#CrochetSummer2015: Swink! interview with Miriam Felton & Amy O'Neill houck

First Fall Knitty was released recently and I immediately grabbed some Organik to make this crocheted sweater by Amy O'Neill Houck

The pattern is accompanied by a tutorial by Miriam Felton on a chainless single crochet foundation. Not being familiar with this technique, I was hooked immediately (pun 100% intended). Whenever I am  crocheting in the round, I inevitably twist my foundation chain. When making Summer Dawn last year I recall having to work the foundation multiple times to get it to lay flat. With this technique you are basically working your foundation and first row of stitches, making it much easier to keep the work from twisting when you join to work in the round. 

Amy and Miriam have been friends and colleagues for years, and work together often. Their regular Knitty column, Plays Well Together, has been a mainstay of the online magazine for a couple of years now. I contacted them to discuss crocheting, knitting, and long distance collaborations.

Courtney Kelley: Miriam, you live in Utah, and Amy is in Alaska. How did you end up meeting one another, and then collaborating on Plays Well Together?

Miriam Felton: We've been friends and colleagues since way back. We were both part of the Stitch Cooperative (a coop group of indie pattern designers). We met IRL at TNNA one year and brainstormed the project. We kept talking about putting our knit and crochet loves together, but then we got busy doing all the things that life throws at you, and it got back burnered. Last year we actually got to be in the same place and the same time zone when I came up to Alaska to teach with Amy at a retreat near Juneau. It was really lovely to get to hang out together in person.

CK: How do you stay in touch long distance as crafters, and as friends?

MF: We use Google Hangouts, a Dropbox folder, texts, emails, and phone calls to work on articles and projects. But usually we swap for each issue. So we spend a bit of time figuring out what we want the article to teach, what the project will be, and then one of us writes the pattern, and one of us writes the article. Then I take the tutorial photos and we keep it all straight in Dropbox. 

CK: Amy, as someone who identifies as mainly a crocheter, did you find it difficult to get published in Knitty? 

Amy O'Neill Houck: Amy Singer (editor of Knitty) has been a crocheter for a long time--I remember helping her with a granny square in a dark-ish corner of a publisher's party at a TNNA in Indianapolis about a decade ago. I never pitched a crochet pattern to her before Miriam and I proposed this column. It's a question of the right idea at the right time. I'm always looking for ways to encourage knitters to crochet and vice versa. In the early days of Twist Collective I was the first designer to have a crochet pattern in that magazine.

CK: Miriam, you say you are a "knitter who likes to crochet," and Amy you are a "crocheter who likes to knit." Do you find that there are times in your life, or situations in which you prefer one to the other?

MF: Oh definitely! There are things that I just prefer to do with one or the other. Like socks. You can totally crochet socks, but I far prefer knitted socks. But the hexagon afghan I'm working on? Totally better crocheted.

AOH: One of the fun things about our Knitty Column is the idea that a single project can have both knitting and crochet in it--so for instance, in our first Knitty project, The Hybrid Hat, we started a hat with crochet at the crown--that's something that is so easy in crochet, but fiddly in knitting, then we finished it with a knit ribbing. That project was fun because its size meant we could design it collaboratively too.

Thanks for taking time to answer some questions, ladies! 

You can find more behind the scenes on Swink! on Amy's blog here, or join in our unofficial Swink! Crochet-A-Long on Ravelry here. - CK