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.




HeidiBraacxHeidi 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.



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.

JudithBioJudith Glibbery

Judith lives in Armstrong, BC and is a fibre artist and experienced spinning teacher. Her teaching includes private lessons and workshop settings. She’s spent over 35 years enthusiastically promoting her craft to hand spinners throughout BC. One of her favorite passions is exploring different breeds of sheep, spinning their raw fleece and then passing that knowledge on to her students. Her work has been exhibited in many venues throughout the province. Judith has also been an active guild member, sheep breeder and advocate for the Canadian sheep industry both on a provincial and national level for many years. She is a frequent fleece judge and lecturer at many fleece and fibre shows, sheep breeder associations and agricultural fairs throughout BC. She remains surrounded by wool and never tires of it!




leslie fibrewestLeslie Green

Leslie has been a spinner and weaver since the mid-1980s while living in Yellowknife, NWT. She began developing her skills through practice and through taking workshops. Correspondence with fellow spinners in Alberta led her to the Olds College Master Spinner’s Program, from which she graduated in 2007. Her area of study was qiviut, learning about bleaching it to obtain more pure colours while dying, as well as blending it with other fibres. Leslie has taught beginner and intermediate spinning classes, natural dye workshops, volunteered as a spinning mentor through the Vancouver Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild, as well as taught at the Master Spinner’s Program at Olds College.


cherylhusebyCheryl Huseby

Cheryl has been having a passionate love affair with fibre for over 30 years. Learning to spin has taken Cheryl on many amazing journeys that have lead into dyeing and weaving. Unraveling the mysteries of spinning that can sometimes cause frustrations is Cheryl’s main aim in giving workshops, having encountered a few herself. Some of the people who have helped open Cheryl’s eyes and hands to the pleasures of spinning with ease are Mary Frame, Judith MacKenzie, Paula Simmons, Anne Field, Celia Quinn, Dianne Cross, Florence Richardson, Paula Shull, Jean Betts, Teddy Powell, Roberta Murray, Deb Menz, Kathryn Alexander, Kaye Collins, Diane Bentley-Baker. When not spending time at her wheel, Cheryl has also been known to add colourful delights by dyeing yarns and rovings for herself as well as contributing to the treasures of Salt Spring Fibre Studios, Treenway Silks , Qiviut Knits, and individual artists.




FredaFreda Jackson

Freda Jackson has more than 20 years experience rug hooking and teaching classes to clubs and guilds.  Her own work has been exhibited in Canada and in the USA.





sandrakiechleSandra Kiechle

At the age of 4  Sandra began crocheting little rugs and jackets for her dolls. By her teenage years she had knit sweaters that were worthy of her friends borrowing permanently.  In her early 20’s she bought a rickety homemade Indian head spinning wheel and fell in love with making yarn. Since then Sandra has never been without at least one knitting project on the go and enough handspun yarn for a hundred more. Her passion turned to knitting lace and spinning the fine cobweb yarns to make fine, light and often breathtaking shawls.  Lace has entranced Sandra with its beauty, versatility and ease to knit, watching it blossom from a scrunched up cloth to a delicate heirloom still fills her with delight.





Joanne fibrewestJoanne Nakonechny

Joanne grew up in a world comfortable with textiles – intricately cross-stitched Ukrainian blouses; crocheted pillows; knitted sweaters; sewn clothing; quilts and hand weaving; and patterns – entrenched in the making of braided breads to writing delicate patterns on Easter eggs.  Spinning was in this mix as well through her Dad who spun at home as a boy for the Sifton spinning mills.  Joanne’s interest in spinning grew from there and became a particular focus 8 years ago when she purchased a used Joy spinning wheel.  Courses with Anne Field, Judith MacKenzie, Kim McKenna, Laura Fry, Marcelina Charri, Maria Lima and Fernando Alvarez have all aided her quest to enhance her spinning technique.  Joanne is currently working on her level 3 homework for the Master Spinner program at Olds College in Olds, Alberta.  She has also taught courses on indigo and natural dyeing.


LaurieLaurie 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.




Lenka-Suchanek-1024x768Lenka Suchanek

Lenka is a lacemaker, lace designer, artist and teacher. She learned traditional lacemaking techniques in Europe and has explored their application in contemporary art and fashion for more than thirty years. Her lace artworks, sculptures, wall pieces and wearable art have been exhibited worldwide, and received recognition for merging craft with art, craftsmanship with innovation and old materials with new in a unique creation expression.



DianaPicDiana Twiss

Diana is passionate about fibre, fabric, colour and texture. An experienced teacher with a background in adult education, she has successfully introduced many beginners to the wonders of making yarn and has helped more experienced spinners experiment with technique, colour, and fibre to take their spinning to a new level. Her favourite tools for yarn making are spindles because of their simplicity, beauty and portability. You can see how she combines all her fibre intersets and skills by following her pursuits to make yarn from locally sourced wool, llama, alpaca and mohair on her blog You can find Diana’s patterns on




dream_weaver_-1_edited_240Leola Witt-McNie

Leola has been weaving for many years and teaching for more than 30. She has studied in Cherryville, Banff, Sweden, California, and New Zealand. She has a vast amount of experience and expertise in weaving, spinning, and the many textile arts. Leola has studied with the best teachers and her passion and enthusiasm is an inspiration to her students. Leola teaches a variety of textile arts such as weaving, spinning, knitting, crocheting, dyeing, woven tapestry, thread painting, quilting techniques and more! Her instruction is unique in that it builds student confidence and nurtures artistic expression. She has the ability to guide the student in developing their personal artistic expression.  There are never more than three students per class, unless it is a workshop. Leola teaches all ages and levels.