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.