It Takes Balls of yarn to make a difference

Ms Adeline Loo hopes to highlight the physical and mental benefits of knitting.
Ms Adeline Loo hopes to highlight the physical and mental benefits of knitting.PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The name It Takes Balls immediately tells you that this is no conventional knitting circle consisting of housewives making doilies and tissue-box holders.

Ms Adeline Loo, who set up her knitting business six months ago, says she is on a mission to "take back the craft of knitting for women and reject the idea that the craft is for retirees or housewives".

And the name has nothing to do with balls of yarn.

The reason for the name is because "it takes guts to reject mass consumerism and question where your clothes are from and who makes it", she says.

"People are more aware of fast fashion and they want to be unique and different now. Knitting gives them that option - to wear quality fashion produced sustainably."

The 32-year-old, who looks nothing like the stereotypical knitting enthusiast with her tattoos, makes bags, clutches and necklaces that come in a variety of bright colours and are patterned with contrasting stripes and polka dots.

Priced between $12 for a small lavender-stuffed pillow and $288 for a cardigan, they are sold on her website, www.ittakesballs.sg.

Her creations are also sold at Workshop Element at 313@Somerset and Mu at Bugis Junction.

She also sells DIY kits ($55 to $198) that include all the materials and tools needed to make a scarf or bag. Those who purchase the kit can attend free weekly knitting parties that Ms Loo holds at Fry Rooftop Bistro in Club Street.

She also takes requests for private classes, having done so for birthday parties and The Swiss Club.

As a nine-year-old, she had been forced to attend knitting classes by her mother "probably as punishment" at a community club in Bishan.

Knitting did not interest her then, but years later, while attending college in Australia, she realised "there was something about knitting that I probably didn't catch" after seeing her housemate's sister knitting.

She started knitting accessories such as bags and laptop cases. "It was fun and that's what hooks people on to knitting - when you finish a project quickly and easily."

She moved to London in 2006 to take on a job as a paralegal. She found herself knitting even more, mainly as a form of "therapy" as she was miserable in the city, due to "the gloomy weather and the colloquial language barrier".

"When you are doing something repeatedly, your attention span improves and you are able to retain more information. And the repeated movements calm and relax you, like meditation."

She hopes to highlight these physical and mental benefits of knitting.

When she decided to move home in November last year to be closer to her parents - her father, 74, runs an engineering business and her mother, 76, is a housewife - she decided to turn It Takes Balls, which started off as a knitting blog in London, into a business.

Next year, she plans to expand into Shanghai and Hong Kong, where her twin sister lives.

At the end of this month, Ms Loo will be volunteering at Bishan Home For The Intellectually Disabled once a week to teach residents how to knit. She hopes that they will be able to create items to sell to help cover the cost of their knitting workshops.

She also hopes to work with the Singapore Girls' Home, where she spent about a month at age 15, after running away from home.

"All I learnt when I was there was to march and scrub toilets," she says. "I want to teach the girls there how to knit, so that they will have a sense of being productive and make a contribution to the community."

Alyssa Woo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2015, with the headline 'It Takes Balls of yarn to make a difference'. Print Edition | Subscribe