2020 Teacher Biographies

Nancy Eha
Nancy Eha has been exploring with beads and fabric and teaching nationally for over 20 years. She is the author of Bead Creative Art Quilts and Bead Creative Like Crazy. Most of what she teachers are new beading techniques she has developed through hours of asking “What if” questions of her chosen materials. As a former classroom teacher, she breaks down all seemingly complex beading techniques onto manageable steps so that every student has a positive learning experience.


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.


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, Olbrich Gardens, 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‚Äô Guild she has an almost constant opportunity to discuss anything and everything knitting-related.


Maggie Howe
Maggie Howe has been running an herb shop for 20 years, and playing with plants and fibers for 14 years. She loves making messes and figuring out new and different ways to color fleece, yarn, paper and fabric using plants.


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 Karakul & Icelandic BFL crosses. Linda currently lives on a farm in Isanti, MN and enjoys sharing what she has learned through classes and lectures.


Joe and Pam Manthei
In 2011 after a life-changing vacation to Iceland, Fiskur Leather was born and Icelandic fish leather started being imported. Although simple bookmarks were the first items Joe created, he moved on to quilt-block artwork and cell phone cases. Wallets were a struggle before he developed a simple pattern for using all of one side of a salmon. His minimalist fish-leather wallet fits easily in a front or back pocket. His line of Fiskuroo (fish + kangaroo) bifold & trifold wallets “like iron”. In 2018 he increased his project creativity and skills set and started building Market Tote Bags (large & small), Bucket bags, Messenger & Laptop bags and just finished his first briefcase. A small “weekender” bag and two sizes of a men’s toiletry bag (Dopp kit) have been created in early 2019.  His career path started as a chiropractor during which time his clinical nutrition specialty resulted in teaching many post-graduate seminars throughout the USA. Later Doctor Joe became Nurse Joe with an RN degree (BSN) and worked in the IT specialty of electronic medical records in a rural community hospital. He built the medical software as well as taught the doctors, nurses, pharmacist, lab technicians, etc. how to use the software. Joe and his wife, Pam, live in Mora Minnesota. They have four grown sons, three daughters in marriage and four grandchildren. Although retired from nursing in 2015, he currently works in the Mora school district as a substitute teacher/substitute school nurse when not creating with fish leather.


Chiaki O’Brien
Chiaki O’Brien is a SAORI Leaders Committee Certificate recipient. She worked as an instructor for the SAORI head office in Japan before moving to Minnesota in 2004. She teaches both SAORI and Bengala Dye at variety places to all ages and all abilities such as schools, fiber festivals, libraries and assisted livings. She is happy to bring joy to people through weaving and dyeing. She is a distributor for both SAORI and Bengala Mud Dye.


Bex Oliger
Bex Oliger grew up in her mother’s (Carol Leigh Brack-Kaiser) Hillcreek Fiber Studio. She started learning weaving and natural dyeing at a young age and has traveled the country for 35 years with the family business vending and teaching at Fiber, Weaving and Knitting Shows. She helped design and weave several projects and assisted with many workshops highlighted in Carol Leigh‚Äôs books,  The Continuous Strand Weaving Method and Nature Provides: Dyes for Rainbows. Bex is now a knitwear designer; knitting, weaving, and natural dyeing instructor and consultant; and owns Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe in Columbia, MO.


Erica Solis
Erica is a certified veterinary technician living in southern Wisconsin. She currently works at a clinic as a laboratory technician. She has raised and shown small ruminants for six years. Erica loves sheep, dogs, and Bruce Springsteen.


Kim Specht
Kim lives on a farm near Prairieburg, Iowa. Kim recently retired from teaching but still can’t find enough time in the day for the knitting, spinning, and felting she loves to do. And weaving is ‘looming’ in the not-too-distant future!   Kim’s Romney and Border Leicester fleeces have won awards at festivals in six states. At these festivals, she regularly attends classes taught by nationally known artists. Kim loves combining her love of teaching and the fiber arts.


Margaret Stump
Margaret Stump is a weaver, a teacher and the author of three books on pin loom weaving: Pin Loom Weaving, Pin Loom Weaving To Go and Adorable Beasts; 30 pin loom animals plus four playscapes. This third book, focused on small, easy to make woven animals, will be released in September. Many of the animals and other items from this new book will be on display at her demo booth in Building A. Margaret is from Mankato, she has been working with pin looms for over 40 years, creating a variety of items from Amish style blankets to tiny purses and headbands. She is excited to be sharing a form of weaving that is as fun and portable as knitting or crochet.


Abbey Swanson
Drawing inspiration from the artistry of everyday life, crochet teacher and designer Abbey Swanson of The Firefly Hook crafts her meticulous designs to mirror the intricacies and grandeur of all the things that she loves best: from wildflowers to skyscrapers, landscapes to cultural traditions.  These genuine artistic expressions often honor a particular place and sometimes she is simply inspired by a whimsical muse to create something truly unique. Her mission is to motivate a new generation of crocheters with designs that move beyond the granny square into a new and fresh reputation for crochet.


Emily Wohlscheid
Emily has loved fiber, jewelry, and sparkly things since she can remember. After receiving her BFA from Adrian College where she studied metalsmithing and textile techniques, she learned to spin as a way to get back in the classroom. Now she creates handcrafted jewelry and hand dyed fiber goods for her business, Bricolage Studios, and teaches classes and workshops throughout the United States on spinning, fiber preparation, and jewelry/metalsmithing.


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. Carole has written for several knitting publications and is the author of several knitting pattern books, garment construction books, and fiber instruction books. Her passion for knit textiles is shown by her enthusiastic promotion of the wonderful world of knitting and fiber arts.


J. Wurst
J. 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.