Meet Anna Holler of Fiber Gut

1.      Would you introduce yourself, your background and about the origins of your work.

My name is Anna Holler.   I’m a Philadelphia based artist and mum to two little girls.  At some point in my early 20’s I walked into a fabric store and picked up a few yards of fabric, a needle, thread, some elastic and a few buttons and went home to make a vision come to life.  It took months to stitch together one skirt, but each article of clothing that I made was a true work of art.  As soon as I was able to scrape together the money, I ran out and bought myself a little sewing machine.  It was nothing fancy, but it got the job done.  Soon, I was running home from work and classes to force my imagination out into the tangible, real world.  Before long I was only wearing clothes that I made and soon after I was putting together custom outfits for friends, which was naturally followed by selling them to strangers.  This was before the days of Etsy, when having my own website seems like a tech-savvy impossibility.  At this point I would sign up to vend at music festivals all over the east coast and travel with my dresses, a tent and a table at all times. 

After my children were born, I found it very difficult to sew.  I’m the sort of seamstress who abandons all sense of time when she’s designing and I lose myself in the process.  With two tiny daughters to care for, I was too tired to clean up the tornado of a craft space and lacked the motivation to do much more than watch TV at the end of my night.  It was around this time that I became interested in knitting.

I ran out to my local craft store and bought myself one of those “teach yourself to knit” kits.   I read it and taught myself (sort of.)  Soon I learned that this book was impossible to follow.  I signed up for a few lessons from a local yarn shop and realized that I had taught myself incorrectly and had to relearn every stitch and technique.  I also discovered what beautiful yarn is. 

2. What do you think makes your work different?

One of the things that is unique about my work is that I do not use patterns.  I work from imagination, which makes each of my articles entirely unique.  It is a creation, rather than a replication.   I value this a lot in my art. 

3.)  What are the things you do best?

I have a real knack for color.  I love bright colors and rich fibers.  The yarn I use tends to be locally spun because I feel committed to supporting Philadelphia’s local artists.  If it is locally spun, it is pure heaven.  Choosing yarn is something of a religious, spiritual experience for me.  I don’t actually feel as though I choose it at all.  It chooses me.  Or, at least that’s what I tell my husband when I come home from Loop with an empty wallet and a guilty conscience.  “I was powerless!!!!”  Sometimes I struggle with the yarn that I use.  It’s usually incredibly expensive, which means that I have to raise the prices of my goods.  This is the dark side of crafting for me and I hate it. 

In these pictures you see the green cowl that is an adjustable neck warmer, hand-knitted with Spud and Chloe organic silk and cotton yarn.  It’s embellished with blue crystals.  The other one is a chunky neckwarmer made from merino wool and embellished with a large, yellow, wooden button.

4.) How has the popularity of the internet effected your business.

 The Internet brings great possibility.  I am still very tech-scared and so I haven’t utilized the great and vast powers of the e-world as I should.  I’m working on overcoming my electronic fear and making some positive changes in this respect. 

5.)  What is your workspace like?

One of the things that makes knitting such a great art for me is it’s ability to work on the go.  My work place is seriously the world.  It is my couch as I’m cuddled up with my dog and husband.  It’s the passenger seat of a car.  It’s the waiting room of a Dr’s office.  It’s in a coffee shop with a friend.  Some of my nicest pieces have been developed on airplane rides.  I don’t store much yarn because I tend to use it all right away.  Even my scraps are crafted into small embellishments.  And my knitting needles are constantly being misplaced and left behind.  I should probably find a better way of storing them! 

5. How did you come up with the name Fiber Gut for your etsy shop?

The name Fiber Gut began as Gutsy Girl Fibers and was later shortened to Gutsy Fibers.  I wasn’t comfortable with this name, and my husband suggested Fiber Gut.  I like it.  It sounds tough (and I’m pretty tough.  “Grrrrrrrrrrrrarah.“)  

6. What are your plans for 2010?

This year I’d like to see my Etsy shop grow a bit and become more disciplined as an artist.  I’d also like to begin incorporating my partings and decoupage projects in my shop.  I’m very interested in participating in Project Linus as well.  (http://www.projectlinus.org/)  It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t made the time for yet. 

Newly, I’ve become aware of Handmade Philly and am interested in participating in the group.  I see so many fun craft events listed and would really like to display my art in this respect. 

I do tend to become incredibly focused on one thing at a time… but I am constantly creating.  Whether my creations be people, food, fabric or yarn… I am always involved in something that is in the process of becoming and evolving.  I do not like to follow other people’s directions, and so I suppose that I am pretty good at implementing my own visions and making them tangible, beautiful things. 

You can find more of Anna’s beautiful things at her etsy shop.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/mamaholler
 and check her out on facebook.  http://www.facebook.com/#!/MamaHoller?ref=ts

Hope you enjoyed another interview and thanks for reading — Jan www.thejmccollection,com

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5 Responses to “Meet Anna Holler of Fiber Gut”

  1. RS

    Great interview!!

  2. Nicole {A Stitch in Design}

    Nice interview Jan!
    Anna – can I add your shop to the list of HP websites that I use for gift guides? Just making sure!!
    Thanks!

  3. anna holler

    Hi Nicole!

    I’d love that!

  4. astitchindesign

    Great! Thank you!!

  5. Pedestal Table

    i always attend music festivals because they are quite exciting and i love music “”‘

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