It's a Wrap!: Knit Wit

Knitter Magda Sayeg is on a mission to turn “the ugly into the pretty.”

By Linda Yellin
knitted bus image
Absolut Vodka commissioned a wrap for this Mexico City bus.
Photograph: Cesar Ortega

At age 16, Magda Sayeg knitted a scarf for her boyfriend. Then they broke up, and for 15 years she didn’t touch a needle—until a slow day at her Houston boutique, when she knitted a cover for the door handle. Reactions were so positive that she made a cover for the post of a nearby stop sign.

When she saw people “get out of their cars, take pictures and laugh,” Sayeg says, she started knitting hats for fire hydrants and leg warmers for parking meters. She recruited friends, and a playful collective was formed.

A police officer did question her once, as she was climbing a ladder to wrap a streetlight. His ultimate verdict: “As long as you don’t use a spray can, have fun.”

Fans followed her on Myspace, other knitters joined in, and what the BBC has dubbed “yarn bombing” became a global movement.

Commissioned to wrap a bus in Mexico City, Sayeg created a super-sheath (above) out of her afghan collection. Since then, she has climbed 60-foot scaffolding to yarn-bomb a statue in Bali and wrapped 15-to-20-foot tube lights for an Austin, Texas, music festival. Working with a production team, she’s done pro bono pieces and earned upwards of $20,000 for commissioned projects.

Sayeg says she aims to turn “the ugly into the pretty.” For her admirers, the whole thing’s just a stitch.


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First Published September 15, 2011

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