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Lockdown Letterboxes: The Power of Knitting in response to the Pandemic

Lockdown Letterboxes: The Power of Knitting in response to the Pandemic 
Reporter Eleanor Clavin finds out more from Belinda Goldsmith.
Whilst taking a stroll during lockdown, you might have noticed your local post boxes dressed in a colourful array of knitted toppers. This viral craze known as yarn bombing has been described by Journalist Belinda Goldsmith as "a very British way of dealing with lockdown."  A form of graffiti, yarn bombing is the act of displaying knitted or crocheted designs in public areas and has risen in popularity as a way to spread happiness through the pandemic.

Belinda adopted running after working from home left her trapped at her desk for most of the day. She was overjoyed to find one morning that her local letterbox had been dressed in a fluffy knitted topper and stopped to take a photograph. "I sent it to friends and they'd seen some too so I decided to do some research and realised that this was a country wide thing."

From then on, Belinda made it her mission to connect the dots and delve deeper into the impact of yarn bombing across the UK. "I ended up collecting hundreds of fun and inspiring stories which I've made into a book for charity. There are stories from every age group, stories of vandalism and theft and stories of community and hope."

The act of yarn bombing originates from Houston Texas where Magda Sayeg coined the term in 2005. After covering the handles of her boutique with handmade knitted cosies, she slowly ventured into urban landscapes and even covered a bus, collecting a team of yarn bombers along the way. Later, in 2014, the craze came to Britain when five teachers set up The Craft Club and yarn bombed a postbox in Southend-on-Sea. With the help of social media, thousands have been inspired to pick up their knitting needles and  use their creativity as a force for good.

The craft has even been adopted by celebrities like British diver Tom Daley who took up knitting during lockdown to help his mental wellbeing. He made headlines when he was pictured poolside with his latest creation of an olympic jumper.

Knitting has a wide appeal: it is a fresh take on a traditional craft which captures the fascination of young and old alike. It's a bold but peaceful statement of warmth, connection and human existence in spite of the pandemic.

For the most part Royal Mail seem happy to allow the craze to continue, commenting that their postboxes are a "treasured part of communities around the UK and are for use by our customers". However, they added that toppers should not cause offence or obstruct others from using the boxes.

All proceeds from Belinda's book are to be donated to Young Minds, a charity which aims to help support young people's mental health. Belinda believes that the affect of lockdown on mental wellbeing has become "a pandemic within a pandemic". In particular, young people have suffered with the frustrations of facing isolation during what should have been one of the most social periods of their lives.

You can find the book available to buy online and in selected venues around Pinner including Eastcote's Little Book Hub. By purchasing Lockdown Letterboxes, you can explore the fascinating world of yarn bombing and continue to spread joy through your donation.

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