Crochet enthusiast Lee Kah Yan, 30, never ceases to be amazed at how yarn can be used to crochet colorful flowers.
“As a part-time florist, I love flowers of all shapes and sizes.
“Crocheting allows me to create artistic flowers that can last forever.
“It’s fascinating to be able to transform a ball of yarn into so many nature-inspired designs,” Lee said in an interview.
Petaling-based artisan Jaya can create various flowers with just five basic crochet stitches – magic loop, chain, single crochet, half double crochet and double crochet.
Recently, she quit her job as an account manager at an audio/computer technology company to focus on her home-based crochet business.
“I have worked in the sales line for over a decade. When I was 20, I loved meeting new clients and socializing with them. However, now that I’m older, I prefer to stay home and focus on crocheting.
“I’ve become a homebody since movement control orders due to the pandemic and I’m happier running my small business from home,” said Lee, the second of five siblings.
She’s glad she took the leap to pursue her passion because it allowed her to focus on something that brings her so much joy.
“I don’t mind that my income is lower than the salary I earned in my previous job. Money is not everything in life. I am ready to change careers as I am single and have few commitments. Also, I still live with my parents,” said Lee, who holds a flower arranging certificate from Shenzhen, China.
Lee signed up for an introductory crochet class when she was 20. Over the past decade, she has further honed her crochet skills by watching video tutorials on social media platforms.
Today, in addition to flowers, she has learned to make shawls and amigurumi (the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting dolls or stuffed toys).
In her apartment in Section 13, Petaling Jaya, she has several colorful stuffed animals on her couch and coffee table. In addition, several bouquets of crocheted flowers are laid out on her dining table, ready for delivery.
In her cupboards are skeins of yarn of different shades. She buys different types of yarn, including milk cotton, silk and cotton, through online platforms.
“Milk yarn is my favorite because it’s a blend of cotton and acrylic (milk fiber). The result is always softer and more pleasant.
The little woman says crochet flowers are popular because they’re everlasting. Plus, they won’t wilt like fresh flowers.
“Crochet flowers can last for many years. My customers say there is not much price difference between fresh flowers and handmade crocheted flowers.
“People think crochet toys are cute, but they don’t see the value in them. Instead, customers prefer crochet flowers like carnations, sunflowers, and tulips because these items can be kept as decorative pieces,” said the craft enthusiast, who has nearly 28,000 followers on her Instagram.
On average, Lee makes about 40 crochet flower bouquets per month. Business is booming and she enlisted her younger sister Lee Kah Hui, 25, to help her place the orders. His handmade items cost between RM45 and RM500.
Lee takes about 30 minutes to crochet each petal. A total of three hours are spent making a single flower stem, including the leaves. She ties them all together using floral wire and glue.
“I spend about 12 hours a day to complete my orders.
“Sometimes I have pain in my back and shoulders. To relieve the pain, I make it a point to have a massage every fortnight.
Lee loves to craft so much that she never leaves the house without her crochet kit, especially during the holidays.
“I transported my crochet kit, including scissors, yarn and needles, to Australia, China and Vietnam. I also brought it on my recent trip to Thailand. People are always surprised to see me crocheting flowers, shawls and dolls.
She encourages people to learn to crochet because it’s not difficult, especially with the availability of video tutorials online.
“Take basic crochet. Then work on a crochet coaster, which is one of the easiest projects. It’s the easiest because it only requires three simple sewing techniques – slip stitch, chain and single crochet Crochet is also relaxing and soothing.
“It’s a fashionable thing now and the craft has a huge following all over the world. Many artisans are revisiting old hobbies like quilting and knitting. Others are learning new skills like needlepoint embroidery. punch needle and sewing. These crafts are no longer considered old-fashioned,” she said.