Meet the Team

Every year we are lucky to invite a myriad of fibre artists from spinning, weaving, felting, dyeing, knitting and other assorted topics. This year, we're very excited to include these instructors among our workshop list. Be sure to check out their associated websites and biographies to learn more about them. If you see an instructor you like, sign up for their class quickly! There is limited space to share some time learning from these incredible artists.

Fibre Week Instructors:

Vanessa Bjerreskov

Vanessa Bjerreskov has been working with fibre since she was a child. Starting with crochet and cross stitch and progressing to knitting and finally to spinning, she is a 2017 graduate of the Master Spinner Program at Olds College, Alberta. She has taught countless people how to spin and knit, been published in PLY Magazine and SpinOff, and is the host of the fibre arts podcast By the Fibreside. Visit her website at or follow her on Instagram at @sparqness.


Michelle Boyd

Michelle Boyd is a spinner, weaver, and writer who lives in the Treaty 7 region. She has been designing and spinning yarns for 25 years, and she never ceases to be amazed at the magic that happens when twist and fibre meet between her hands.


Leah Cathleen Donald

The black cat started it all. Leah Cathleen's first attempt at felting is a charmingly ugly black cat she created at a children's art table at a fall fair 18 years ago. Creating 'Cat With Yellow Eyes' opened her eyes and heart to the potential of wool and she has never looked back.
Leah Cathleen was born and raised in Calgary. She was an instructor for school field trips at the Leighton Art Centre for over 11 years. After Leah Cathleen discovered felting, she left Leighton to start her own company - ArtFelt Studio - teaching felting in local schools. This business has grown exponentially over the 10 years since it started and now has 4 instructors visiting southern Alberta schools. Leah Cathleen has personally taught over 15,000 children - and several hundred adults - how to felt.  Leah Cathleen is a self-taught fibre artisit working with wool and has a delightful passion for teaching this art process. Her art has won awards at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede and the best of show award of the fibre art section at the Millarville Fall Fair. She was the guest artisit at Lougheed House for Alberta Art Days and can often be found demonstrating felting at the Leighton Art Centre. Leah Cathleen has taught sessions at the Calgary Teachers Convention, adult workshops at the Leighton Art Centre, art ambassador events at the Alberta Children's Hospital and several events for the Early Childhood Education Council.
As an artist member of the Leighton Art Centre, Leah Cathleen exhibits and sells in juried shows and both the Spring Clothesline Art Show and the Christmas in the Country Show. "


Lynn Ivany-McEachern

To me, being creative isn’t just something I do; it is a part of my being. It is something I must do, like breathing. I am semi-retired from paid work, currently exploring my creative artistic interests in the Fibre Arts – Weaving and Quilting. I recently completed the Master Weaver Program at Olds College; and I have both a B.Sc. H.Ec. Degree from the U of A and a CST technical diploma from NAIT.


Carol James

Carol began exploring North American sash-making methods because of her Quebecois husband. Invited to teach in her hometown of Winnipeg, she came to be know as The SashWeaver. Her students encouraged her to publish the handouts she created for the class. This was the genesis of her first book Fingerweaving Untangled.
Known for her expertise in North American braided belts, military re-enactors asked her to make sashes for them. They wanted sprang sashes. This opened the door to yet another technique. Encouraged by the success of Fingerweaving Untangled, and determined to ease the learning process for others, Carol transformed her sprang learning curve into the book Sprang Unsprung. She has also produced instructional DVDs on the topics of fingerweaving and sprang.

Carol has published articles on the subject of these techniques in magazines such as Handwoven, Spin-Off, Journal for Weavers Spinners and Dyers, and Ply Magazine.
Carol has been invited to teach at diverse international conferences, including HGA’s Convergence (Long Beach, Providence) and The Braid Society’s Braids 2012 and Braids 2016.
Her students describe her as a patient and knowledgeable instructor. She has attended professional textile conferences, presenting papers on her work at the Textile Society of America, CIETA, the Textile Research Center in Copenhagen, and the Textiles of the Nile Valley Conference in Antwerp, Belgium.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to travel, Carol has taken the time to examine historic examples of these techniques. She has successfully reproduced a number of items including a replica of George Washington’s silk sprang sash, a replica of the Arizona Openwork (Tonto) shirt in the collection of the Arizona State Museum, belts for the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin, and numerous sprang bonnets. Carol brings samples of her reproductions to her classes, greatly enriching the student experience.


Tracy LaRose

Tracy has, ever since she can remember, enjoyed working with textiles. The first 30 years or so of her artistic life were spent sewing, but about 10 years ago discovered she could actually create her own fabric. With a fresh perspective on fibre art, Tracy now spends her creative time almost exclusively playing with colour and texture in weaving. Tracy has won awards for weaving at various events, and was the Weaving Team Lead for the Heritage Weavers and Spinners "40 Mile Coat" project. She is also currently enjoying the challenge of Master Weaver level IV through Olds College. But perhaps one of her most exciting discoveries in recent years is that she can teach others to weave as well, and thus start them off on their own journeys.


Karla Mathers-Cocks 

Karla Mather-Cocks is a multifunctional artist located in Southern Alberta. She has participated in numerous group and individual exhibitions. She loves to explore weaving and fibre arts focusing on recycled and atypical fibres.


Lois Mcdonald-Layden

Hi! My name is Lois and I was born and raised in a very small fishing village in Northern Nfld. A horticulturist by trade, I am now a full time felt artist and I own a thriving felted art/home decor business. An Army wife & Mom of 3, I have lived all over Canada. I make felted home decor, little birds and wool paintings. My work is inspired by this gorgeous country and includes lots of moons, sunsets, trees, wildflowers, northern lights, and the ocean. I currently live in NB where I have a lovely home studio, and lots of inspiration outside my door. I am a member of The Fibre Arts Network and a juried member of Craft NB.


Christie Schulze

Christie Schulze is a graduate of the Olds College Master Handspinner program. Her fibre of choice is wool, but she won’t say no to a luxurious cashmere/silk blend or some lovely longline flax. As an outlet for her handspun yarn she mostly knits, but has recently also taken up weaving. When she isn’t at a spinning wheel or loom, she can be found managing the HR department for a local non-profit. She lives in the foothills of Alberta with her partner and their multitude of furry housemates.


Laurie Steffler

Laurie Steffler is a fibre artist, felt fashion designer and has been teaching the art of felt-making for 20 years. Her felt fashion has been selling at major shows across Canada and showcased on runways and productions.
For 30 years she has been exploring rich depths of colour through fibre colour layering and the multi- layering of dye baths. Each year she produces a collection of eco and botanical prints from plants she harvests.
She has the ability to teach all the latest innovative surface design felting techniques. With her extensive experience she is able to teach beginners and help advanced students to grow within the same class. Laurie enjoys supporting her students unique creativity and shows them many tricks to make the felting process easier and faster to do.


Diana Twiss

Diana is passionate about fibre, fabric, colour and texture. As a life-long learner, she is is driven by curiosity - especially about lost arts or lost ways of doing things like extracting bast fibres from local plants or making yarn with a tool as simple as a stick. An experienced fibre arts instructor with formal education in adult learning and Fine Art, she has 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. Diana has contributed to PLY magazine with articles on flax to linen; plying on spindles; and using hand carders. You can see how she combines all her fibre interests and skills by following her pursuit to make yarn from locally sourced fibres including flax, on her blog – and Instagram as @diantwiss.


Gayle Vallance 

Gayle earned her Master Spinner Certificate at Olds College and Level I of the Certificate of Excellence (Spinning) through the Handweavers’ Guild of America. She has also completed the basic level of the master weaver program through the Canadian Weavers' Guild. She has special interests in the historical use of fibers and natural dyes. She uses colour and texture to create unique yarns, making the best use of dyes and fibers, in spinning, weaving, braiding and felting. She teaches at conferences around North America.