International Yarnbombing Day 2016

Being a big fan of crochet and pretty colours I have found my head turned of late by yarnbombing. To the uninitiated Yarnbombing is also known as guerrilla knitting and yarn graffiti, and is growing in popularity across the globe. Of the accounts I follow on Instagram, one of my favourites is @queen_babs. She is a well established and rather well known yarn bomber who’s based in Sydney, Australia, the following photo (used with @queen_babs’ permission) features one of her latest creations, a series of yarn bombed trees. Aren’t they stunning? She’s  inspired me to have a go myself.

 

Today, Saturday 11th June, is International Yarnbombing Day – so what better time to dip my toe in the colourful pool of yarnbombing. After a bit of research it became clear to me that most yarn bombs are put together by a collective of people. I decided to have a go just 2 weeks before the big day. That didn’t really give me the time to find a team of people to join me, so I decided to go it alone for the first time, perhaps it would raise awareness about the event for next year and a team of us could have a crack at it together in 12 months time?

So what to Yarnbomb? As it’s all a bit last minute, I couldn’t attempt anything too big. One friend suggested yarnbombing all of Gibraltar’s cannons – errr perhaps not this year. I didn’t want to go for the most common yarn bombs of a tree or a lamppost as that would require some planning – like how do you stop it slipping down the lamppost and ending up like an unloved Christmas jumper in a pile at the bottom. It had to be quick and easy to make and it had to be reasonably small and easy to attach.

I thought perhaps the back of a park bench would be a good start. I could sit on it while measuring it, and later while attaching it so I didn’t look like a complete loony. Ok then, we have a bench idea. But which one and where? Main Street is an obvious choice but is REALLY public and noticeable. Then a germ of an idea came to me as I was editing my recent post  A stroll around Gibraltar No.11 : Alameda Gardens Part 2. This year is the 200th Anniversary of the Alameda Gardens – what better than to make a special yarn bomb to commemorate this big birthday.

This gardens connection also meant I had an obvious colour scheme (green) and decoration theme of flowers. It was time to get hooking!

In order for this mini granny stripe blanket to look more than just a granny stripe blanket I thought it needed a bit of Gibraltar incorporated. What’s more obvious than the flag? So I set about trying to design an intarsia pattern for the castle on the flag. It turned out terribly, I unravelled it and tried again, that was rubbish. I gave up on that and embroidered the towers on later.

To balance out the Gibraltar flag on one side I thought I’d better knock out a union jack flag as well. That was much easier!

Next came the message – I thought just putting 200 on it wasn’t enough so I settled on the dates, 1816 – 2016 and to make them in orange so that they really stood out against the green background. It also needed a label saying it was made for the Alameda Gardens too.


Then it was time for the flowers – these were so quick and fun to make. I was able to carry a bag with me on after school activities and surreptitiously produce bloom after bloom. I don’t think the other parents thought I was too crazy….

The time came for me to go for a recce to find the exact destination for the yarn bomb. An evening walk to the Alameda Gardens was in order. I waited until the smallest Postcards were in bed before heading out, silly me I managed to get myself locked in!!! Well at one end of the park anyway – I had to walk the long way around to get out and back home again!! Anyway, I did settle up on a bench, both physically and metaphorically. This one looked perfect. It’s on the main avenue at the top of the gardens and is just below the beautiful new glass house which was built to commemorate the bicentenary.

 

As I continued on my walk, a couple of other things caught my eye which were calling out to be yarn bombed….

 The Molly Bloom statue


The Guiseppe Codali bust


The Alameda Gardening Club garden

They have a Bee Hotel  – it really needs a yarn bee don’t you think? That’s the first thing I did on my return home. I was late to bed that night!!

Ta dah! I think I’m a little bit in love with Mr Bumble.

So do you want to see what I did? Here goes…


Mr Bumble’s just waiting to check into the Bee Hotel.

Giuseppe Codali’s neckwear has got more of a Gibraltar flavor today.

Molly Bloom’s got a necklace of rainbow blooms to brighten her outfit a little.

And finally this bench has been given a woolly makeover.


I gave each yarnbomb a label explaining that it’s International Yarnbombing Day, so people ‘get’ what it’s all about. They won’t be there for long though, so if you want to see them for real, you’ll have to be quick. If you do visit them, please let me know what you think.

So who’s going to join me for International Yarnbombing Day 2017?
 

A stroll around Gibraltar No 7: The Alameda Gardens Part 1

The Alameda Botanic Gardens sits snugly between the town centre of Gibraltar and the South District. A calm, quiet, green oasis amongst the busy and densely populated streets, the Alameda Gardens are the lungs of Gibraltar. When we first moved to the Rock after leaving our ‘average’ three bedroomed semi-detached house with a front and back garden,  moving into an apartment with small children was a shock to the system. Very fortunately for us we lived very close to the gardens and they were a real life-saver and sanity restorer for me. We had lost our garden (which we rarely used because of the inclement British weather) but we had the most gorgeous park a short stroll from our new home.

We visited the Gardens again at the weekend as a family, it had been a few months since we’d been and we had such a great time, I thought I’d share this beautiful part of Gibraltar with you.

The Botanical Gardens were first established in 1816 and were funded in the beginning with a series of charitable donations. They fell into disrepair towards the end of the last century but for the past 20 years or so, they have been maintained by a team of horticulturalists and a band of volunteers.

It is such a beautiful, calm place to be. Full of mature trees and plants and brimming with history.

The main entrance to the Alameda Gardens is watched over by this bust of General George Eliott a former Governor of Gibraltar during the Great Siege of 1779 – 1782.

The beautiful surroundings are more than just a nice place to be, they offer a valuable educational resource to some of the school children of Gibraltar too. The Alameda Gardening Club gives kids, many of whom would otherwise grow up with no experience of gardening (because they live in apartments), the chance to get their hands dirty and have a go at growing things. How cute is the Bee Hotel and the flowery scarecrow?!

I think this little section of the gardens is the cheeriest place of all, as clearly the children have had a great time tending their little patch.

A stone’s throw away from the children’s garden is the beautiful Dell, the lush green sunken garden is the venue for many Gibraltar based wedding ceremonies and photo shoots.

The luscious planting is so well maintained and is picture perfect.

This beautiful section of the gardens isn’t open to the public but can be enjoyed from above from this stunning footbridge:

Are you beginning to understand why I loved this place so much when we first arrived in Gib? It’s stunning. We have had so many happy hours here, teaching small people to ride bikes on this pathway below, having picnics on a bench when apartment life became too stifling and collecting fallen leaves and bug hunting with my little botanist.

Every part of this place is just lovely, from the formal promenades to the meadow style sections. It’s just so green – which is so needed by a garden and plant lover like myself.

The Alameda Gardens even have a literary connection, this statue is of Molly Bloom, a character in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, who spent her youth in Gibraltar. The novel makes mention of the Alameda Gardens and for that reason, the statue was placed here.

As you would expect from a botanical garden, there are a wide variety of plants on display with various flower beds and areas dedicated to plants from specific parts of the world or particular climates. A big favourite with the younger members of the Postcard family is this tropical section with the wooden walkway through the palms and banana leaves. Partly because it feels like you are walking through the jungle and partly because it’s right next door to the park!


Speaking of which – check it out! How cool is this park?? When we first arrived in Gibraltar seven years ago, it didn’t look like this. It had the feeling of a slightly neglected play park from the 1970s. I was right back to my childhood with the metal see-saw, roundabout and squeaking swings! However a few years back the park was shut down for several months and this great adventure playground sprung up in it’s place. It’s set out over 3 levels with activities for the smaller children at the bottom (shown here) and more adventurous things further up including a fab see-saw which several children can fit on at once, a great spinning tee-pee shaped climbing frame and a climbing wall.

Perhaps the best thing of all is that it’s set within the gardens and that means it benefits from the shade of the mature trees all around it so even in the heat of mid-summer you can use it and benefit from a bit of shady respite. It’s such a great park and one which my boys love. We’ve had such fun times here with friends over the years.

Oh Alameda – how we love you so! We really should visit more often!

I do hope that you have enjoyed this stroll round Gibraltar’s Botanic Gardens, I have called this Part 1 because I have only just scraped the surface of what this great place has to offer and I’m sure I’ll be back again soon to share a bit more of this gem with you.

 

This is by no means a comprehensive view of the gardens, just a collection of photos and ramblings. If you would like to find out more about this beautiful green oasis, please check out the official website.

Until the next time, thanks for stopping by and bye for now!