Houston native Magda Sayeg has unwittingly become the mother of “yarn bombing,” the burgeoning graffiti art movement that’s more grandma than gangster. For the past eight years, the 37-year-old mother of three has been knitting kaleidoscopic cozies for flagpoles, tree trunks, bicycles, and other ordinary objects in cities around the world. What started as a clandestine hobby has turned Sayeg into a celebrated textile artist and earned her a slew of high-profile commissions: she’s “tagged” the Williamsburg Bridge, in New York City; hotels in Los Angeles; and even an entire Mexico City bus. When she’s not wielding her knitting needles, the Austin transplant is likely at home watching movies in bed with her kids.
About the Items on Magda Sayeg’s Bedside Table
• This is a so-not-me mug. I don’t love dancing unless I’ve had several glasses of champagne. Then I think I could win Dancing With the Stars. I could beat Chaz Bono.
• This tunes my ukulele. I’ve been drawn to ukuleles since I saw the scene in The Jerk when Steve Martin plays one while singing with Bernadette Peters. It’s such a simple instrument. I can play Metallica and AC/DC songs on it, but lately I’ve been playing the Beatles’ “All My Loving” a lot.
• I used to not watch TV, but right now the shows are so good. Breaking Bad has some of the best writing out there. I also have every single episode of The Twilight Zone, and I love the Turner Classic Movies channel.
• To Kill a Mockingbird is the second-most-popular book after the Bible. Who doesn’t love it? Just talking about its title can start a conversation. Try explaining that to a nine-year-old.
• My work was voted Best Public Art by Austin Chronicle readers in 2010. I felt like a local hero.
• I’ve been to Argentina three times in the past year. Their markets are famous for antique jewelry, like these Bakelite bracelets.
• My aunt Dorothy started my collection of venetian glass paperweights fourteen years ago. This one glows in the dark. I got it at a market in Sydney.
• I’ve only gone to a small fraction of the thousand places to see before you die.
• These “dead man’s shoes” are something I did early on. They evoke the street culture I was trying to embrace. I throw them over wires in front of friends’ homes, or I’ll give them as gifts.
• Austin’s dry climate is hard on my hair and skin, so I use Weleda’s rosemary oil all the time. I like the smell.
• Italy is one of my favorite places. I had my first solo show there in 2010, and I’ve visited several times since then. I want to go back for New Year’s.
• The heating pad is something I use throughout the night. It’s like a teddy bear. I put it on my feet, on my back. It’s something I have in common with lots of old ladies.
• I put that sock there so the cabinet doesn’t scratch my floor. It works.