It all began for me at a very early age. My grandmother was an avid crocheter, and so I learned from her.
Of course, I soon forgot it. I didn't pick it back up until 1982, when I first began "Wheel of Fortune." My hairdresser at the time was pregnant with her first child. She was crocheting a baby blanket. I was intrigued and asked her to show me how to do it again. It had been so long!
I didn't realize until several years later that she had taught me to crochet left-handed, although I am right-handed. I still crochet left-handed to this day, 17 years later.
It is one of my favorite hobbies. Before I had children, I would spend hours and hours crocheting. Now I don't have the time I used to, but I still manage to do it on road trips, on an airplane and even behind the puzzle board between rounds. I find it so relaxing and therapeutic.
Over the years, I have made close to 100 afghans and probably 80 baby blankets. I made a blue one for my baby boy, Nicholas, and a pink one for my baby girl, Giovanna. I carried each of them home from the hospital in their special blanket. And I will be sure to save the blankets so Nicholas and Giovanna can pass them down to their children.
It is so sad that more people don't continue this wonderful pastime. Not only is it a great way to relax, it makes a priceless gift. It brings me such joy to give blankets and afghans. People really cherish them. I enjoy every minute of the time it takes to make something.
When I'm working on a blanket, I think of the person I'm making it for. Some of the folks to whom I have given blankets are Merv Griffin, Pat Sajak, Janet and Wayne Gretzky, Noel Blanc, Tony Danza, Fred Hayman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Charlie O'Donnell, Bob Goen, Vendela, Rosie O'Donnell, Catherine Bach, Rob Lowe and George Hamilton. George tells me he gets under his almost every night!
Out of my love for crochet, I was asked to be involved with some afghan books. I've done three: "Vanna's Afghans A to Z" (Oxmoor House, 1994), "Vanna's Afghans All Through the House" (Oxmoor House, 1997) and my latest, "Vanna's Favorite Gift Afghans" (Oxmoor House, 1998).
If you have a friend or family member who does any kind of needlework, try and get them to teach you. Also, there are many craft stores or needlepoint shops that will teach you, if you ask. We really need to keep these crafts alive. There are so many beautiful yarns and threads out there. You can make practically anything today--not just afghans!
Whatever the craft, it is so important to pass this creativity on. Just as my grandmother did for me, I will give my daughter these gifts and, hopefully, she will carry it on. This creates a bond that will remain in your family forever.
Remember, there is nothing more special than a handmade gift. Give it a try, you will love it!