Crochet-loving commuter tops Amazon book charts with her craft

    Millie Masterson, a mother of two from Tunbridge Wells, is currently experiencing a publishing phenomenon with her first book Ruby & Custard’s Crochet – ranked fourth in the top five books in this particular crafting category on Amazon. Pretty impressive given she only started her hobby five years ago. Here she tells us how she went from keen crafter to top-selling author

    Millie Masterson

    I have always been crafty and as a child I learned basic haberdashery skills. I was an avid knitter for years but when I saw a beautiful crochet cushion while out shopping one day a few years ago and saw how expensive it was I thought to myself: ‘It really can’t be that hard to learn to crochet’.

    So when I was expecting my first child in 2011 and had some spare time I decided to take it up, and with the help of a book and a few YouTube tutorials I taught myself. Needless to say I haven’t picked up a pair of knitting needles since!

    The thing I enjoy most about crocheting is that it’s really relaxing and I get my inspiration from all sorts of places – the shops, the environment and even children’s books.

    I set up my company Ruby & Custard in 2012 as a blog and initially as an online shop, but quite quickly I realised I wanted to spend more time designing rather than making and selling so now that’s what I do.

    I share lots of free patterns on my website and get so much joy from seeing what people do with them. I hope they inspire keen crafters to adapt them and get designing themselves, it’s a hobby that’s very addictive.

    The idea for doing a book on crochet came to me one morning about 18 months ago. I just woke up and thought: ‘I should really write something about all this’.

    The first publisher I approached was Ebury Press and they immediately commissioned the book, so I was lucky.

    Once I had agreed a brief with them I threw myself into it. I spent eight months creating patterns and ten months editing and producing.

    Millie Masterson 2

    The book was a labour of love as I had to combine it with my full-time job in communications in London and looking after two small children, but I loved the whole process. I wrote huge parts of it on my commute to and from London, typing patterns up on my iPhone and crocheting.

    People would often say they found the rhythm of me crocheting relaxing.

    In fact, they got a thank you in the book credits!

    Ruby & Custard is a real passion and I do it because I enjoy it and I hope that shows through.

    Everything in it is something I would want to make and it was actually photographed in my house so it really is a reflection of me.

    When the book was published this year it was amazing to see it ranked so highly, particularly when competition is so tough. It also has five-star reviews from customers, which is brilliant, and people have left lovely reviews.

    The other great thing is that it’s not just the UK that likes it. Over half the visitors to my website are from America: I think they like the ‘Britishness’ of it all.

    Since the book was published I have been working with local business Freckles & Fire in Tunbridge Wells running crochet workshops, and I am also doing some really exciting patterns with specialist magazines.

    I would also like to look at new ways to bring crochet to people, perhaps with some kits, and then of course more books are always a possibility. I just wish there were more hours in the day!

    Ruby & Custard is published by Ebury Press and priced £4.99. It contains over 30 stylish crochet patterns designed for beginners to more confident crocheters with clear step-by-step guidance.

    • Crochet is a process of creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn and thread using a special crochet hook
    • The term derives from the French word for small hook – un petit crochet
    • The first published crochet pattern appeared in the early 1800’s
    • During the Great Potato Famine of the 1840’s, desperate Irish women took to trying to sell their crochet work to feed their families
    • Once Queen Victoria started to add intricately crocheted lace to her garments, crochet popularity soared
    • Crochet was originally used for decorative and elaborate appliques and trims. The advent of World War I brought the ‘make do and mend’ mindset. During those years practicality was paramount and crochet and knitting became very popular
    • Crochet uses about a third more yarn than knitting
    • According to a recent survey by craft TV channel Hochanda, 52 per cent of men and women aged 18-34 are choosing to indulge in an hour of their favourite craft instead of watching TV or browsing social media
    • The last 15 years has seen a huge upsurge in crocheting . According to the UK’s leading specialist title Simply Crochet, there are 24.7k followers on Instagram and 17.8k on Twitter