Symposium 2016 Presenter Biographies

Becky Ashenden
Shelburne Falls, MA – Becky was introduced to the wealth of 4wedish textiles in 1981 at Sätergläntan Hemslöjdens Gård, a school renowned for weaving and other traditional crafts since 1922. She has pursued weaving as a life passion as well as a career, opening Västuga Weaving School in 1991. Becky continues to actively run her weaving studio and to refine her courses to provide maximum exposure to her techniques and expertise at the loom. The depth and breadth of Becky’s work at Vävstuga are the culmination of decades of teaching. She also established Vävstuga Press, which translates and republishes out of print Swedish weaving books, and she has been the technical editor for several Swedish weaving books published in English.

Patricia Bishop
Nova Scotia, Canada – Patricia Bishop and her husband, Josh Oulton own and operateTapRoot Farm, producing agricultural-based products for nearly 10 years. TapRoot Fibre Lab is the only company in the world devoted to creating long line flax fibre processing equipment on a scale that can generate localized economic growth in rural and smaller communities. They are designing, prototyping, and building a 6-stage mechanical processing line to transform retted flax into fine linen yarn. They have an impressive level of expertise, knowledge, and skill in the area of management, production, processing, and marketing as well as a highly developed industry network. They were awarded Atlantic Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2010 and in 2014, were named Canadian Food Heroes for their efforts towards sustainable, good, clean and fair food. Patricia spearheaded the launch of the farm CSA currently serving over 500 families and in 2014, launched HarvestHand New Media Communities, a software platform that helps CSAs manage and build their business.

Lisa Bertoldi
Williamsburg, MA – Lisa is Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair, a forty-two year old fair in Cummington MA. A former apprentice at Vävstuga School of Weaving in Shelburne Falls, MA, she heads the Vävstuga Scholarship Committee, which provides weaving instructions for persons who otherwise would not have the opportunity. Lisa is a weaver of kitchen towels for her small business called Weft Handwovens. She weaves a limited line of towels utilizing fifty percent of her handspun linen thread.

Roben Campbell
Still River, MA – Roben Campbell is an independent scholar specializing in Shaker life in the Harvard, MA community. She has conducted extensive research and delivered papers and talks on a variety of topics including Shaker textiles. She worked as a docent in the Shaker building at Fruitlands Museum for 11 years, and has worked closely with other local organizations consulting, and giving Shaker talks and tours. Her interest in textiles grew out of her first job (1973) as a field archeologist with the Texas Highway Department where she discovered textile remains and tools from local Indians and pioneer women. She immediately learned to spin, and dye, and weave, and over the years has many exhibitions to her credit, including an exhibit of 19th century black cloth dolls. The thread running through all these interests is the desire to understand a culture through the artifacts it leaves behind.

Peter Cook
Berwick, ME – After an apprenticeship with a nationally known spinner and weaver in the late 1960s, Peter Cook worked as a handspinner at Fort Mackinac, an 18th century British Fortification in Michigan. Over the next 30 years, he was named director and chief curator of the Bennington Museum in Bennington, VT, after which he was appointed administrative director of Historic New England, and subsequently chief curator of Plimoth Plantation. Widely published on the subject of textiles, handspinning and the decorative arts, Cook has been a frequent consultant on the interpretation of colonial handspinning at museums in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. He now divides his time between teaching in the Graduate School of Education at Lesley University and his 18th Century Tare Shirt Farm, where he and his wife Nancy, also a spinner and weaver, raise historical breeds of domestic livestock and collect textiles and spinning equipment.

Faith Deering
Deerfield, MA – Faith is a museum educator in Historic Deerfield’s Department of Museum Education. Faith grows, harvests, dresses and spins flax in Deerfield. She has designed public programs focused on the flax to linen process, and works with flax and other natural fibers in interpretive programs. Before coming to Deerfield, she had a position at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History as an entomologist. One of Faith’s strong interests is making connections between the natural world and human cultural history. From honey bees to silkworms, from shellac scale to Cochineal dye, from flax fiber to linen thread, Faith enjoys engaging visitors with stories of process to product.

Cassie Dickson
Whittier, NC – A member of the Southern Highland Guild, Cassie Dickson is a traditional pattern weaver who specializes in the weaving of coverlets and the processing of the flax plant to linen cloth.  She has been spinning, weaving, and natural dyeing for over 40 years. Recent teaching experience includes the John C. Campbell Folk School and the 2015 Southeast Fiber Forum. She presents to colleges, schools, and regional fiber events.

Craig F. Evans
Brookfield, NH – Craig began weaving in 1976 in New York City. In 1979, he began an apprenticeship with Norman Kennedy at the Marshfield School for Weaving in Vermont, and has spun and woven since that time using traditional equipment and techniques. He has been an Artist in Residence for the Vermont Council on the Arts, is currently listed with theNH State Council on the Arts as a Traditional Craftsman, and received a Council on the Arts Apprenticeship Grant in 2008 and 2015. In 1981, in a statewide juried textile exhibition sponsored by the Vermont State Craft Centers, he received an award for Technical Excellence. Craig has collected textiles and textile tools for years. He sells antique coverlets, fine linens and wool blankets as well as antique spinning wheels, barn frame looms, and other associated artifacts.

Florence Feldman-Wood
North Andover, MA – Florence has been publishing the quarterly newsletter The Spinning Wheel Sleuth, A Newsletter about Spinning Wheels and Related Tool since 1993 and the annual Hand Looms Supplement since 1998. Her favorite area of research is patented moving-spindle wheels. She had the unique opportunity to photograph and study the patent models of spinning wheels at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Her articles have appeared in other publications such as Spin-Off and Early American Life. She has lectured at many conferences, as well as to many spinning and weaving guilds.

Sandy Fisher
Chico, CA – Sandy has been a professional weaver creating functional pieces of art for the home in linen for over 30 years. The past 3 years she has devoted her passion for linen to start Organizing for Fiber, Chico Cloth, in Chico, CA. This local project seeks to create unique fabrics made from flax, locally grown and processed, then designed and woven into cloth that would be unique to its community, Chico, CA which has pledged to the concept of sustainability.

Gina Gerhard
Hill, NH – Gina is an 18th century reenactor, handspinner, and natural dyer. Her particular area of interest is flax processing & spinning – growing, retting and dressing using original period tools, and spinning on antique wheels. She takes the “show on the road” and demonstrates at numerous historic sites throughout the Northeast.

Chris Hammel
Florence, MA – Chris Hammel learned to weave twenty-five years ago while attending graduate school in Iowa City. In 1998, she completed a six-year Master Weaver Program atHill Institute in Florence, MA. Her work has been published in Handwoven and Complex Weavers Journal. She has taught classes at Webs in Northampton, MA, Fiber Arts Center in Amherst, MA, Snow Farm in Williamsburg, MA and The New England Weavers Seminar 2005, 2007, 2013 and 2015. In 2004, Chris became the Director of Weaving at Hill Institute. In an earlier part of her life, she taught high school Latin and art. She holds BA and MA degrees in Latin Language and Literature from Smith College and University of Iowa, respectively.

Diane Smith Howes
Danville, NH – Diane is a collector/ buyer/ seller of early New England textiles and textile tools and equipment. She is a weaver with a Master Certificate from the Hill Institute in Florence, MA. Lately, her main focus has been on domestically produced textiles of northern New England during the period of 1780 to 1820 using original equipment. In 2015, she had a weaving apprenticeship funded through a grant from the NH State Council on the Arts where she studied under the tutelage of master weaver Craig Evans. Diane is also a volunteer weaver at two historic sites in New Hampshire.

Destiny Kinal
Berkeley, CA – Destiny is a co-founder with Judith Thomas of the Reinhabitory Institute, a bioregional 501c3 whose collaborations with Fibershed in Marin County are organizing a larger group of textile artisans to consider the feasibility and conditions of reintroducing a flax-to-linen culture in the United States. She is the author of The Textile Trilogy, a study of the 19th century in novels; Burning Silk won a Ben Franklin First Book Prize in 2011 from the Independent Booksellers Association (IBPA). The second book in the trilogy, Linen Shroud, will be released in 2016.

David E. (Ned) Lazaro
Deerfield, MA – Ned is the Associate Curator of Textiles and Collections Manager at Historic Deerfield. He holds a master’s degree in fashion and textile history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Ned has researched, lectured, and published on various aspects of clothing design and textiles from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, often through the lens of New England inhabitants and the material culture they left behind.

Scott Norris
Florence, MA – Scott is a weaver who specializes in hand-dyed linen to make tablecloths, bath towels, and other utilitarian household textiles. He is also a writer, with essays and reviews published in magazines and journals such as American Craft, Ceramics Monthly, Ceramics Art and Perception, Handwoven, and Under The Sun. Visit his website at

Michelle Parrish
Amherst, MA – Michelle is a member of the New England Flax and Linen Study Group, and has been growing flax for over ten years. Her focus in the study group has been growing different varieties of fiber flax, including 29 varieties obtained through the USDA germplasm system. Her goals are to identify types that perform well in Western Massachusetts and expand the range of seeds available to small-scale growers more broadly. An educator, weaver, spinner, and plant-based dyer, Michelle grows plants for fiber and dye, and documents her projects on her blog ( Since 2001 she has been active in a number of local fiber, art, craft, and farm organizations, and has taught students of all ages. Michelle earned her Master Weaver Certificate from the Hill Institute in Florence, MA in 2010. She maintains her school’s fiber and dye plant garden, and has presented workshops to K-12 teachers on growing and using dye plants and flax in the school garden through Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom.

Sandra Rux
Kittery Point, ME – Sandra Rux studied history, earning her B.A. at the University of Connecticut and an M.A. from Trinity College, Hartford, CT. She is a graduate of theMuseum Studies Program of the Munson Institute, Mystic Seaport Museum. A hand loom weaver herself, she has written about nineteenth-century carpet weaving for the Dublin Seminar, and industrial development of New Haven, CT in her book Corsets, Clocks and Locks. Currently, she is Curator Emerita for the Portsmouth Historical Society, Portsmouth, NH.

Jeffrey Silberman
New York City, NY – Jeffrey Silberman is a Professor and Chairperson of the Textile Development and Marketing Department of the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, a consultant to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) Secretariat, and serves as Executive Director to the International Forum for Cotton Promotion (IFCP). He is an international textile consultant specializing in marketing and development strategy. He has designed and implemented textile programs in more than fifteen countries, including linen development programs throughout Russia and cotton development in Egypt. Jeff holds a Master of Textiles (MR) degree from North Carolina State University, College of Textiles, a B.S. in Textile Marketing and Design from Philadelphia University, and Advanced Management Program Certificates from the Wharton School of Business in Finance and Accounting, Marketing Management from the Columbia Graduate School of Business, and Environmental Law from New York University. He is a winner of the ‘Winrock Award for Service and Dedication Given in Helping to Build a Better World’ for his work with Russian flax producers.

Justin Squizzero
Marshfield, VT – Justin is a dyer, weaver, and embosser for Eaton Hill Textile Works and an instructor at The Marshfield School of Weaving. Justin’s passion for recreating 18th and 19th-century textiles was kindled by his grandmother, who taught him at age twelve to spin on an 18th-century great wheel that has been in his family for generations. Weaving on 200 year old English four post looms by the time he was sixteen, Justin went on to work at museums including Plimoth Plantation, Coggeshall Farm Museum, and The Rhode Island Historical Society. During this time he trained under Kate Smith and Norman Kennedy at Marshfield before relocating to Vermont full time in 2013. Captivated by the beauty of utilitarian textiles, most of his recent personal and professional projects have been yard upon yard of plain weave linen and wool—testaments to the essential value of ordinary goods and the hands that make them.

Ron Walter
Hilltown, PA – Ron and his wife Kitty Bell Walter have a special interest in textiles and tools related to textile production in the home and weaving shop. Recently he has been collecting and researching spinning wheels and hetchels and their makers. They have collected coverlets for over 40 years and Ron has broadened his interest and research to cover all types of coverlets woven in United States in the late 18th and the 19th centuries. Ron and Kitty Bell are currently editors of CCGA News, the newsletter of the Colonial Coverlet Guild of America. Ron has recently accepted the position of President of the CCGA. He is on the board of directors of The National Museum of the American Coverlet in Bedford, PA.

Carolyn Wetzel
Williamsburg, MA – Carolyn Wetzel has B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in botany and plant physiology from the University of Michigan and Cornell University. Her academic research has been on the process of photosynthesis, and she currently teaches biology at Holyoke Community College in Western Massachusetts. Carolyn is an avid lace maker and a student in the Hill Institute Master Weaver program, which is how she became interested in linen thread production and history. Blending her passions for botany and textiles, Carolyn’s involvement with the New England Flax and Linen Study Group is centered on finding cultivars of flax and processing methods that produce threads fine enough for lacemaking, similar to antique threads that are no longer commercially available.

Christian and Johannes Zinzendorf
Pitman, PA – Christian and Johannes have been growing and processing flax since 1983 when they raised their first plot in the 18th century Industrial Area of Historic Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. They soon began demonstrating the flax to linen process at hundreds of venues in the mid-Atlantic region, including Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Grove, Winterthur Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They have written extensively about historic flax production in magazines such as Early American Life andPennsylvania Folklife. Articles about them have been appeared in Country Home and other periodicals and newspapers. They are authors of The Big Book of Flax published by Schiffer. Their home base is The Hermitage, in the Mahantongo Valley of central Pennsylvania, where they have a retting pond, spinning and weaving studio and the Mahantongo Heritage Center for display of their extensive textiles and textile tool collections.


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