Pittsburgh's Knit, Crochet, Quilt & Creative Arts Festival!

April 6, 7, 8, 2018
David L. Lawrence Convention Center

Michele Barratt

A lover of learning, Michele attended USMA at West Point before transferring to Youngstown State University where she graduated with honors with a degree in Engineering. Michele has also taken MBA classes at Case Western University and Kettering University.

After working as a Manufacturing Engineer at Diebold and a Quality Engineer at General Motors, Michele discovered knitting as a way to unwind and relax. As she continued to knit for the holistic benefit, she soon acquired an appreciation for the magic of creating something beautiful and usable out of two sticks and a ball of yarn.

During this time, her life took a career change when she founded a business with a mission to make the world a better place. Over the years this business has developed into its current state – a yarn boutique and vegan bistro. Her desire to make the world a better place prompted her to want to share her knitting joy with others through teaching. Since then, she has taught hundreds of students a variety of knitting techniques, including: knitting with beads, entrelac, fixing mistakes, colorwork techniques, and her favorite, brioche.

Michele continues to satisfy her hunger for learning with the Master Knitter program offered through TKGA. In 2016 she successfully completed level 1 of the program.

She teaches regularly at The Flaming Ice Cube in Boardman, Ohio where she says, “knitting makes me a better person.”

Catherine Batcho

I still remember the first mechanical sewing machine I ever got. I was in 1st grade, it was a child’s machine-but it worked nonetheless. After making many pillows and funny looking dolls, I soon upgraded to an actual sewing machine. My parents never knew then that the decision to buy me this machine would be soinfluential in my life. My first project, which I remember well, was making poodle skirts for my two sisters, to wear for Halloween. At the time, sewing classes were rare, if not non existent, I set out to teach myself how to sew(with some assistance from family and friends, and surprisingly even from my dad!) My love of sewing continued to grow as I later went on to study fashion design at Philadelphia University (then known as Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science). I then went on to work in the fashion industry. I began my experience working for a local Philadelphia Bridal designer and boutique, Maria Romia. This was followed by another move, this time to working in NY City for Liz Claiborne and later for New York and Company. Here I gained experience working in both design/product development and technical design. My final move brought me back to my hometown of Pittsburgh to open Cut & Sew Studio, opened in December of 2007. At Cut & Sew Studio I teach classes to students ages 6 and up of all levels, from beginner sewing skills to pattern-making and alterations.In an effort to continue to foster a love of sewing in children everywhere, in January of 2013 I launched another new business, My Stitch Kit, a subscription based sewing kit service for kids. Kits are geared towards children ages 5-10, they are an opportunity for kids to grow creatively, and develop their fine motor skills while working on a fun hand sewing project.I am extremely passionate about sewing, I could easily stay up all night working on a project and be completely happy (despite possible exhaustion!) It is so rewarding to take raw materials, individual separate items, fabrics and make them into something wearable or useful. To have a vision of what you want to make and see if become a reality, to be the one creating it, is such an amazing thing. Sewing is a truly rewarding experience.

Gerry Benton

Gerry Benton is an artist with a passion for quilting. She has been quilting since 1984. As a dedicated quilter she has shown her work at the Pittsburgh Children Museum, PPG Winter Garden, City County Building, National African-American Conference in York, PA and Quiltfest USA in Louisville, KY. Gerry curated the African-American Quilts Exhibit in New York at Pier 52. Her quilts were published in Surface Design, Smithsonian and National Quilting Association magazines, “A Communion of the Spirits” author: Roland Freeman and "Spirits of the Cloth", author Carolyn Mazloomi. Gerry has taught classes at Augusta Cultural Center in Elkins, West Virgina for 10 years and nationally since 1994. Gerry has had one person quilts show at The Undercroft Gallery and the South Street Church in Wilkinsburg.

Gerry has won several prizes for hand applique, embroidery and paper pieced quilts. She will be sharing these quilting techniques in her classes.

Vivian Benton

Vivian is a full-time Communications and Publications Project Manager at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa, where she has been employed for 30 years. She has been quilting for over twenty-five years after trying various other crafts and hobbies, such as weaving, knitting, and stained glass art. She loves all aspects of quilting but handwork is her favorite. Vivian is an award-winning quilter and has won many ribbons—1st, 2nd, and 3rd places—for her hand applique, machine piecing, and also for Best Use of Color.

Vivian, a past contributing editor of a national quilting magazine, often teaches week-end classes to beginners, intermediate and advanced quilters at Piecing it Together quilt shop in the North Hills. Vivian does lectures, trunk shows and classes upon request.

Steven Berg (aka StevenBe)

“Be inspired. Be brilliant. Be limitless.” Steven Berg is a fiber artisan who is armed with a wealth of experience, a daring sense of style, and a firm belief in the transformative power of creativity that knitting or crocheting offers to all who are brave enough to push the boundaries.

Berg began his career early, creating custom knits for Barbie dolls and family members alike. This naturally led him to become a star student in fashion design at Minneapolis College of Art & Design, Parsons, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Following graduation, Berg found inspiration in the fashion capitals of the world, leading him to a career as Design Director and VP of design at Munsingwear, Perry Ellis, and other international design houses. In later years, his creative work experiences brought him back to his favorite medium, the one that always inspired him the most: the imaginative world of fiber arts.

Today you will find Steven in a 6,000 square foot, 19th century firehouse adorned with chandeliers, animal prints, and his eclectic collection of objets d’art from his international travels. Steven has changed the definition of “yarn shop” forever. His knitwear designs and “chunky funky” creations have caught the attention of Hollywood celebrities and stylists. His creations have been featured in national publications and are available on popular knitting websites.

Steven reminds all fiber aficionados: “The possibilities are endless. There are no mistakes, only variations. And always remember to glam it up!”

Marly Bird

Marlaina ‘Marly’ Bird fled the world of financial services to launch a career in the yarn industry and she hasn’t looked back since. To Marly, a bi-crafty girl who both knits and crochets, the yarn is the star, not how you work with it.

She is the national spokesperson for Red Heart Yarns, hosts the YarnThing podcast, is the author of Cold Weather Crochet and I Can’t Believe I’m Entrelac Knitting, and co-author of Knitting for Dummies, 3rd ed. You’ve seen her designs in Knitter’s Magazine, Interweave Crochet, Knitscene, Love of Crochet, Love of Knitting, and in the books Knitter’s Book of Socks, Unexpected Afghans, Simply Crochet, Lace Yarn Studio, Blueprint Crochet Sweaters, and Knitting Plus.

Along with her designing and podcast, Marly has a successful YouTube channel where she teaches both knitting and crochet. On top of all that, Marly also has several online classes available with Creativebug and Craftsy.com.

In her spare time, Marly is a wife to a very understanding husband, raises three kids, and because life was not crazy enough–has two dogs.

Bev Bortner

I taught knitting and crochet at two local yarn stores outside of Reading, PA, for several years until I moved to Grove City, PA. I also taught knitting for some adult education classes held in several schools in that area. Since moving to the Grove City, PA area I have taught knit and crochet class Wolf Creek Yarns and at Never Enough Yarn store in Sharon, PA. I was fortunate enough to teach at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festivals over the years.

Cathy Briscoe

I have been avidly knitting and crocheting for over 48 years. From a very early age my mother instilled a love and appreciation for the needle arts. At the age of 5 she taught me to embroider animals in outline stitch on muslin panels, which she later sewed together to make a quilt.

One day, at age 11, I picked up some yarn and needles, experimenting until I could reproduce the stitches and knit my first sweater.

I’ve come a long way from that first sweater. I now sell most of what I knit, I design patterns and I share my passion through teaching. My latest passion is knitting historic garments for 18th & early 19th century era living history interpreters.

My love for teaching began early on, at the age of 14, I volunteered as a Girl Scout camp program aide. At the age of 16, I completed the Girl Scouts Leadership and Councilor training programs. I combined my love for all crafts and teaching by earning a bachelors degree in Art Education from Kutztown University.

When I am not teaching at the local yarn shops, guilds and fiber events, I spend my days knitting, researching new techniques and playing with sticks and yarn, with occasional house cleaning thrown in to keep the peace.

Lisa Carnahan

I am married and the mother of 2 boys. I have been quilting for over 22 years and teaching for over 15 years. I enjoy sharing my love of quilting with others. I currently work part time and teach at Common Threads Quilt shop in Leechburg, PA. In my “spare time” I enjoy crocheting, reading and spending time with friends and family. I also am a volunteer with C.O.R.E. (Center for Organ Recovery and Education) where I helped initiate a program for donor families to make quilt squares in honor of their loved one who was an organ/tissue donor and I then make them into quilts that are displayed at informational and educational events in the CORE region. I am also involved in my church and very active with my local quilt club.

Robyn Chachula

Structural Engineer by trade, Robyn Chachula, uses her building design processes to create crochet projects in Pittsburgh, PA. In her first crochet book, Blueprint Crochet: Modern Designs For the Visual Crocheter by Interweave Press, she uses her engineering background to bring crochet to new learners with the basics of symbol crochet. In her follow up book, Baby Blueprint Crochet: Irresistible Projects for Little Ones, she dove deeper into the mysteries of crochet diagram through small parent friendly baby projects. Her latest books, Simply Crochet by Interweave and Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia by Wiley, explore the wide realm of crochet techniques. You can catch Robyn as a crochet expert on Knit and Crochet Today on PBS. Robyn also has two DVDs on how to branch out from the constraints of patterns and design your own crochet projects. Feel free to stop by www.crochetbyfaye.com to check up on what has inspired her lately.

Lori Chandler

From a long line of family members who express themselves artistically, Lori is among their ranks and has passed along these seasoned arts to her daughters. Actively creative is a theme in Lori’s life. Whether using her Master’s degree in Education by developing classes or producing premium products, she pursues her variety of creative arts; soapmaking, body products, casting and painting local beeswax in the 17th Century German tradition, and vintage inspired crochet. Her passions are sharing information and the development of quality products with both a traditional and creative flair. Ashgrove Soaps, Sundries and Beeswax Ornaments. She offers a variety of classes and participates as a vendor in well known regional events. She is a certified soapmaker and certified soapmaking teacher. She will speak and teach at the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild’s international conference in Las Vegas in May 2017. Look for her book Soapmaking on the Wild Side: Capture Creative Swirls Using Natural Colorants which will be published in 2017.

Amber Coppings

Textile arts are my driving passion. All my creations have roots in a journey to Japan where I learned about shibori fabric dyeing and hands-on surface pattern for textiles. Now, I’m exploring digital surface pattern using collage, digital drawing and photography with a goal of releasing a full line of fabrics and gift wrap.

I’ve been successfully selling my line of Xmittens creative streetwear accessories on Etsy since 2008. Customers from 38 countries have purchased one of my creations including shops that carry my work in Spain and Italy. I have taught through my own studio in Lawrenceville area of Pittsburgh, as well as at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Society for Contemporary Craft and other Pittsburgh area organizations. My work has been featured on Pittsburgh Today Live, Time Out NY, American Craft Council’s website, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, SHADY AVE magazine, Dharmatrading.com and many other super cool press outlets.

Raven Fagelson

Raven learned to stitch at her parent’s knee. Thirty years later, she is an accomplished embroider in many styles. She loves teaching, especially that “Ah ha!” moment when a student grasps a new skill. A member of the Embroiders’ Guild of America, Raven is currently pursuing a certificate in Technical Hand Embroidery from the Royal School of Needlework in the United Kingdom. She also teaches embroidery at the Steel City Fiber Collective.

Nancy Gallagher

Nancy J. Gallagher graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and worked for over 35 years for a local electric utility. Having a life-long interest in crafting, Nancy has done needlepoint, counted cross stitch, patchwork (quilting), macramé, and crocheting, but her passion is crocheting. Nancy is active in the Kittanning Business and Women’s Club, in the Prayer Shawl ministry of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court Patricia 998, and in volunteering at a local animal shelter, walking dogs and socializing cats. A mother of two grown daughters and new grandmother, Nancy lives with her husband, a Cairn terrier, 2 cats, and – as her husband sees it – way too much yarn.

Susan Gibbs

I have been quilting for 24 years. Through the years I have taught various classes for Greater Irwin Quilt Guild and Quilt Company East Quilt Guild. I have also presented programs for both guilds. I have taught numerous classes at the Quilting Needle. I was also a featured quilter on a local television show where I had the opportunity to share my applique quilts.

Chris Glenn

My name is Chris Glenn and I have been sewing for over fifty years. I have both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Home Economics (which only goes to show that I got them a long time ago. I don’t think anyone uses the term “Home Economics” anymore.) I am an accomplished, innovative and creative crafter and teacher and find that crafting, sewing, and home decorating projects (not including cleaning) are better than any tranquilizer for making the world look good. I teach sewing, quilting, home décor, upholstering, stained glass and, well, the list goes on, all at Songbird Artistry in Lawrenceville. I am the Stitching Dragonfly. One of my greatest joys, next to my grandchildren, is to work with someone and see the expression on their face when they discover that they can do what they came to me to learn. I have worked in a few professions over the years: Food Service Management, Public Health Nutrition and Real Estate. But I never found the satisfaction in any of those fields that I found when I retired and started to teach sewing. As I have said many times, it must be the result of a misspent life.

Helen Graziano

Having spent many years as a commercial furniture design professional, I’ve transferred my love of design to hand knitwear. Featuring fair trade yarns and community service are a large part of what happens at Ewes d’Bleu. Teaching our clients to become more confident in their skills allows us to encourage creativity on so many levels! Please check our web site for the recent articles published about our activities:

Franklin Habit

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May, 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Taos Wool Festival.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and regular columns and cartoons for Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and his popular “Fridays with Franklin” feature for Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He first became known as the writer of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. Readers worldwide continue to drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the adventures of Dolores the Sheep.

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, three looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

You can follow him online as @franklinhabit on Twitter, @franklin.habit on Instagram, or through his Facebook page.

Sophie Hood

I am a costume maker/craftsperson and artist. I want to explore the connections between theater arts, technology, and the fine arts. Specifically, I’m interested in integrating technologies such as arduino, as well as eco friendly/reuse materials into costumes in order to create interactive, artistic costumes that in turn help more effectively tell stories. With an undergraduate degree in sculpture from Dartmouth, and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University in costume production, I’m working to take these skills, and while working collaboratively with designers, create functional, well made, and innovative costumes while still drawing upon and learning from traditional techniques. I currently teach adult and children’s sewing classes at Cut and Sew Studio and work as an adjunct instructor in the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University while working freelance creating costumes and crafts for individuals and theater companies around the country.

Michelle Hunter

Best known as the creator of the knitting education website, Knit Purl Hunter, Michelle’s videos have been viewed by millions of knitters. Her books, Building Blocks and Building in Color, are skill building series designed to progress the knitter through the major knitting principles. Michelle divides her time between teaching classes nationwide and online instruction. Her designs have been featured in various publications and are all supported with video tutorials. She considers herself the luckiest person alive to be able to combine her passion for teaching with her love of knitting. For more information about Michelle, go to:

Debbie Maier Jacknin

Debbie Maier Jacknin has been teaching clay, jewelry making, knitting, crocheting, and stained glass mosaic classes for over 10 years. Debbie’s husband, Larry, passed away from ALS in February, 2016. A few months after he passed, Debbie opened a shop in Lawreceville with her daughters Jennifer and Jacklyn Orefice. . Inspiration for the store name, Songbird Artistry, came from Larry’s nickname, Larry Bird.

Formally known as Jenn’s Jems, Songbird Artistry opened their doors at 4316 Penn Avenue (across from Children’s Hospital) after losing their booth space within the Pittsburgh Public Market. Songbird Artistry is a boutique offering a variety of locally made goods for children and adults. In addition, they offer classes in knitting, crocheting, sewing, jewelry making, and stained glass mosaics. They specialize in events and parties for kids and adults. A favorite with kids (or kids at heart) is a Harry Potter themed birthday party complete with a wand ceremony, broom shaped hors d’oevures, and a take home craft. Debbie can be reached at SongbirdArtistry.com, Debo1960@aol.com or 412-427-5500.

Nan Loncharich

A native of Latrobe, PA., and graduate of Seton Hill University. Career in public relations and marketing in hospitals and banking industry. Lifetime needlework enthusiast. Began rug hooking in 2005 and specializes in making lifelike flowers from hand-dyed and recycled woven wool clothing. Many variations are based on 18th century rug hooking techniques. She teaches a continuing education class in flower-making at Westmoreland County College. She is also the author of Making Flowers from Wool, published by Stackpole Books. Nan's flowers are sold in Pittsburgh area museums and specialty shops.

Colleen Maguire-Haught

Colleen has taught Knitting at Michaels Arts & Crafts and in the in Pittsburgh region for four years. She loves teaching people of all ages, especially children, and has taught at Scout Troops and other local venues.

She earned her Knitting Instructor’s Certificates with the Craft Yarn Council of America (CYCA) at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City.

Before Colleen entered the YARN WORLD, she was a Human Resources Manager in the Pittsburgh Area.

Christine Manges

Christine Manges has been mad about rug braiding since she went to her first braid conference in 2006. She has since co-authored a book: Combining Rug Hooking and Braiding (Schiffer Publishing, 2011), and co-written and illustrated two chapters in Finishing Hooked Rugs (Editor: Rug Hooking Magazine, 2013). She has taught both at rug hooking conferences (ATHA, San Antonio, 2015), and rug braiding conferences (New England Braids, 2010-2015) and runs the teaching program at the yearly Valley Forge Guild conference (2010 – 2016). She publishes a quarterly internet newsletter on rug braiding (The Revolutionary Rug Braider) and chats about her braiding life in a blog she co-hosts with friend Dianne Tobias.

She lives with her family (and an amazing wool stash) in Pittsburgh.

Fritz Mitnick

Fritz Mitnick has been doing needlework for decades and hooking rugs since 1997. Deciding rug hooking is the ultimate in fiber art for her, she quit her job after 28 years as a youth services librarian to have more time to hook. An accredited McGown rug hooking teacher, she teaches in her home, at Pittsburgh area community and art centers and at rug hooking workshops and camps.

Her rugs and articles have appeared in Rug Hooking magazine, the Wool Street Journal, ATHA News and the McGown Guild Quarterly. Fritz’s Pittsburgh Nocturne was a Celebration XV honorable mention rug and the cover of Rug Hooking Magazine in Jan./Feb, 2008. Her Look Out, depicting a crow in the moonlight, was selected for Celebrations XVII. Mighty Moose was a finalist in Celebration XXI in 2011, Blackbird was a finalist in Celebration XXIII in 2013 and Quilt Sampler for Widecut was a finalist in Celebration 26 in 2016. Some of Fritz’s patterns are available through Honey Bee Hive (rughook.com). She is the region 6 Representative for the Association of Traditional Hooking Artists, member and former president of Southern McGown Teachers Workshop and a member of TIGHR, an international rug hooking organization.

Karen Page

Karen Page, a fiber arts teacher at CAPA, has spent her fourth summer studying felt making in Kyrgyzstan, where she presented at a round table discussion with felt makers from around the world. Karen’s creativity and expertise reflect her experience in the art field and in the art world. Her felt making is imaginative, creative and colorful. Karen engages the public with her exploratory interactive public art installations at the 3 Rivers Arts Festival.

Toni Ritchey-Ridella

I am the lucky owner of a quaint little yarn shop called RaggZ fiber art located just north of Greensburg, PA. It’s a sweet little shop where we routinely share our love of wool, yarn and fiber. I suppose I’ve always loved fiber, fabric, and yarn and was an avid seamstress in my younger years. my attention turned to knitting and spinning, then to felting but I’m always learning and experimenting with new ways to enjoy them and try to combine them in projects. I am also blessed to have a farm where my husband and I raise sheep, goats, cattle, chickens and bees. I’m always happy to share my love of these hobbies with anyone who asks (or even if they don’t ask)…

Kitty Savel

Kitty Savel, who lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, taught herself how to crochet when she was in the sixth grade. She has been crocheting ever since. She is an active member of the Pittsburgh Fiber Arts Guild and is co-chair of the Guild’s Knitting and Crochet Mentoring group. Her work has been shown in galleries and artisan shows here in the Pittsburgh area as well as at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Art Gallery. She works with all types of yarn, crochet thread and, of course, wire in her work. She especially enjoys working with thread and wire. She is also a knitter and has taught both the Teach Me 2 Knit and Teach Me 2 Crochet classes at previous Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festivals.

Shelley Shaffer

Shelley Shaffer, is the owner of B’ewe’tiful Knits Yarn Boutique in Clarion, PA. I started knitting as a young girl with my grandmother and have been in love with fiber ever since. Since opening the yarn shop I have engaged young and old alike into the wonderful world of fiber. Taking them from knitting or crocheting scarfs to: I’m ready, let’s go! Currently I am also teaching fleece to fiber classes. With the opportunities afforded me of the surrounding fiber farms, I am able to engage students to learn how yarn is truly created.

Staci Shuck

Staci is a retired Home Economics teacher and Co-Owner of Grove’s Inc. She and her family reside in Huntingdon, PA. She remembers learning to knit, sew and craft at an early age and has a passion for traditional folk art crafts especially those involving wool!!! Staci has hosted her own retreats and workshops for 16 years and enjoys traveling to teach, exhibit and demonstrate at various fiber and paper crafting events. Her work has been featured in Rug Hooking Magazine, Kiwi Lane Designs blog and is a member of The Association of Traditional Hooking Artists. Staci enjoys teaching rug hooking, standing wool, wool appliqué, toothbrush rugs, needle felting, knitting and scrapbooking at Grove’s. Her list of events can be found at:

Lauren Sims

Whether it’s sewing, spinning, knitting or cooking, Lauren is dedicated to the craft of anything you can make from nothing. After nearly a decade working in theater as a professional seamstress & crafts artisan, she moved to Pittsburgh with her husband and found a place in the fiberarts community. She translates her professional experience into classes that are engaging and on-point, and is especially dedicated to beginners because with understanding comes the confidence to start!    She now teaches sewing, knitting, and spinning classes for adults and children at venues across Pittsburgh. For a full schedule, see https://www.facebook.com/laurensimsfiberarts/  

Kitty Spangler

Kitty Spangler holds a BA from IUP, an MFA from Syracuse University with a concentration in Visual Books. She is an adjunct professor at LaRoche College since 1997. She was one of the core members of the Knit the Bridge Team, is published in Volume 1, Non Adhesive Binding books without paste or glue, by Keith A. Smith.

In Kitty’s own words, “I’m a painter, maker and teacher. I make up my own cross stitch mandalas, create stream-of-conscious free form drawings in India ink and gouache, and learned to crochet for Knit the Bridge, I’m “clever, creative and always working on something- there’s nary a craft I haven’t tried.” Kitty has an unique ability to engage and enthuse all of her students seeking out alternative methods for materials, supplies and experimentation. A woman who is truly a kid at heart, Kitty sees the bright and colorful in everything around her.

Jenny Tabrum

Jenny Tabrum learned to knit at the age of nine. In that time she has knit badly and knit well, but mostly she has knit often. Jenny loves knitting socks – the perfect teaching tool – and knitting sweaters. When not teaching more traditional knitting, Jenny teaches knitted and beaded jewelry. Jenny can be found on Facebook – Jenny Harned Tabrum – and has an Etsy shop, KnittenJen, where her beads and jewelry are listed.

Sharon Thompson

Sharon has been a sewer since middle school and 4-H back in the 70″s. She has a degree in Interior Design and is a current Family & Consumer Sciences teacher (Home Ec) Sharon has her own Quilt Shop located in Leechburg and has a Custom Window Treatment business for over 25 years. She enjoys teaching people of all ages how to sew and creating new items for Home Decorating. She travels the country attending many conferences and seminars to bring fresh ideas to her students and clients.

Jill Valenzuela

A native of Indiana, Jill Valenzuela earned her BS in Art from Ball State University in 1977. She worked for almost thirty years in the field of Interior Design and Sales finding ways to creatively enhance the living and working spaces of her clients. After retiring from her first career in 2006, Jill explored her passion for weaving, embroidery, stitching, sewing and metal work. In 2013 Jill discovered the world of Eco printing (contact printing with nature), Natural Dyeing and Rusting. She found that these processes brought a new level to her Art. Jill works intuitively to make what moves her. She practices Wabi Sabi—Finding the Beauty in the Imperfections. Jill brings all her loves together to work harmoniously and cohesively with one another. She incorporates all her passions into making one of a kind Art – Wearable Art and Wall Art.

Jennifer Vancalcar

Jennifer Vancalcar has been dyeing yarn as Holiday Yarns for the past 13 years and knitting even longer. Her yarns have been featured in magazines such as Spin-off and Interweave as well as on the popular show Knitting Daily. Holiday Yarns was the “Yarn of the Month” for Yarnbox in December 2013. You can also find Holiday Yarns on The Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl-Mcphee) Blog and on Debbie Macomber’s needles when her book Starry Night was released, among other places. Jennifer has produced over 100 fun and eye catching colors over the years and continues to come up with more everyday!

Linda Voss Plummer

I can’t remember when I didn’t knit and have taught locally and regionally and have been fortunate to study with nationally and internationally recognized knitters, spinners and weavers. I love to lead students to the joy of knitting and then watch them become independent, free-thinking knitters, helping them create their own designs and make decisions about how they want to adapt or create patterns. My special passions are cables, lace, domino and two color knitting such as Fair Isle and Scandinavian patterns. I feel privileged to design for several yarn companies and am published in, among others, Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting, Knit Simple, as well as Cascade, Zealana and Noro books. I also spin, weave and quilt but if, perish the thought, I had to decide on one activity, it would be knitting.

I feel a responsibility and joy in helping students understand fibers and how they influence products.  A growing interest is my work with local and regional shepherds, concentrating on the rich variety of breeds being maintained, celebrating their unique properties and teaching knitters, spinners, crocheters and weavers about their unique strengths and how to make the most of these fibers. The shepherds who work tirelessly to maintain the integrity of breed characteristics are so willing to share and feed our passions! I have developed a new series of classes on breed specifics and working with handspun.

I love teaching at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival and am always stimulated by the hustle and bustle there! I have taught at Chautauqua Institution, Kinzua Knit-Away, the Fingerlakes Fiber Festival, local and regional shops and venues and I work with two local farms, Cinco C’s Alpaca and Glenfiddich Farms (Border Leicesters). I host two retreats a year in north central PA, celebrating the 14th this year – Does a Bear Knit in the Woods? They do! I work with our local library to provide twice a month knitting sessions and organize our local Worldwide Knitting in Public Day. In 2009 I designed a banner for the G-20 Conference in Pittsburgh and then coordinated about 30 knitters to make it. I assembled the pieces and it was accepted to be hung at the Pittsburgh County Airport, where delegates arrived. It hung there for a year and then moved to the Pittsburgh International Airport.

One of the joys of teaching and knitting has been to participate in the warmth of knitting with others and experience its healing and supportive. ravelry: artsyknits and linda voss plummer linda@artsyknits.com 

Lynda West

Lynda West has been working with fiber since she was 7 years old. As an adult she has taught classes in knitting, crocheting, weaving, wheel and spindle spinning, natural and chemical dying, and felting. She has taught in a variety of venues including community colleges, fiber festivals, fiber guilds, her home studio and other community settings. She has a farm where she raises fiber sheep and a mini mill where she processes fleeces from her farm as well as wool and alpaca for other people.

Follow her activities on the web and on facebook as TenMileFiberMill and

Monica Yope

Monica Yope is the founder of Pop Craft, a crafting business that ignites your creativity. Pop Craft hosts maker workshops at Pittsburgh bars, making “making” accessible and fun. Monica’s passion for helping other people be creative inspired her to start Pop Craft. Her mission is to make it easy to have creative experiences where people make personalized crafts that they are proud of. She is an avid crafter and enjoys working with concrete, reclaimed wood and repurposing other materials. When she’s not crafting, Monica captains her rec volleyball team, volunteers as an Urban Eco Steward, and throws themed parties. Monica is currently working on developing new craft workshops and scheduling party bookings.