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March 16, 2011 / whirlingneedles

The Yarn Bomb

The people on the street passed it by, blithely unaware and unconcerned. But Agent K knew better. That innocent-looking yarn encasing the tree? That was a yarn bomb. And it could go off at any moment.

In the past few years, the Agency has been experimenting with “yarn bombing,” which puts Agency messages in plain sight, adorning street lamps, railings, and trees with colorful knit- and crochet-wear. The general public was generally pleasantly surprised, if bemused, by the sudden and unexplained appearance of yarn crafts in public spaces.

Unfortunately, it seemed the aliens had decided to take advantage of this public perception to fight the Agency. Of late, more and more yarn bombs were not Agency work, but the work of the nefarious and clever aliens. These dangerous yarn bombs were easily spotted by Agents due to their gibberish coding, but the average non-knitter on the street could not tell the difference. Occasionally, a member of the public would get too close and trigger the yarn bomb…

BAM!! The yarn bomb would explode in a shower of yarn fragments and (*shudder*) glitter. Agent K had seen pictures of yarn bombing victims, covered head to toe in multi-colored glitter and had no desire to see the effects of a yarn bomb in person. It took months, sometimes years, for the glitter to be cleaned up. Sometimes the poor victim had to live with glittery hair for the rest of their lives. The Agency had worked for years to eradicate glitter from the aliens’ arsenal, but to no avail. Too many little girls liked it to completely remove it from store shelves.

Agent K approached the yarn bomb carefully. The slightest tremor could cause it to go off. She stopped a prudent distance away to examine it. Just as she had suspected. Made of brightly-colored, cheap acrylic, it had numerous small pouches holding the glitter. A strand of yarn ran down to the ground, where a curious child might see it and pull on it, or an unwary adult might trip on it. One yarn bomb in recent days was triggered by a squirrel looking for nuts. The poor thing was recovering in the animal ward at Headquarters.

Did Agent K dare leave the yarn bomb alone while she called Lyso and requested back up? She chewed her lip in indecision. She glanced up and down the street, and was horrified to see a group of kindergarteners headed towards her and the yarn bomb. She couldn’t go for help now. The kindergartners would probably revel in the glitter shower, but she imagined their poor parents had already seen enough glitter for a lifetime and did NOT want to have their children return home covered in the foul stuff.

Agent K nonchalantly knelt down, as if tying her shoe, but in reality examining the trigger mechanism more closely. This was the most sophisticated trigger she had seen yet. The Agency had had a seminar on yarn bomb defusing just last week, but this was the real thing. She had only one shot at this, and with the children approaching, she had to get it right.

The strand was carefully knotted to an outcropping in the concrete. The aliens had probably chosen this site just for that outcropping. (After this was over, if she survived, Agent K would write a complaint to the city to get it fixed.) She ran her finger lightly up the strand, following it up until it disappeared beneath one of the glitter sacks. Darn. She wouldn’t be able to follow it to its source and disconnect it there. It would have to be at the trigger end.

Any significant disturbance in the trigger thread would cause the yarn bomb to go off. Both a tug and a slacking in the thread would set it off. Agent K reached into her bag and pulled out a ball of yarn and a crochet hook. If she could match the tension in the trigger, she might be able to use a crocheted chain to hold the yarn bomb end of the trigger and cut the thread that went across the sidewalk. That might hold the trigger end long enough for Agent K to alert the yarn bomb squad.

Agent K glanced up. The children had stopped to watch a street performer. Good. That might buy her a little more time. She examined the trigger again, trying to estimate the tension in the thread. She quickly crocheted a chain, tugged it, shook her head, unraveled it, crocheted another chain, tugged it again, unraveled it. The children were starting to drift away from the street performer and toward her. A bead of sweat ran down her forehead. Another chain, unravel. Another chain. Finally, Agent K was satisfied with the tension. The children came ever closer.

Agent K quickly tied one end of the chain to a railing on the other side of the tree, then delicately, with trembling fingers, tied the other end to the trigger. The trigger jiggled, but the yarn bomb did not go off. Her mouth dry, Agent K removed her scissors from her bag and held them against the trigger. She closed her eyes and said a quick prayer to the knitting gods.


Agent K breathed a sigh of relief as the crochet chain held and the yarn bomb failed to go off. One of the children squealed and pointed at the yarn bomb.

“Did you do this?” asked the kindergarten teacher, admiring the yarn bomb.

“No,” replied Agent K. “But I know who did!”

The teacher gave Agent K a friendly nod, gathered the children, and led them off. Agent K sagged against the railing and wiped the sweat from her brow. Disaster averted. For today, anyway.



Leave a Comment
  1. Captain Obvious / Mar 16 2011 7:16 pm

    What an incredible, creative, imaginative short story! You deserve some serious props for this. Wow. Mind if I add you to my blog roll? (Ive already subscribed). This is just too friggin awesome.

    • whirlingneedles / Mar 17 2011 5:25 am

      Thank you! I’m glad that you enjoyed it. Sure, go ahead and link if you like. 🙂

  2. Manfred Armstrong / Mar 20 2011 6:42 pm

    What a great Yarn, very creative and a fab imagination…you definitely got it going for you, good luck for future write ups or a more elongated story.

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