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Welcome Friends! Please be patient while I add more info. I have SO much to share with you. Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Look for this logo

What is Pinterest and Why Are So Many People Excited about it?

If you're already on Pinterest, pleas follow my boards and
I'll follow you as well! The link to my page and my boards is here.

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard. It is loads of fun, but is also a way to get more exposure if you are a designer or have any other business. Since I have been on Pinterest the last 4 years, it has tripled the patterns I have sold on my blog. One of my boards is "Mary Jane Hall Designs", and you can pin as much as you want there. People who follow you, pin your pins to their board, then their friends pins their friend's pins. Get the idea? It just grows and grows, and people who you've never heard of are following you because of one of their friends. I now have over 5,200 people following me on Pintere st and I didn't do anything to make that happen except to start my boards and start pinning. You can pin any of your own pictures, recipes, etc but you mainly get your pins from people you follow. Or you can search for anything or any subject  just like you would on eBay or Amazon.

 I am obsessed with Pinterest. I love searching for recipes and crochet. But that's not all. I have 300 boards of just about everything I love or am interested in.
I tried for years to get my sister to sign up, but she kept saying "I don't have time for anything else like Facebook to take up my time". I assured her that Pinterest was nothing like Facebook, and you don't have to talk to anyone. It's just a place for you to save things (pictures, patterns, recipes) you find on the Internet you want to go back to. I used to save a link, recipe or photo to my documents on my PC, but that takes up space and memory, slowing down your computer. Pinterest is a fantastic idea! When people say they don't have time for Pinterest, I say "I don't have time NOT to use Pinterest!" What I mean by that is I have learned so much about things and the tips on cooking, cleaning, crafting, refashioning, crocheting, and numerous other things that have helped me tremendously in my life!
Learning the tips I have found there actually makes life easier and less stressful, not worse. Just an example is that I learned to cook bacon on a cookie sheet in the oven. I always hated to cook bacon before, because I had to stand there and turn it over several times, while it's popping grease all over me. But when you cook it in the oven, you can just leave it for 30 minutes, without having to attend to it. I cannot begin to tell you all the ways my life is better because of Pinterest! I finally got my sister to join and now she is obsessed with Pinterest also!

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, organize their favorite recipes, look for gardening ideas, sewing ideas, places they want to visit and you can even have secret boards that no one else will see. You may want to have a secret board of ideas you find for a surprise shower or birthday party.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

A great blog of Pinterest information!

Some Tips about Pinterest

Your Profile - You'll set up a very short profile on your Pinterest page to share a little about yourself.

Setting up your boards - Pinterest gives you ideas for categories but you can come up with your own, or get ideas from other people(categories, popular subjects, catchy titles, variety of subjects, descriptions)

Choosing Photos and Graphics Wisely - Photos that fit in the window, visually nice and colorful photos and graphics, put your own photo as the main pic on a board - Example - my crochet designs.

How to get people to follow you - Don't pin mostly your own stuff or people won't follow you. People like to follow people who have lots of followers, invite family and friends, invite FB friends, follow people who follow you, even if you don't follow them - pin their pins.

Pinterest Ediquitte  - Go to the original source -website or blog - to pin a recipe or pattern, be nice! comment when people send you a comment. You don't have to go to the original website anymore in order to pin. You just do it from pinterest. But usually if you want a recipe for something you've found on another person's board you will have to go to the link to get the recipe, but not always. 

Using Pinterest for Fun - You can look up anything imaginable on pinterest, and the best part about it is there are pictures, so you can actually see a dish (recipe). Some of my more fun things to look up are Fashion, Places I want to Visit, Encouraging Quotes, Health Tips, Exercise and Diet Tips, Gluten Free Foods, Shabby Chic, Color My World, Favorite TV Shows and Singers, Things That Make Me Happy, Yarn Bombing, Yarn Storage Ideas, Yarn I Love, Make - Up and Beauty Ideas, Anti- Aging, Refashioning Clothing, Recycling furniture and clothing, Crochet Books and SO much more! Can you tell yet that I love Pinterest?

Using Pinterest for your business
This blog/website shows you how to add the Pin In button to all of the pictures on your blog at once!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Reading Patterns - Tips for Beginners - Part 1

Helpful Tips on How to Read Crochet Patterns
by Mary Jane Hall

Today I received an email from someone on Ravelry who is making one of my patterns in the new Crochet Noro Book, and she had a question about something that she was having trouble figuring out. She did tell me she had been crocheting for only 6 months, so I can understand why it didn't make sense to her.  She sent me a picture of her work and we ended up talking on the phone, which helped me figure out the problem. There was not an error, it was just something she hadn't dealt with before which was super easy for her! There were some things I said to her in an email that I thought would help her as a beginner, which prompted me to write this blog. Read below some of the things I said to her as a beginner and it may help you too, whether you're a beginner or experienced in crocheting.
 I know for sure how frustrating it can be not to understand what a pattern is saying. I taught myself to crochet many yrs ago and would get SO frustrated if I didn’t understand what something meant! I’m glad that happened to me though, because it’s what helped me learn the terms and crochet language. I also had a group of older women who would help me understand. I could not have done it alone and would not be designing today if I hadn’t had their help way back then! I give them so much credit for my successes today. I’m the kind of person who would rather someone show me how to do it, rather than tell me or read it to me. Some tips I’ve learned since becoming a designer that I want to share are:

Sometimes there is a misprint or a pattern is wrong, so don’t fret! 
I always thought it was just me, but sometimes there are misprints or the person typing it up for the book copied it wrong. All publishers have tech editors now, and I’ve actually had tech editors change some of my wording & sometimes they have made mistakes. Not trying to scare you. Just please don’t give up! This can throw you way off, even if one little word or number is wrong. And sometimes designers aren’t good at trying to explain what they mean by something. It’s been one of my goals in life to explain my patterns as if I were a beginner! I have had many comments from people saying my patterns are so easy to understand. That is very important to me and makes me feel great. But sometimes it’s just a matter of not knowing the terms yet. So all those yrs ago, it may not have been me - just keep that in mind and check the internet for corrections or ask the designer (if they will answer-some don’t or won’t take the time).
I want to have a good relationship with people who buy my books or make my designs from magazines. It helps me feel a connection! I’m not just in this for money or to make a living :) I want to help! It does take up time to answer emails and check patterns but I think it’s very important as a designer. Some designers have told me they will say to crocheters who ask questions, “ask the publisher”, but the publisher would just have to ask me the question a reader asks, and I don’t want to bother the publisher since I’m the one who has the answer anyway.

  If you can't figure it out - do what looks right! 
Don’t be afraid to just do what looks right! Just make sure your work is lying flat and looks like the picture. If you think about it, you'll figure it out. It didn’t even cross my mind back when I was 18, or in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s to just do what looked right. It’s such a simple thing and takes SO much pressure off you! In most cases, you want to do exactly what the pattern says, but if you can't get hold of the designer, publisher and can't find any corrections posted,  as long as it looks right your project should look great! 

I hope I have helped those of you who have never been told these things! Please let me know if you have any questions.
Mary Jane

Thursday, March 26, 2015

National Crochet Month Info

Please come back to visit this blog on March 30, when I will be the featured designer. I'll be introducing my newest book, Colorful Crochet Lace. On that day you'll be able to sign up for a drawing to win a copy, plus I'll be giving away a free, very easy pattern for crochet socks! (March 30 only)

I am amazed and very happy that crochet continues to gain popularity. It is a huge phenomena in America and all over the world among not only women and young girls, but among guys as well. People used to think that crocheting was only associated with females, and that it wasn't manly enough for guys. I always thought "Why not? Guys work with their hands in other ways such as woodworking and cooking, so why not knit and crochet? There are many men excited about crochet now, just as women have always loved doing it. I always take a project in my bag just about everywhere I go in case I get a chance to work on it. And almost every time I am sitting in a waiting room with my hands and hook working away, a guy will say "Is that crochet?" When I tell them it is, they go on to tell me their mother or grandmother taught them to crochet."

Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka, founders of the ever so popular Crochetville, are sponsoring the blog tour again this year and they have lots of goodies in store for you. I wish I had posted about this event before it began March 1, so you could have been following the tour all along, but on second thought, the reason you are here is most likely the fact you have been following it. And you probably know Crochetville is giving away beautiful yarn everyday, donated by Red Heart Yarns. Maybe you'll be a lucky winner!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hiring and Paying Pattern Testers

As a New Designer How Much 
Do I Pay Pattern Testers?

As  a mentor for those having dreams of becoming a designer, I havebeen asked this questio numerous times. I really do not know what the standard pay is, so I can only give you my thoughts from my own experience. When I was working on Positively Crochet, I wanted to have every pattern tested before the projects went to the publisher and tech editor and I too was in a delima over what to pay. Back then, I was pretty active on a social media site for crocheters and had seen where people were talking about testing patterns. I posted some things about looking for pattern testers and another designer wrote and warned me to be very careful about having someone I didn't know do it for me. I think she had someone steal a pattern before that way. So then I decided to ask women and teenagers I knew personally if they'd be intested. To this day I still don't know what other people pay, but I also wanted to be fair. I had already had some designs in other designers books, such as Vickie Howell, Kim Welker and a couple others, and their publisher paid each contributing designer $100, which is not much at all, but I knew it would also give me exposure since I was so new at the time and it was well worth it to me. I was also paid $100 on a design for one of the One Skein wonder books.

Based on all that and the fact I was paid only $100 to do both - design it and stitch it up, this gave me some ideas. I figured that someone who had never tested a pattern or had anything published wouldn't be real particular about it. So I just started asking people I knew. Some were teenagers I knew at church and others were friends I'd met in the local CGOA. After asking them if they'd be willing to test a pattern, I told them I didn't have a lot of money to do this, but if they were interested I would give them 2 choices. I told them I'd pay them around $30-$40 to test a pattern + they could have the pattern and keep the project, OR I told them I'd buy the yarn to make it and they could keep it for themselves. Each one of them were very happy to do this. Some of them were beginners and most of them were thrilled that I'd even ask them. Since they knew me, they were happy with the pay, but I have no idea what someons else would expect to be paid to test a pattern. I'm sure it also has to do with the type of design and how large or small it is.  If you're a member of the national CGOA group, you could ask there. I know there are people who are professional pattern testers.

I actually prefer a person who hasn't crocheted long to test my patterns because they are the ones who notice the little things. For instance, they will notice if I forget to say "sew seams", "fasten off" and other obvious things. They always marked that on the paper. But if an experienced crocheter tested a pattern, they would just do those things I mentioned but not make a note on the paper that I left it off. They just automatically knew to do it. This was frustrating to me. On Crochet That Fits, I didn't have every pattern tested like I did on Positively Crochet. One reason was because so many of the patterns in that book are beginner level, even the black dress on the book cover and my famous Cap Sleeve Top that was featured on the Knit and Crochet Now TV show the day they interviewed me. We demonstrated my Graduated Stitch Method of making shaped garments without having to use increases or decreases. It's also very well known because my publisher (F+W) allowed  the show to put that pattern on the website for anyone  to have access to. It's been in several crochat alongs also, which made it more popular. I only had some of the intermediate patterns tested.

Colorful Crochet Lace, my newest book that is just now going to print and will be available Aug 7, 2015 is a different story. I felt so much more confident about my pattern writing skills, that I did not have one single pattern tested. It was just fine. I had one of the best tech editors on that book, Karen Matheny, and mainly all she had to do was maybe reword some of the sentences, delete some unnecessary wording and check the math. She also made the stitch pattern diagrams and drew the schematics from my rough copies.

This is a whole different subject, but even though I would rather stitch up each project myself (the fun part), for a book, I had to hire some people who were more experienced to stitch up around 5 for the book, since I didn't have time myself because of circumstances in my life. The gals who stitched those up were like pattern testers also, since they had to follow the pattern. Of course I paid them more because they stitched up the actual garment that was going to be photographed for the book.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Tech Edited Copy - What New Designers Need To Know

I mentioned in my last post I had finished with the book, but that it wasn't really finished. I said it still had to go to the editor and tech editor to be checked. I'm updating this to say all the tech editing has been done and checked for any mistakes, and will be going to print in a few days.
No matter how confident you are with your wording and instructions, you will be surprised to know that after the tech editor checks the patterns they can come back all marked up and you're thinking, "What in the world? I thought I worded everything perfectly and every word I wrote was clear."

 After all, I have pattern testers who were able to stitch up each and every project without any trouble. As a matter of fact, I have always told my pattern testers to try and make the project from my instructions without asking me any questions. I need to see if they understand everything I wrote. In the 10 years I've been designing professionally I have probably had a tester ask me only 1-2 questions to make something more clear. I use crocheters of all skill levels and experience, but I really prefer younger, beginning to intermediate crocheters to work up the projects. I have found that the more experienced crocheters tend to ignore or not notice if I forgot to say sinple things such as "Fasten off", "Turn", "Sew side seams", or common things in a pattern most people would know to do if it weren't stated. But the newer crocheters will always add that in a note to my patterns. I do appreciate the fact they caught that it was not mentioned in a pattern since some people would not automatically know what to do. Another reason I'm confident about my pattern writing skills is that the pattern tester I chose for the Ivory Sweater on the front of Positively Crochet was only 16 years old and she didn't have to ask me one single question on the instructions.

Having said all that, your ego can quickly get inflated after you've viewed the tech edited copy. There are some wonderful tech editors in the crochet designing world and I admire them more than they know. I could never do what they do. It's just not in the makeup of my brain to wrap my thoughts around some of the math a tech editor has to check on grading the sizes.

Knowing I was turning in my 5th book, I was feeling even more confident than I was on the last book. I was so proud of myself, thinking it would not be nearly as marked up as the last one. But to my surprise, it's marked up just as much as the last. I could be devastated but I've learned not to be and I'll explain why.

It's not that my patterns could not be understood or that it's not possible for them to be worked up the way I originally wrote them. They are very clear, but there's something you need to know about tech editing in order not to get discouraged. Even though I have used the proper crochet language, there are more ways than one to word things in the language of crochet. This all depends on the format and wording a particular publisher or editor wants. On my first book, when I stated the measurements for a purse, I said 11" x 11" without handles, which seems fine, right? But the tech editor had marked that out and wrote "excluding handles". That was no biggie, but with my next book I wrote "excluding handles" on all the bags. You guessed it! It then came back from the tech editor with "excluding handles" marked out and she had inserted "without handles". Go figure! I began thinking that tech editors just wanted to change things to make it look like they are doing their job. I've changed my mind on that now and really respect tech editors. This has always been the most frustrating part of the book process for me. Another thought I've had is "There's no way I can know if what they marked out and reworded in the pattern is right without having to remake the whole projects again myself from their instructions. So that's the point in which I have to just "let go" and trust the tech editor with her years of experience in this area. It's hard to do this but you really have no choice. After all, they are professional tech editors and get paid to know what they are doing.

But the longer I design, I've learned to be patient with this process and know that my baby, "the book", I have worked on and carried for 9 months is in good hands. On the last 2 books, I remember thinking I could not possibly know if what the tech editor changed was right (without remaking it) and was so incredibly worried there would be many major errors after the book was published. But really, there were 4 very minor things that needed corrected, which would not have any affect on the finished product with those instructions.

If you are interested in more of this process then by all means, keep reading. I want to give you some examples of wording the tech editor changed.

1. I wrote "end off", because it's shorter and they want the patterns condensed as much as    possible, but the tech editor changed it to "fasten off", which is also acceptable.

2. I wrote (at the end of a row) "sl st to top of 1st sc". The TE wrote "join with sl st to first sc". What I wrote is not wrong, but just another way of wording it.

3. I wrote "(3 dbtr-cl made)". She said "(counts as 3 dtr-cl)".

4. I said "oval loops" She said "oval rings". To me a ring is always round.

5. I said "with front facing". She said "with RS facing". Either way is good.

6. I said "sh" for "shell" and "loops for "loops", but she changed it to "shell and "lps". Same with "tog" for "together". I wrote "tog", again thinking of condensing the wording. I've always been told to use the abbreviations, and I used the ones that are in the publisher's other books. I actually studied their other books and was trying to go along with that template and wording. See what I mean? I shouldn't be complaining though. Everything will turn out ok, and once a book is actually released all this frustration is forgotten and overshadowed by your excitement!

I hope this post has been helpful to designers who are hoping to get a book published someday or if you are in the process right now. What I've said should help you not to panic and cry like I did the first time I got my marked up book back to be reviewed. Happy crocheting and happy designing!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I'm Back! The Book Process

I really want to get back into blogging again so I can keep in touch with everyone and give valuable information if you have dreams of becoming a professional designer. After 10 long months of working on my next book, I'm basically finished and I feel free!

   Yeah! I can breath now and get some much needed sleep. This has not been easy for me. I've had one obstacle after another during the past year and there were times the stress was so intense that I wanted to quit.

But I kept plugging along, taking one day at a time and finally got through it. There is no way I would have finished by my deadline if it had not been for some close friends and a couple other professional designers, stitching up some of the projects for me. They were great and so willing to help when I panicked and needed them. Those who helped (also mentioned in the book) are Renee Huffman, Melody Kelley, Deb Kociszewski (designer and teacher) as well as Renee' Rodgers and Natalia Kononova both professional designers. I say I'm finished with the book, but that's not exactly true. What I'm about to say will give anyone out there wanting to be a designer, a little peak into my life of designing and authoring books. Hopefully you can learn from my experiences.

Even though the whole manuscript has been turned into the publisher and all the finished garments and accessories have been shipped to Loveland, Colorado, where Interweave Press headquarters are located, I will be receiving the manuscript back from the tech editor soon marked up with changes or corrections for me to go over. 
This doesn't necessarily mean my instructions will be off, but the tech editor checks to make sure my math is right (for the larger sizes from xsm-3x) and that I worded the patterns to be easy to understand in the correct crochet language. This is very important. If you're a beginning designer it's imperative that you study the language of crochet, which includes a lot of comas, etc in the right places. Don't be scared. It's really not that difficult at all. Just pay attention to the wording in other patterns and learn where to put those commas, semi-colons, parentheses, hyphens, etc. Write your own pattern and practice with the wording. Then have a friend see if they can understand it. I'm actually known for writing easy instructions and get comments and reviews from crocheters all the time stating that. Of course that makes me happy because one of my goals as a designer is to make crochet easy for everyone. But of course, I had to learn too how to use the right wording.

After I've checked the marked up copy and sent it back to my wonderful editor, Michelle Bredson, they'll put the finishing touches on the book and then it's off to the printer! I hate the fact this book won't be released till next summer (2015). After I'd already signed the contract for the book, and realized it would take that long for it to be published, I asked why, and the book acquisitions editor, Kerry Bogart told me they already had other crochet books coming out this year, but they didn't want to let mine go. There was nothing I could do about it. The designs I came up with for the book are fashionable and should be in trend for 2015 as well. Some of my pieces are timeless, and most can be worn for years to come! More exciting info later!

It always feels fantastic to finish up a book, but one thing I am super excited about is the overall theme and backgrounds for the photo shoot with the models! I've had a dream of a certain theme outdoors for years but my other books had to be photographed in the middle of a freezing cold winter, once even in Wisconsin when the wind chill was -45 degrees! I know that may be hard to believe but I was there! This time the photo shoot was in Denver, Colorado and my editor said it went great! Wish I could have been there but I trust her and the stylist working with the book to make a beautiful finished product. I wish I could tell you the name of my book and what it's all about, but I'll have to wait to get the go-ahead on that from my editor. And as usual, the book will be available on Amazon later and can be ordered in advance to be shipped to you as soon as it's released. The book will also be carried in all the major bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble, Books and Co, Borders, and craft stores such as JoAnns, Michaels, and hopefully Hobby Lobby. I will keep everyone posted as I'm allowed to reveal any info on the book!
Thanks so much for all your support and cheering me on as I've gone through this very fulfilling process! I need a huge break (at least through Christmas), but would you believe I have another great idea for another book? I'm itching to do that too, but it will have to wait!

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm Working On Another Book! Finally!

Many people have asked me over the past 4-5 yrs when I’m going to do another book. Well, as some of you know, 5 1/2  yrs ago my husband left with another woman and I was so devastated that I couldn’t do much of anything, I did designs for a few magazines but I finally got a book proposal together (which took months) and presented it to Interweave, since they are partnering with the publisher (F+W - Krause) who did my other books.

I was happy to go with Interweave though because they do lots of advertising on their books & magazines as many of you know. They liked my book idea but we went back & forth on some things before I actually signed a contract with them.

I can’t really tell you yet what its all about, but I’ll give you a hint. It has to do with “lace” - my passion. I’m very excited about it and hope everyone will like it!

The bad news is that it won’t be released till the summer of 2015 because they already have other books coming out in 2014. It’s discouraging to have to wait that long but I didn’t want to start all over & go with another publisher.
My manuscript is due June 3 of 2014, and that may seem like a long way away, but really it’s not a lot of time considering everything I have to do. I got behind on this because of my sister having a heart attack & being in the hospital so long. I’m on the 3rd design right now & happy with my results so far!

I can hardly wait till this book come out! It will probably be my favorite. Some of the designs will be worked with my Graduated Stitch Method of making fitted, flattering & shaped garments without having to use increases or decreases. (but not all of the designs will be with that method) You can be well assured though, that these garments will be pretty easy to do!