Stitch n Bitch at Awbury Arboretum’s Agricultural Village


Next Sunday, April 8th we will be hosting multiple events at Awbury Arboretum‘s Agricultural Village in Germantown.

Stop by to Stitch n Bitch from 3-6 pm. There is plenty of space. Bring your own supplies to this session of stitch n bitch. We’ll be traveling light. Other art forms are welcome as well.

$7/ adult. Children attend at no cost. (Free for Tulpehocken Exchange Members.)

Light refreshments will be served.

Come out and join us! This is an indoor/outdoor space, including a shaded area and a sunny meadow. There is plenty of space. Bring a picnic if you like. There are a few picnic tables.

All ages welcome. Handicap accessible.

For those of you wanting to learn the basics, Yvanna Sherman will lead a session on Crochet Basics from 3-5 pm.

From noon to 2 pm Jamie McCracken will be hosting a Terrarium Workshop.

If you are driving, park at the Ardleigh St entrance and then just follow the path in.

Here’s the pin:°03’20.2%22N+75°10’13.7%22W/@40.0556125,-75.1792178,3466m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m6!3m5!1s0x0:0x0!7e2!8m2!3d40.0555966!4d-75.1704625

Stitch n Bitch: Every Tuesday Night!

Join us every Tuesday evening! Bring a project or start something new while at the studio! Knit, crochet, embroidery, weaving or sewing. Other art media is welcome as well. Beginners are welcome, we’ll help you get started on a project!

Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to attend by emailing

Ages 12+.

$7/ per person (cash).



Directions: 2nd side door, on the right. You’ll see a security box: type 00002 for entry.

Knitted Luxury for Women, Children & Home by Jemma Helliker


Jemma Helliker is a fellow Handmade Philly member and is on the Handmade Philly Etsy Team.  Her shop, Squidge & Bean, contains hand-knit accessories crafted from the finest merino and alpaca wool sourced from independent hand dyers from the USA and Uruguay. Each item is lovingly created by Jemma in my smoke-free, pet-free home. We got a chance to ask her a few questions about exactly what it is that she does.  Check it out below.


Where does the name of your shop come from?

Squidge & Bean comes from my children’s nicknames. Squidge is my adorably bossy almost four-year-old daughter and Bean is my frighteningly fearless almost two-year-old son. As my children inspire so much of my work, it is only natural that my shop is named after them.

 Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

I am originally from the great city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (think the Brown Ale) in England. Eight years ago I followed my heart and moved to Philly.

While here, I have had quite a journey. I first became a middle-school teacher, then I became a mum, and now I design and create hand-knitted accessories for Squidge & Bean and sell my items online and at craft fairs.

I’m happy to say my British roots are still alive and kicking; I am unable to get through a day without multiple cups of tea with milk and I continue to insist it is pronounced, “tom-are-toe”.


What is your favorite…

Color: Purple

Animal: Elephant

Season: Spring

Movie: Dirty Dancing

Book: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

What would you call your style?

My style is classic and simple. I am committed to using only independently produced animal and plant-based yarns and I create items that allow the yarn to be the star.

When and where did you start?

My grandma and mother introduced me to the art of knitting on a cold winter evening in 2009. They patiently fixed my mistakes as I struggled through my first baby beanie. The finished hat was ugly, but I was hooked.

Knitting is my addiction and now my work. I dream about new patterns and spend my free time experimenting and creating new accessories out of beautiful yarns.


 What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

I have transformed a corner of the spare bedroom into my studio/office space. With two small kids, it is a little difficult to create any sort of regular pattern and routine, but during naptimes (if I’m lucky) and in the evenings I love to retreat to “the office” to design, create, and enjoy some quiet time.

Do you listen to music when you create?

I’m a Pandora addict. The Mumford and Sons station is my current favorite.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m busy getting ready for the 30th Street Craft Fair on June 15th. I love the challenge of creating knits for spring and summer. For the kids, I’m working on Montessori inspired toys, for the home, I’m creating beautiful covers for vases and candle holders, and for her, I’m working on a range of detachable collars and yoga socks.


What memorable responses have you had to your work?

Custom orders always produce the best responses from customers. There is something very special about developing a relationship with a customer and picturing them as I work. Last year, I worked with a great customer to create a pair of cashmere fingerless mittens for her cousin. They turned out fabulously and I keep her happy feedback and photos close by if I’m ever in need of motivation.

What’s the best thing about being a handmade artist?

Creating beautiful things with my hands.
What’s the worst thing about being a handmade artist?

Too many ideas and not enough time.


Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years I would love to be working on Squidge & Bean full time. I hope to not only be knitting, but also producing my own yarns and teaching others how to knit. And who knows, maybe in ten years I may have some folks helping me achieve all this!

If you could give one piece of advice to a new etsy seller, what would it be?

I’m still new to Etsy, but the one thing that has stood out to me is the importance of good photography. Learn how to take drool-worthy photographs and get familiar with the photo-editing tools on your computer. I am amazed by the improvements to my photos with a few clicks.

How do you keep in touch with the public?

I update my blog,, with behind the scenes news and updates and Etsy treasuries inspired by my life.

You can also keep in touch with me on Facebook (, follow me on Twitter (@squidgebean) and shop online at and in person the 30th Street Craft Fair on June 15th.

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.  (  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.
 and check her out on facebook.!/MamaHoller?ref=ts

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

Booksignings: Franklin Habit & Heather Ross

Friday after work I headed over to South Street. First I stopped at Loop, where I picked up a copy of Franklin Habit‘s  It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons. There are more pics from the event on Loop’s blog. I then headed over to Spool, where Heather Ross was signing her book Weekend Sewing. If you missed it, team member Sarah of RedRedOrange interviewed Heather last week.

(posted by flying fox design)

Etsy Friday Night Workshops

9-16-08 Update: Unfortunately, the Cheltenham Arts Center has closed down. We are in the process of finding a new location for these workshops. Check back for details…

[click to view larger image]


9-16-08 Update: Unfortunately, the Cheltenham Arts Center has closed down. We are in the process of finding a new location for these workshops. Check back for details…

$15/workshop *unless otherwise noted.
Fridays, 7PM

See below for additional information regarding registration and transportation…

Crochet Basics and Intro on 3D Crochet Techniques / Toy Design/ Soft Sculpture
September 26, 2008
You will learn the basic crochet stitches and how you can put them together to make different patterns. Supply list will be provided upon registration.
Instructor: Angela Davidson
Angela Davidon is a graduate student of Art Education in Philadelphia, PA and a member of the Philly Etsy Team.
Papermaking Techniques Class
October 3, 2008
The process of papermaking was discovered nearly 2000 years ago in 105 A.D. by Chinese court official Ts’ai Lun. William Rittenhouse founded the first paper mill in North America at Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia!
Papermaking is a great way to recycle all those bits of paper lying around your home and turn them into works of art. Learn how to prepare paper fibers with your assortment of recycled paper and discover basic papermaking techniques, such as sheet forming, pressing, and drying. Then, take your paper and use embellishment techniques such as coloring, watermarks, pressing, casting, and pulp painting to create unique papers to use at your leisure. Supplies: Any paper or cardboard lying around your home! If you have one or can locate one, please bring an old blender too. If not, we will share.
Instructor: Lynn Roberts
Lynn Roberts currently takes many classes at Tyler School of Art and the Clay Studio of Philadelphia and is interested in textiles, fibers, design, photography, and ceramics. She majors in fine art and music. She handles her own independent art business online and is soon to be featured in many art galleries and consignment shops with her professional photography. She is a Tang Soo Do Korean Karate instructor and yoga instructor and enjoys connecting with nature through her artwork and creating pottery with her boyfriend. Lynn is a member of the Philly Etsy Team.
Oil Paint and Gesso
October 3, 2008
Learn how to use gesso and oil paints together and have fun. This is completely irreverent and un-called for. But, it’s messy and fun as heck! All you will need is a piece of wood (any size, preferably recycled/ reused), oil paint (1 or 2 tubes) and some gesso. Oh, and some gloves…and something to engrave with – like a stick.
Instructor: Jon Vitale
Jon Vitale is an artist, a recorded musician and a film enthusiast. He recently relocated back to Philadelphia after living for a few years in Rhode Island and California.
Swap and Craft!
November 7, 2008
$5 to participate
Come join us as we Swap and Craft! What is a Swap and Craft, you ask? It’s a supply swap and community craft time followed by light-hearted show-and-tell time. When you attend the swap bring your unwanted art, craft and design supplies (and maybe a snack to share). Every swap begins with piles of supplies, the unwanted supplies of all who attend. Everyone is welcome to dive in and find their next new/ used items from the piles. Take as few or as many supplies from the piles as you like, it’s all free!

Now is the time to clear out that studio, workspace or closet. Those supplies you haven’t used in forever? Help them find a nice new home. Help reduce waste while meeting new people and having some fun together in an arts environment. Here are a few tips on what to bring…

  • Fabric, remnants
  • Notions (buttons, zippers, ribbon, thread, etc.)
  • Beads (gemstone, glass, seed, lampwork, etc.)
  • Jewelry findings, wire
  • Painting supplies, pencils, paper products, drawing supplies
  • Various project supplies (screen printing, fabric printing, scrapbooking, book making, paper making, etc.)

DIY Workshops: After you have chosen your new supplies, slide on over to one of the sewing/ craft/ art/ design stations and start creating! If you’ve got skills you want to share, lead a how-to session/ tutorial. Or just sit back, relax and get to work.

Swap and Craft is organized by: Beth Richey: and Traci Nelson: Beth and Traci are members of the Philly Etsy Team.

Sewing Basics (with Machine)
December 12, 2008
Students will learn and perform sewing techniques and machine functions such as threading the machine, winding the bobbin and most common stitches. Students will have a choice of working on a pillow or tote bag. Supplies: A sewing machine if you have one; one spool of thread, scissors, pins, one yard of woven fabric (not knit). If you are working on a pillow, bring a pillow form or fiber fill. Optional: Bring notions such as lace, buttons, ribbons.
Instructor: Amber Zaraza
Amber Zaraza has over 10 years sewing experience. She holds a BA in Fashion Design. In 2004 Amber started her own company, Phea Jean, and she is currently at work designing one-of-a-kind handbags and accessories. Amber is a member of the Philly Etsy Team.
Elements of Knitting
January 17, 2009
We’ll learn the basics! How to cast on, knit, purl and bind off. Supplies: 2 knitting needles (size 8 wooden needles) and 2 skeins of worsted weight yarn.
Instructor: Lynda Schwechtje
Lynda Schwechtje is a life long learner and crafter. In the past she has constructed and tailored clothes (and doll clothes), sewed gowns for a church choir and she was formerly part of the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild. These days she has been focusing her attentions on knitting; she’s made sweaters and quilts for countless babies. Lynda holds a masters degree in social work.
Create your own Stamps & Stencils
February 6, 2009
In this workshop you’ll learn how to create your own stencils and stamps, how to choose inks, and how to make prints in a variety of ways including potato printing and printing using freezer paper.
Instructor: Sarah Greiner
Sarah Greiner is a professional packaging designer. She also independently designs stationary and is a member of the Philly Etsy Team.