While you might not recognize her name, if you have ever purchased a pattern from Annie's Attic or any of it's sister companies, you are probably familiar with Shirley Brown's work. Shirley is a technical editor for DRG, and does the technical editing for 'Crochet! Magazine,' as well as the crochet pattern books and leaflets. Since she began her career as a technical editor for Annie's Attic in 1988, Shirley has literally edited thousands of crochet patterns, in addition to many plastic canvas and a few knit and cross stitch patterns.
I first met Shirley in 1996, when I went to work in the Editorial Department of Annie's Attic, in Big Sandy, Texas. I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated by her at first. But I soon found out that behind her strongly voiced opinions and no-nonsense demeanor, there beat a heart of pure gold, and she quickly became one of my dearest friends. Shirley has kindly agreed to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule and answer a few questions about the technical side of crochet.
BC: How (and when) did you learn to crochet, Shirley?
Shirley: I am not sure of the when, somewhere in the 60's. My mother-in-law taught me to crochet. I think the first thing I crocheted was an edging to go around a dresser scarf. My mother-in-law got tired of doing the crochet trim so she told me I had to do my own. I learned with a size 12 steel hook. For a long time that was the only hook I had and I used it with everything, including yarn.
BC: How did your career as a technical editor begin?
Shirley: I started out as a tester. In January of 1988, I answered a newspaper ad for Annie's Attic. For my interview, I was given yarn, a crochet hook, paper and pencil and told to crochet and write a pattern for a leaf that was in a lily pond. I worked as a tester for about 6 months and then began to write patterns under another editor. I then went into verification (which meant that I checked the patterns that others had written) before I actually became a pattern editor.
BC: Do you have any guidelines you follow when you are editing a pattern?
Shirley: I always try to make each pattern as easy as I can for the customer.
BC: What was the hardest pattern you ever edited?
Shirley: Well, there have been several, but I think the one that stands out in my mind was a crocheted Noah's Ark. It was the complete ark with all the people and animals.
BC: Have you ever come across one you couldn't do?
Shirley: No, not really
BC: What is the most difficult part of your job?
Shirley: Making sure every thing is correct, which is why I have Nina Marsh (a good friend and another crochet editor) come and help me with the magazine and larger projects. She is very good at finding errors.
BC: What is the is the best part?
Shirley: I like it when a customer calls or writes to tell us she likes our patterns and that they are easy to work. Also I help with Pattern Services for DRG and I enjoy talking to customers and helping them with their problems. And it is a great pleasure to work with so many different and great designers. I really do enjoy my work and working with others.
Shirley has been married to her delightful husband Bill for 52 years. They are proud of their family, which includes 2 children, 11 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling all over the world, and have taken cruises to the Holy Land, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. Right now they are getting ready to leave on a train trip and cruise to Alaska. But before you know it, Shirley will be back at her computer, turning out those wonderful and easy to follow patterns