We have an impressive list of confirmed instructors for the Conference. We drew heavily on our local talent who may not be well known outside of western Canada, but also included some from beyond our 'borders'. Check out some of their bios to the left.
Keynote speaker: Abby Franquemont (Ohio)
Workshops and Seminars: Michelle Boyd (Alberta) Tien Chiu (California) Janet Dawson (Nova Scotia)
Yoriko Oki (British Columbia) Dr. Susan Pavel (Washington)
Sue Perron (British Columbia) Leola Witt McNei (British Columbia)
We have tried to cover as many of the fibre crafts as possible with workshops in spinning, weaving, dyeing, felting. Seminars will broaden the scope, tasters of other fibre crafts also included. Confluence - the coming together of different things. Spinners may dye. Weavers may spin. Felters may knit.
We have completed our instructor selection process. Instructors interested in future ANWG conferences should contact the conference committee. The 2021 ANWG conference will be held in Salem, Oregon www.anwgconference2021.com and the 2023 ANWG conference will be held in Billings, Montana www.anwgconference2023.com.
Michelle Boyd is a spinner, knitter, weaver and writer who lives in Olds, Alberta. Educated as a graphic artist, Michelle has pursued a career in fibre arts for over 30 years, working in such diverse areas as theatrical costuming and fibre consultation for farmers. Michelle graduated from Olds College’s Master Spinner program in 2007 and she now instructs Master Spinner classes, both on and off campus, as well as teaching at regional conferences and fibre festivals. Michelle also writes about spinning for Spin-Off and PLY magazines and on her blog at www.whorlspins.blogspot.com
In the studio, I’m primarily a weaver, dyer, and couture seamstress, producing fabulous handwoven garments, accessories, and wall hangings. I’ve won many awards for my work, including “Best in Show” at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers. My Kodachrome Jacket was featured on the cover of Handwoven magazine. And my handwoven wedding dress is part of the permanent collection at the American Textile History Museum, where it was displayed in their 2013 exhibit Behind the Veil: Brides and Their Stories.
Janet learned to weave at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design in 1994 and taught the weaving program there from 2000 to 2009. She teaches across the US and Canada and has almost 6000 students in her Floor Loom Weaving class at Craftsy.com. In addition to her own weaving business, The Weaver’s Palette, Janet owns The Bobbin Tree, a store catering to weavers, spinners, knitters and felters.
Janet’s focus has swung from complex weaves to simple cloth and back again over the years. Her current passion is for teaching the mechanics of cloth: understanding and communicating the actual structure of weaving structures. She has a rare knack for communicating complex ideas in ways that are easy to comprehend, and her favourite thing is witnessing that moment of understanding when things click for students for the first time.
Raised in the forests near Prince George, Maureen has a deep connection with the sense of place and her love of travel has taken to many places. Wandering has given her the opportunity to a variety of cultures and realize that we communicate by our arts, fabrics and need for comfort. She's a painter, drawer, woks with fibres, whatever is needed to make a vision, reality. Her formal career was in education and taught classes in...what else? ART. Her motto is...."art makes a visible difference."
Abby Franquemont, author of bestselling spinning book Respect The Spindle, is steeped in the fiber arts since birth. The daughter of field anthropologists studying textile production, she was raised largely in the rural Andes of Peru, where she learned to spin, weave and more starting at the age of five. In 2006, she left a successful career in information technology in order to write and teach full-time about the fiber arts, particularly spinning. Why spinning? Abby says it's the most fundamental of the fiber arts – the one upon which the most others depend – as well as the most at risk of being lost and the hardest to pass down in any way other than hand to hand. Abby is technical, passionate, inquisitive, and informed; she has taught individuals and groups of all ages, skill levels, and combinations thereof. Her classes are among the first to sell out wherever she goes; her book, instructional DVDs, magazine articles, and blog are widely recommended; and her down-to-earth approach is empowering for students of all levels.
Abby has taught and lectured at large events including The National Needlearts Association (TNNA), Golden Gate Fiber Institute, the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat (SOAR), Sock Summit, the Taos Wool Festival, and New York State Sheep & Wool (Rhinebeck), Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF), Fibre East in Bedfordshire, UK; not to mention many of the finest fiber, knitting, and crafting shops in the USA, along with weaving, spinning and knitting guilds nationwide and a select group of private retreats, seminars and workshops. Her writing has appeared in Spin-Off, Spindlicity, Interweave Knits, Twist Collective, Entangled, SpinKnit, Knitty, and more.
Laura Fry chose weaving as a career in 1975 and took weaving classes at every opportunity, including studying at Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta and Varpapuu Summer Weaving School in Finland. She started her business in 1977 and since 1980 has worked full-time as a professional handweaver.
Laura’s business focus has evolved with the changing economy and market trends from a concentration on table textiles to weaving yardage on contract for a fashion designer. In addition, Laura teaches throughout Canada and the United States, writes for a variety of textile publications, and wins awards for the beautiful clothing fabrics that have always been her passion.
After years of work and study, Laura earned certification in 1997 as one of Canada’s Master Weavers, the 27th weaver to achieve the honour.
Laura’s meticulous approach to weaving quality fabrics is characterized by her attention to wet finishing, a procedure often neglected and little understood by most handweavers.
In Magic in the Water; Wet Finishing Handwovens, The Intentional Weaver; How to weave better, Laura Fry shares her expertise derived from years of research and experimentation. Her guidelines make professional-quality finishing achievable by every handweaver, hobbyist and professional alike. By examining her actual fabrics, both before and after wet finishing, you will understand why Laura says, “It isn’t finished until it’s wet finished.”
While my formal introduction to weaving was through a night school class in the early 1970s, my connection to handmade cloth began much earlier. One Christmas in the late 1950s I was given a little rigid heddle loom. Between then and now, I’ve expanded on those early lessons by taking workshops at both guild and conference levels, and by exploring interesting techniques at home. Many of those projects incorporate picked-up designs, some woven on inkle looms and others on 4 shafts. I also play with kumihimo and paper weaving, and enjoy sharing what I discover through classes and demonstrations. Away from the studio, I’m constantly inspired by what I see during morning walks in the seaside neighbourhood in which I live — my camera, as always, slung over my shoulder!
I came to Canada in the early 1970s with a PhD in Biochemistry and met Ingrid Boesel at McMaster University. She had already been weaving for several years. During a sabbatical year in California, Ingrid started work on the Guild of Canadian Weavers certificate course. I had learned computer programming in order to connect lab instruments with computers, and so the first “baby” Fiberworks (software for weaving design) came into being to assist her studies.
After Convergence 1986 in Toronto, I surveyed the weaving software on offer and we thought that we could do better. A year later Fiberworks for MS-DOS was released for sale. Ingrid’s studies continued with the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners Master Weaver program, with Fiberworks gaining abilities to keep up with her needs. Ingrid continued to build up a reputation in weaving, with innovations in tied weaves, advancing twills, network drafting, and four-colour double weave. Our collaboration added many new features to Fiberworks. More than features, Ingrid’s guidance also helped Fiberworks remain weaver-friendly, and ensured that it approached design from a weaver’s point of view. fiberworks-pcw.com
A Canadian-cashmere farmer, I was raised on a cattle ranch in British Columbia’s Chilcotin.From the family ranch, to office administration, travel and a degree in Spanish language from Simon Fraser University & Pontificia Universidad Católica in Chile, to guiding & co-owning an adventure-tourism company, I returned to my farming roots in 2009, eventually finding my home raising cashmere goats and Icelandic sheep, together with my husband Ken, on a mixed farm in the Central Cariboo region of British Columbia.
As a cashmere goat farmer, I strive to produce the finest cashmere and seed stock, while employing respectful, sustainable practices, and I am dedicated to the improvement and development of the North American cashmere goat herd and cashmere production.I also enjoy spinning and exploring, dyeing and making things with our fluff, with fibre festivals, cashmere competitions and Spin Ins being favorites.
Mary’s love affair with fiber started with knitting needles, a crochet hook and yarn when she was 13. She started spinning and weaving when living in Nova Scotia in the 1980s.Raising angora rabbits led to a desire to spin all the fibers. She founded the spinning guild in Memphis TN in 1997, giving programs about sheep, the spectrum of cellulose and protein fibers, dyes and dyeing and designing yarns. She teaches and demonstrates spinning and natural dyeing in the United States and Canada. She has both levels of the Canadian Wool Judging Certification and earned her Master Spinner Certificate from Olds College, Alberta, Canada. Her monograph is Exploration of Cabled Yarns. She spins and weaves daily and has taken up quilting using handwoven cloth and handspun yarns.
Kim is a dyer first. Whether working with nature dyes or synthetic dyes it is colour that drives her. Her knowledge of fibre as well as her synthetic dyeing experience proves extremely useful in her work with nature dyes. She uses historical and traditional dyestuffs as well as plant materials found a little closer to home.
Kim was published in Spin Off magazine’s 2005 and 2007 issues as well as their ebook edition Spin-Off Presents: All about Silk. She has taught workshops and lectured on the arts of dyeing and spinning for weaving and spinning guilds, museums, Olds College Fibre Week, schools, arts festivals, arts centers, fibre festivals and retreats. In 2013/14 Kim was the faculty member in charge of the Spinning and Dyeing Program at Place des Arts. Kim was instrumental to the development of Treenway’s Salt Spring Island Series, a line of handpainted tussah silk roving.
As an Educator and Artist, Leola Witt-McNie, Owner of Leola's Studio in Whippletree Junction, has been weaving and knitting for more than 30 years. She studied with the best teachers in Cherryville, Banff, Sweden, California, and New Zealand. She has a vast amount of experience and expertise in weaving, spinning, and textile arts.
Leola teaches a variety of textile arts including weaving, spinning, knitting, crocheting, dyeing, woven tapestry, thread painting, quilting techniques and more. Her passion and enthusiasm is an inspiration to her students.
Her instruction is unique, in that it builds student confidence and nurtures artistic expression. She has the ability to guide students in developing their personal artistic expression. Leola teaches all ages and levels.
In addition to offering workshops in her studio, Leola has been teaching textile classes at Shawnigan Lake School for over 30 years.
Syne Mitchell has been a storyteller since she was three and started writing fiction in second grade. She grew up reading science-fiction and fantasy and it was with great honor and delight that her first professional fiction sale was the story “Tiger’s Eye” to Marion Zimmer Bradley for the Sword & Sorceress anthology #9.
An early entrant into college, Syne graduated with a degree in Business Administration at the age of 15, and went on to study physical oceanography and nuclear physics, ultimately graduating with a Master’s degree in solid-state physics. Although she’d completed the course work for a Phd, Syne decided that her true passion was writing and stepped away from science to pursue that dream.
Like many writers, Syne’s had an eclectic career. Highlights include selling beads at a jewelry shop, teaching high-school physics, writing developer documentation for various high-profile tech companies, publishing a weaving magazine and podcast, and currently working as a product manager at Google.
Along the way, she published five novels, a non-fiction book on weaving, and numerous articles and short stories.
When not working or writing, Syne spends time with her family, chases the cat around the house, gardens, weaves, and takes classes in anything she doesn’t already know how to do.
Coleen Nimetz holds a Master Spinner Certificate and has been an instructor and technical consultant for the Olds College Master Spinner Programme. Coleen's love of spinning and dyeing, which she teaches throughout North America, has taken her on interesting adventures. Her work as a labourer on a silk farm in northern Laos led her to develop a passion for silk reeling to produce the fine yarns she uses in her knitted lace shawls and miniature cut pile rugs.
Coleen’s current focus is reeling filament silk from cocoons and working with various types of silk. Her articles on silk and silk reeling have been published in Spin-Off and Ply magazines and her work has appeared in juried shows across Canada and the United States. Coleen has received numerous national and international awards, including the Saskatchewan Craft Council Award for Excellence in Textiles.
Yoriko was born and grew up in Japan, and moved to Canada in her late 20s.
Yoriko was originally trained and practiced as architect in Tokyo, Japan, and as fashion designer in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Since 2004, she has been an active member of Fibre Art Studio on Granville Island in Vancouver as a weaver and a dyer.
In 2016, Yoriko has opened an Etsy shop, FibreArtStudio, which features hand dyed yarn by Yoriko herself and other members of Fibre Art Studio. The shop ranked as a top 2% Etsy shop in April 2017.
Yoriko's mission is to empower people using fibre art as a creative outlet and a tool for inner reflection.
sa’ hLa mitSa ~ Dr. Susan Pavel first learned Coast Salish Weaving the summer of 1996. Each summer she would produce one ceremonial blanket and then gift it to various elders of the tribe. By the fourth year she was selling the weavings. By the seventh year she was invited to teach weaving classes and has taught over 2,500 students. She has participated and later solo exhibited seven museum exhibits. With public and private collectors across the nation she continues to weave. 2016 marked 20 Years of Coast Salish Weaving for her and more importantly – SQ3Tsya’yay – Weaver’s Spirit Power.
20 years of weaving ushered in a new chapter for her. She is now the Executive Director of the Coast Salish Wool Weaving Center located at Skokomish Nation, Washington. A new nonprofit center committed to the preservation and promotion of Coast Salish Wool Weaving. Where students and volunteers can participate in the entire process of our indigenous weave style.
"Sue Perron was born and raised in the Parkland area of Saskatchewan. She moved to Prince George, BC in 2002. She, like her mother, was always interested in plants and their uses, and the respect that is afforded nature when gathering plants for her own use. A science background helped to explain the varieties of plants and their similarities and differences. An association with other Indigenous Elders in the Prince George area expanded these learnings. Sue volunteers with various agencies, often taking students or other interested parties on nature walks in the surrounding area. She collects plants, in season, to use for demonstrations during the year. A curious mind is a great gift."
Elizabeth received her BSc and MSc in Geology from the University of Saskatchewan. While rocks are one of her passions, she learned at a very young age to appreciate fibre arts. Growing up on a farm, Elizabeth helped with all the stages of yarn production from raising sheep to sheering to carding and spinning. Elizabeth learned everything she could about knitting and crochet and absolutely clung to a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s "Knitting Without Tears” which fuelled much of her scientific and artistic curiosity. Elizabeth was intrigued by how mathematics and art fused together
so perfectly to create beautiful garments.
As a teen, she created custom colour work designs for both knitting and crochet. Inspired by her Scandinavian heritage, Elizabeth began to incorporate traditional fair isle designs with images of the natural world. She used images of landscapes and wildlife from places she’d visited or lived to make intricately designed fair isle toques. Elizabeth also incorporates mosaic knitting and intarsia techniques into her fair isle to produce different effects. She has also been known to incorporate purled stitches for emphasis and occasionally strand her contrasting colour across the front of her work to produce linear design elements that cannot be created with knitted stitches alone. Today, Elizabeth has a hobby of creating custom fair isle toques upon order and sells a few of her published patterns on Ravelry (https://www.ravelry.com/designers/twisted-bark-designs). Elizabeth has been knitting and crocheting for 28 years and counting. She began teaching knitting to her fellow university students in 2007 and continued to run free classes and tutorials for students until 2015. Elizabeth is currently completing her PhD in Geology through the Memorial University of Newfoundland. She and her spouse are now living in North Vancouver, British Columbia, where she teaches beginner and advanced knitting classes at Urban Yarns. When she’s not writing her thesis, Elizabeth also enjoys felting, spinning, sewing, nalbinding, sculpting, drawing, and making Viking knit wire jewelry.
Robyn Spady learned to weave in 1969. She completed the Handweavers’ Guild of America’s Certificate of Excellence (COE) in 2004 with the specialized study Loom-controlled Stitched Double Cloth. Robyn is fascinated by the infinite possibilities of crossing threads and loves coming up with new ideas to create fabric and transform it into something new and exciting. She is committed to turning the weaving world on to double-faced fabrics, four-shaft weaves, uncommon and advanced weave structures, and passementerie techniques. Robyn is also the founder and editor of Heddlecraft magazine.
“Fabric of Life” The phrase can evoke many things. Jane Stafford has been weaving for most of her life. She has been exploring the design of cloth – the structure, the graphic, and, of course, the colour – for almost 40 years, and she sees no end to the joy of discovery. “One of the things I love about weaving is it appeals to so many different personalities – from the precise, analytical mind that loves structure and order, all the way to the wild adventurer in love with colour and expression – weaving works for everyone.”
Jane has had the great fortune to be able to earn a living doing what she loves most, weaving, and sharing her passion for excellence in cloth. Jane has been both a production weaver and a workshop instructor, helping students reach their potential across the continent, for over 25 years. She is the instructor for certified Louet dealers in North America, and is the Diva in Louet’s instructional DVDs. It is no coincidence that Jane shares her name with Louet’s latest table loom. It is an acknowledgement both for years of contributions towards loom design in general, and for the “Jane” in particular. She was the recipient of the “Teacher of the Year” award for 2014 from Handwoven magazine. Jane now teaches exclusively in her studio on beautiful Salt Spring Island, BC.
Laurie Steffler is an accomplished Canadian textile artist, felt fashion designer, and instructor whose passion for texture, colour layering, dyeing, resists, new felting innovations and the sculptural possibilities in felt replaced her paint palette in 1986. She loves to work with merino wool, silk fabrics, exotic fibres, dyes, and her own prefelts. Every year she designs a new felt fashion line of hats, scarves, and garments as well as carrying her original favorites for her annual Xmas Craft Show Tour. She travels to teaching engagements and holds her Annual Summer Felt Retreat on Salt Spring Island, BC. Her students appreciate her 30 years of extensive felting knowledge and the stories she shares through that experience. She uses many tricks to make felting an easier and quicker process so that her students have lots of design time and their work is completed in class. Visit her online at saltspringfiberadventures.com
I was surrounded by textiles in my youth. My Grandmother always inspired me with her amazing embroidery and dressmaking skills. My Mother carried on that tradition with her seamstress talent and I wore many a unique outfit in my youth and adolescence. That history and those fond memories inspired me to carry on the mantle and sew clothes for my children. Most recently I learned to make figure skating costumes for my youngest. It also inspired me to achieve my Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Alberta College of Art and Design with a major in Fibre Arts. I am fascinated with the art of everyday life. The art that we live in, wear, touch, feel. The art that is often overlooked. I have been very inspired by a dye technique called Shibori. This technique originating in Japan allows me to take plain fabric and turn it into something unique. I have been privileged to also teach others in my community this dye technique. I find joy in creating for the simple act of creating and think that’s a wonderful thing.
Diana is an experienced fibre arts instructor with a background in adult education and fine art. Passionate about fibre, colour, and texture, she has introduced many beginners to the wonders of making yarn and has helped experienced spinners experiment with technique, colour, and fibre to take their spinning to a new level. In addition to spinning for the last 16 years, she is a self-described “fearless knitter” and is currently working on a variety of projects.
Diana has a deep curiosity about how fibres, colours and techniques all work together to make unique yarn, and translates this into accessible, interesting and fun classes. She lives in the countryside outside of Vancouver, BC; grows flax for linen, flowers for her dye pot, and basil and garlic for the best pesto in the valley.
I am a spinner-who-weaves, with a particular interest in historic and handmade textiles. After more than a decade of spinning yarns for knitting on spindles and wheels, my interest in historic textile techniques led me to weaving. Inspired by the wealth of knowledge and skill embodied in handmade and historic fabrics I am increasingly focused on spinning and weaving modern versions to examine what I’ve learned, and on sharing my passion and hand-spinning skills with others.