We meet the lovely lady behind Hooks and Dragons.
We love your beautiful creations but tell us a bit about the artist behind them.
Hello there, I’m Tracey, otherwise know online as Mrs A. I’m the person behind the crafting blog Hooks and Dragons. I live in the Forest of Dean with my husband, eldest son and two crazy cats.
For most of my adult life I’ve suffered from depression. 7 years ago I experienced a particularly bad relapse and subsequently developed a general anxiety disorder. As part of managing my anxiety I began to look at mindfulness techniques on the internet. Crochet was something that lots of people said helped them. I remembered my Nan taught me to crochet when I was a girl and I wasn’t too bad at it, so decided to pick up a hook again.
Initially I made random hats and gloves that ended up being stored unloved in a bag in my craft corner. Then in 2016 my sister-in-law announced she was expecting and I decided to make ‘Dave The Bump’ a crochet unicorn using a free pattern I found online. I posted pictures of ‘Dave The Unicorn’ on Facebook and Twitter when he was finished and was amazed when other friends asked me to make them one.
These days I design and publish my own patterns for crochet softies. I love the amazing variety items of people ask me to create out of yarn, things I would never think of making myself. In the last year I’ve designed everything from a squid hat, the full set of Queen members complete with instruments and a 5 foot long Hogwarts Express.
Have you always been creative or did your talent evolve over time?
I’ve never really considered myself to be particularly creative or artistic. I think that comes from having a ridiculously talented family. I’ve always felt my own attempts to draw, sculpt or paint don’t compare to their work. And I’ve always had the mindset that if I can’t do something really well there’s no point in trying to do it at all.
Nevertheless once I started crocheting I realised I have a particularly useful skill. This is the ability to break an object down in my head into its constituent shapes and and I understand what sort of patterns are needed to create those shapes. A lot of my designing is trial and error though. That’s the great thing about crochet, it’s easy to rip back and start again when things go pear-shaped.
What is it that you enjoy most about your work?
I love unveiling newly designed items and seeing peoples reactions to them.
However I think the greatest satisfaction I get is when people from different places around the world share photos of items they’ve made using my published patterns. The idea that these creations exist because of something that came out of my head is really very cool.
Have you achieved anything in your crafting life that you are particularly proud of?
Well as I said above I love knowing people around the world are crocheting using my published patterns.
In the last year two of my patterns, a viking hat and Winnie The Pooh have ranked #2 and #3 in Googles keyword searches. Basically anyone in the world who googles a search including the words crochet viking hat or crochet Winnie The Pooh are going to come up with my patterns.
Other than crafting what else do you like to do?
I’m a steampunk. I spend many weekends in the summer at steampunk fayres and markets. Steampunks dress up in amazing outfits that can include top hats, Victorian dresses, mock military outfits, goggles and corsets. I also partake in several unique steampunk sports.
One of which is teapot racing is as the name might suggest a sport where people race teapots mounted on remote control vehicles over a specially designed course. I have my own teapot racer called The Full Mon-Tea which has a fabulous crocheted teapot and crocheted steampunk driver.
If you had to choose your favourite from your creations, which would it be?
Oh, that is a really hard question. Like many crafters I say that every new creation I make is my favourite to date, but I guess if I had to choose one it would be my dragons.
What advice would you offer to someone new starting out in the craft world?
Craft because it makes you happy. If you make money out of your crafting then that’s an added bonus, but if you craft just to make money it will soon become a chore and you will lose your love of it.
If you could change one thing about what you do, what would it be?
I wish more of the general public valued the time, effort and skills crafters put into their work. So often people try to devalue our work, comparing it to mass-produced items they can buy on the high street, or only thinking about the basic material costs of the item.
What do you think has helped your business the most?
The imagination of the wonderful people who commission items from me. Their requests have allowed me to develop a huge range of items, and branch of in ways I would never have thought of myself.
For example one friend asked me to make a small crocheted version of the legend David Bowie. People loved him and this has led to the development of my mini-me famous softies. One of my mini-me’s has actually been seen by the famous person they were based on. Last year the 80’s pop icon Midge Ure was given a mini-me crochet version of himself (in his 80’s heyday) and has Tweeted several photos of himself with it over the past few months.
Has any person helped or supported you more than any other?
One person comes to mind. A Twitter friend, she was someone who encouraged me to develop my crochet hobby into a small business. Where other people told me my work was good enough to sell, she put her money where her mouth was. She had commissioned a wide range of items off me over the past few years.
Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I love brightly coloured hair. Last year I’ve had pillar box red, bright blue and deep purple hair (although it’s a rather normal shade of brown at the moment).
How would our readers find you? (websites, social media etc)
My blog http://hooksanddragons.com is where you can find my free published crochet patterns. I’m on Twitter as Mrs A http://Twitter.com/hooksanddragons or Facebook on http://facebook.com/hooksanddragons
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