Around 2012 you might have started spotting knitted patterns over handrails, fences and trees across the city. Fast forward 7 years later, and those same brightly coloured knits still pop up from time to time. It’s non-other than the work of Esther Poon Suk-Han – Hong Kong’s very own yarn bomber! The Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer has a playful hobby that’s been brightening up Mongkok, Causewaybay and Central for years now.
Also referred to as knit graffiti, it’s a wholesome contrast to the towering steel buildings and is a pleasant surprise that is now engaging a wider community. We caught up with Esther to find out more.
How did your yarn bombing journey begin?
The technique was said to be found by American textile artist Magda Sayeg. I was inspired by Sayeg, and because of her, I am now considered to be Hong Kong’s first yarn bomber. Sayeg has been putting colourful displays of knitted yarn on road signs, railings, fences and trees since 2012, and she invited me to take part in an exhibition in “I KNIT MK”. Since then, I’ve carried out yarn bombing projects in Central, Causeway Bay and Sheung Wan during Christmas, the Lunar New Year and some occasional seasons.
What is it about yarn bombing that gets you excited?
I enjoy the creative process of knitting or crochet. Although I have high expectations of myself, I don’t see it as pressure. Instead, stitching things is an outlet for my emotions, mind and hopes, almost like compiling my own dreams.
How has yarn bombing allowed you to feel more connected to the city?
Using colours to create visual enjoyment, wool is a fabric that gives people a warm and sweet feeling. I want to spread happiness through my work, as I observed that Hongkongers were less happy in general than 20+ years ago when the economy was booming and before the 1997 handover.
What’s been the best reactions to your work?
When I was knitting on the streets, many pedestrians would come over and chat with me, and ultimately, I was able to form a community through knitting.
How has the movement developed over the years?
I am now focusing my energy and enthusiasm on my true passion for knitting and crochet. My plan is to inspire people to learn graffiti knitting, starting with communities and schools. I offered lessons to the public and formed my first crew a few years ago. They are now working with me on various large projects!
My mottos are “never give up” and “nothing is impossible”.
Do you think more Hong Kong-ers should get into more hands-on crafts?
Sure. Knitting nowadays is not only about making a scarf or clothes for ourselves. It’s about bringing people together.
So, what’s next for you?
I hope that I can one day weave my magic on Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges. It would be a historic occasion to be able to install art on a city landmark.
Follow her works here