>Before I get all sidetracked with this backstory and bury the headline, l have to show you this gorgeous Pineapple Shawl, designed not by me but by Karen Drouin. The pattern has just been posted as a free download from Caron International Yarns.
Two years ago, weeks before Christmas 2006, this lady gave me the most perfect gift a designer could hope to receive. My first book, Amazing Crochet Lace, had just hit the shelves a few weeks earlier. I had been invited to Danbury, Connecticut, to speak at a meeting of the Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club, a local chapter of the Crochet Guild of America. I entered the room in a state of high anxiety as this was my first gig as an author and I had no idea what to expect, when what to my wondering eyes should appear! I was met with a heavenly vision that beat the heck out of the miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer; an attractive, stylish young woman wearing one of the designs from my book.
My immediate thought was “Hokey Smokes, that girl stole my garment sample!”. And then it dawned on me that she, Karen Drouin, had gotten my book and had already crocheted her own Sambuca Jacket. That experience still reigns as one of the coolest moments in my design career. It’s not about the paltry fees, the seeing your byline in magazines, your face and book covers on the web, the grins and looks of shock and recognition when you meet readers at book signings. Nope. For me designing is all about crocheters enjoying the making of and wearing of their new stuff. The sight of Karen in her Sambuca coming so unexpectedly and serendipidously at that moment, well it made me cry.
Karen crochets like a mad woman, producing many unique items for gifts, charity work and for sale each year. Little did I know that she also had her sights set on designing. As a member of CGOA, Karen, smart girl, applied for the Professional Mentoring Program. My buddy Tammy Hildebrand, who was at that time the mentor coordinator, had been pestering me for months to get on the program and mentor an aspiring designer. For months I declined, citing all the usual excuses: not feeling I had anything to offer, not being ready, not having enough time, selfishly not forseeing any personal benefit and, frankly, not wanting to be bothered. How shortsighted I was.
Remembering how I burbled on and on about Karen, Tammy figured we two would be a good match. So in the spring of 2007 Karen became my first (and so far only) mentee. Not only was she a joy to correspond with, but worked hard, asked a ton of questions (some of which I could answer), took control of her destiny and made it happen. I could not be prouder.
This is definitely Karen’s year. At the CGOA National Conference in Manchester in July I had the honor and pleasure of modeling Karen’s latest cardigan design in the fashion show. Look for that one to be included in a book from one of our favorite crochet publishers. Visit her project pages at Ravelry.com where she is karend325 and find out why I consider Karen to be a brilliantly creative interpreter of my designs. And now that you have heard the story, take another look at her Pineapple Shawl. WHOO-HOO, Karen!