Earlier this month we premiered our first crochet collection, featuring Canyon by Amy Gunderson. Her laid back camisole is the desert-vibe, hippie queen jewel of the collection that everyone at KW is itching to make. Amy’s designs (both knitting and crochet) are always fresh and appealing, so we wanted to have a chat with Amy to find out more about what makes her tick, her inspirations, and what’s happening with her now. Read to the end for a surprise giveaway! Enjoy!
Meghan Babin: Hi Amy! For those who haven’t had the chance to “meet” you and your designs yet, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live? How did you end up there? How long have you been designing? What other handwork strikes your fancy? Aside from knitting and crochet, of course!
Amy Gunderson: As of just a few months ago, Reno is where I live! Yeah – the one with the casinos and stuff in Nevada. Before that, I lived in Charlotte, NC for about 7 years, where I worked as the creative director at Universal Yarn. And before that, my husband and I owned a small pizza place in Iowa. And even before that, I was a college dropout! That’s pretty much the entire story of my life, right there in a short paragraph.
Reno is beautiful. We’ve explored a bit of the mountainy goodness so far (also—hello, Tahoe!), and have also been enjoying the barcade here. Pounding on a pinball machine is a great way to blow off steam. We ride motorcycles and I look forward to doing some more exploring that way, too. There’s just nothing like the feeling like being out there in the world not all closed up in a car.
I learned to knit during the last couple of years we owned the pizza place, around age 30. (Fun fact: Our pizza place was called King Louie’s, named after my husband’s grandfather. Our motto was: “We may be cheap, but we don’t suck”.) Anyway, after learning to knit it was a natural progression to start coming up with my own stuff. I’m a rebel and have never been great at following the rules in most facets of life, so why would this be any different? I learned to crochet about 10 years before this, coincidentally, while working at a different pizza job. As a younger person, I could never have foreseen the role both pizza and yarn were going to play in my life. But when life takes a turn, sometimes it’s just best to turn with it (I guess?). I still love pizza, though I try not to do it at the same time as crocheting or knitting.
Other fibery things I enjoy include sewing and weaving. I’m trying to force myself to set aside more time for sewing but I’ve been largely unsuccessful the last number of years. There are just too many things I want to knit and crochet!
Just a few of Amy’s designs—visit her designer page on Ravelry to see her prolific portfolio!
1 / Kikyo, Knitty Spring/Summer 2019
2 / Aprés Ski Poncho, IW Crochet Winter 2019
3 / Prairie Wind Cardigan, IW Knits Fall 2017
MB: What do you like about crochet, as a designer and maker, that differs from knitting? What does it allow to explore in your designs?
AG: I love both crafts in some similar and some different ways. Crochet definitely has a tendency to want to be very clunky and wordy in written instruction which has always been a frustration for me. This is what drove me to start making my own crochet charts. Especially in shaping a neckline, armhole, or other pieces and even more so than in knitting, it just makes so much more sense to show what’s going on than to use half a page to try and describe it.
I’m so glad I learned crochet in the way that I did – back before I had internet and in a completely curious and adventurous way. I never really knew back then if I was doing things the “right way”, I was just making stitches in whatever way they made sense to me. I like that crochet stitches can be short, tall, bobbly, easily three dimensional – the list goes on. My favorite thing about crochet is lace, hands down. I can’t tell you how many doilies I made in my early 20s, not because I liked decorating with them, but because they were just so pretty and fun to make. I love applying those “doily” elements to garments in ways that add a little touch of femininity, but without (hopefully) feeling like we’re wearing a doily.
I also love using crochet edgings on stockinette garments. Even though there are stitches in crochet that can mimic knitted fabric, ultimately I love knitting for straight-up stockinette (and other things – don’t feel left out, knitting!). I love how the heft of crochet lace can really anchor a garment, and how it adds a richness that knitted lace can’t easily match.
KW: We all love Canyon; in fact, Courtney Kelley and Somer Jordan are both making one right now! It’s the perfect summer camisole. What was your inspiration for Canyon? Tell us a bit about the design.
AG: Aw, that makes me so happy to hear! I’m dying to make another one in either Mojave in slate gray or Prussian blue. Though I love my winter knit and crochet garments, plant fibers are hands down my favorite. I love that I can throw most of my summer projects in the washer (and dryer) for easy care. They also tend to work up more quickly since there are short sleeves or no sleeves, so they can be completed in a shorter amount of time.
Mojave is the best of both worlds – linen (my favorite fiber) tempered with cotton for softness – it was so wonderful to work with. With Canyon, I wanted to come up with an easy layering piece that was really just a vehicle in which to crochet up some beautiful lace. Kind of like the relationship between chips and guac, I love them both, but the chips are really just a way to get more guac into my belly.
I don’t like fussy garments, so I knew I wanted something I could just throw on over a plain colored tank and jeans. The main body of this tank is worked in a simple single crochet, chain 1 linen stitch pattern which I fall back on time and again for a nice solid fabric that drapes well. It’s a little more time consuming than straight-up solid single crochet, but adds a nice bit of interest and woven looking texture to the fabric. I liked the idea of adding the adjustable I-cord strap because 1) I hate it when I can’t find the exact right tank to wear underneath something, and thought this could provide some flexibility, and 2) I thought it looked cute!
MB: It’s our 5th annual Crochet Summer, and to celebrate we’re hosting a giveaway for Canyon (details below). Tell us what’s available at Jimmy Beans Wool for the KW Crochet Collection?
AG: We have a kits section on the site to make it easy for folks to pick up the yarn and pattern together. I’m excited to say that all of the projects in the collection are available for kits! For project that use more than one color (like the adorable Sub Rosa tee & Summer Sunset wall hanging), we have alternate color combos put together, too!
MB: Thanks, Amy! It’s been a pleasure chatting with you today. We’re looking forward to more collaborations – knitting, crochet, and other crafty things – soon!
Simply comment below by answering the following question:
“Do you prefer crochet or knitting for summer garments? Tell us why!”
The winner receives Canyon and a Canyon camisole quantity of Mojave in any size and color! Woohoo!
Giveaway entry is open until 12:00 pm Sept 5. The winner will be announced on Sept 5 at 1:00 pm on our Instagram @kelbournewoolens.