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Madhands, Niu Yun

Mar 23, 2018

My name is NY (Niu Yun is my full name). I am born and raised in Yunnan, south-west China full of mountains and sunshine. I’ve lived in Shanghai since 2007, for university at the beginning, then spent 2 years in London for my Master’s Degree in Fashion Design. After studying I came back to Shanghai in 2013, started working in the creative/event industry, was part of the team that created DAFF (maybe some people still remember), after that I started Brew & Blend festival in M50 with my partners.

Meanwhile I also started my own knitwear label Madhands, creating fun and colorful hand knit pieces, workshops, exhibitions, and installations. As I am from Yunnan, I also started a small Yunnanese restaurant called Slurp! in 2014, we now have 2 locations for Slurp, and also one more called PILIPALA serving Dai minority BBQ in Yangpu District.


I have always loved knitting, my focus was already on hand-knitting when I was studying in London. Coming back to Shanghai, I wanted to have my little knitting project apart from work; I also met another girl Rain from Guizhou, we shared similar interests so decided to start Madhands. The idea was to create something opposite of fast-fashion, to draw attention back to craftsmanship and materials.

We have made a few collections when I started to realize that creating more clothes was not the best way to express myself, making it as product to sell is not the best way to be creative. So we stopped making garments, instead we started collaborating with artists/spaces/other brand to make hand-knitted installations, displays, and workshops. This way I can use yarn to knit something crazier, more colorful, and the most important, more fun! I also got the chance to teach other people to knit, to encourage others to make things by themselves, to enjoy the few hours of sitting down and using your hands to create something. I think this is what my initiative is, to make us believe in our hands again.


Shanghai has always been one of my favorite cities. It’s a combination of everything, sometimes it gets super futuristic as all the new technology will start here, sometimes it becomes an elegant charming lady, and you can find a corner in the city to slow down and relax. Something that's upset me recently is all the public areas that are gone. My apartment used to be next to Red Town (covered with a big grass area and a few art museums), Anxi second-hand clothes market, a super lovely wet market, lots street food and mid-night BBQ spot. Now they are all gone, and I am surrounded by big construction sites.

I love to eat around the city a lot, thanks SmSh for providing all the news about it. I always go to Bar No.3 for a mid-week drink, Elevator for weekend dance+drink (I also VJ there sometimes), love all the crazy Sichuan Hot Pot places on Dingxi Rd. Xime and Daliah occasionally for some good food and events!


I also like to go to museums & galleries, to get inspired. I always go to PSA and Mingshen Museum, they hold really nice contemporary exhibitions. Shanghai Natural Museum is my recent favorite too, good collections of animals (apart from the failed stuffed lion and leopard) and precious stones. Sometimes I  go to meet-up workshops/talks, I love events organized by Xinchejian, Xinfab, and Green Initiatives; you can always meet super interesting people. If it's good day I will go to the West Bund to walk my dog, and sit on the grass for a whole afternoon. Am I going to live here forever? Ha, forever is a big word. I always want my future to be open, so I don't have an answer yet.

It's always a good feeling every time I finish one project, no matter if it's knitting, or an event, or learning—I am proud of everything I have created. When I finally finish 2 weeks of non-stop knitting, and see it hanging there with people passing by touching it or talking about it, I am proud and thankful. Then the good feelings motivate me to start a new project and make it better.


You can join NY's workshop on "body knitting" to recreate your bod in yarn as seen in photos above at Ladyfest. Free entry, no registration, just walk up. Will run from 5.30-6.30pm at un Caffe Bar.

And yes, it's happening tomorrow! Check the full Ladyfest schedule so you don't miss out on the good stuff.



  • This venue has now closed

    un Caffe Bar

    • Address
      7/F, 77 Jiangning Lu, near Nanjing Xi Lu
      江宁路77号7楼, 近南京西路
    • Phone
      156 1877 4250

    Read more

  • This venue has now closed

    Xinfab (Kangding Dong Lu)

    • Address
      No. 5, Lane 45 Kangding Dong Lu, near Taixing Lu
      康定东路45弄5号, 近泰兴路
    • Phone

    Read more

  • Rebranded to Jin Hua


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    • Address
      408 Shaanxi Bei Lu, near Beijing Xi Lu
      陕西北路408号, 近北京西路
    • Phone
      6288 8773

    One of the only Austrian restaurants in Shanghai, Daliah serves a good veal schnitzel and also hosts community events. The service here can be slower than the bank, but the proprietors are well-intentioned, if not absent-minded. On the positive side, the place is... Read more

  • Xime

    • Address
      1/F, 989 Changle Lu, near Changshu Lu
      长乐路989号1楼, 近常熟路
    • Phone
      6422 5996

    Brough to us by Jun Nishio and Sam Norris (Wishbone), Xime is just well-thought out, no-pressure, Japanese comfort food and drinks. The space is divided into two, with the requisite... Read more

  • Elevator (Xinle Lu)

    • Address
      4/F, 218 Xinle Lu, near Donghu Lu
      新乐路218号4楼, 近东湖路
    • Phone

    Intimate nightclub in the busy Donghu Lu neighborhood, with good sound and lights, and house, disco, and techno by local and international DJs. Notably, they've also got ping pong tables and other daytime activities, plus a micro-restaurant. Drinks are mid-range and... Read more

  • Bar No. 3

    • Address
      277 Xingguo Lu, near Taian Lu
      兴国路277号, 近泰安路
    • Phone
      6418 2877

    Eminently comfortable cocktail bar close to Jiaotong University. The drinks aren't cheap, but they're made with quality and love so you won't feel ripped off. They've got about 50 drinks, mostly in the 80-100rmb range, and some Kentucky beers. There's several couches... Read more

  • Relocated to Changshou Lu

    Pilipala (Songhu Lu)

    • Address
      B1/F, 303 Songhu Lu, near Zhengli Lu
      淞沪路303号B1楼, 近近政通路
    • Phone
      138 1890 1924

    Eatery dedicated to the cuisine of the Dai Minority people from Southern Yunnan Province, a mix of South-Western Chinese and South-East Asian flavors like banana-leaf wrapped frog, eel, barbecued pork neck, bamboo grilled or pineapple steamed rice. Dishes are pretty... Read more

  • This venue has now closed


    • Address
      No 3, 247 Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, near Wuyuan Lu
      乌鲁木齐中路247-3号, 近五原路
    • Phone
      130 5258 0195

    Hip, casual Yunnan street food restaurant Slurp moved from north Jing'an to a smaller space on Wulumuqi Lu in early 2016. They're sharing the space with a guy who sells mobile phone cards – he's the landlord. Pretty rad one-stop-shop for SIM cards, Yunnan street... Read more

  • Slurp! (Maoming Bei Lu)

    • Address
      70 Maoming Bei Lu, near Yan'an Zhong Lu
      茂名北路70号, 近延安中路
    • Phone
      158 0087 0373

    The second/third (the original closed) outlet of hip, casual Yunnan street food restaurant, they remain dedicated to evangelizing for Yunnan street food dishes, fruit wine made with sour papaya, and 58-68rmb lunch sets. Read more

  • Power Station of Art

    • Address
      200 Huayuangang Lu, near Miaojiang Lu
      花园港路200号, 近苗江路
    • Phone
      3110 8550

    The PSA is an impressive but cumbersome space, a huge building likened by curator Qui Zhijie to London’s Tate Modern. The PSA may have similar hardware to that legendary institution but it doesn’t have the software — the staffing, budgets, etc — to match.... Read more

  • Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum

    • Address
      Bldg 3, 210 Wenshui Lu, near Wanrong Lu
      汶水路210号3号楼, 近万荣路
    • Phone
      6182 0539

    A sister site to Redtown's original Minsheng Art Museum, this one continues the bank-sponsored institution's remit: contemporary art from China and beyond. Opened in 2014, it's housed in the... Read more

  • Shanghai Natural History Museum

    • Address
      510 Beijing Xi Lu, near Chengdu Bei Lu
      北京西路510号, 近成都北路
    • Phone
      6262 0280

    This new location for Shanghai Natural History Museum opened in Spring 2015. Shiny and new, its exhibitions are well funded, curated, and researched. Features dino-bots and lots of taxidermy, live bugs and amphibians, fossils and skeletons. Maximum educational... Read more

[Shanghai Famous]:

Shanghai Famous is a SmartShanghai column focusing on people out there in the city makin' the scene. They're out there around town, shaping Shanghai into what it is, creating the art, culture, and life around us. We asked them what's good in Shanghai. We asked them what's bad in Shanghai. We asked them to tell us more, more, more about their wonderful selves.

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