19.
Pinnock calls the project It’s Nobody’s Business and she and her helpers will start by decorating the storefronts of eight shops on Main Street between Broadway and 12th that have gone out of business since March.
“The hope is awareness and that you need to support local businesses,” said Pinnock, 56, an artist who worked on the Downtown Eastside as a tenant support worker for 10 years and was once a graffiti artist.
“We want to let the local businesses know we really appreciate them instead of just walking past them and going up to our condo,” she said. “What about the mom and pop place where you can get a $5 breakfast, instead of buying a $25 steak. Support the little shop on the corner.”
Another COVID-inspired installation at Clark and 12th was quickly removed and some yarn creations left at Strathcona Park’s homeless camp didn’t remain installed for long, she said.
But she’s magnanimous and philosophical about any yarn bombs that go missing.
“If you need it, you want it, take it,” she said. “Who am I to say that I own this? You want it? It’s yours. I’ll make another one.”
Pinnock considers herself retired from the workday world and doesn’t yarn bomb for financial gain, often completing commissions like she did recently for a regular at East Vancouver’s Dude Chilling Park who is recovering from a heart attack, and will continue to yarn bomb to, she hopes, affect change.
“Just by doing art, you can really change people’s lives,” she said.
Pinnock’s art proposal got a Vancouver Art Foundation grant through the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, one of 100 grants of $500 on offer this year to “bring people together but not physically together,” she said.
Pinnock’s $340 grant “will buy a lot of yarn” for her “posse of bombers.”
Her Facebook and Instagram posts have been answered by crocheters and knitters as far away as New Zealand and the U.S. A rug hooker she knows in Ladysmith crocheted 50 of them in a week and she’s mailing them to Pinnock.
She has a couple of hearts large enough to cover the storefront but most will be hand-sized and she will put up 10 on each of the stores, with plans to expand to other streets and other parts of the city, depending on the response.
And all the creations will be different “because everybody’s heart is different,” she said.
“We’ll do it respectfully,” she said. “We’ll hang one off the doorknob.”
Pinnock’s other yarn bombs include flowers on chain link fences surrounding community gardens that developers put up on empty lots and hearts she put up at Point Grey Secondary.
To encourage mask-wearing, without scolding passersby by exhorting them to “wear your mask,” she installed a large fire-breathing dragon near Commercial Drive and 12th.
She never asks for permission, to avoid the “red tape, board meetings, someone taking offence, deciding whether it should say kind or kindness,” she said.
The response has been mixed. The Point Grey students added some hearts of their own but one bombing she installed with “I can’t breathe” — after the death of George Floyd while in police custody in the U.S. — was taken down after two months.