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.


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

Meet The Brainstormers

Meet the Brainstormers…….This blog report comes from my notes and observations at the first meeting of The Brainstormers. Obviously everyone has their own perspective so details may be missing, but I do plan to get the facts straight.  Those of you who were also there can correct me in the comments! 

So we all met last week at the Steel Pony studio ( of Joanne Litz and her business partner/husband Dennis Wolk. What a gorgeous studio! Located on Reed Street in South Philly, I was mostly worried about finding a parking space on those narrow car filled streets.  But, hooray, there was an open space right across the street.  Of course I find out later that there is a free parking lot next door…  Note for all coming next time – free lot!

Once we felt everyone had arrived, we gathered at a rectangle table and began by introducing ourselves, our craft and what we hoped for and wanted out of the group.

Dennis, Joanne, Jeanne, Nicole

Jeanne Lombardo is the owner/artist of Intuition (, whose tagline is Funktional Art. She’d love to have a consignment shop someday and currently works in a commercial design firm by day.  

Nicole Bruno owns A Stitch in Design ( (Note from Nicole: PLEASE don’t look at that site!! It needs to be updated big time!).  Nicole is an accountant with an MBA and loves to sew, quilt and make items to give away as gifts but is at a point where she feels it’s time to focus on the selling.

Dana Henry was at one time a writer for Grid, a Philly magazine working towards a sustainable Philadelphia. As a freelance writer she looks at the workshop as a way to possibly put together a guide for small art/craft businesses to help them with their marketing plans in a writing style that is not business speak.  Something more like “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World” by Isa  Moskowitz ( 

Ruth Schanbacher (our fearless Handmade Philly leader) talked about the history of Handmade Philly and how her interest lies in education and positive promotions for artisans.  Manufactured Dissent ( is an online magazine she created in 2007 for artists although she admits to not keeping it up lately.

I was next, Jan Cohen ( and spoke about finding my brand with the handbags I make.  I try to never buy any new fabrics.  By rescuing decorator fabrics from the landfill, constantly hunting down finds at Goodwill, Salvation Army and yard sales, I’ve “gone green”.  “Restyle ~ recycle” is on my card but how to make that new or different from ALL the others who are doing it also.  And yet, it is a popular but important theme……..

Next were Rachel and Jennifer representing Square Peg Artery & Salvage (, a handmade crafts and arts consignment shop at 108 South 20th St.   Rachel is the owner and likes to stay behind the scenes while running a tight ship.  She says Jen came by one day, introduced herself and seems to have never left!  A massage therapist in one part of her life, Jen is also a creator of soap products using all pure ingredients.  She says if you take each element out of her products they could all be eaten separately…….but probably not recommended. 

Jan, Jen

Dennis talked about his new line of handmade, hand sewn leather bags called Journey Bags (  He and Joanne have run Steel Pony for 17 years but in the last few years because of the economy, upscale wearable art has been harder to sell. They’ve done outdoor events, they’ve done indoor events.  They’ve had sales people but mostly now sell wholesale.  Joanne is starting to think about forming a co-op of artists who all have a vested interest in the business.

A really great, wide range of people, backgrounds, education, interests kept us talking and drinking wine (with healthy munchies) for over 3 hours until we decided that we’d meet again in April. We chose the last Wednesday of each month to brainstorm and figure out how to make it all work.  We decided to select business points from the agenda and have each member of the attending group sign up for one or more aspects that they feel they need help with.

healthy munchies!


We also agreed to allow a few more people in to round out the group a bit more, but wanted to keep the group as steady as possible. Workshops, books, shows, sales, business cards, photos……..all was brought up and dissected.  We definitely acknowledged that we might start with one theme but on any given gathering anything is open for discussion. 

And there was lots of laughs too as we got to know each other and found it comfortable to talk to other people who share your own ideas with a feeling that we were creating a great opportunity for all of us. We hope everyone can benefit from these brainstorms!

‘Til April 28th at 7:00.

PBR Craft Challenge and the Mini-Plushies Hand-stitching Tutorial

The Philadelphia Independent Craft Market’s 2nd Annual PBR Craft Challenge took place this past Saturday at the lovely and lofty 2424 Studios in Fishtown. The creative energy electrified the room as crafters displayed their PBR-themed artistry to the echoing beat of the live music. Tee shirts, knitted toys in the shape of a beer can (a starter tool for babies, they say), prints, cuff links – you name it, a PBR theme applied. My favorite table (of course) was the Handmade Philly table where our very own Ruth Schanbacher held a tutorial on hand-stitching with felt. Read on for photos and instructions on creating your very own mini-plushie.


1. Embroidery thread
2. Sewing needle – we recommend “crewel” needles to accommodate the thickness of the embroidery thread. You can use regular sewing needles but will need to separate the strands of the embroidery thread to fit through a smaller needle eye.
3. Scissors
4. Felt – we used acrylic but you can also use  wool.
5. Batting material
6. Stuffing tool – thin and narrow tool to stuff the batting into the plushie. You can use whatever you have on hand, such as the handle of a paint brush, a capped pen, or even chop sticks.


1. Cut identical shapes out of the felt using a pattern that you have created, purchased, or made up in your head. Keep in mind that felt tears easily and the pattern should not be too intricate.

Mini Plushie Patterns

2. Thread the needle with about two arm lengths of thread. Pull the thread through the needle so that it is half of its original length. Tie the ends together with a simple knot, as shown below.

3. Add a face to your mini-plushie. Pick up the piece of felt that will be the front of your plushie. In the spot where you want the eye, insert the needle into the back of the felt and pull up through the front until the knot catches. Using a split stitch, create a circle for the eye.

4. Continue to add the mouth by bringing the needle up through the back where the mouth starts (the end closest to the eye). Use a split stitch for the length of the mouth, ending as close as possible to the tip of the beak without breaking the felt.

5. Place the piece of felt that will make up the back of the plushie underneath the front piece of felt. See how your knot is now hidden? Starting where you left off with the mouth, use a basic wrapping stitch to go around the body of the plushie as you stitch the two pieces together. Leave about 2 inches open for stuffing the plushie.

6. Stuff your plushie with the batting material. Use a stuffing tool to push the batting into the corners.

7. Finish stitching the outside of the body and end it with a knot. Tuck the knot into the body using the stuffing tool as best as you can. Use scissors to trim any thread that you cannot hide.

* Note – if you run out of thread before you finish stitching the body, simply tuck the short thread into the plushie body and pick up where you left off with a newly threaded needle (don’t forget to tie the knot again to keep the thread in place). This is also what you do to incorporate different thread colors.

Posted by Kate Holeman from KSHCreative and The Lettered Set.

Sewing Tutorial #1 – Threading Your Machine

I’m excited about this tutorial by New Hope-based artist, MaryJo Rosania. In her video below, MaryJo takes us through our first lesson in sewing: threading your sewing machine. As someone who once cheated on a timed sewing test in Mrs.Weller’s 6th grade home economics class, I am relieved to find MaryJo’s tutorial easy to follow and much more pleasant to listen to than a lesson from Mrs. Weller. Continue reading after the video for my interview with MaryJo.

KH: What attracts you to your particular crafting method?

MR: My artistic path has been complicated and diverse—I have a bachelors in sculpture from Kutztown and for a long time worked very conceptually. I did  a lot of installation work with a variety of materials: fabric, plaster, found objects, drawing, etc. I have never been able to stick with one material very long. Although, I have always loved sewing and at one point thought about working with costume design. Then when I was getting my MFA I began to create conceptual garments that I used in performance videos. Creating these costumes really sealed my love of sewing and constructing something to be worn. What we wear says so much about who we are, or who we are trying to become. At the moment I am working on a second MFA in Fashion Design from Academy of Art University. I am not sure what will come of this leg of the journey, so to speak, but I am loving the classes so far and learning a lot.

KH: Who inspires you, professionally, personally or both?

MR: I am a high school art teacher, so I have to say, my students have inspired me a lot in my work. Literally through their fashion choices, but also, at my job I have taught ceramics, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, painting, photography. An art teacher has to be well versed in basically all modes of art making . . . so through this I have learned ways to use these materials for my own work. I also see my students create ways to express themselves . . . this is very inspiring!

KH: Do you have some advice for people who are just getting started with sewing?

MR: Be patient, read the directions (if you are using a pattern), PIN and IRON (very important . . . never underestimate the power of ironing!). Don’t cut corners at first. It’s like anything—learn the rules first—then you can break them when needed.

KH: What is one of your favorite pieces that you’ve made?

MR: That’s a hard one . . . there are a few: the fascinator for my wedding, this little felt bird book that I initially made for a small works show (and couldn’t part with it so I never entered the show) and my bottle gown (which doesn’t exist anymore—it was made from fabric, latex and beeswax— the latex and beeswax started to lose form after a few years). I also really like the most recent embroidery I am doing. The images below are for a book I am making for a friend’s new baby I am using simple materials—black thread on muslin—I like how it looks like a line drawing.

KH: What other types of crafting would you like to try?

MR: I would like to try silk screening and textile design. I also would love to quilt someday.

KH: Tell me one other person who is part of the Handmade Philly network of whom you are a fan and why.

MR: This is also a hard question—I admire everyone who has a shop and sells their work. I have an Etsy shop but at the moment it is not operating. I have trouble making enough of one thing to sell—but would love to do custom orders. I am a fan of Linda Johnson  of Little Flower Designs. I LOVE her pottery and have a few pieces that we received as wedding gifts (we registered with her!). Also, Jen McCleary—she just seems to be so motivated and  works so hard—always making new pieces! I love the layered quality of her work.

MaryJo Rosania lives in New Hope, PA with her husband and two cats, Neko and Nori. She is an art teacher and head of the art department at Voorhees High School in Glen Garder, NJ. Her website is

The post author is Kate Holeman, a Philadelphia-based artist and graphic designer. Her blog is and her graphic design site is


Thing-a-day is a month long project; each participant commits to make one new thing (project, sketch, etc.) per day and share it on the group blog. Here is a link to the thing-a-day blog. Quite a few members from the Philly Etsy Team are participating. Here are links to their posts: Jen McCleary, Girls Can Tell, Miss Koco, RedRedOrange, MaryJo Rosania, Studio Captura, Sqrl & Bee Studio & Flying Fox Designs.

Philly Etsy Team Gift Swap

So I just got back from a Philly Etsy team gift swap. I got tons of great goodies and met some new folks! In attendance: the creators of Gigglepotamus, Gray Overcast, Sqrl & Bee, Nana Chic, Tremundo, Vermillion Frog and Flying Fox (that’s me). Some of our friends were there too. Traci of Tremundo was awesome enough to put this event together, and hosted too. Thanks everyone!

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