Profile: Kelly Lim

Published on 26 August 2017

PHOTO: Samantha Ann Francis (@blackflybird)

Crochet artist Kelly Lim shares her colourful life journey from ‘granny knits’ to ‘yarn graffiti’.

By Pamela Ho

Crochet artist and yarn bomber Kelly Lim (aka Kelly Limerick) breezes into Symmetry, a hipster café in Jalan Kubor, with her hair in dreadlocks, and orders an Eggs Benedict which she proceeds not to touch throughout our conversation — she’s that fully engaged, animated and candid.

Lim picked up crochet when she was seven when she tagged along with her mother to classes and begged to learn too. “The aunties were making cute stuff like Hello Kitty and Pokémon!” she says with a laugh. “Till secondary school, crocheting was like a craft hobby. You know, like granny crochet and granny knits? They’re always from a book. But even then, I knew there was something more…

“When I was studying fashion, I realised I could incorporate my knitting into accessories and garments. Being around creative people also made me perceive my work more creatively,” she adds. But the intensity of her final-year project (which had her knitting non-stop for four months) put her off knitting and crochet; and she spent the next two years in the advertising industry.

“If I hadn’t put away the needles, I wouldn’t have known how much knitting and crocheting meant to me,” she reflects. “But doing advertising helped me think of my ‘hobby’ commercially.” After leaving advertising, she started a business selling her knitted products, but had to juggle three jobs to keep afloat. “I felt dead inside, trapped.”

PHOTO: Samantha Ann Francis (@blackflybird)

Lim decided then to leave for Japan to study Japanese. Those nine months away marked a turning point. “It was life-changing, a spiritual enlightenment for me. For a creative person, if you don’t come to terms with your creative energy, how will you create anything authentic?”

Lim shifted her focus from selling knitted pouches and phone cases, to creating artworks with yarn. Her first foray into yarn bombing (think graffiti, but using yarn instead of spray paint) happened in 2013, on April Fool’s Day. She knitted a Pikachu hat and tied it on one of sculptor Chong Fah Cheong’s bronze statues along the Singapore River. “I stood by and watched. People were taking photos of it! By the next day, it was removed. But those few minutes of satisfaction were worth it!”

Lim has since received commissions from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and the National Heritage Board. To supplement her crochet work, she takes on graphic design and illustration projects, like the cheerfully eclectic Symmetry.

“Yarn bombing is a completely different art form from what I usually do because it’s rough, and it doesn’t require much technique. It’s about the concept and how you marry it with urban landscapes,” she explains. “When I was bombing the National Gallery’s ‘rocks’, I had to sit on them and crochet around their irregular shapes for hours! It’s a lot of work.”

Her biggest dream? “To yarn bomb the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles… and the Merlion!”

To find out more about Lim’s work, visit www.kllylmrck.com.

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