People to Watch: Esther Hall

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
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From the August 7, 2014 edition

As a child, Esther Hall was surrounded by junk: rusted car parts, discarded electronics, twisting hunks of scrap metal.

Now, as an adult, she dedicates much of her existence to crafting beautiful things. Earlier this summer, Hall, 33, opened Yarn It & Haberdashery, a Grandview yarn store packed with everything from colorful bundles of knitting supplies to playful, crafter-themed T-shirts, including one emblazoned with the phrase “I’ve got 99 problems and a drop stitch ain’t one.”

She’s also involved in Craftin’ Outlaws, an alternative craft fair, Columbus Crafty Cotillion, and she oversees the entire craft operation at Independents’ Day, a sprawling network of 35 to 40 vendors that stretches from fine art and jewelry to more traditional craftwork like knitted goods. Oh, and she’s also a fine artist, a fashion designer, and a senior designer with the Alternative Fashion Mob, which will be participating in both the Fashion Meets Music Festival and Femmefest in the coming weeks.

It’s an existence she might not have imagined during those childhood years she spent playing in the South Side junkyard owned by her father, a onetime professor at a blood research lab who ditched his white coat for a pair of thick-heeled work boots.

When Hall wasn’t wielding a car antenna as though it were an imaginary wizard’s wand, she was perched next to her mother in the junkyard’s offices, studying the intricacies of knitting.

“It was either let me play in the dirty junkyard or keep me occupied in the office,” Hall said in a late-July interview at her shop. “[My mom] taught me how to knit and crochet, and I would make things for my dolls. I think the first thing I knit was a skirt for one of my Barbies.”

Hall, who received a bachelor of fine arts with a focus in fashion and sculpture from the Art Institute of Chicago, has always been incredibly driven, and even her bucket list functions as more of a straightforward to-do list than some pie-in-the-sky collection of assorted daydreams. Witness some of the things she’s already checked off: appear on television (she was on TLC’s “Craft Wars” in 2012); earn an art school diploma; open her own business.

“If it’s on my bucket list I intend to do it,” she said (next up: publish a book). “I’m one of those goal-oriented people. If I have an inkling I want to do something I research it and get all the facts. If it’s not plausible … what’s the point?”