Meet Our Experts
Betsy Ayrea – Betsy developed the Soup of Success program in November 1997 and still directs it to this day. She is passionate about empowering women to find their voices, stop settling and reclaim their lives. Betsy does presentations on the Soup of Success program and Church Community Services and is active in agency development as well as social media communications. Betsy loves the creative parts of her job, and is happy to include upcycled textile products in the Soup of Success product line up. She loves meeting new people and is always on the lookout for new retail and wholesale customers and people who want to get connected through volunteering!
Lori Bender – Lori has been a local Elkhart County sewing instructor since the mid 1990’s. She is currently an instructor at Heartland Country Sewing and runs her own Long Arm Quilting business.
Carolyn Blackburn – Carolyn has been an instructor for 12 years. One year at Jeanette’s Fabric Boutique and for the past 11 years she has been teaching at Calico Point in Goshen.
barbie Brooks – barbie will share her twenty years of creating many patterns of wool applique and her hand embroidery passion. She is a retired quilt shop owner and has taught for over 20 years. The needle and thread are a must in her daily life.
Tracy Burns – Indiana Artisan Tracy Burns is a Fiber Artist based in East Central Indiana. She works with linen and wool fabric. A visit to the 1999 Indiana State Fair, introduced Tracy to Traditional Rug Hooking. She has been teaching beginner and intermediate classes since 2001. Her commitment to sharing her knowledge with others comes from years of study with teachers, craftsmen and artists of many disciplines from across the country. With a trained understanding of styles, methods and advanced techniques, she has taught classes at her home in Wayne County Indiana, area churches, Homemakers Retreat, Art Centers, Public Libraries, Fiber Festivals and Air Venture in Oshkosh, WI. Tracy has won many awards for her work in the past 21 years as well as her work appearing in the International ATHA (Association of Traditional Hooking Artists) Magazine/Newsletter, and Ten Thousand Loops by Judy Taylor 2020
Jean Burstfield – Jean learned knitting basics when she was in college. Then when she started having children, she picked up the needles and has not stopped. Now there are grandchildren but now she knits mostly for herself and she can’t seem stop knitting.
Xenia E. Cord and Mary Jane Eichacker-Kaufman — American Quilt Study Group members Mary Jane and Xenia are independent researchers who developed this presentation as a research paper for AQSG, where it was published in its 2022 peer-reviewed annual journal, Uncoverings.
Xenia E. Cord taught folklore for 20 years at Indiana University’s Kokomo campus and has served in many roles at AQSG including president, board member, and endowment committee co-chair. She has had three previous research papers published in Uncoverings and has been widely published in popular quilt magazines. In addition to making, collecting, researching, and selling quilts, Xenia is also an associate fellow at the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska and is the Marion, Indiana Quilters Hall of Fame 2018 honoree.
Mary Jane Eichacker-Kaufman is the retired Curator Emerita of Social History at the Indiana State Museum, where she curated the international-known David Pottinger Collection of Indiana Amish quilts. Under her supervision and encouragement, the Museum’s collection of historic quilts has been greatly expanded. Mary Jane was previously the Curator of Dolls, Toys and Textiles at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. During her forty-five years in the museum field, she authored more than twenty major exhibits and innumerable minor ones. She also volunteers at The Quilters of Fame, assisting in the on-going organization of their Collections department. Both are members of the Midwest Fabric Study Group.
Shane Davisson – Shane received her first sewing machine at age 10 and has been sewing ever since. She spent 10 years sewing costumes for Premier Arts at the Lerner Theatre. About 4 years ago Shane started learning the fine art of quilt making. Now she can be found teaching classes at Sew Creative Thread in Elkhart.
Julene Fitch – Julene has enjoyed knitting and crocheting since she was 9 years old. She was inspired to learn when her paternal grandmother sent her a hand knitted afghan. She is never not knitting and carries a “go bag” of knitting with her so that she will have something to work on wherever she is. She has further explored the world of fiber arts and has added spinning and weaving to her skill set. She is very passionate about her love for the fiber arts and finds tremendous joy in it.
Tammy Gardner – Tammy is a Quiltworx Certified Instructor since 2021 after being personally invited by Judy Niemeyer. She grew up in Bristol, IN and has a degree in Education from Purdue University. She began quilt making in 1989 as a way to carry on her great grandmother’s legacy. She has been teaching paper piecing club for 9 years. While teaching has become her primary focus, she has also entered quilts into many shows and has won numerous awards for the quilts and her longarm quilting.
Lynn Gerard – Lynn has been sewing for many years and has discovered her love for creating and making bags and purses out of cork material and leather. She couldn’t find a local source to buy all the matching hardware and zippers so she started selling that as well thus LsG Creations was born.
Susan Ginther and Jo Willis – Susan and Jo are both seasoned color designers and forecasters.
Rebecca Haarer — Rebecca has been a lifelong resident of the Shipshewana area. Born and raised in a Mennonite family. She has been deeply immersed in the Amish/Mennonite community of LaGrange County, IN. Rebecca earned BA – Art Education from Goshen College. She is also a collector and presenter of Amish Quilt History.
Shirley Hershberger – Shirley is an artist who has talents in painting, fiber arts, sewing and quilting. The motion of spinning intrigued her; she learned the skills and now spins on a variety of wheels. The best part of spinning is the yarn that she uses for knitting, crocheting, and felting.
Jeanne Heyerly – Jeanne was first introduced to quilting in the early 1980”s when she worked in a quilt shop in Houston, Texas for Catherine Anthony, mother to Libby Lehman. Almost all of her projects are smaller than bed size quilts and are made for charity around the country. “Quilts Without Corners” by Cheryl Phillips is her go-to source. She is a member of the Materials girls Quilt Guild in Middlebury and is the Co-Ordinator for the Michiana Mennonite Quilt Auction held each September.
Melvenea Hodges – Melvenea is a fiber artist in South Bend, Indiana. She creates clothing and accessories using traditional techniques such as block printing, sewing, weaving, spinning, knitting, crocheting and embroidery. Melvenea’s mission it to honor and preserve our fiber arts heritage through practice. She intermittently blogs about her work and traditional textiles techniques on her website www.traditionsincloth.com, she also offers handcrafter accessories and spinning supplies. Melvenea has also published articles with Spin Off magazine on techniques in working with cotton.
Annetta Jones — Annetta is the County Extension Director and Health and Human Sciences Extension Educator for Purdue Extension-Porter County. Over the course of her Extension career she has created and taught a variety of Family and Consumer Sciences programs, such as Empower Me to Be Clutter Free, Unstuff Your Closet, Where Does Your Money Go?, and Organizing Your Important Papers.
Connie Kauffman – Connie is a quilt designer, author and teacher. She has published 6 books and has many patterns in other books and magazines. She has been an Island Batik Ambassador for the past 9 years.
Ken Kniesly – Ken Started Nalbinding about 5 years ago. His love of fiber arts stems from his mother. Ken is married for 19 years and has 13 year old daughter. His other interests are raising and showing dairy goats and poultry for 28 years.
Donna Kooistra – Donna an AQS Certified Quilt Appraiser and is the former President of the Professional Association of Appraisers of Quilted Textiles (PAAQT). She has been American Quilter’s Society certified since 2010, Donna appraises newly constructed quilts, antique, traditional, and non-traditional quilts for insurance replacement value, market value, and donation value. For many years, Donna has participated and taught in classes and lectures on fabric dating and identification, technique, construction, documentation, ethics, and current trends to determine values of quilted textiles offered by national quilt organizations as well as those by local shops and appraisers.
Currently, she is a member and former President of PAAQT, Professional Association of Appraisers of Quilted Textiles; and a member of American Quilter’s Society, Material girls Quilt Guild and many other groups.
Mary Ann Lienhart Cross – Mary Ann learned to sew as a child making pillowcases with her grandmother. She continued to sew though 10 years of 4-H and earned a degree in Consumer & Family Sciences and also a Master Degree in Instructional Development both from Purdue University. Mary Ann is a lifelong learner and most of all enjoys sharing with others.
Sharon Martin – Sharon is a life time sewer and began learning and improving her skills at a young age. She enjoys sewing table runners & toppers, wall hangings, quilts and many other projects.
Kris Peterson – Kris is very frugal and practices what she believes and reclaims just about anything to use in her fiber arts. Materials she works with are denim, other fabrics, yarns, clothing and whatever sparks her creativity at the moment. She enjoys being creative and sharing with others.
Chelane Priller – Chelane is a Certified Instructor the Studio 180 Design. She is a member of Capitol City Quilt Guild and Cal-Co Quilt Guild and is part of the “Foster Friday” small quilting group.
Beth Raker – Beth has been sewing since 4-H as a youngster making clothing and household items, then began quilting later in life. Her mother and grandmother were both accomplished seamstresses who inspired her. She loves to try new techniques and gadgets, but glue basting is one she has been using for nearly five years since first seeing it demonstrated at The Great Wisconsin Quilt Show.
Maggie Schnaars – Maggie is a fiber artist living on a small alpaca hobby farm in Elkhart County. She specializes in knitting, crocheting, weaving on a rigid heddle loom, and spinning lessons for all age groups. She knits continually, experimenting in traditional methods of knitted garment construction and color work in fair isle, twined, entrelac and intarsia.
Saloma Slabaugh – Saloma was given the gift of being taught needlework at a very young age. She has pleasure in passing this gift on to others who would like to enjoy this amazing hobby.
Susan Weller – Susan has been knitting since she was a child. She has worked in yarn shops and taken professional classes for teaching knitting and knitwear designs. There are always knitting projects within reach of her hands at home or on the go. She likes all of kinds of knitting and is always happy to help a knitter find solutions to knitting challenges.