2021-2023 Officers

President: Margaret Briggs president@mafafiber.org
First Vice-President/Communications: Laura Womack firstvp@mafafiber.org
Second Vice-President/Conference: Carol Steuer conference@mafafiber.org
Treasurer: Liz Heine treasurer@mafafiber.org
Secretary: Patty Chrisman secretary@mafafiber.org
Past President: Helena Valentine pastpresident@mafafiber.org

Margaret Briggs, President

Margaret Briggs, President

Like many of you, Margaret enjoys a wide variety of fiber art and craft activities – knitting, spinning, weaving, beading/jewelry, and now circular sock machine and flat bed knitting – and has the stashes to prove it! Margaret lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her husband and fiber-friendly kitties. After a career in architecture and construction management, she has for the past 21 years worked with her husband performing business valuations for employee-owned companies.

Fortunately the family business has a flexible schedule, as she loves to travel to workshops and conferences, particularly to the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina for weaving workshops. Margaret shares her love of fiber arts and uses her project manager skills volunteering with various fiber arts groups. She is past-president and co-founder of the Central Virginia Fiberarts Guild, created by merging three guilds into one new dynamic guild.

Since Fall 2019, Margaret has served MAFA as Second Vice-President/2021 Conference Chair, including pivoting the conference to a fully virtual event.  Previously, she served as Membership Chair, and as Volunteer Coordinator for the 2019 Conference.

Laura Womack, First Vice President/Communications

Laura fell backwards into her love of textiles and, as if it were quicksand, has only fallen deeper in love as she resisted. She mostly ended her work as a journalist when she moved to Singapore, where she became a docent at the Asian Civilisations Museum. Her first gallery talk was on Indonesian batik. The history written in trade cloth appealed to Laura, but the beauty of the textiles soon had her traveling to meet weavers, dyers, and sericulturists. She’s studied ikat, silk reeling, Akha backstrap weaving, indigo and local natural dyes, as well as muga and eri silk production with master artisans. Until the pandemic, she partnered with Myanmar’s top antiques dealer to source traditional textiles.

Living back in the US for over ten years, Laura is no longer struggling but has fully embraced her love of textiles and the people who make them. The woman who once promised herself she would never take up weaving now weaves a bit, dyes more, spins some. She’s working on a certificate in Sustainable Enterprise from F.I.T. to add to her certificates in Ladies Tailoring and Pattern Making.

Post pandemic Laura plans to resume her travels to Asia. In the meantime she is starting up an online business selling the yarns and materials from her collection and that her friends continue to supply her. Laura also chaired the 91 year old Phillips’ Mill Juried Art Show, bringing it online in response to the pandemic. To support the online show she designed a new communications strategy that included social media, website redesign, handbook revision and a new webinar series interviewing artists.

Laura is a member of the Handweavers of Bucks County, Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers and New York Guild of Handweavers.

Carol Steuer, Second Vice-President/Conference

Carol has loved textiles since her grandmother taught her to sew when she was 8 years old. After spending years making her own clothes, her sister-in-law gave her a quilting starter kit and it was an eye-opener. Carol became an avid art quilter and had quilts accepted to juried shows in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Ohio; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Des Moines, Iowa. Two of her quilts won an honorable mention award and she was a third-place winner in the 2011 American Batik Design Competition sponsored by the Republic of Indonesia.

Over the past ten years, Carol has taken various fashion and textile design classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but when her neighbor suggested a weaving class, she was hooked! She loves combining colors and textures with a weaving pattern that will make each item sing. She has a weaving studio in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn and is the president of the NY Guild of Handweavers.

Carol has been the vendor coordinator for the 2019 and 2021 MAFA Conferences. She will put her 20 years of project management experience to use as the new Conference Chair for 2023.

Liz Heine, Treasurer

Every doll needs a rug. That’s how Liz felt as a youngster, which led her to start weaving on a little two-shaft loom. By her teens, she had a big barn loom. Aside from the pesky interruption of having a career, which prevented it from always being warped up, the loom moved cities – from apartments to houses – but faithfully traveled with her. Then, somewhere around 2004, Liz found herself re-energized in weaving after attending classes at the Newark Museum Arts Workshop.  She expanded her weaving repertoire (and loom collection!) and has been doing a lot of weaving with various structures, techniques, fiber and different types of looms. Stash had grown faster than production!

A few years ago, when looms or yarn were in just about every room of the house, Liz searched to rent a studio and was lucky enough to find space in a working knitting mill that is a mere stone’s throw from her house.  She was able to upgrade from warehouse space to a lovely studio in the old accounting room and now also has a small retail space where she sells her work and creations by her sister at:  www.WeLikeYarn.com .

Liz is a member of Westfield Weavers Guild, Jockey Hollow Weavers, and Handweavers of Bucks County.

Patty Chrisman, Secretary

It all began with the discovery of a little spinning wheel in her grandmother’s attic when she was a young girl, and a brief episode at a loom during Camp Fire Girl Camp in the 1970s. The spinning wheel is now in her possession. The location of the bookmark, woven in a small overshot pattern, is a mystery—it was pink and purple.

Although she learned to spin in her 20s, Patty really began her focus on spinning and the fiber world when her kids were in grade school. Following her recent retirement she was able to fulfill a long time goal of learning to weave. Patty maintains an active interest in all things historic—from buildings to textiles, and is involved with her local historic house museum, where she has been known to demonstrate spinning on her Great Wheel.

Patty believes in the benefits of belonging to a guild (or several) and she is a member of Frances Irwin Handweavers, North Country Spinners, Essex County Hand Spinners, and the New York Guild of Handweavers. She attended her first MAFA Conference in 2017 as a Rep for North Country Spinners, and was so impressed with the organization and the many ways it supports its members, through grants and scholarships, and its efforts in connecting guilds within the larger region.

Helena Valentine, Past-President

The first seed was planted when Helena saw looms in the basement of a playmate’s home. Twenty years later she made a back strap loom in a YWCA class. While working in Philadelphia she heard about the guild and her learning took off. She attended her first MAFA conference in 1987 and still looks forward to the opportunity to learn, laugh and grow with fellow fiberholics.

Helena’s mom taught her to knit as a child. She has added weaving, spinning, dyeing and machine knitting to her list of excuses for acquiring fiber. While living back in New York City, she studied draping and pattern making at FIT. Her current focus is designing handwoven garments with knitted accents.

Helena was a reading specialist and principal in Philadelphia for 30 years. She hopes her skills in teaching, professional development and collaborative leadership will be assets to MAFA. She will work to expand the connections between MAFA and its member guilds.

Helena lives in New Jersey. She is the proud mother of one son and grandmother to two wonderful children. She loves travel, learning and meeting new people. She is a member of the Harmony Weaver’s Guild, the New York Guild of Handweavers, and the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers.