Person of the Week
Suxiao Yang Looks to Knit Together Crafters to Give Back to Community
Suxiao Yang is hoping to bring together crafters to join her in giving back to those in need. (Photo courtesy of Suxiao Yang)
One year ago, Suxiao Yang and her husband, Augustine Hadelich, were on his family’s farm in Italy when the country again went into a pandemic lockdown. Little did Suxiao know that she would find a new passion after taking the time to sew a hole in one of her husband’s suits.
“I was using his mom’s old sewing basket and found a crochet hook in there and I asked her what it was,” Suxiao says. “She used it when she made some dishcloths 30 years ago, but it looked interesting so I looked up some videos and ordered some yarn.”
From there, Suxiao’s “pandemic hobby” was born. She began practicing her new craft, finding various patterns and inspirations from the online crafting community. While Suxiao enjoyed fashioning the creations, she soon found an even deeper connection with the craft.
“I realized I’d look back on my day and have no idea what I did with it and had nothing to show for it and realized I wanted to have something tangible and that’s what began this crocheting and knitting craze,” she says. “As I found like-minded people online, I saw that a lot of these people were making things for charities and I really wanted to get involved.”
Suxiao learned that many people were creating hats and booties for babies in the NICU as well as items to gift to bereaved parents to remember a lost infant. Creating items for babies hit especially close to home as Suxiao and Hadelich were new parents.
“I heard stories about how having an item brought them comfort after a loss and it was something that touched me as a new mom,” says Suxiao. “We also worked with a hospital to make things in purple to signify the ‘purple period,’ which is a term used to signify infants who cry for no reason. I found these things to be very impactful.”
As Suxiao became more involved online, she saw that she could make an impact on many groups. She crocheted bird nests and cat caves for an animal rescue as well as warm-weather items for women’s shelters and the homeless population.
Over the past year, Suxiao has created and sent items to hospitals, animal shelters, and organizations all over the country. As she and her husband recently bought a home in North Haven where Suxiao grew up, she realized she wanted to find a way to give back closer to home and posted on the North Haven Community Page 2.0 Facebook page to connect with other “avid knitters and crocheters.”
“The response has been really heartwarming,” says Suxiao. “I really enjoy doing it and thought I could do something for my community. I wanted to give back and that helps me feel good.”
Though the couple only recently bought their home, they’ve been living in town since the beginning of the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, Suxiao and her husband had been living in New York City and traveling 300 days a year for their respective careers with Suxiao working as a photographer and Hadelich as a professional violinist.
Suxiao graduated from North Haven High School in 2005 and then majored in biology and minored in chemistry and music. She then worked at Yale New Haven Hospital in both research and in the emergency room. Suxiao also worked as a freelance violist while living in New York, performing nearly every night.
Suxiao decided to attend Columbia to study science in grad school and worked in translational immunology for six years. While at Columbia, she decided to take a photography class, which changed the trajectory of her career.
“My professor really inspired me and helped me see photography as something I could use as a way of understanding myself, so it’s been a self-discovery journey for me” and by the end of the year, “I decided that was for me,” says Suxiao. “Now I’m a professional photographer and I travel the world to cover weddings and events. It’s a very different life than I had imagined for myself. I thought I’d be a doctor or researcher—and I was for a while—but I’m so happy to be where I am.”
Suxiao works for Clane Gessel Studio, which she says has been “an amazing experience.” She has traveled throughout the United States, to shoot The Bachelorette’s wedding in Cancun, to Lake Como, and more.
Suxiao has also found ways to give back to the community through her photography as well. She recently photographed a fundraising gala for the Arthritis Foundation and will be shooting a community theater production in New Britain.
In addition to pursuing photography and crocheting, Suxiao has also remained involved in music. During the pandemic, she and her husband formed their own video-sound production team, creating instructional videos and homemade music videos.
“We wanted to help out the classical musical community during these times,” says Suxiao. “We couldn’t travel and the state of the classical music industry is kind of precarious and we didn’t know what the return to live would look like with different rules and a new landscape to navigate. We got so much feedback on our videos from people stuck at home and it was a really interesting experience.”
Now the couple is looking at deepening their roots in North Haven and looking forward to raising their child in town. Hadelich is now teaching at Yale University and Suxiao is considering looking for a local niche for her photography business.
“I really enjoy it here in North Haven and our neighbors are so nice,” says Suxiao. “We’re enjoying meeting everyone and being back here.”
Suxiao found a common thread with one of her neighbors through fiber crafts as she discovered her neighbor is an “avid knitter.” She now looks forward to their phone calls or chats in the driveway about different projects. Suxiao is looking forward to connecting with others who are interested in the hobby and giving back to the community.
“She’s someone who’s really cool to hang out with,” says Suxiao. “I’m hoping with a little more exposure, people will reach out to me. Even though I’m new to the craft starting just last year, it doesn’t feel new because I’ve been doing it so much and I’d like to find a crafting community here to give back locally.”
To contact Suxiao Yang, email firstname.lastname@example.org or find suemadeworld on Instagram.
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .