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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!

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!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Indian Peanut Chicken over Rice

Indian Peanut Chicken over Rice – Mary Jane’s recipe


  • 1 Tb peanut oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 - 3 teaspoons yellow curry powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ -1 tsp crushed red pepper (I used ½ tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 – 5 tsps brown sugar (or to taste)
  • ½ cup Half & Half or plain Greek Yogurt (could use more than ½ cup – I didn’t measure)
  • ½ cup (or more) golden raisins
  • Small amounts (1 - 2 dashes each) coriander, turmeric, ground cayenne pepper,  cinnamon, & cardamom.
  • 8 cups hot cooked white or brown rice
  • Chopped peanuts and grated coconut for garnish
Optional : 3 – 6 chopped plum tomatoes (I didn't want chunks of tomatoes in my recipe, but some people like that)


Chop chicken & set aside. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 5 minutes till tender, stirring frequently. Add chopped chicken; cook 4 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Stir in peanut butter and next 9 ingredients (through half & half); bring to a boil. Reduce heat (so it won't curdle); add other spices (dashes) & golden raisins; stir and simmer 30 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. If you are adding fresh tomatoes add them before you simmer for 30 minutes. Serve chicken mixture over rice; top each serving with coconut, chopped peanuts & more raisins if desired. 

I didn't find a recipe I wanted to make so I came up with this and we all loved it. Reminds me of Chicken Korma. You could substitute cashews for the peanuts to be more like Chicken Korma if you like. Sorry I don't have a picture. I will post one next time I fix this!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Shell Stitch Wristers - Crochet Noro Book

Wrist Warmers by Mary Jane Hall in Crochet Noro
The wristers in the photo is one of my designs in the hardback book Crochet Noro. A crocheter on Ravelry asked me the following question and I thought it may help someone else. This is not an error, but maybe it will help. I will continue to post if others have questions. Mary Jane

First Question from a reader:

Hi Mary Jane,
Working on your pattern from Noro Crochet. I'm a 6 months crocheter. Question on Rnd ”
5 Ch 1, turn work to WS, sl st in last sc of previous rnd, turn again (too RS) and ch 4”.
There are several opinions from friends on where the sl st goes. Is the previous Round #3 or 4? Logic says it is #4 since the instruction is in Round 5, however the sc in Round 3 seems closer. Also, I keep ending up with a big knot when I slip stitch into round 3. Any clarification would be appreciated.

 Note from Mary Jane - I ended up figuring out that the only reason I said to turn the work to the WS and sl st over, is just to get the st at the right point (once it's turned back over to the front) This is where the first V-st of the rnd will go.

Next Question from a different Reader:
Hi MaryJane, Help! I’m endeavouring to crochet these wrist warmers from the Noro book but 22 stitches , even loosley, just does not seem to be very wide. Can you confirm 22 chain is the correct number of starting chain for the cuff?
Thanks so much.

Mary Jane's Reply:
The 22 stitches is vertical not around your wrist. Maybe you have figured this out by now?
Let me know if you have any more questions :)
Mary Jane

Another person on Ravelry came to my rescue and she responded this way: Thanks Jannabean!
 I’m also making these and 22 stitches is correct for the cuff. You will start to crochet the cuff the long way, so 22 stitches is the length of the cuff. If you want it longer you can always add stitches. This is the place to customize. Once the piece measures 7 inches you’ll fold it in half and join the edge with slip stitch. And voila, cuff part one. I hope this helps.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Veg - All Casserole

Veg All Casserole

Given to me years ago by my southern friend from Athens, Georgia Diane Moore
One of my favorite recipes!

I fix this for Thanksgiving and Christmas

Combine first 7 ingredients and put in greased 2 qt. casserole dish.

  1. 1 (1 lb) canned whole corn, drained
  2. 2 (1 lb) cans Veg-all, drained
  3. 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  4. 1/2 small onion, chopped
  5. 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  6. 3/4 cup of Hellmann's mayonnaise
  7. 3/4 cup of sour cream
  8. 1 package Town House or Ritz crackers, crushed (Town House are more buttery!)
  9. 1 stick melted butter

Mix all ingredients except crackers and butter and place in greased casserole dish. Spread crushed crackers mixed with 1 stick melted butter and pour over vegetable mixture. Bake at 350 until it bubbles.(20 - 25 minutes) I love this recipe! I think the original one my friend gave me did not have sour cream, but my mom added it and we like it that way.

You can substitute french fried onions for the crackers but I like the crackers best

Mary Jane's Green Beans

Mary Jane's Green Beans 

(tastes fresh from the can)

  1. 1 huge can green beans - (The $2.89 size in the bulk section of your grocery store) OR 6 or 7 - 15½ oz size cans
  2. 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  3. 3 teaspoons Jamison's Soup Base (should be w/ the chicken bullion in the grocery store)
  4. 1 medium onion, peeled
  5. ¼ - ½ cup liquid shortening (like Wesson, Crisco, Olive Oil or Canola)
Drain about ½ of the water from each can. Put beans (and rest of liquid) in big pot. Pour enough water in beans to come about 2 inches below top of beans. Never cover beans with water. This is very important. Add about 3 teaspoons brown sugar, 3 teaspoons L.B. Jamison's Beef Flavored Soup Base, and ¼ - ½ cup liquid shortening. Then put 1 whole onion (peeled) in middle of beans. For a big pot, I would use a medium size onion. Cook beans at about medium high (uncovered) for about 1 hour, or until all liquid is gone. (This is very important. This is what gives the beans a lot of flavor) Stir beans only a couple of times the whole time they are cooking. This is important too. You may need to turn the heat down to medium toward the end.
You also might need a little more brown sugar and soup base for this many beans. If you don't have Jamison's soup base, try beef bullion, but I think it tastes better with the soup base.
Making the beans this way, makes them taste fresh and they always get eaten up when I cook them for dinners or a carry-in! I get lots of requests for this recipe. My mother in law taught me how to do this over the years.

Recipe by Mary Jane Hall

Mary Jane's Chicken Curry & Rice

Chicken, Curry and Rice
Mary Jane Hall's recipe from Mama (Margie Perry)
When I was 5 years old, my family moved to the Philippines as missionaries. In fact, my dad helped start a Bible college over there. We learned to love Asian food while in the Philippines and when we came back to the states (when I was 9) my mama fixed this dish. Then after I grew up and had a family of my own, I started making it, and it's always been a favorite of ours too! What prompted me to post this recipe is that my youngest son called & asked me for the recipe, and I thought I might as well share it on my blog. I hope you enjoy it! By the way, I loved living in the Philippines. It's beautiful there, and we had coconut trees, Pineapple trees, Guava trees, Papaya trees & banana trees in our yard!
I will post a photo of this dish next time I make this!
Boiled Chicken Pieces
(you can either buy a small whole chicken & cook it on the bone, chicken pieces already cut up or boneless chicken breasts/tenders) - I boil the chicken, let it cool and then take it off the bones. (Boneless chicken is easier!)
Steamed White Rice - plain (i don't even add salt to it, but you can - for you & Ashley just make 3 cups steamed rice, which is 1 cup of UNcooked rice. Unless you want to have left overs, make more rice :-)
Curry Powder - the yellow kind
Condiments - Peanuts, coconut, chopped green onions, golden raisins, chopped green pepper
When I was growing up we always just put peanuts on top, but sometimes now I like adding a little coconut & golden raisins. This goes very well with curry.

Curry Sauce - see below
For the curry sauce, all you do is make a white sauce (from any basic cookbook) and add curry. You can add the curry to taste and depending how much white sauce I make, I may use 2-4 teaspoons of the yellow curry, but if you like a strong curry taste, you can add more. Just add to taste.
Basic White Sauce (I usually make 2 - 3 cups of white sauce, depending on how many people are eating the meal)
For every 1 cup of white sauce, you will need: (this makes 1 cup, so you may want to double or triple it)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons white all purpose flour
1 cup warm milk
For curry flavored sauce - add 1 - 2 teaspoons of curry powder to the flour & butter mixture, before you add the milk.

Melt butter in large flat frying pan on low heat. Add the flour gradually, using a whisk to stir it & keep it from getting too thick. (Note: If you have your heat too high, the flour & butter mixture will get too thick way too fast, then it will have lumps that are hard to smash up) I used to add my curry powder after I add the milk, but I started adding the curry to the flour & butter mixture BEFORE the milk. After the curry is blended with the flour & butter, gradually add the milk & keep stirring on medium heat to let it bubble up & thicken. Keep stirring it with the whisk so it will be smooth) I warm my milk in the microwave first, because if you don't the flour will lump up! Believe me, this is an important step to warm the milk in the microwave. If you want more.
of the curry flavor add more curry powder to the sauce & blend well with whisk. Cook the sauce till it's the desired thickness. If it seems too thick for you, add more milk. If the sauce seems too thin, you'll need to thicken it w/ a little flour in hot water or with a little cornstarch in cold water.
Note: If you don't want to use dairy in this dish, you can substitute chicken broth for the milk, but we have always loved it with the basic white sauce + the curry.
Place rice on a plate, shred some chicken on top of rice, pour curry sauce over that & then add the peanuts, etc.Hope you enjoy this! Let me know if you have any questions.