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My interview today is a little different. I want to introduce to you Mary Jane Hall. She is a crochet designer and best-selling author of six crochet books, including Positively Crochet! and Crochet That Fits, which was voted “Best Crochet Pattern Book of 2008” by Crochet Liberation Front.
Mary Jane Hall is the kind of person who believes that you can do anything on this Earth when you set your mind to it.
The title of her book is Positively Crochet! because she gives positive and encouraging tips on life on each pattern page, and tries to relate it to crochet.
Mary Jane Hall is a mentor with the CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) and speaks at various crochet gatherings and fashion shows. She has designed for popular magazines, including Interweave Crochet, Vogue Knitting Crochet, and Fifth Avenue Magazine, and has appeared on the TV show Knit & Crochet Now.
Mary Jane Hall’s signature stitch method to create shaped crochet garments without using increases and/or decreases is the Graduated Stitch Method (GSM) – The shaping of the garments are created by the different stitch heights. When you see the photos, you will not believe that there is no increase or decrease used.
Mary Jane’s clothing and accessories designs include shrugs, boleros, ponchos, hats, jewelry, handbags, watchbands, belts, sweaters, skirts, and many more.
At Mary Jane’s Crochet blog, you will see articles on the latest fashion trends and runway designs, as well as tips on crochet, crochet tutorials, free crochet patterns, and free recipes. Yes, she is also a great cook.
You can find her blog here: http://positivelycrochet.blogspot.com/
1. How did it all begin? Tell us your story.
I learned to crochet when I was 18 by teaching myself from a book. I was in a crochet and knitting class in college and was too shy to go up to the teacher’s desk where she was showing the other girls how to hold the yarn & hook, so I sat way in the back and taught myself. I was the only one who did that! But I’m sure that helped me learn to read patterns.
2. What inspires you?
Not only does the motion of working the hook and yarn calm and soothe our senses as it’s forming into something incredible, but our minds were made to create, which gives us such a sense of accomplishment. Crochet is known to heal and there are books and articles on this, one of which is my story in Happily Hooked magazine.
I also get a great deal of satisfaction from helping to make crochet easier for others. I’m known for writing easy to understand patterns, and that makes me happy. I remember what it was like when I first learned to crochet and depended on older women to help me with patterns.
In wanting to make things easier for crocheters, I came up with a new method, I call the “Graduated Stitch Method”, which is a way of making flattering garments without having to use increases or decreases. In fact, because of my method, the book I introduced it in, Crochet That Fits, was voted “Best Crochet Pattern Book of 2008” and of course I was beyond excited!
People who have been crocheting for 40+ years have written to thank me because now they are making garments for themselves, when before, they only made afghans, washcloths and scarves. This gives me a high!
3. How does your every day look like?
I have been designing professionally for 15 years and when I first began I worked 4-5 hours a day, designing for various crochet magazines and some Leisure Arts Booklets. (see titles below)
When I started doing my own books with a publisher in 2006, I had to work many more hours just to meet my deadlines. I love doing books, but the worst part is the deadlines.
I remember on the first book, Positively Crochet, I worked 6-8 hours a day, but torward the end I was working 12 hrs some days getting the manuscript all together! Doing a book, can be very stressful at times, but it is so rewarding to see your book in print, and that never gets old, even all these years later.
4. What is your favorite yarn?
It depends on what I’m making. Since my speciality is garments and accessories, I like using fingering, sport or dk weight yarns that are made from cotton, bamboo, silk or a blend with other fibers.
We, as designers of today, have learned how not to create a crochet garment that could stand up on its own like a straight jacket! We’ve learned that using a thinner yarn and a larger hook than the label calls for is what makes crochet items drapable, just like knitting.
I also do garments in just one loop many times because in knitting you’re picking up just one loop. Crochet is thicker than knitting because of the fact in crochet you are normally picking up 2 loops at a time, which is what makes it denser.
Sometimes I will use a worsted wt yarn on a cowl, poncho, sweater or jacket. With bags, since they need to be sturdier, I will either use a nylon cord or a sturdy cotton.To make them even sturdier, I always use a very thick pellon interfacing inside with the lining when I design bags.
5. Do you have any advice for other sellers?
Even though my publisher does most of the marketing, they expect their authors to be on all social media promoting ourselves and our books. So I would say get on as many social media sites as you possibly can, and that includes sites such as Pinterest, eBay, Etsy, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, etc.
And I think it’s important to have your own website or blog. You have access to millions of people possibly looking for the exact thing you are selling.
Another way to get known is to do craft shows in your community. I have sold at craft shows only twice, because my main way of making money is by selling my patterns and writing books. I would love to do another one but working on the last book was so stressful that I ended up in the hospital.
I’m sure there are other ways to promote yourself and what you are selling, but these are the things that come to my mind. I can probably learn from you!
My Books: all printed in other languages
- Positively Crochet! (50 garments and accessories along with encouraging tips on life and relationships)
- Crochet That Fits (33 garments and accessories, voted “Best Crochet Pattern Book of 2008”)
- Colorful Crochet Lace (22 garments and accessories with a French theme)
- “Crochet In Style” (6 patterns: scarves, poncho & capelet)
- “Crochet Young & Trendy” (7 patterns: scarves, poncho and capelets)
- “Crochet Fashions“- a reprint of Crochet Young & Trendy with different cover
I am so grateful Mary Jane took her time to answer my questions. She really is a legend in the crocheting world.
I am glad she overcame her shyness and started to share her talents with the world. You probably don’t know it, but Mary Jane is also a talented singer. At an early age, when she was growing up, she had a singing group with her sisters, called ”
Harmony Folk Singers”. They sang professionally (getting paid) by being regulars on a Saturday evening show every week. Their parents told them that they could “do anything they set their minds to do.” And they did, they were very successful as singers and also made a record and appeared on TV many times.
Mary Jane says that when she left home and got out on her own, those principles stuck with her. She continued singing professionally at fairs and festivals (as well as other events), and that principle translated into other areas of her life.
˝I have tried to succeed in anything I do. I think it is a mindset and a decision that you make. It just took determination and a lot of work.˝ ~ Mary Jane Hall
I hope Mary Jane will decide and write another book, and I hope she will be able to do it in peace and that she stays happy and healthy from the beginning, and all the way to the end of the book.
Did you find out anything new in this interview? Please share with me in the comment below.
Thank you for reading. You can follow Mary Jane Hall here:
Ravelry: mary-jane-hall (Ravelry shows which designs are in which book. She also has a crochet
group there (a fan started many years ago). It’s where people can go to
ask her or others who have made from her designs, questions on patterns, or
crochet in general, etc. It’s called “Positively Crochet”.)
Have a beautiful day, and enjoy crocheting.