About a year ago I met a hugely talented woman called Victoria Stott who creates the most beautiful (and adorable) knitted and croched animals. I walked past her stall at a fair in Wokingham town centre on a gorgeous sunny day and immediately spotted a row of gorgeous, croched pigs. Of course, I stopped and asked her whether she might create a Hamlet for me…and some of my other fictional animals too. And, being the talented person that she is, Victoria immediately leapt on the challenge. A few months later, I received a parcel with Hamlet from
and Louis and Mrs Fox from What Milo Saw , looking cuter and more beautiful than I could have imagined. There was also a certain Houdini, who you’ll be meeting in another one of my stories…The parcel was waiting for me when I got home from My Auntie Marina’s funeral: it was a wonderful gift and a bit of light at a difficult time. The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells
Tennessee, my beautiful girl, with Mrs Fox, Hamlet and Louis.
Here’s a bit about Victoria and her creative life:
Victoria Stott lives in Tilehurst (although she says she doesn’t like it very much – she dreams of living by the sea or at least in the country) and she has turned her conservatory into a studio. Her specialisms are crochet, design, knitting, and teaching – though crocheting is what she does most. She always has many, many projects on the go. At the moment, she is making a vest top in linen yarn, toy sharks, Christmas jumper motifs, mini Hamlets (of course), hats, gloves …
Victoria asked me to mention her mum, Lynn Stott. They work together and, although Lynn is a ‘volunteer’, she is absolutely integral to their success. She taught Victoria to crochet and Victoria says that her mum is now, ‘the common sense, strength and stability in everything we do.’
Here are some inspiring answers to my twenty questions:
Which three words would you use to describe yourself?
Confused. Confusing. Eccentric.
What made you start crocheting?
Mum taught me as a child and I left it for a long time.
When I was going through a particularly difficult time a few years ago now, I needed something creative and all-consuming to occupy my body and mind so I picked up my hooks again. I haven’t looked back.
What do you love most about your work?
It’s diversity. From loo-roll covers to amazing fibre art through beautiful fluffy scarves and breath-taking lace
What do you find hardest?
Being grown up about my business. I just want to make things and I get very frustrated by endless number-crunching, planning, red-tape, paper work … arrrrrghh!! [I can so, so empathise with that Victoria!].
What kind of child were you?
You’d probably be better asking mum but I know I was a very difficult baby. As a young girl I was confident and precocious. I loved dance, drama, music, I’d read anything I could get my hands on and I’d write and write and write.
Where do you work on your creations?
All over. I have a desk and a lot of yarn in our conservatory for when it’s very serious but I take my work where-ever I go. That’s one of the beauties of crochet. If the design is simple enough or you’re making it up as you go all you need is a hook and a ball of yarn.
If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
Ohhh don’t know. Not sure I’d like to be super. I’d like to be magic. Does that count? Maybe the ability to talk to animals. That would be really cool.
Which crochet project have you most enjoyed?
My Freeform Red-Riding Hood. I love to paint with yarn.
What’s your greatest strength as a crochet artist?
I can turn my hook to almost anything and if I can’t, I can figure out how. There has only ever been one project that has defeated me and I’m so pig-headed it is still in a bag so that I can have another bash at it whenever I get a spare moment. I hate to lose.
What’s your greatest weakness?
I stress about things being right/perfect. I often do the same project several times because I’m not happy with the first, second, third … version. I would make much more money if I used my originals and saved myself hours each week.
You used to be an English teacher. What did you enjoy most about teaching and why did you decide to make a career change?
Almost everything about
is amazing. People often say, ‘oooh, I couldn’t do that. Children are so rude these days’ but this is just not true. As with adults, there is the occasional difficult character, but it is my experience that the majority of young people are interesting, pleasant, funny and inspirational each in their own way. Teaching English allows a connection I think other subjects don’t always have room for. We are often discussing emotions, motivations, people and relationships so everyone has to reveal a bit of themselves. teaching , however, is awful in the current climate. Very little of your time is now available for your students. The time pressures, work load and stresses are insupportable. I left because the job was stealing my time with my children and I missed them. Being a teacher
What are you reading at the moment?
An anthology of Scottish fairy tales. I love traditional tales, fairy tales and folk tales. They are the essence of story telling.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
For conversation: Miriam Margoles, Tim Minchin, Obama, Dolly Parton, Derren Brown, David Mitchell; For Laughs:, Jimmy Durante, Mickey Flannigan, Lee Mack, Tom Baker, Stan Laurel; To fulfil hero-worship dreams: Gene Kelly, Elizabeth I, Sammy Davis Jnr, George Gershwin, Pharaoh Akhenaton; Pure lust: Hugh Jackman; Keanu Reeves
What is your earliest memory?
Tapping down the hill to the ice-cream man in silver shoes. Don’t know how old but before I went to school.
Who is your favourite fictional character of all time?
Eeyore (“My tail’s getting wet.”)
What is your favourite word?
Plinth? Snollygoster? I have so many.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
You never stop learning.
What song or piece of music would you choose as the theme tune to your life?
Flight of the Bumble Bee – this is how it feels inside my head a lot of the time (!)
Who or what inspires you?
Too many things! Inspiration is everywhere.
When were you happiest?
Finding I was expecting for the first time. Scary and brilliant.
You can find out more about the amazing Victoria – and you can order her creations or ask her to make some bespoke ones – by visiting her
, by following her on website and by liking her twitter page. Facebook