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Knitting is cool

Two pierced and tattooed women debunk the stereotype that the craft is only for housewives or grannies

Kelly Lim is a poster girl for knitting as a fashionable and edgy pastime - just take a look at her kaleidoscopic knitted jumpsuit.

The 24-year-old with the yarn-braided hair is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, counting Symmetry cafe in Jalan Kubor as one of her clients. She started knitting sweaters and tank tops when she was 15 years old, after she had done all the patterns in her knitting books.

Her wardrobe comprises mainly second-hand vintage pieces picked up at flea markets, with knitted clothing making up 10 per cent. She made about 10 of these items.

The younger of two sisters, she picked up crocheting after accompanying her mother to class when she was seven. Later, she taught herself to knit.

Ms Lim's father is a sales manager in shipping, while her mother works in retail.


PHOTO: ALICIA
 CHAN FOR THE
STRAITS TIMES

Her interest in yarn braids and dreadlocks started when she was in Japan to study the language from October last year to July this year.

She recalls: "Their culture is more accepting of crazy hair and synthetic hair braids were trendy in Harajuku at the time."

She also started wearing crocheted face masks while in Japan. As outlandish as some Japanese subcultures can be, her facial piercings were not widely accepted in Japan and she found herself attracting unwanted stares and rude comments. One person even walked up to her and commented that only cows had nose piercings.

Even though the stares continued after she donned her crocheted face mask, it was mainly because it was interesting to look at.

Ms Lim does not wear face masks and knitted sweaters that often now as it is too hot here.

However, she still dresses up in knitted tank tops and hats, and accessorises with knitted pouches as the "texture of the knit makes the outfit pop".

Bearing the climate in mind, the bachelorette has decided to focus on crocheting and knitting lace chokers, necklaces and hand jewellery for sale on her website, www.kllylmrck.com, which she plans to launch before the end of the month.

Price played a main factor in her choosing not to sell her handknitted clothes, as she says that knitting them by hand is "too time-consuming and laborious to justify my asking price".

A fashion diploma graduate from Temasek Polytechnic, she gets a fair number of requests to knit sweaters but turns them down.

"I would prefer to knit one of my own designs with interesting textures, or exaggerated sleeves, for example," she says.

"Most potential customers are surprised at how high I price my work because many don't realise the time and effort that go into knitting."

Knitting a photographer-style vest with pockets would take her about a month to complete, even when she is working on it "day-in, day-out".

Ms Lim declines to reveal her exact price, but says that she would charge $300 for a knitted jumper.

She is, however, keen to create pieces for retail window displays because they allow her to "go crazy as I don't have to be too practical".

She has done headdresses for the mannequins at the now-closed multi-label retailer Front Row, knitted a cover for a hose reel at Tiramisu Hero cafe in Tyrwhitt Road, and "yarn bombed" a tree at kiyone+LIM nail salon in Orchard Central.

Yarn bombing refers to a type of street art that involves covering public property such as trees and benches with yarn.

On Oct 31, she will be holding a workshop with Public Garden, a market usually held at different locations each time, such as TripleOne Somerset and Suntec Convention Hall, with vendors selling original designs and wares ranging from home furnishings to jewellery to lifestyle products such as candles and DIY terrariums.

Ms Lim will teach participants how to knit a bag using recycled plastic bags.

"It's nothing new to use plastic bags to knit," she says. "But I uploaded a picture of one I did to Facebook and public reaction was pretty good."

Those interested in attending the workshop can reserve a place at www.public-garden.com.

"While the knit culture is a lot more developed in other countries such as Japan, Singapore is my home and I want to build something here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2015, with the headline 'Knitting is cool'. Print Edition | Subscribe