Thursday, August 20, 2015

Colorful Crochet Lace by Mary Jane Hall Review and Giveaway!

I have had the pleasure of reviewing Mary Jane's new book, Colorful Crochet Lace and it comes as no surprise that it is absolutely gorgeous! If you're already a fan of Mary Jane's, this is exactly what you would expect and if you're not, what are you waiting for? Go and check it out right now! You will not be disappointed!

Designing is such a personal thing and a little bit of our soul goes into each project. Our designs can feel like our babies and I always find it so interesting to learn a little more about the designer. It is my privilege to share these fascinating tidbits with you about Mary Jane. Also be sure to enter to win your very own copy of Colorful Crochet Lace at the end of the interview!

We want to know:: What are some of the other jobs you had before becoming a designer? (I know you used to sing professionally and I think that is so cool!)
Mary Jane's Response: I was a stay at home mom while my kids were growing up because I felt like that was the best job in the world but when they got into HS, I became a Realtor. I also had my own Graphic Design business designing custom candy bar wrappers for all occasions such as weddings, birthdays and many other special events. Then I became a supervisor for Gifts by House of Lloyd, which included Christmas Around the World and Cookin' (similar to Pampered Chef).
As far as my singing career, I started singing on stage when I was 14, along with my sisters and brother when we lived in Mississippi. We had our own radio program every week and were regulars on a live show every Sat night. We had 4 part harmony and sang folk songs, pop and a few country songs. We also did several TV appearances. Another fun thing was when we got to travel around Mississippi with a local man running for state senator. We wore our matching red, white and blue dresses with our Uncle Sam hats as we sang on a huge truckbed on the "square" of small southern towns.  When we all got married and moved away from home, we started our own separate singing careers. I sang for many events such as weddings, United Way campaigns, Christmas and New Years Eve parties, etc but I also performed at fairs and festivals in a 2 state area. That was my life for so many years and I loved it! My singing style is that of Karen Carpenter, Ann Murry, Linda Rondstat, Amy Grant, Patsy Cline, Gloria Estafon and others.  My daughter started performing with me when she was only 14 and we were regulars on a weekly TV show here in Dayton, singing mostly songs of the Judds. I stopped all that when I started designing in 2005. I miss it but my voice is not in shape anymore!

We want to know::What was your very first design? What was your very first published design if it is different from your first design?
Mary Jane's Response: My first design was a poncho. I was teaching about 30 girls to crochet in 2004 when it became popular again and they wanted some updated, shorter ponchos and capelets. I came up with several different shapes and when I decided to submit them to a publisher, all 8 were accepted and published within 5 months of them being accepted. That
was Donna Kooler of Kooler Design Studios and they partner with Leisure Arts as the publisher. Donna said, "We not only want to do 1 booklet of your designs, but we want to do 2 booklets of your designs!" Of course I was in shock, but so thrilled! I sent them in, along with a few scarves, and Crochet in Style and Crochet Young and Trendy were published in June of that year.

We want to know::What does your design process look like? Do you swatch and sketch and calculate all your measurements in advance or do you just grab yarn and hook and create?
Mary Jane's Response: Good question. When I get an idea, I do a sketch first, then I decide on the yarn, and start designing it as I go, writing down the instructions as I'm working. Occasionally, I will write down instructions with measurements  before I start, but not usually.
If there was one thing that you could make sure everyone knew about crochet, what would it be?
For anyone thinking about learning, especially if they are intimidated, I tell them that crochet is incredibly easy! I say that the hardest part is learning to hold the hook and yarn, but with practice it becomes 2nd nature. I feel like any beginner can make anything as long as they practice holding the hook and yarn. Having some determination and passion about wanting to make crocheted things helps too! With the stitch pattern charts we have today, there's no reason they can't go forward and try an intermediate pattern. But one of the other most important things is that they need to learn crochet language. This will save them so much frustration in working a pattern!

We want to know: Do you make things for yourself to wear and for around your home?
Mary Jane's Response: Believe it or not, I don't make myself much crochet to wear because I just don't have the time. I'd really like to though and that's one of my goals in life! Lol. The only crochet in my home is a heart shaped rug I made years ago and some doilies made by my great grandmother, from Montgomery, Alabama and Rice, Texas. Some of the doilies could have come from my other great grandmother who was from Corsica (part of France) and Florence, Italy.

We want to know::What is the most unusual place you’ve ever crocheted?
Mary Jane's Response: A few times I was on a very strict deadline and worked on a project at a Wed night Bible study in my home. I always asked first if it was OK with the others. I've never crocheted in a swimming pool like you have Tammy! Way to go!

We want to know::What do you do for fun when you’re not designing (is there ever such a time?!)
Mary Jane's Response: We both know that when designing, there's always something going on, whether it's sketching, swatching, searching for yarn, submitting designs or working on designs that have already been accepted with a deadline. Then of course there are book signings, intrviews, posting on our blog and other social media. Doing all that while at the same time being with family keeps us so busy that it is hard to find time to take a break. My designing is my biggest source of income and we, as designers are constantly working on something. I'm sure you can say the same thing Tammy, but I eat, sleep and drink designing! It is really exciting to me, which keeps me going, but sometimes my ADD brain causes deadlines to overwhelm me. It wouldn't be so hard if I didn't have anything else going on in my life.

We want to know::Tell us one interesting thing about yourself that we might not know.
Mary Jane's Response:1. Well, I love to cook and have a collection of around 300 cookbooks. I have just as many food boards on Pinterest as I do crochet boards and have always loved having family and friends over.
2. I am obsessed with the History channel and love watching shows about history. I especially like to watch America Unearthed and  shows about Lost Civilizarions that have been found under hills or water. They have actually found pyramids under water near Pennsylvania, Egyptian writings in caves and so much more.
3. I have been called the "Thrift Store Queen" by many of my friends. My 40+years of experience led me to do a 1 day seminar on thrift store shopping. We had a special lunch, and in the afternoon we had a fashion show of women wearing outfits they had bought at thrift stores. Then we all took a bus to my favorite thrift stores here in Dayton for those who had never been. It was so much fun!
4. I run a "free" clothing store owned by the church I attend. I am there only 1 day a week, but we get donations from people in our county, and you just wouldn't believe what all we have and how many people we clothe. Everything is set up like a store with most clothing hanging on racks. We have a little bit of everything to give away including household items. Bob Evans headquarters are here, so they generously give us 2 freezers full of sausage every couple of months to give out to people. Sometimes it's overwhelming, but is very rewarding. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

CGOA Conference Prep Time & Celebrating Two Years of Healthy!!!

For many years July was both exciting and terrifying for me! It was exciting because it was time for the Crochet Guild of America's annual conference but terrifying because I lived with chronic illness and never knew what my body would be doing. Since there were times when I wasn't able to walk on my own, I remember trying to decorate my walker with crocheted motifs in case I had to bring it with me. I would contact my beautiful roommate, Kimberly, shown below multiple times telling her I didn't think I was going to make it because I was so afraid of the "what if's" but she would convince me to come and would reassure me that she would help to get me through it. Wow! What a friend to take on that burden.

Two years ago, everything changed. Kimberly was doing a nutritional cleansing program. She looked totally amazing and she was so full of energy and vitality! I immediately knew I wanted to try the program. The picture below was taken just 4 days before I began the program July 26, 2013. Lynyrd Skynyrd was staying at our hotel and we are pictured here with Rickey Medlocke but I was so sick. Just look at my eyes!

Even if it gave me just a little of my health back that would be better than nothing but it blew that totally out of the water and gave me health that I never would have even dreamed of! At 51 years young, I feel better than I did in my twenties and I am certainly way stronger! Another amazing thing I have enjoyed over the last 2 years is that I have been able to help others achieve the same results! There is nothing more rewarding then being able to offer solutions to peoples problems! My favorite days are when I get up to a message from one of my cleansers telling me their doctor has taken them off of some of their medications or an excited phone call telling me they have lost 20 pounds and now fit in a pair of jeans they've had for years. This is by far the most rewarding, exciting and meaningful adventure I have ever been a part of and I feel so incredibly blessed!

So this July for the second year in a row, I am not terrified of anything about traveling to the upcoming CGOA conference. I am very sad that Kimberly will not be attending but I will be totally fine on my own thanks to her caring enough to share this program with me. My biggest concerns are bringing my program supplies and making sure my sneakers fit in my suitcase so I can work out. Exercise is something I had never done before and it is now one of my very favorite activities.

I am completely unstoppable and there is nothing I can't do now! I cannot wait for all of you to feel this amazing too! Please, send me a message! My email is or message me on Facebook. I am so excited to see many of you in San Diego and can't wait to get lots of hugs!!! See you in 2 weeks!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy National Crochet Month 2015!

Wow! I can hardly believe it is this time of year again already! I hope everyone has a lot of fun events and activities planned to celebrate National Crochet Month! I would first like to thank Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka, owners of Crochetville for once again hosting this incredible blog tour! I love to read all of the wonderful entries and this year there will be more free patterns and prizes than ever before! Thank you to Red Heart Yarns for sponsoring the great giveaways! You can find the complete list of participants right here!

One great way to celebrate National Crochet Month is by joining the Crochet Guild of America! There are so many benefits to being a member of CGOA; you can find just a few of the top reasons here. The picture below is from our Summer conference last year in Manchester, New Hampshire! Pictured is Jenny King, Amy Shelton, myself and Marcy Smith. We have so much fun and I have learned so much with incredible volunteer opportunities. I am currently serving my second term as Vice President of this wonderful organization. Find out how you too can become involved.

Another great way to celebrate is to pay it forward and share your gift of crochet by bringing love and comfort to someone in need. We will once again be supporting Halos of Hope which is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization committed to providing volunteer-crafted hats to cancer centers across the country. Founder and executive director, Pam Haschke, is a cancer survivor and you can find all the details of their program on their site. I am offering a free hat pattern in celebration of National Crochet Month and I ask that you make a hat or two (or as many as you are able) and send to Halos of Hope! There are also many knit and crochet patterns offered on their site and they also accept donations to help cover the expenses of shipping the hats!

Whatever you do to celebrate, just be sure you ARE celebrating and sharing the love of crochet! Teach someone to crochet, gift your projects, send some yarn and patterns in a random act of kindness to someone in need, just celebrate!

And be sure to stop by and visit me on my Facebook Hot Lava Crochet page, my Craftsy pattern store, my Ravelry page, and lastly, if you are looking to improve your health, lose weight, increase your energy or even create an additional stream of income, I invite you to visit my Facebook Healthy Begins With You nutritional cleansing page. I have lost 53 pounds and I feel absolutely amazing!!! 

And now on to the free pattern! A very special "thank you" to Bendy Carter with her help 
testing the pattern! 

Celebration 2015 Hat
Designed by Tammy Hildebrand.
RED HEART® Super Saver: 100% Acrylic; 7 oz. (198g), 364 yd (333m) skein; 1 skein each: Shocking Pink #718 (A); Jade #3862 (B); Lavender #358 (C).
Crochet Hook: 5.5mm [US I-9]. Yarn needle.
Finished Size:
Special Stitches Sc2tog (single crochet two stitches together)
Notes Ch 3 at beginning of rounds counts as first double crochet. To change color, yarn over with new color when working final slip st to join round. Drop unused color to back of work until needed again and loosely carry up.
Instructions With A, ch 4, join with sl st to form ring. Rnd 1 (RS): Ch 3, 11 dc in ring, join with sl st in top of beg-ch changing to B. 12 dc. Rnd 2: With B, ch 1, sc in first st, ch 3, skip next st, *sc in next st, ch 3, skip next st; rep from * around, join with sl st in beg sc changing to C. 6 sc, 6 ch-3 sps. Rnd 3: With C, working all sts in skipped sts of 2 rnds previous and behind ch sts of previous rnd, sl st in first skipped st, ch 3, 2 dc in same st, ch 1, *3 dc in next skipped st, ch 1; rep from * around, join with sl st in top of beg ch-3 changing to A. 18 dc, 6 ch-1 sps. Rnd 4: With A, ch 1, * sc in first st of 3-dc group, working in ch-3 sp of 2 rnds previous and next st at same time, sc in next st, sc in next st, sc in next ch-1 sp,; rep from * around, join with sl st in beg sc changing to B. 24 sc. Rnds 5 – 7: Rep Rnds 2 – 4. 48 sc. Rnd 8: Rep Rnd 2. 24 sc, 24 ch-3 sps. Rnd 9: With C, working all sts in skipped sts of 2 rnds previous and behind ch sts of previous rnd, sl st in first skipped st, ch 3, 2 dc in same st, *3 dc in next skipped st; rep from * around, join with sl st in top of beg ch-3 changing to A. 72 dc. Rnd 10: With A, ch 1, * sc in first st of 3-dc group, working in ch-3 sp of 2 rnds previous and next st at same time, sc in next st, sc in next st, rep from * around, join with sl st in beg sc changing to B. 72 sc. Rnd 11: With B, ch 1, sc in first st, sc2tog, *sc in next st, sc2tog; rep from * around, join with sl st in beg sc changing to C. 48 sc. Rnd 12: With C, sc in each st around, join with sl st in beg sc changing to A. Rnd 13: With A, sc in each st around, join with sl st in beg sc changing to B. Rnd 14: With B, sc in each st around, join with sl st in beg sc changing to C. Rnds 15 – 23: Rep Rnds 12 – 14 three times. Rnd 24: Rep Rnd 12. Rnd 25: Working in front loops only, rep rnd 13. Rnd 26 - 28: Rep Rnds 8 – 10 (do not change to B in last rnd). Fasten off after last rnd.
Finishing With yarn needle, weave in ends.
ABBREVIATIONS: ch = chain; dc = double crochet; sc = single crochet; sl st = slip st; sp(s) space(es); st(s) = stitch(es); * = repeat whatever follows the * as indicated.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Formal Jewelry by Karen McKenna Book Review

Well Karen has done it again! She has created yet another beautiful book of wonderful crochet designs for all of us to enjoy! Formal Jewelry published by Leisure Arts is now available here!
Please be sure to visit Karen at her blog Ihookdesign

When I first received this book, I must admit that I was just a little bit intimidated. I don't typically work with thread and my beading experience is limited but it didn't take long to realize I had nothing to fear. Not only are the instructions so detailed and clear, but there is also a bonus online video tutorial!

I love that the projects look so classy and elegant and yet they would take very little time to complete. What wonderful gifts they would make!

My very favorite project in the book which I will be making just as soon as I can get the supplies, are the Silver Barefoot Sandals. They just scream "Fun" but they are also very sophisticated. Picture a gorgeous bride getting married on a warm, sunny beach. Perfect! And I will be keeping that image in my mind while we are in the single digits this week, anticipating snow and freezing rain! 
Stay safe and warm my fiber friends!