Sunday, June 1, 2008

First Blog

This my very first blog, so here goes....

People keep asking me if I really crochet. Actually the whole idea for Hooked on Murder started with granny squares – or more correctly my desire to learn how to make them.

For anyone not familiar, a granny square is a crocheted square that has open and closed spaces, usually with a middle of colorful yarn and the last row or two done in black. They are commonly joined together to form afghans. To me they were pure magic. I couldn’t figure out how you could start with a circle of stitches and end up with a square or how there could be those open spaces without the whole piece collapsing.

I have always made things. I taught myself how to make doll clothes when I was a kid. Eventually I made all my clothes and my mothers. Someone taught me how to knit when I was in college and I made a dress on huge wooden needles with four strands of yarn. I have a degree in fine art. But somehow I never learned how to crochet.
Since the 70s, I have been lugging around books and magazines with granny square patterns convinced that someday I would learn how to make them.

Flash forward a bunch of years. I was walking down the pretend street inside Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. I love toys and couldn’t pass up going into FAO Schwartz. I also love kids’ kits, my thinking being if the directions are aimed a ten year old they ought to work for me.

I rode the escalator up and was walking across the second floor through all the kids art kits when I saw something that made me stop. There was an adorable little blue suitcase surrounded by a cardboard banner with a granny square scarf on it. When I read the banner and saw the words Learn How to Make Granny Squares, I couldn’t buy it fast enough

I waited until I was back home and I took out the directions and the plastic hook. I’m embarrassed to admit there was a certain amount of nervous sweat and shallow breathing as I tried to follow the directions. I learned that sometimes with crochet you have to go on faith and just keep following the directions even if you have no idea what you’re doing. My first attempt ended in a three cornered square, but it was close enough for me to understand the basic structure.

Of course, I tried again and that time my square had all its corners. I was awed by my own achievement and became a granny square maniac. I made them over and over until I didn’t need directions anymore.
Around this time I got the idea of combining crochet with a mystery. While there was no guarantee the book would succeed, I knew that writing it would give me the incentive to learn more about crochet. And all the time I spent working with yarn and all the money I spent buying the yarn and all the money I spent buying books explaining what to do with the yarn would all be justified because it was research.

It turned out to be a win-win.

My crocheting took off and the book became a series and found a home at Berkley Prime Crime.

And now I thank my lucky stars everyday because I get to do two things I love, write and crochet. There’s just one problem – dealing with my yarn habit.


Linda O. Johnston said...

Welcome to Killer Hobbies, Betty! I've read HOOKED ON MURDER and really enjoyed it. I look forward to more! And I admire how you taught yourself to crochet.

Terri Thayer said...

Welcome aboard, Betty. You're among friends. We struggle all the time with having too much stuff. There's a reason the Container Store exists. Our hobbies.

As for research, let's hope the IRS has gotten the willing suspension of disbelief memo.

Looking forward to more.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Welcome, Betty. I'm impressed. I bought a book on crochet and tried for six hours to get beyond the chain stitch with no luck. Finally, I signed up for a class. Mary Ann Drake was my instructor--and she has the patience of a saint. It took forever, but now I can even crochet without looking (okay, simple double stitch and I do have to check once in a while, but still...that's real progress, right?). We're so happy to have you.

Robena Grant said...

Hi Betty:
I used to knit and do crewel, but never tried crochet. My eyes are saved for writing and reading these days. Heh.
I worked with a Neurosurgeon who did cross-stitch. He said it kept his eyes sharp and his eye-hand coordination sharp. We used to kid him about it all the time but his wife said he was very good at it and it seemed to relax him.
I read Hooked on Murder and loved it. Can't wait for the next one.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Hi Betty, Welcome to the group! I remember we all wore little crocheted shawls in the 70's. they weren't very warm, but so cute! Best, Kathryn

Anonymous said...

Hi, Betty--Good to see you on the blogs!

I learned how to granny square as a kid, but I still have to get out the instructions every time I start one--just to get that little circle done right! I have one square that I crocheted when I was about twelve--and I do mean one square, about 5' by 5'! It's got all the screaming bright colors of the sixties, and I still love it. :)

Betty Hechtman said...

Thank you for all the welcomes. I'm glad you enjoyed my book, Linda. I am a big fan of the Pet Sitter series.

Terri, containers are great, but then you have to find a place to put them. My son said my yarn was a fire hazard.

Joanna, I still have to look at my work when I crochet and pay attention or all of it starts looking like free form crocheting.

Robena, that's interesting about the neurosurgan doing cross stitch as long as he didn't get confused when he was working on somebody's brain and started making a home sweet home sampler.

Kathryn, I remember those shawls from the 70s. I a pattern book from the 70s and can't believe a lot of the stuff in it was ever in style.

Becky, I can sympathize with the need for directions. I needed them for quite a while, but once I got how the structure worked, I didn't need the directions anymore. The more I crocheted, I began to understand how the patterns worked. There is some math involved which still gives me a momentary brain lock, but now I can make up my own patterns.