Paula Ashworth: Spinning Wool
Paula’s fiber memories could quite possibly precede her existence on earth. When in the womb, her mother and grandmothers gathered on Sundays after church to sew and knit Paula’s baby clothes that she would later put on her doll once she outgrew them. As a very young girl Paula was always playing in the family button box or stringing empty spools on a shoestring. Finally, her grandmothers taught her to knit when she was 5 or 6, and her mother taught her to sew about the same time. Paula made her own clothes for school from 4th grade on, and eventually her children’s clothes, until they had to have store-bought or die of embarrassment.
While the sewing came quickly for Paula, spinning was decades in the making. From the first craft show in Brevard where she witnessed Barbara Miller spinning; to a Christmas gift from her mother-in-law of a very heavy drop spindle, at least 1” thick whorl, some rusty antique hand cards, and a box of wool; to connecting with a community of spinners when living in Texas; to her first of many wheels; to Christmas presents of hand-knitted socks made from the fiber her mother-in-law had given her 20 years earlier; to retiring to her husband’s family land; to a flock of 60 sheep (for which she sews coats so they stay warm after shearing); spinning has been a journey of love and discovery.
Paula relishes the process of using and then making fiber until she can go no further back than the sheep or the plants themselves. It pairs wonderfully with her love of history and joy of learning and her desire to care for the land which which she has been blessed. Paula is moved to teach what others have taught her to at least one other person, in person, before such knowledge is either lost or turned over to the internet.
Jeri Buek: Rug Punch, Wool Appliqué, Rug Hooking, Rug
Punch with Yarn
My husband, Tom and I retired to Hendersonville from Houston, TX fourteen years ago. Since coming to the area, I have been busy with all types of sewing. Material Things Quilt Shop gave me the opportunity to create items for display, including quilts, punch needle embroidery and wool appliqué.
In 2012, I was invited by the State of NC to participate as a member of the Village of Yesteryear at the NC State Fair in Raleigh, to demonstrate punch needle and wool appliqué. It was a great experience to be able to teach curious children and their parents about a craft that was relevant to a time period in our history.
I was a stay-at-home mom with a sewing business that kept me busy for a number of years with weddings, costumes and home decoration as well as children’s clothes, of course.
The classes at the Boarding House at Historic Johnson Farm have given me an opportunity to meet some very talented people with great ideas.
Learning never stops for any of us.
Charlotte Cornell-Simmons: Weaving
Charlotte arrived in Hendersonville in 2011 and took her first weaving class in 2013. She is an award-winning weaver who creates on a floor loom, rigid heddle loom and an inkle loom. She is also a spinner, dyer, quilter and knitter, with a smattering of crochet, basket-making, rug-hooking, needle felting, and nuno-felting in addition to being a Master Gardener. In her words, “My love of color and experimentation define my work.”
Irene Heckel-Volpe: Soft Sculpture, Needle Felting, Fiber Painting
Irene has creating collectible soft sculpture since 1986. Starting with collectible mohair teddy bears, she has been designing and creating the teddies for over 30 years. They have been featured in several US magazines, including Teddy Bear and Friends and Teddy Bear Review and in several overseas publications, with an emphasis on some unique innovations and mixing of media.
During the time that she was creating teddy bears, in 2002 Irene discovered the art of needle felting. The use of wool fibers to sculpt became part of the teddy bears, but as time went on it became apparent that this new art form was going to become a very large part of Irene’s creative process and she began to create sculptures that were beyond the teddy bears. She developed techniques that pushed her to continue designing and developing. Most of her work makes use of mixing her media. Needle felting itself was new to most people, so Irene was called on to demonstrate and educate at many shows. She has also developed needle felting classes which teach the how to… but also using imagination and technique to create everything from 3D sculpture, to embellishment, and also using fiber to create paintings. She has recently been commissioned many times to create portraits of people’s fur babies.
Irene has taught classes all over the US including Fiber Forum at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg in 2017 and 2019, and is scheduled to teach there again in 2023. Her work has been exhibited and awarded both locally, nationally and internationally. Irene is originally from Long Island, NY and relocated to the Asheville area in 2014, with her husband and her “fur-family”.
Ruth Howe: Fiber Artist
Needle and thread in hand since age five, Ruth’s fascination with all things fiber from a young age included sewing her own clothes, knitting, crochet and eventually a curiosity about how cloth was made. One orphan loom that needed a home plus a one-week weaving class in 1974, and the rest is history.
Taking time off to raise her family, Ruth moved to NC in 2006, where she saw a notice in the Time’s News for a meeting of the WNC Fiber and Handweavers' Guild, which introduced her to the local weaving community. Retired with time to spend at her passion, she began teaching Beginning Weaving classes in 2007 at Opportunity House. Ruth now teaches the Weaving Boot Camps I & 2, plus Intermediate Weaving classes at HWFA.
Claudia Lampley: Rug Hooking
Born and raised in the North Carolina Piedmont, Claudia fell in love with the Blue Ridge mountains when she attended Appalachian State. With the exception of one year in Greenville, S.C., Claudia has not left the Southern Appalachian range since.
Professionally, Claudia specialized in printing and layout design. Paper is just another form of fiber, after all. And indeed her fiber fixation began young—her aunt was a home economics teacher, who every year would give Claudia a new project to make or learn for Christmas. Claudia’s aunt had hooked rooster chair pads in her kitchen, but while her aunt taught Claudia many crafts, hooking was not one of them. It wasn’t until Claudia was an adult that she learned how to rug hook taking a class at Blue Ridge Community College.
While an equal opportunity crafter, Claudia always seems to come back to wool. She currently is working on a geometric sampler rug for her class in 2016, but enjoys wool appliqué and wool felting too. And she’s particularly fond of her tools—especially her Miller hook and offset scissors. So long as she doesn’t run with them.
Zsa Lobel: Basketry
Zsa came to basket weaving because her doctor prescribed it as an antidote to her pressure-ridden career of running a company and solving other people’s problems. Claiming to have had “no creative life before weavers and risers,”
Zsa qualified as a Master Basket Weaver after a year of learning. She embarked on finding her own style when her instructor said she had nothing else to teach Zsa, and it was time for her to go explore and develop her own basket “character.” Hence, Zsa’s "Out-of-the-Box" basket weaving series, which explores developing art baskets using unusual materials such as pottery, found materials and unusual dyes, was born. In fact, Zsa views all materials as fair game to make baskets--reed, grapevine, grasses, wire, ribbon, leather, fabric and virtually anything that is long and narrow. Look for gourds and antique wood blocks to make an appearance in her class offerings.
Like any artist, Zsa loves her tools. She says they fit her hand in an intimate way. “Some tools are just utilitarian, but some are my friends.” In particular, her square handled ice pick and her old Tupperware lettuce keeper. You’ll have to take the Ginger Jar class to find out why.
Micheline “Rusti” Nichols : My roots are in Belgium and in East Tennessee, my dad being an American GI stationed in my mother’s village of Flawinne,Belgium during WWII. My mother and I immigrated to the US a few months after I was born. She instilled in me the love of needlework, crafting, and gardening at a very early age, things all Belgian girls learned.
I wove my first basket as a young teen in Girl Scout Camp. Then as a stay at home mom with 3 preschool aged children, I found and bought a basket weaving book, some reed and began teaching myself basketry. As the kids began school, I went to work and back to school for my Master’s. No time for weaving until retirement, and then I was able to renew my interest in basketry, which evolved into inkle weaving (at the nudge of my neighbor, Irene Munroe), then Ridgid Heddle, now loom weaving. But basketry has continued to be near and dear to my heart. I fell in love with the Cherokee style of basketry and have focused on the various types of twills.
For about 4 or 5 years, I taught some basket weaving classes/workshops in Waynesville and currently teach a workshop each summer at our Balsam Community Center as a fund raiser for the center. Seeing the pride in peoples’ faces who have never woven a basket, is worth all the hard work that goes into teaching a workshop. I have never failed to hear, “Now I know why handwoven baskets cost so much!” Hopefully they all have come away with an appreciation for the art of basketry.
Roberta Platt: Knitting
Roberta has been knitting since her Aunt Mary taught her the craft at the age of 10 and she never stopped. She taught knitting at Knitting With Nancy in Naples, Fl for 10 years before retiring to Mills River in 2015. She has created many of her own designs, some of which have been published by Stacy Charles Yarns and Claudia Handpainted Yarns, as well as appearing on Ravelry under the Loops label. Knitting has been her passion and favorite form of relaxation for many years.
Spinning and weaving have been a part of my life for over 40 years. When I was living in North Dakota a friend who learned from the Mennonite women in the area, introduced me to the joy of spinning. I learned on the Ashford Traditional spinning wheel and although there are other wheels in my studio, I still favor this dependable wheel. My fiber world continued to grow in North Dakota as a I got my first loom there, a 4 harness, 36 inch Harrisville. As a military wife, we moved 28 times during my husband’s career and I was able to join many guilds. Each guild helped me connect to the local area, meet other fiber people and learn through workshops and classes. I had the opportunity to teach weaving when I lived in the Middle East. It was an international community, so it was interesting and challenging to get these beginner weavers started on their fiber journey. I have been in South Carolina for six years and feel settled with my studio space and all my equipment around me. My favorite thing to do on my looms is weaving rag table runners and placemats. Continuing my fiber growth, I have taken lessons in rigid heddle weaving and a couple of years ago started teaching the Introduction to Weaving classes at HWFA. The fiber world never stops spinning!
SaraBeth Black: Rug Hooking, Dyeing
SaraBeth got ‘hooked’ early. While her mother taught her to sew, her grandmother showed her how to take wool clothes apart to be cut and used to hook rugs, although she never ‘invited’ SaraBeth to help with a rug. When SaraBeth’s son was born, she picked up her knitting after getting him to bed. It didn’t take her long to realize that she needed something that didn’t involve concentration or counting! She started hooking on a small kit and hasn’t stopped since.
Knitting, weaving and a few other crafts come and go, but rug hooking, especially designing it and dyeing the wool for her various projects, is her vice of choice. Dyeing is also an important part of her teaching. She says it keeps her young…and out of the bon bons.
Patricia (Pat) Koss: Crochet, Knitting
Pat has been involved in crafting since a very young age. She is a knitter, seamstress, crocheter, inkle weaver, quilter, punchneedler, and dabbler in various other crafts. She has taught knitting and crochet to adults and her Middle School students, including those in Special Education classes.
Carol Lachance: Rug Hooking
Carol Lachance is a certified McGown rug hooking teacher. She is currently a member of two national guilds: the National Guild of Pearl K. McGown Hookrafters and ATHA (Association of Traditional Hooking Artists). She is a member of the Tarheel and Merrie Mountain ATHA Rug Hooking Guilds. She is also a member of Heritage Weavers and Fiber Artists in Hendersonville NC, where she serves as Treasurer.
Prior to moving to Hendersonville NC in 2019, Carol was a member of the White Mountain Woolen Magic and was Treasurer for an independent guild, Seacoast Ruggers. She was also Treasurer for the ATHA Region 1 School South and Director of the ATHA Region 1 School North. In New Hampshire Carol volunteered on a weekly basis at the Canterbury Shaker Village.
Her work has been featured several times in the McGown Newsletter and displayed at various rug shows. A resident of Hendersonville NC, Carol accepts students in her home and other venues. She also offers workshops on various rug hooking topics and techniques, as well as offering hand dyed wool. She currently has a rug on tour (Hey, Diddle Diddle) as part of the McGown teachers’ Fairy Tale presentations, sponsored by Honey Bee Hive.
Elyse Meltz: Knitting, Weaving, Spinning
I love yarn - I love to knit and weave with it and spin my own. I never planned to teach but was asked to teach spinning at HWFA. I found I enjoy offering my knowledge and skills and seeing what others do with it. I love to design yarn for knitting and weaving by blending and combining colors and fibers, especially using a blending board. I love living in western NC and being part of the rich fiber arts culture here.
Nanette (Nan) Miller: Weaving
Thirty years ago I toured Opportunity House and discovered the weaving room. I knew I had found a new passion! My husband and I had been “half backs,” traveling back and forth from Jacksonville, Florida to Hendersonville every six months. Two years ago we happily moved here permanently. I have enjoyed taking workshops and classes in sewing, basketry, felting, indigo dyeing, painting, etc., but I truly love weaving all matter of things and employing different techniques.
Heather Seaman has been coiling baskets out of longleaf pine needles for around 18 years. Graduating in 1996 from UNC Asheville with a BA in art, her love of nature eventually led to a passion for working with natural materials. Pinecones, black walnuts, shell slices and more are used in the decorative and functional pieces that she creates. She is currently a member of the Transylvania County Handcrafter's Guild in Brevard, the Dogwood Crafters in Dillsboro and the Heritage Weavers & Fiber Artists that operate out of the Boarding House at Historic Johnson Farm in Henderson County. Her work can be found at various craft shows around Western North Carolina in addition to the Dogwood Crafters shop in Dillsboro.