Northern Ireland

Knitters transforming Newcastle's public spaces

The team of masked women arrived at day break on Friday. Armed with crochet needles and scissors, the Secret Outside Crocheters and Knitters (SOCK) weaved their woolly magic on the promenade in Newcastle, County Down.

Together they sewed woollen panels over pieces of public art, fences, benches and even tree trunks.

It is an international trend called yarn bombing, guerrilla knitting or urban knitting that has spread around the world in the last decade.

Crafters and knitters get together and crochet pieces of art to cover public furniture or sculpture.

"We have been planning to yarn bomb Newcastle for some time," said an anonymous member of SOCK who, like her fellow knitters, wears a woolly mask to disguise her identity.

"It brightens up everybody's day and it shows knitting and crocheting as a different kind of craft rather than what your granny did making jumpers. It's a bit quirky."

SOCK is made up of mostly Newcastle-based enthusiastic knitters who meet once a week to stitch and knit.

"It's a nice creative mixture. Everyone has their own ideas of what they want to do," said another SOCK member wearing a knitted dog's head mask, complete with ears.

"Socially it's wonderful to meet everyone at the group and to share the creativity between each other.

"You feel wonderful because you have been able to make all this lovely stuff and everyone who sees it thinks it's great."

The yarn bombing of the promenade coincides with the Newcastle arts festival which is on this weekend.

If the woolly decorations last until Sunday, SOCK members will return to take them down and donate them to a local charity that does children's art projects.