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National Crochet Month:
Today’s Posts: Kristin Omdahl, Styled by Kristin | Mary Jane Hall, Positively Crochet! | Daily Giveaway | Kate Steinke, CGOA Board of Directors | Halos of Hope Hat Collection | Complete Designer Schedule
Mary Jane Hall, Positively Crochet!
Crochetville is very proud to have designer Mary Jane Hall of Positively Crochet! with us today, March 30, as one of the featured designers on our 2015 Designer Blog Tour in honor of National Crochet Month (NatCroMo). Mary Jane has been a professional member of the Crochet Guild of America for nine years.
Mary Jane’s Designs:
If you’re not familiar with her work already, we’d like to share two of Mary Jane’s designs with you.
This gorgeous top, using Mary Jane’s graduated stitch height technique to achieve shaping without increases or decreases, was originally published in her book Crochet That Fits. Since that time, the design has been featured on Episode 108 of the tv series Knit and Crochet Now!
“This beach bag was published in the July/August issue of Crochet Today! magazine. I could not find plastic rings anywhere, and metal rings were way too heavy, so I made my own plastic rings with vinyl tubing that I bought at Lowe’s. They were very easy (and cheap) to make! Instructions on how to make the rings are at Crochet Today’s website here.”
About Mary Jane:
Getting Off to a Good Start
Mary Jane taught herself how to crochet from a book when she was just a teenager. She went crazy over it, and made 10 long vests that year for her friends. She’s glad she was able to learn from a book without help because that gave her the confidence that she’d be able to read patterns as well. Mary Jane says her first project was a green potholder with big pink popcorn stitches all over it.
A Design Career Is Begun
Mary Jane’s design career got started at a young age, when she designed handmade clothes for her sister’s Barbie doll. Mary Jane was on the scene for the crochet renaissance of 2004 (the year Crochetville was born!), and she was eager to share her love of crochet with the people around her who were developing an interest in the craft. She created a crochet group and helped many of the member create ponchos.
She couldn’t find any updated, current poncho designs that she liked, so she created diagrams of eight different shapes and ways to put ponchos together. She contacted Kooler Designs to see if they were accepting new designs. They were, so Mary Jane sent in her ideas. She got a called from Donna Kooler a week later, saying she and Leisure Arts wanted to publish two booklets of Mary Jane’s designs!
Two months later, Mary Jane submitted 11 more designs to DRG (now known as Annie’s), and all were accepted. She remembers thinking, “They must think I have talent,” which gave her the confidence and desire to continue. She hasn’t stopped designing since!
Mary Jane’s Specialty
Mary Jane specializes in trendy garments and accessories. She’s well-known for her signature Graduated Stitch Method of making fitted and flattering garments without the need for increases and decreases. She introduced this method to the crochet world in her book Crochet That Fits, which was voted Best Crochet Pattern Book of 2008 in the Flamie Awards (now known as The Crochet Awards). This method makes it easy for even beginning crocheters to complete flattering garments successfully.
Sources of Inspiration
Mary Jane says, “I try to pay attention to trends by watching fashion shows and glancing through fashion magazines. Right now, I believe I have subscriptions to 8 different fashion magazines! I don’t even have time to look through them all and I’m always on the lookout for ornate patterns, which could be an iron fence, designs in fabrics or in nature. I’m sure others can relate to this, but often I cant go to sleep at night because I have designs swirling around in my head. It drives me crazy until I have to get up and start sketching! After that, I can go to sleep!”
Her Greatest Crochet Accomplishment
Mary Jane has several accomplishments of which she’s very proud. She had a book proposal accepted her second year of designing, which resulted in the book Positively Crochet! Having her book Crochet That Fits win a 2008 Flamie award was very exciting. Appearing on the TV show Knit and Crochet Now! was also a thrill. She’s currently very excited that her latest book, Colorful Crochet Lace, will be released August 7 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.
New Book: Colorful Crochet Lace
Mary Jane’s latest book contains an entire wardrobe’s worth of colorful lace designs. You’ll find 22 chic and wearable lace garments and accessories: shrugs, scarves, cardigans, tunics, dresses, t-shirts, and totes. From simple, allover openwork patterns to intricate crochet lace patterns and motifs, you’re sure to find something to fit your personal style. The patterns are worked in a variety of yarn weights in a glorious range of colors from elegant jewel tones to earthy neutrals.
Several of the projects use Mary Jane’s signature Graduated Stitch Method of construction which allows for shaping and customized fit without increases or decreases. Many patterns also include directions for modifying designs and creating custom variations. This book will enable you to create exquisite crochet fashions.
My Recommendation: I wish I could share photos of some of the designs to be included in this book, but they aren’t cleared for publication yet by the publisher. I can tell you that I own both of Mary Jane’s books that were mentioned previously. I am a big fan of Mary Jane’s design esthetic, and really enjoy both of those books. Take a look through her Ravelry designer page. If you like her designs as much as I do, I’m sure you will want to have a copy of this book. I know I’m anxiously awaiting my copy!
NOTE: Book will NOT ship until August 2015..No
About Mary Jane’s Design Process:
Most of the time I’ll come up with an idea and do a sketch, then decide on yarn. But other times I’ll see some gorgeous yarn I can’t resist (I’m sure no one else has this problem), and it inspires me to know I just have to come up with a design to showcase its beauty!
Advice for New Designers:
You have to have a passion for what you are doing. That will keep you going which will help you succeed. Also, try to tune out negative people and don’t allow them to discourage you. When I was planning to do my first book and sought out advice from other designers and authors, they were all very supportive and encouraging, but one person said to me “You haven’t paid your dues”, which was an unnecessary and hurtful comment. I thought “What?” I had been crocheting for 38 years at the time!
Advice for New Crocheters:
You need to have patience but don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. Rather than having someone tell you how to do something, seek out people who can show you what to do if you get stuck or just don’t understand a pattern. And, you can be making garments with my Graduated Stitch Method! Its so easy. Just read the reviews on Amazon and Ravelry!
Some of Mary Jane’s Favorites:
- Favorite Crochet Books: Mary Jane has over 28 stitch pattern books, but her all-time favorites are The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs, The Complete Book of Crochet Border Designs, and 300 Classic Blocks, all by Linda Schapper
- Favorite Hook: Mary Jane says Susan Bates hooks fit her hand the best. She finds her yarn doesn’t split when uses a Bates hoook.
- Favorite Yarn: Mary Jane says, “I prefer to use fingering, sport or dk wt in bamboo or silk because I love the way they feel in my hands. I also like working with mercerized cotton.”
- Favorite Thing to Crochet: Garments and accessories such as bags and scarves
Visit Mary Jane’s Blog: NatCroMo FREEBIE Sneak Peek
You will definitely want to visit Mary Jane’s blog post today! Mary Jane will be giving away 10 copies of her book. You will need to visit her blog to sign up to enter the giveaway. Mary Jane will also be releasing a brand-new FREE easy crocheted sock pattern that uses her Graduated Stitch Method with no increases or decreases, to give you a little introduction to her method.
Find Mary Jane Online:
Ravelry: maryjane2 (must be logged in to see profile)
Positively Crochet! Blog: http://positivelycrochet.blogspot.com/
Ravelry Designer Page: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/mary-jane-hall
Ravelry Designer Fan Group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/positively-crochet-and-crochet-that-fits-the-designs-of-mary-jane-hall