Mystery Knitted Items Pop Up Downtown San Mateo

The source of the knits hits close to home in San Mateo.

Wondering what those knitted items are that are decorating downtown San Mateo these days? Look no further than to San Mateo resident and owner of local business Knits For Life

Lorna Watt, founder and designer at the company, does what are called yarn bombs and placed 50 of them in downtown. Yarn bombing is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn. 

The San Mateo Downtown Association approached Watt when they read an article about her iPhone yarn bomb, which acted as a commentary on phone usage.

"I covered a broken payphone with yarn to make it look like an iPhone since no one uses payphones anymore," she said.

From there, the association asked Watt to display her knits in downtown as part of the City of San Mateo’s 1st Annual Spring Cleanup, which was held on April 20.

During this cleanup day, more than 200 volunteers not only removed graffiti and picked up trash, but also planted flowers and displayed artwork.

She said that the city is also planning on creating a walking map of her work. She suspects the knitting will remain up for one to four months since she plans on taking them down when they start to look bad.

“When I travel I like to leave things here and there,” she said. “For example, in Paris I crocheted a lock [at one of the love-lock bridges].”

Other past projects include a giant Etch A Sketch in San Diego with her friend who runs the company Crochet Grenade.

Her sister, Jill Watt, runs her own The Dapper Toad and designed, made and installed all the yarn bombs with Lorna. The two plan on releasing an e-book with all the yarn bombs they installed in Downtown San Mateo.

Watt sells patterns of her work on her website for those interested in making their own knits out of her designs. She started the business five years ago.

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