SHROUDED in darkness, they furtively tied their lovingly handmade figures to a rail before dawn broke on Saturday morning.

This is graffiti with a difference - the perpetrators don’t want to get caught but their tag is as offensive as Mary Berry saying ‘soggy bottom’.

Hundreds of individually knitted pieces make up the display, representing countries competing this summer's World Cup ranging from a mini Maradonna from Argentina – ball in hand, to a Frenchman in a Breton top and onions round his neck accompanied by a picnic basket filled with a tiny bottle of Burgundy.

Loading article content

A Spanish player celebrates a goal in front of his adoring countrymen while a beautiful geisha is the embodiment of Japan.

Artist Sarah Gee, from Hartlepool, herself a ‘yarn bomber’ outside the North-East, was in awe of the skills used.

“What really impresses me is the thought that people have the imagination and the longsightedness and the planning capacity in a group," she said. " And after all that work that have to put it out and that takes chutzpah.

“I get a lot of pleasure from knowing people get what they want out of my work and I’m sure the people who did this do too. How do you know they are not here now?”

England fans at the hands of needle-clickers were given a patriotic twist a heavy dose of humour. One was flanked by a British bulldog and a Mini while a sunburned believer was captured in a deckchair complete with paunch and 80s mullet hairstyle next to a sign saying “in your dreams!”

Even the football WAG had her moment in the Saltburn sunshine, posing against a flag stating obvious “I love footballers”. The petite Victoria Beckham look-a-like doll dressed in black comes with matching shoes and bag, hair extensions and even designer sunglasses.

The yarn bombers delighted the town two years ago on a larger scale two years ago to celebrate the Olympics but their handiwork was vandalised after just one night.

Sue Wilson, from Leeds, said: “We came to see the Olympic ones as well, I think it’s a great idea. I think the detail is fantastic, they are very accomplished knitters.

“To come and see these quirky creatures is a real draw,” added Mrs Wilson, the mother of ultra marathon runner Gareth Wilson, from Guisborough, who was running the Hardmoors 110 this weekend in aid of Cancer Research UK.

The mystique surrounding the identity of the underground group , who signed off a notice asking visitors to leave their work for others to enjoy with ‘SYS’ for Saltburn Yarn Stormers, was part of their appeal thought Laura Burniston, from Marske.

Richard Bellas, from New Marske, said every time he looked at the pieces he saw something different and enjoyed pieces like the retro mascots from World Cups of yesteryear.

He too was happy for the nimble-fingered knitters to stay incognito.

“You never know,” he said. “It could have been done by aliens.”