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In March 2014, Christina Larson left her 17-year career in broadcast news when she walked away from her job as a live automation control director at a local television station to become a “hooker.”

The Royal Oak resident proudly says, “I’m a full-time hooker, and my dad approves!” But the type of work she does is quite different from what one might think. Larson is a production machine-knitter who runs a successful small business called Happy Hookers Detroit LLC. Her knitting machines have “a whole bunch of latch-hooks all the way across” — hence the term “hooker,” but she made her business name plural because she hopes to someday have more people working for her.

Larson cranks out a fashion-forward collection of original garments and accessories in her home studio and sells them on weekends at the Rust Belt (22801 Woodward in Ferndale), and through her website (hhdclothing.com).

“When I first started, it was more of a crochet craft group with my friends, but once I got my first knitting machine, I realized I had an opportunity to create a business,” she explains, adding that her dad bought the machine for her after she found it on the Internet. She now has three, and says they’re all vintage, made by Brother, and were last produced in the ’80s. She’s given each of the hard-to-find machines a name — “Mr. Fancy Pants,” “Grease Lightening,” and “The Work Horse.”

The busy 35-year-old gets a lot of support from friends who help out at the Rust Belt, model, wind yarn and assist with other small jobs while she’s busy making and selling her wares. “I make all the items 100 percent myself,” says Larson, who also creates some of her pieces at the Rust Belt, where she “basically built a workshop” that allows her to demonstrate how to use the big, heavy piece of equipment. “I figure people have never seen a knitting machine,” she says.

Larson, who admits she’s not a very good hand-knitter, says learning to operate a knitting machine is rather difficult. “I only work on Brother because I can’t bother learning anything else. The learning curve is deep. The Brother just makes so much sense to me. It’s like sewing machines and sergers — I just stick with what I know,” she says. “I taught myself by reading the manuals. There’s not a lot of YouTube information on the Internet.”

But unlike knitting by hand, the machines let her turn out finished projects at a much faster pace. She uses mostly acrylic yarns because they’re machine washable. “Acrylic yarn has come a long way. It used to feel like plastic,” she says. “Some items are offered in 100 percent natural fiber.”

Her collection includes cloaking hoods, scarf sleeves, leg warmers, hats, cowl, bow ties, purses, “armies” (fingerless gloves) and her “personal favorite” — the “butt sweater” (a skirt), available in different lengths. Overall, items range from $15 for “plain armies” to $120 for a full-length skirt, also known as a “Never-Be-Cold-Again Skirt.” Larson says, “Basically, it’s a blanket with an elastic waist band. It’s the most work and the most yarn.”

These days, since learning to use knitting machines, the “happy hooker” with an obvious sense of humor continues to crochet for fun, not for profit.

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or jbrown@detroitnews.com.

Contact Happy Hookers at (858) 688-6853 or Happy.hookers.detroit@gmail.com or hhdclothing@gmail.com.

Be sure to enter for a chance to attend The Detroit News Stitch-Together, set for Oct. 14. For details, visit detroitnews.com/stitchtogether or detroitnews.com/insider.

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