One of our long-time customers, Hannah, returned to the shop recently after having moved away from Exeter a few years ago. It was great to catch up and hear about her brilliant new crochet business. She told us that she first came to the shop as a complete beginner but after practicing at home and attending a few workshops, she gained the skills and confidence to make her own designs. We were so inspired we asked if we could share her story!
Hannah is 24 years old and currently lives in London with her four much-loved pet rats. She spends her days working at an escape room, and she is a big fan of science fiction and fantasy, with a self-confessed love for the weird and wacky! She has always been a creative person but her previous attempts at crafting were less than successful!
Hannah said, “My gran once tried to teach me how to knit and I completely lost interest! I even tried French knitting but the bear I created was named ‘Franken-bear’ by my family due to how dodgy it looked! However, as time went on, my passion for crafty activities increased.”
By chance Hannah came across a Star Wars crochet kit on a shopping trip with her mum, and decided to make it her mission to learn to crochet.
“I liked the idea of doing something unique and I also heard it was quite relaxing compared to other crafts, so as a university student I thought that was a great hobby to sink my teeth into.”
Determined to get started, Hannah headed to Wool on the Exe and asked Debbie what she needed to get crocheting.
“I nabbed some purple yarn and a 5mm hook and just tested out doing the basic stitches. One of my friends taught me how to make a granny square and then I tried to make a voodoo doll – the limbs were a bit gangly but I didn’t use a pattern so I was quite impressed with myself! I went back to Wool on the Exe and started buying some Toft patterns and a Hooked kit – I made a rabbit called Podge, he was a little bit chunkier than the pattern intended, and a giraffe named Wonky, as one of his legs was smaller than the rest. It was strange because, even though they weren’t perfect, the fact I could hold something and say ‘I made this myself’ was just an incredible feeling.”
Debbie also gave Hannah a list of the upcoming WOTE workshops that Hannah attached to her wall, having highlighted the ones she wanted to attend. Over the following year Hannah became a regular at the shop.
“I learnt how to make crocheted flower tiles and sew them together to make a bag, how to use a 2mm hook to make a bookmark, how to do a corner crochet stitch, how to knit a phone case, I even learnt how to felt, which is something I never knew existed! Whilst YouTube tutorials were handy to start with, I knew having the chance to talk to people face-to-face was very important if I wanted to improve. I found it was an incredibly calming atmosphere with tea, biscuits and laughs! As a complete novice, the teachers there were so patient and made sure that I left with a finished product and answered all of my questions. Honestly, sometimes I wish I still lived nearby so I could keep attending!”
Hannah found herself drawn to making crochet dolls as gifts for her friends but couldn’t find a pattern that included a real range of body shapes and the customisable detail that she wanted to make her characters accurate and unique. So she started making her own designs!
“I started testing out some ideas and patterns on a Newt Scamander (a character from the Fantastic Beasts films) doll for my sister’s birthday. Later a friend from work asked if he could pay me to create dolls of characters from his Dungeons and Dragon’s podcast called No Small Rolls. He gave me six months to complete it, so it gave me the chance to start experimenting with size, shape and customisation. I enjoyed the fact that each doll was super unique in various ways and I made sure to keep a record of my work so I could refer to it later. Not only did I crochet, but I used my knowledge of felting and using wires to really hone in on the details. Once the order was complete, I gave the characters to each person and their reaction was so wonderful I just knew this was something I wanted to do again.”
Hannah has now set up an Etsy shop, Clancy Creation Crafts, where customers can have their own unique character dolls made to their specifications. She starts with four basic categories, allowing for a range of body types, and will then liaise with the customer to get as much detail as possible about the appearance of their character. She allows 2-3 weeks to make each item and sends progress shots to her customers, confirming all details along the way to ensure that the finished doll is a success.
Hannah is always exploring new ideas, fusing her crochet skills with her cultural interests to make original and joyful items.
“I’m currently working on some cuddly cute Beholder toys and also Beholder dice bags for my Etsy page, as I received some interest from a few geeky stores saying they’d be interested in buying my work! A Beholder from DnD is quite gross (if you google it make sure you add the work ‘cute’ beforehand!) and I haven’t seen any cute crocheted ones around. Plus, if you know anyone who plays Dungeons and Dragons, they usually have a huge dice collection, so I reckon making bags would be perfect.”
The value of making something special for someone to enjoy is so important to Hannah, as well as the relaxing and creative outlet that crochet provides.
“I love the freedom it offers me. Now that I’m at a fairly competent level, I can make whatever I like and still focus on something else, like watching the TV or looking after my pet rats. As I said earlier, just holding something and saying ‘Wow, I made that’ is just brilliant. I rarely keep any of the items I make, as I really enjoy creating personalised gifts for people and seeing their reaction.”
You can see more of Hannah’s creations on her Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/clancy_creations/ or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/clancycreationcrafts.
You can commission your own Clancy Creation at Hannah’s Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ClancyCreationCrafts.