Grace Ho: Knitting Happiness and Warmth

Text:Senior UM Reporter Sally Liang, UM Reporter Keira Ye  │ Photo:Senior UM Reporter Sally Liang │  Issue 94 December My UM

Grace Ho is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Business Administration who developed an interest in knitting about five years ago. At first, she just tried to knit some basic scarves for herself and her family, but before she knew it, she was knitting wool vests for all her family members and even bow scarves and beanie hats for residents in the elderly homes.

Grace Ho

Knitting Is a ‘Big Project’

Ho developed an interest in knitting about five years ago, so she visited a knitting shop in Hong Kong to buy wool yarn. The owner of the knitting shop patiently explained some basic knitting techniques to her , as is common among Hong Kong shop owners when customers buy their products, but Ho still could not make head or tail of it. Later , she enrolled in a knitting class. After completing the class, she lost no time in putting her new knowledge into practice and knit her husband a cute sweater. ‘He says it not just warms his body, but also warms his heart,’ says Ho with a smile.

If you think knitting is just a frivolous hobby , think again. According to Ho, knitting is a big project that involves designing new patterns that not only test the knitter’s skills but also his or her knowledge of maths. On the day of our interview, Ho showed us a sketch of her newly designed pattern, complete with rows of maths formulae indicating different knitting techniques. She says,‘Even now, I still mess up all the time. But my teacher told me not to be afraid of undoing stitches. If I make a mistake, I just undo the stitches. Practice makes perfect.’

Left:The wool vests Ho knits for herself and her husband
Right:Ho teaches students in the Henry Fok Pearl Jubilee College to knit scarves

A Way to Destress

Ho joined UM in 2008. Her main research interests include consumer behaviour, service marketing, and cross-cultural marketing. Knitting is her way of de-stressing from busy work. A self-described impatient person, Ho finds knitting deeply relaxing, because it requires great patience and total concentration, which keeps her grounded in the moment and prevents her mind from wandering.

Have you ever experienced the enjoyable anticipation of opening a surprise present? Ho says she feels the same when knitting. ‘Every time I finish a knitting project, I experience pure joy, ‘she says. ‘As with assembling jigsaw puzzles, you never know what the complete picture looks like until after you finish. ‘This is also what drove Ho to offer knitting workshops in her residential college. She wants to introduce students to a new experience and hopes that some of them may fall in love with knitting and develop a new hobby to help them destress. ‘Another reason is that students are at an age where they might want to knit something for someone they love, so I want to introduce them to a new hobby to bring more joy to their lives, ‘she adds.

Left:A sketch of knitting patterns
Right:Bow scarves and beanie hats Ho knits for the residents in the elderly

Knitting Warmth for the Elderly

Influenced by a mother who always looks for ways to help those in need, Ho hopes to use her knitting skills to do the same. ‘My mom often makes steamed buns or other kinds of Dim Sum for residents of the elderly homes. Even though everyone only gets a small piece, they are always happy. If you like doing something and are good at it, you might as well think of a way to help others with your hobby and skill, ‘she says. Ho’s church organises visits to the two elderly’s homes in Macao on a regular basis, but she cannot participate in these visits because of her busy work schedule. So she thought of a way to contribute—by knitting bow scarves for the residents. Last winter, she knitted a dozen bow scarves to help the elderly stay warm in winter.

She later learned that some of the residents were reluctant to wear bow scarves, so this year she has decided to knit beanie hats instead. She knits the hats in three sizes: large, medium, and small, using different colours, materials, and patterns. She explains, ‘If someone loses a hat, he may mistakenly take someone else’s. But if the hats come in different patterns, it will be much easier for them to distinguish between their own hat and other people’s hats. ‘She says that the residents in the elderly homes are most happy to receive a visitor, and will often talk nonstop to whoever will listen to them, and when the visitor prepares to leave, they will hold the visitor’s hands and ask when he or she will visit again. ‘I believe if we could all pitch in and do something for others, even the littlest things, this world would become a better place,’ she says.

Ho’s interest in knitting scarves has led her to knit wool vests and beanie hats for the residents in the elderly homes. What is the next knitting project on her mind? She says, ‘I want to learn to knit different kinds of sweaters…’