Andie Solar of Myra & Jean: Creating Digital Communities through Craft
What was your first experience with fiber art?
Knitting - my grandma taught me to knit a long time ago, and I still remember everything. I used to make clothes for my Barbie. My dad also taught me how to use a sewing machine and I had a lot of fun with it.
What inspired you to start your business, Myra & Jean?
I was laid off in September of 2016 and trying to figure out what to do with myself while looking for a job. Art was a natural outlet - I’ve always loved it and done various versions of it from drawing, painting, to knitting…I loved making something with my hands. I actually just started an Instagram account for fun and not for business. Over time it has evolved into a business and I am beyond grateful.
So, where did this passion project get it's name?
The name came to me randomly one night and I loved it. Then someone told me their grandma was Myra and she had a sister called Jean and I thought that was both trippy and cool and I took it in a sense that it was meant to be.
Myra & Jean your full-time job! What is your day-to-day life like, running your own business?
As unbelievable as it still is, yes Myra & Jean is my full-time job. I am very fortunate! Normally, I wake up, check unread messages and my Instagram feed. After I take my son to school I make myself a matcha latte and look at my weekly calendar to see how many kits are due on which day. I work on kits in bulk because it goes faster that way. I make sure to not work on batches that are too big because I can only stretch certain amount of fabric on a frame before my hand starts to ache. Throughout the day, I photograph and post projects I’m working on Instagram. I try to post at least once a day. In the afternoon I fulfill punch needle orders and walk to post office on the way to pick up my son from school. When we come back I try to work on either a project or kits, depending on the deadline and my energy levels :) Before going to bed I check Instagram again to make sure I engaged with people I follow as well as my followers. I answer every message and comment on social media.
How do you create your kits?
The designs usually come to me out of nowhere and the inspiration is instant. I get an idea and know it will become a kit. I draw the image on my iPad and transfer it to fabric. I like to check in with my followers to see what they think of the colors, shape and the size. I love getting their input. Mostly it’s them who get me very inspired!
After I’ve decided on a design, I carve it out into a stamp pad, which speeds up the production process a lot. I look for yarn that’s the best color-wise and texture-wise. I weigh every yarn ball based on the amount needed for each design and put it in a hand stamped bag. I stretch fabric on a frame, stamp it with the design and add it to the box with yarn and punch needle if one was ordered.
What are you excited for at this moment?
I am very excited about people enjoying my kits and creating something on their own. I’ve recently started doing workshops and the satisfaction I get from watching someone else working on my kit is indescribable. It’s so much joy! There are a couple of very exciting news coming that I can’t share yet, but I will as soon as I’m able to :)
What influences beyond art and design are crucial to your work?
I am influenced by my interactions with people and watching others create something and grow from it. Being told that I inspired someone to create something makes me very happy and it assures me that I’m doing the right thing.
What made you want to try a rug tufting gun? Do you think it will change anything in your practice?
The idea of creating even loops and being able to work faster is very appealing, especially when it comes to working on larger areas with one color. I really want to try the cut pile one! I have been hand-cutting loops for now and I love the look :) I am not sure how using the gun it will affect me yet. I couldn’t work on anything for a while because I was waiting for fabric, but now that it’s here I can’t wait to get back to it!
Your punch needle kits make fiber art accessible to those who don’t have access to studios or school. What do your accessible designs mean to you?
That’s exactly my goal! I want people to have access - that was why I started making kits in the first place. I love that people get to make something by themselves and the pride and sense of accomplishment they feel afterwards. Most importantly, I want everyone to have fun and be able to relax when working on the kits. I also don’t want them to feel intimidated to start which is why I stretch the fabric and stamp it with the design myself instead of asking them to do it themselves. All they need to do is open the box, instructions, thread the needle and go.
What is your hope for Myra & Jean’s future?
I hope to continue this journey and to keep learning from others as I have been until now. The community on Instagram is truly amazing - so inspiring and encouraging. We’re all just trying to learn and have fun so the fact that it’s “community over competition” is very important to me.