Sewing, knitting making a comeback

Sewing, knitting making a comeback
Momshoo, run by a daughtermother duo, puts up amigurumi, or knitted or crocheted stuffed toys, for sale.

Faced with a beautiful sunset in Perth last August and with her smartphone battery dead, 24-year-old Teresa Lim did what any self- respecting Millennial would do.

Whip out her embroidery kit of course.

On her four-inch cloth canvas, the illustrator and textile designer used needle and thread to "sketch" the scene, stitch by stitch.

She felt it was a special way to memorialise the landscape and soon saw the potential of her method. Her first piece was the beginning of a new series of work called Sew Wanderlust, where she started sewing the scenes from her travels into little embroidered souvenirs.

So far, familiar landmarks she has captured include Charles Bridge in Prague, Big Ben in London and the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

Ms Lim is part of a new movement of youngsters who are hooked on the somewhat grandmotherly crafts of sewing, knitting and crocheting.

Classes have sprung up to meet the demand, held by independent crafters, institutions such as the People's Association, and art schools Lasalle and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

There are also free online tutorials and sewing patterns for download.

Knitted home decor items also are a familiar sight in lifestyle shops and flea markets here, such as the monthly Market of Artists and Designers, or Maad for short, and online retailer Naiise.

Ms Betsy Toh, 37, owner of Knotty Bicsie, a cafe and knitting workshop space at Bugis Cube, says that these activities have become more popular in the last four or five years, compared to the past when it was an "attic activity".

"People would hide in their homes and do it alone," she says.

She has been a professional knitter for the past nine years, starting with a stall at flea markets and gaining a following which allowed her to set up her own shop to conduct classes two years ago.

She recalls how she used to be the only one known as the "Knitting Lady" at Maad in 2006.

But now, these knitting ladies are everywhere - forming communities to share their crafty passion, attend classes and to buy and sell goods.

Some of them are particularly inspired by pictures on blogs of hyper-cute creations, such as amigurumi, which is a Japanese term for knitted and crocheted stuffed toys, usually shaped like animals.

Ms Lim Shu Ning, 25, became so keen that she formed a home-based craft business, Momshoo, together with her mother in 2009. They sell hand-knitted and hand-sewn items and conduct sewing workshops.

Artists have also been getting crafty, incorporating embroidery and weaving into their works.

Izziyana Suhaimi, 28, for example, created an interactive installation titled Let's Make! Studio, comprising her own embroidered items on display, as well as step-by-step instructions for visitors to make their own needlework.

The work is part of Imaginarium, a children's exhibition at SAM at 8Q.

She hopes that children and parents will ditch their smartphones and tablets for needles and thread instead.

"Weaving and embroidery give you that little bit of quiet time where you can look into yourself," she says. "It's a way to get children to work with their hands and feel that sense of accomplishment that they have made something."

Despite their growing popularity, knitting and sewing are still a craft favoured predominantly by women, at least for now.

Ms Toh of Knotty Bicsie says that 90 per cent of her students are women.

But there are some men who are hooked on knitting. Musician and lecturer Adrian Poon, 38, has been knitting for 10 years, and always has his knitting set handy for long commutes.

"I might get strange looks on the train, but I don't really notice it. Knitting is a form of meditation for me," he says.

"It's comforting - given how stressful life can be - a calming kind of habit is very useful for our state of mind."

Adds Ms Lim of Sew Wanderlust: "It is not just a physical process. With every millimetre of yarn that has gone through your fingertips, you are thinking of something or someone the whole time. It's special."

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