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Enjoying dessert without worrying about calories
Colorful crocheted cakes by Norma Lynn Hood are among the dozens of miniature creations on display at the Manteca Public Library. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Eight years ago, Norma Lynn Hood saw a simple tank top at Macy’s in San Jose. She fell in love with the carnation flower that accented the otherwise plain piece of women’s clothing.

But when she found out its “$50 or $60” price tag, the San Jose and Stockton substitute teacher who calls Lathrop home thought that was “quite expensive for a plain tank top.” But she was curious to know more about the expensive wearable accent. With a little bit of sleuthing, she found out it was a crocheted carnation.

The proverbial light bulb suddenly popped in her head. And voila! A new hobby was born. She calls it “crocheting – a guilt-free indulgence – enjoying desserts without the calories.” It was a happy convergence of two loves – her love of cakes and desserts, combined with her fascination with crocheting.

Her crocheted projects, though, are not your run-of-the-mill doilies, table runners or couch covers. Those are giants compared to her Lilliput-type creations which make up the bulk of her creative output. Take her hamburgers, for example. Five of them would easily make a mouthful. Not only that. The buns, the burger, the cheese, the round onion, lettuce – the whole works – are all crocheted separately! And the pastas that fill two ecru china bowls – bow ties, penne, ravioli, and spaghetti – are so realistic you could almost taste them al dente.

You can see some of Hood’s delectable and calorie-free creations in the display case at Manteca Public Library on West Center Street. They will be there until the end of the month for public viewing during regular library hours.

Amazingly enough, Hood has never done any previous crocheting when she launched herself into her new hobby. The only thing she did, she said, was to take maybe one or two free lessons offered by the local shop where she purchased the yarn.

“The rest is pretty much self-taught,” she said with a somewhat self-conscious laugh.

The single 30-something has made “more than 500 (crocheted) pieces” since 2005. Some have been given away to friends and family members as gifts.

“It takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to create these little pieces of eye candy. The Easter Eggs took longer, a collaboration that took a few days,” she notes in the flyer attached to her display at the library.

She crochets to unwind, Hood said. “It’s therapeutic to me. I love it because the benefits are multi-fold – it benefits me, and then it benefits non-profit organizations.” The Manteca Friends of the Library, for one thing.

She does not sell any of her creations. She donates them to non-profit charitable organizations which then raise the money by selling the crocheted pieces or offering them as prizes for drawings.

“I love the fact that people benefit from it,” Hood said.

Any proceeds that will be generated from the pieces at the library, for example, will help raise money for library programs. Some of the proceeds will also go to the Manteca Animal Shelter.

Hood actually has done crochet projects for numerous charities both in the United States and in the United Kingdom. To know more about her non-profit organization, or to see a list of some of the charities that her hobby supports, visit