I learned to crochet when I was very young. One of my grandmothers showed me the basics -- holding the hook and yarn, the chain, the single crochet, the double crochet and how to make Irish roses. The other grandmother taught me a variation of the "mile-a-minute" technique in thread for adding a lace edging to embroidered pillowcases. I still have and treasure the little Learn How Book put out by Coats & Clark that included the basics of knitting, crochet, embroidery and tatting. After a few years of sustained interest, Mama paid for my subscription to The Workbasket magazine. I love the internet, but still learn best from books and am always trying to upgrade my skills.
What first attracted me to crochet was the delicacy of threadwork -- doilies, tablecloths and edgings -- things kept in the cedar chest for someday, made by grandmothers and great-grandmothers and preserved as heirlooms.
In contrast to today's overwhelming number of available patterns, back then (pre-internet) I had little access to crochet patterns. Making up designs was just part of the art of crochet. With a little imagination and a lot of persistence, you can crochet just about anything. So, I guess I was designing from the beginning but didn't think of it as such. My first acceptance letter arrived in 1997 and my Octagon Doily was published in Hooked on Crochet #69 (the May/June 1998 issue).
These days I keep returning to crochet for its versatility -- the varying stitch heights, the ability to start and stop virtually anywhere or take off in any direction, and the ease of combining colors, making different shapes and creating lace.