Instructor Bios

2017 Teacher Bios    – Sign up for classes coming soon! 

Melissa Bohrtz

Melissa is one half of the fiber arts duo that runs Hello Purl.  She has been carding and creating textured art yarns since she began spinning in 2010.  She loves to blend colors and textures in her fiber work.  She has been exploring all aspects of fiber arts with hand weaving and embroidery.  She also loves to knit with chunky art yarns and on needles larger then US 10.  In addition to her fiber arts business Hello Purl Melissa enjoys spending time on her little homestead with her husband, two boys, ten chickens and four cats.

Katherine Buenger

Katherine Buenger has a degree in studio art from Macalester College. She has been a member of the Weavers Guild since 2001 and enjoys many fiber related arts. Katherine always likes finding something different and fun to do with her work. Spinning the yellow pages, coffee filters, computer tape, and other non-traditional things and finding ways to weave, knit, and ply-split with them has been a fun challenge. She is not afraid to break the rules and try something new, and encourages others to do the same.  

Jill Colbert

My name is Jill Colbert.  I have a small hobby farm in Minnesota.  We raise sheep and have alpaca and llama, chickens and bees.  I love working with fiber and I like to find ways to use it!

Danita Doerre

Fiber Artist, ILR-SD Llama Fleece Judge

As a Fiber Artist, Interior Designer and Certified ILR-SD Llama Fleece Judge, I have been involved with fiber since my first purchase of Forrester, Llama in 1996.  Since then Forrest Ridge Llamas and Alpacas houses 4 llamas, 2 alpacas and I sheep for a variety of natural, eco-friendly fibers.  My specialty is Needle Felting soft sculptures and Fiber Art. Techniques I use are hand spinning, wet felting, needle felting, braiding, weaving, hand dying and dry felting to create pieces for Fiber Art with soft expression and depth.

All of my designs are one-of-a-kind inspired by nature and the coulee regions of Wisconsin.  All fiber has a purpose and my passion is to work with a variety of fleeces while being a part of our heritage culture of handcrafting with “Fiber”.

Education of Fiber for the community has been through classes at tri county fiber studios and llama farms, Jefferson and Kentucky Sheep and Wool Festival, WTC Junior college, as well as Minnesota and Wisconsin Llama conferences and workshops.

Stacy Drenckhahn

Stacy Drenckhahn is a fiber artist and the owner of Beelighted located in Zumbrota, MN. Stacy enjoys encouraging fiber frivolity in all forms. She created 3-D Needlefelted pieces that can be found at Artify Collective, an artist gallery that is connected to BeeLighted. She enjoys creating assorted fiber supplies including color packs, batts hand spun and custom dyed yarn in her onsite studio. She teaches 3-D needle felting at Shepherd’s Harvest, at other regional fiber events, and in her Zumbrota shop.

To discover more, visit

Leslie Granbeck

Leslie Granbeck is a feltmaker and instructor from Minneapolis. Leslie loves sharing her knowledge of fibers and their magical transformation into felt. She teaches traditional wet felting, nuno felting, and her favorite – three-dimensional seamless felting. Her classes are full of color, creativity and adventure. They also include a free workout as feltmaking is a “physical art”. When not teaching, you’ll find Leslie in her home studio working on new fiber projects. Visit

Elizabeth Harrington

Elizabeth Harrington, The Mama Squirrel, has been making her own soap and skin products for several years.  Shea butter makes her swoon.  Her friends and family are thrilled that she keeps them supplied with all-natural soap and lip balm.

Mary Jo Harris

Mary Jo Harris lives in the knitting mecca of Madison, WI.  She has been a teacher all of her adult life and has formally taught knitting for the last 10 years at various Sheep and Wool Festivals, Fiber Festivals, Knit-In’s, and teaches locally for Madison College and the Wisconsin Craft Market.  In the last several years, she has added Chair Caning classes to her teaching repertoire.  Mary Jo designs knitting patterns and under her designer name of Jo Harris, has written a book entitled ‘Double Knitting – Inside Out’ which is available through Amazon or Ravelry.  As an active member of the Madison (WI) Knitters’ Guild she has an almost constant opportunity to discuss anything and everything knitting-related.

Stefania Isaacson

Stefania has been a life-long knitter, and started spinning and dying to supply herself with “the best yarns in the world!” She got her Certificate of Excellence in Handspinning from the Handweaver’s Guild of America in 1997. Since then she has opened her own business called Handspun by Stefania and taught numerous workshops dealing in natural dyes, spinning, knitting, and basket making. She has spoken about the fiber arts to numerous groups, and has appeared on Home & Garden TV as a guest on the Carol Duvall Show. She sells handspun, natural hand dyed yarns, original knitting kits using her own yarns and patterns, hand dyed roving dyed with natural dyes, and handmade baskets. She was previously a high school English teacher, and now enjoys teaching spinning, dyeing, and knitting to fiber enthusiasts. Most recently, Stefania has authored a book on natural dyeing, titled In Search of the Perfect Green–And Orange, Too!

Linda Johnson-Morke

Linda has been a fiber enthusiast for the majority of her life. Knitting started at 5 years old and twisting her hair at an even younger age. Knitting led to spinning (something more that her hair) which led to sheep and rabbits. Felting led to different sheep, trips to Norway and Mongolia and a passion for understanding why wools felt differently. Being an engineer by training and curious by nature resulted in many years of fiber experimentation as an outlet for her creativity. A 10 year hiatus from the corporate world led to a line of fulled wool products sold both wholesale and retail.  A shepherd for more than 30 years, Linda has shepherded Navajo Churro, Border Leicester, Cheviot, Hampshire, Karakul, Finnish Landrace, Icelandic, Texel, Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) and Tunis sheep. Her current flock consists of Icelandic & BFL crosses, Karakul and Tunis sheep. Linda currently lives on a farm in Isanti, MN and enjoys sharing what she has learned through classes and lectures.

Chiaki O’Brien

Chiaki O’Brien is a SAORI Leader Committee Certificate Recipient. She graduated from the SAORI one-year course and worked at the SAORI head office in Japan until moving to Minnesota in 2004. She teaches at fiber festivals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, and South Dakota every year and is a teaching artist for The Textile Center (Minnesota), the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, and others. She taught at the Midwest Weavers Conference 2015 in St. Paul and the Michigan League of Handweavers Conference in 2015. She was a resident artist of the Blake School (Private school in Minnesota) in the 2015-16 school year and has taught Pre-K through 12th grade levels. Also a teacher of Bengala Mud Dye techniques, Chiaki received the Jerome Fiber Artists Project Grant in 2012 and went to Japan to study Bengala Dye. She enjoys teaching both SAORI and Bengala Dye to people of any age and ability!

Dan O’Brien

Dan O’Brien was accepted into SAORI Leaders Committee in the fall of 2003. He is the first non-Japanese certified SAORI instructor. Since 2005, he has been active as a teacher at Sheep and Wool Festivals, Childrens fairs and art festivals and so on. He has a master degree in Advanced Japanese Studies and currently teaches social studies in a high school as well as teaching SAORI Weaving lessons from time to time throughout the year.  He is a teacher, author and artist.

Sheryl Thies

Sheryl’s passion for combining fiber, texture and color provided teaching opportunities both near and far; from local yarn shops to international waters aboard cruise ships.  She is the author of numerous knitting and Tunisian crochet books, published designs in magazines and designs for yarn companies. When not knitting or crocheting, she can often be found on the bocce court either playing or refereeing.

Becky Utecht

Becky Utecht is a fiber artist living in rural Ogilvie, MN. Her flock of sheep provide the raw materials she uses to create felt artwork, clothing, humane sheepskins (felt pelts), handspun yarns, and handknit items. Her work has won awards in fine art and fiber venues.  She teaches fast-paced, fun felting classes at various regional venues including her own outdoor felting studio in the woods.


J. Wurst
WURST is the editor of MACHINE KNITTING INSPIRATION, a quarterly publication with patterns and knitting machine instruction. He was kept awake during his childhood by his mother’s knitting machine, and has gone on to design and demonstrate knitting machines on a national level. His published patterns have appeared in Machine Knitters Source and other publications. He organizes an annual design contest for machine knitters and coordinates classes at September Seminar for Machine Knitters and Fiber Artists.

Carole Wurst

CAROLE WURST is a fiber artist, knitwear designer and instructor based at Rocking Horse Farm in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. She is a nationally known lecturer and seminar teacher in the machine knitting field. Carole has written for several knitting publications and is the author of several knitting pattern books, garment construction books, and fiber instruction books. She also judges fiber art and textile competitions. Her passion for knit textiles is shown by her enthusiastic promotion of the wonderful world of knitting and fiber arts.