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Maria Olmo (later to become Mary Middleton) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1920. She learned the art of crochet at the age of 5 from her mother. When her mother did not know how to help her shape the booties Maria was making for her doll, Maria figured out how to do it by herself.

Maria loved to create beautiful things. By the time she was 10 she was making fine doilies, macramé, Spanish lace, and netting. She was becoming skilled at knitting, hand embroidery and many other kinds of handiwork. She wrote instructions on how to make samples of these things and kept them in a notebook for future reference.

At the age of 13 she was making all of her own clothes on a treadle sewing machine from patterns she had made herself. That same year Maria enrolled in an embroidery program at a local private academy. She completed the 5 year course in 2 years. Maria immigrated to the United States in 1943 and became Mary Middleton.

With a gift for design and a love of hand crafts, it is no surprise that Mary’s imagination caught fire when she was introduced to the double hook in 1970. At that time the double hook was virtually unknown. Mary was shown a 24 inch double hook by a friend who had used it to make a baby afghan.

Mary borrowed her friend’s baby afghan and showed it to several other friends. They loved it and wanted to learn to make one. Because there were no written directions, Mary typed up instructions based on an afghan stitch she had learned in Argentina. She taught lessons in a local hobby shop using wooden hooks made by her husband and sons.

Soon there was a great demand for more patterns. However, before Mary started creating patterns she decided to design her own hook. Mary wanted people to be able to use the same size needle to make both light and fluffy stitches and thick, heavy ones. After experimenting with different sizes, she decided that a 3/8 inch diameter hook would be ideal for her stitches. She also wanted people to be able to make large afghans using a 14 inch needle. For this she came up with the idea of “Stitch Protectors”, which kept stitches from falling off the needle. Mary then developed a special technique for making larger items with no seams. In addition, Mary wanted a tip design that would easily slide through the stitches. More experiments resulted in a slender, easy to use tip.

In 1972 Mary started her own company. She named it Crochenit because it combines the arts of crocheting and knitting for a unique new look. "This doesn't take the place of knitting or crocheting, but it opens a new world of creativity," says Mary. Over the years she has taught hundreds of classes in the United States, Canada and South America. She has created dozens of stitches and hundreds of individual patterns, from clothes to toys to household items and decorations. She has found great joy in seeing others learn and teach Crochenit. After more than 35 years of teaching Crochenit, Mary's health has forced her to retire from her life's work. She lives with her husband in Utah. Her granddaughter Cathy Wilson now manages the Crochenit business.