Carol Hegar, Owner and Designer, Shady Lane Original Crochet Designs
I specialize in making my patterns easy to read and follow and have made my living as a crochet pattern publisher and designer for over 40 years.
My business began in 1980, not with crochet, but macrame, after I bought a macrame design company. When the macrame craze quickly faded, I cast about for another use for my time and talents. I knew how to sew, so I tried designing a few wallhangings. But then, almost through a fluke, I had a friend of mine who knew how to crochet, design some crochet motifs. Disco skating--remember that?--was the fad and we put together some crochet roller skates and ice skates. Then we did fruit potholders, which were a big success. At that point, I was simply drawing out designs for my friend to crochet. I needed to learn to crochet so I could check my own patterns, so a friend taught me how to single crochet and I taught myself how to double crochet from a book.
Right away I designed vegetable potholders, and I was amazed. I seemed to have a flair for designing. I had no idea I could design until I tried it. I would encourage other crocheters to try their hand at designing, You'll never know until you make the attempt.
In the mid-1980's I came across the dropped dc stitch when a woman submitted an afghan using it for publication. The technique was used on the vintage classic Navajo Afghan pattern. She had taken it a step further and used it in creating diamonds and then hearts. I fell in love with the technique and decided to specialize in this niche market of afghans and developed many subjects including teddy bears, rocking horses, kitty cats, Native American, flowers, and many more. Once you do one you are pretty much hooked, at least I was....and many others who have told me so over the years. I started out with using a single color, then branched out into doing some multi-colored versions. These were striking, but a lot of work. Then recently I came across Mosaic knitting and saw that the technique of alternating row colors with a dramatic result could be adapted to crochet. I have named this the "Mosaic Dropped Double Crochet" technique. I've become a bit obsessed with this currently and have discovered other uses for it besides afghans....namely potholders, totes, placemats, table runners and lately hats for adults and babies.
Over the years I've had my own mail-order business, sending out crochet catalogs and magazines to customers. Because I designed and produced my own patterns, family members, especially my daughter Stephanie, often appeared in photograph used on my pattern and magazine covers. My mail-order customers saw my Stephanie grow up from a newborn baby to a teenager. I always felt like the customers who bought my patterns were just part of my extended family.
It's funny how crochet is a thread that runs through families. My mother didn't crochet, but as I got into this, I learned that my grandmother was an expert crocheter. I like to think she would have been proud of me.