Instructor Bios

VenessaBioPicVenessa Bentley

Venessa Bentley, from the Working Hands Fibre Arts Studio is a practicing artisan and instructor, as well as  a full time primary teacher in a fully integrated fine arts program. Programs that Venessa teaches are focused on the creative process, and building confidence and joy in hand work. A variety of fibre arts programs are taught, year round, at Venessa’s home studio. She has dedicated most of her life to this learning, and continues to explore and dissect each step of her fibre arts work, with a view to staying fresh and current in her teaching. She is a member of the Circle Craft Cooperative, where she sells her work, and serves on the Board of Directors, as the Chair of the Gallery Committee.


HeidiBioPicHeidi Braacx

From an early age, the desire to make, and craft has shaped Heidi’s life. A knitter since the ripe age of seven, she is a ‘learn by doing’ sort. While still in high school she trained for a year as an apprentice seamstress in the Wardrobe Department at the Playhouse Theatre Company, and then later received a certificate in Costuming for Theatre and Film from Capilano University. After that she worked for two years as a seamstress in set decoration, props, and costumes before going freelance. Heidi’s independent work has been on film, television and the stage. She learned how to spin and dye yarn in 2009 and later that same year started an etsy shop with handspun, plant-based yarn. Then, in 2012 she launched Vegan Yarn, a studio focused on Organic, Fair Trade and vegan hand dyed yarn and fibre. When not playing with fibre, Heidi plays violin, bodhran (Irish drum), ukulele and djembe with her husband and bandmate, Jeremy. Otherwise Heidi can be seen delivering yarn to local yarn shops by bicycle, running the local trails by her house, or whipping up a fresh batch of homegrown kale chips with her son, Hadrian.


PearlBIOPicPearl Chow

Pearl teaches fibre crafts throughout the lower mainland. Simplifying knitting, weaving, felting and braiding is her passion and teaching others to craft with the least amount of effort and maximum amount of fun is her goal. Pearl ran Birkeland Bros Wool in Vancouver before it’s move to Abbotsford.


Kislan Bio PicKislan Coderre

Kislan is a Vancouver based fibre artist and the owner of Kinfolk Yarn and Fibre, an online shop selling her hand dyed, hand spun yarns and spinning fibre. Kislan learned to spin in the 1970′s when her mother brought home an Ashford Traditional spinning wheel and started dyeing wool in their kitchen. She has since knit and spun her way through several decades, picking up different techniques along the way with courses from the Capilano College Textile Design program, fibre gatherings and weekly classes at the Place des Arts in Coquitlam. In addition to following her passion for all things fibre, Kislan works for her local Parks Board where she’s been teaching swimming lessons, preschool programs and providing front line support for the past 24 years.


catherinedCatherine Dumaine

Catherine is a fibre artist living and working in Port Coquitlam, BC. She teaches in Art Centres and institutions around the lower mainland that include Place des Arts, Leigh Square Community Arts Village, The Reach Gallery in Abbotsford and local community schools. Catherine’s work has been exhibited in shows locally including Place des Arts, Port Moody Festival of the Arts and Leigh Square Community Arts Village. Her skills include loom weaving, wet felting, tapestry, basketry, spinning, dyeing and hand-made paper.


FionaDuthie Fiona Duthie

Fiona has worked as a fibre artist for 23 years, covering a range of experiences from fashion and interior design, to natural dyeing and feltmaking. As long as she has wool to play with, she is happy! Fiona has exhibited and taught in Canada, the US, Scotland, and New Zealand, inviting others to explore their own creative directions through her workshops. Fiona and her family have a Fibre Arts Studio on Saltspring Island, where they live and create.


laurafryLaura Fry

Laura chose weaving as a career in 1975 and took weaving classes at every opportunity, including study at the 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 weaver. Laura teaches throughout Canada and the US, 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.



SandraBioSandra Kiechle

Sandra learned how to knit at age 6 from a needlework crazed mother who knitted, crocheted and sewed everything around her. Her passion for knitting however, really started in her teens with the simple act of her mother teaching her how to read a pattern. She was unstoppable. Sandra became a knitting machine from who her friends couldn’t wait to nab the latest creation. At that time there were no graphed patterns readily available, so she learned to make her own. She also grew disgusted, in this era of synthetic yarns, with the lack of quality, affordable natural fibres available. Then one day Sandra bought an old Inidan head spinning wheel. She was thrilled. As she traveled down the fibre arts path, equipped with her spinning wheel and a filthy un-skirted fleece from a friend, she found herself drawn toward finer yarns, and the beautiful cobwebs knit from them. Lace patterns intrigued her, simple yet so elegant and yes, so forgiving of mistakes. Sandra began creating her own patterns and manipulated others to create different looks. If you have been avoiding knitting lace because it looks too hard, let Sandra show you how simple and fun it can be!



Kim McKenna

Kim teaches weekly spinning and dyeing classes through the Visual Arts Department at the Place des Arts in Coquitlam. She also shares her passion for all things fibre through workshops/lectures to guilds, museums and schools. Her sound knowledge and skill in the areas of fibre, spinning and dyeing is the result of her education, B.Sc. Integrated Sciences, coupled with 32 years of practical experience. In 2012 her article on dyeing silk hankies was chosen for inclusion in Interweave Press’ eBook, “All About Silk”, a publication featuring “the best silk articles published over the last 35 years in Spin Off magazine”.


mitchelltartanBarbara Mitchell

Barbara’s passion is to help weavers achieve their goals by reducing frustration and increasing confidence. She brings thirty years of weaving and sewing experience to her work with individuals and groups. Barbara believes in continuous life-long learning and spends every day researching, experimenting and practicing her fibre skills. She adds her background in adult education and career coaching to her weaving passion and builds workshops that are fun, welcoming and creative.


Caroline Sommerfeld

Caroline learned to knit and embroider when she was four, and has been fascinated by fibres and yarn ever since! Spurred on by the acquisition of the family spinning wheel (passed down through 5 generations), she has now been spinning for 15 years and has tried every spinning tool and fibre she can acquire, including, in moments of desperation, sticks donated by trees and fire weed fluff. Her MA degree in Archaeology and Sociology provides the knowledge and skills needed to further her fibre studies, which are currently centered on cultural patterns of specialized fibre use and historical spinning tool design. Caroline is an avid fibre artist and loves nothing more than to share her passion for fibres through teaching!



laurieStefflerLaurie Steffler

Laurie is a fibre artist and O.C.A.D. graduate who fell in love with wool as a medium and began felt-making and dyeing in 1986. Every year she designs a new felt fashion line of hats, scarves and clothing for the annual Circle Craft Vancouver, Art Market Calgary and One of a Kind Toronto show tour. She invents and combines many felting techniques with merino wool, silk, and other fabrics and yarns. You can visit her at the Salt Spring Island Saturday market or her Seaside studio. She is an experienced teacher who started  sharing her wealth of knowledge in 1995 and enjoys supporting her students unique creativity. Her felting kits for the designs she makes will be available for purchase at the show.


DianaPicDiana Twiss

Diana is a spinner and knitter who works full time in the world of adult literacy. She has been a member of the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild since 2000, spinning from the time she joined. Diana is an Art and Literacy teacher by trade and has delivered several fibre arts workshops over the years – Introduction to Drop Spindling at Fibres West 2011 through 2013; Drop Spindling in Haida Gwaii 2010; Tricks of the Trade in Spinning, Making Funky Yarns at Fibre Fest Int’l in 2007; various fibre workshops for the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild – Introduction to Spinning, Introduction to Drum Carding, and has worked with individual students. In addtion to spinning, Diana is working her way to being a Master Knitter, having completed Level 1 of the Master of Hand Knitting Program offered through the Knitting Guild Association, in Apri 2010. In late September/early October she took a three-day spinning workshop with Abby Franquemont at the Taos Wool Festival in Taos, New Mexico. You can see how she combines all her interests and skills by following her pursuits to make clothing from locally sourced wool, llama, alpaca and mohair on her blog –  You can find Diana’s patterns on