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The TNNA 2018 NeedleArts Summer Trade Show is the perfect place for needlearts professionals to learn about the newest products and techniques in the industry! Our classes are designed to develop and enhance your technical and business education, leaving you with new skills to take back to your business.

Check back often for updates to teacher bios and headshots!

Grace Akhrem

Grace Akhrem, a Los Angeles native, has always been artistic and crafty.  She started out drawing, then painting, then moved on to photography and ceramics. Knitting and crochet was a natural progression for Grace that didn’t require any clean-up. 

Grace’s designs are inspired by color, yarn, texture and fashion.  She loves working with vibrant and saturated colors that make you want to smile.  Her love of color is where she draws most of her inspiration… although sometimes she just listens to what the yarn is telling her it wants to be.

Grace’s main goal as a designer is to designs patterns that she would like to wear herself and she thinks others would as well. Grace focuses on construction and technique in all of her designs.  She is known for two major design elements in her patterns, short-rows of all kinds and her uniquely designed bind off and stitch patterns.  Although she does mostly focus on the short-row technique her designs can range from beginner to advanced and everything in between.

Classes Grace Akhrem is teaching:

  • 10 Things Every Knitter Should Know  | Wednesday, June 13 | 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. 
  • Cast Ons and Bind Offs | Thursday, June 14 | 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Jessica Anderson

Jessica Anderson is the owner of Jessica Anderson Designs, as well as running her own clothing and jewelry businesses. She has learned to create unique networking opportunities within the industry and elsewhere to provide something special for her customers while providing the best use of the resources for her collaborators.

Classes Jessica Anderson is teaching:

  • It's as Easy as Pie! | Thursday, June 14 | 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • C is for Collaboration | Friday, June 15 | 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Kate Atherley

Kate is’s Managing Technical Editor, and a seasoned designer and teacher of all things knitterly.  Her book 'Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet' was released summer 2015 by Interweave Press, to great acclaim, and her latest book, ‘Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns’ is proving very popular among both new and experienced designers.  She’s known for her attention to detail in her patterns and her classes, and she regularly teaches at stores and events across North America, including Interweave YarnFest and Vogue Knitting Live. Her work has appeared in many books and magazines.

Classes Kate Atherley is teaching:

  • Garments and Sizing: Perfectly Fitting, Perfectly Flattering | Wednesday, June 13 | 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • Introduction to Technical Editing for Knitting | Thursday, June 14 | 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Pattern Writing for Knit Designers and Teachers | Friday, June 15 | 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Gwen Bortner

Gwen Bortner has been teaching since 1986 and is a recognized name at many national venues since 2003. Beginning early in childhood, Gwen has dabbled in all of the various needle arts with knitting finally taking center stage during her college years. Gwen has nearly 30 years of experience as a business consultant, trainer and executive working in a variety of business arenas including filling the role of Interim Executive Director for TNNA. Her "super power" is the ability to share new and valuable information in accessible, easy-to-process, bite-size pieces. Gwen can be found virtually on her blog at

Classes Gwen Bortner is teaching:

  • Are You Building a Business or Just Doing a Job? | Friday, June 15 | 7:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.
  • Can't Keep Up? 10 Tactics to Make a Difference in Your Business | Saturday, June 16 | 7:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.

Mary Lou Egan

Mary Lou Egan, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, she teaches in the nationally-known shop, the Yarnery and at other shops and fiber festivals. The insight gained from teaching plus working the shop’s free knitters’ clinic has given her insight in ways to address the challenges knitters face with many designs and patterns. Mary Lou is the author of Drop Dead Easy Knits and Wearwithall: Knits for Your Life, Her designs have appeared in Knitty, Craft Activism, and Shear Spirit. Her line of self-published patterns are sold at yarn stores nation-wide, as well as on Ravelry and Patternfish.

Classes Mary Lou Egan is teaching:

  • Twined/Two-Ended Knitting | Friday, June 15 | 7:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
  • Create Confident Knitters | Saturday, June 16 | 7:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.

Liz Gipson

Liz Gipson has a passion for small looms that knows no bounds. With over 15 years experience in the yarn industry, Liz worked in the publishing and manufacturing sectors, gaining a deep understanding of the supply chain and its disrupters, as well as content creation that supports sales. In 2013, she launched, a source for weaving know-how and inspiration. Her new book, Handwoven Home, was released this year.

Class Liz Gipson is teaching:

  • Weaving on a Frame Loom | Friday, June 15 | 7:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.

Zontee Hou

Zontee Hou is the founder of Brooklyn-based consultancy Media Volery and a part of the respected Convince & Convert Consulting team. Her 10 years of experience in the marketing industry, including as marketing manager for Lion Brand Yarn, has garnered multiple awards including a Forrester Groundswell Award. 

Whether consulting for clients including Telogis, Indiana University, and the UN FAO or teaching at the City College of New York, Zontee seeks to connect marketing methodology and business goals.

Classes Zontee Hou is teaching:

  • Social Media Toolbox: 15 Tools Every Business Should Be Using to Amp Up their Social Media Presence | Thursday, June 14 | 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
  • Digital Dandelion: Distribute Your Content for Maximum Impact | Thursday, June 14 | 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Roberta Kreb

Bobbi Kreb is the owner of a successful yarn shop in the Midwest. Bobbi has a Ph.D in organizational development but a great love for the needlework industry. 

Class Roberta Kreb is teaching:

  • The Secrets of the Most Successful Shops & How to Apply Them in Your Store | Thursday, June 14 | 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin is a textile artist from Colorado, and is the Content Manager for Schacht Spindle Company and serves as the Marketing Director for Deviant, the movie. His background in population ecology helps him in his day to day work as a marketer.

Classes Benjamin Krudwig is teaching:

  • Introduction to Little Looms | Thursday, June 14 | 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
  • Woven Wall Hangings | Saturday, June 16 | 7:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Patty Lyons

Patty Lyons is a nationally recognized knitting teacher and technique expert who is known for teaching the “why” not just the “how” in her pursuit of training the “mindful knitter”. She specializes in sweater design and sharing her love of the much-maligned subjects of gauge and blocking.
Patty teaches nationally at guilds, shops & knitting shows around the country such as Vogue Knitting LIVE, and STITCHES. Her popular classes can also be found on DVD and online at Interweave, Annie’s and Craftsy where her “Improve Your Knitting Class” was named Craftsy’s most popular class of 2013!
Patty designs and knitting skill articles have been published in Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, Knit Purl, Knitter’s Magazine, Cast On, Knit Style, Creative Knitting, and Twist Collective where she writes a knitter’s advice column: “Patty’s Purls of Wisdom”. Patty’s designs have also been included in pattern collections from Classic Elite, Noro, Cascade, Tahki Stacy Charles, Sugar Bush and Willow Yarns.

Classes Patty Lyons is teaching:

  • Pricing Strategies & Goals in Retail | Wednesday, June 13 | 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
  • Build a Super Selling Staff | Wednesday, June 13 | 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • Tools for Successful Inventory Management | Thursday, June 14 | 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
  • Secrets to Yarn Substitution | Thursday, June 14 | 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Building Your Buying Plan – Open to Buy and More | Friday, June 15 | 7:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
  • Managing Cash Flow | Saturday, June 16 | 7:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Sasha Ball Rives

Sasha Ball Rives has been pursuing all things creative since childhood. Her love of clothing led her to a degree in Merchandising, and varied work in the fashion industry. She taught Fashion Merchandising, Textiles & Buying for 3 years at her alma mater. 

When her time at the University was over, knitting had become her obsession. She opened a local yarn shop that combined her love of teaching, knitting, visual merchandising, and retail management. 

Since closing the store, Sasha has started designing patterns, writing, creating tutorials, and continuing to share her love of yarn online at

Classes Sasha Ball Rives is teaching:

  • The Magic Ball Shawl - Use Your Sock Scraps! | Wednesday, June 13 | 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • How to Hose a Successful Mystery Knit-A-Long in Your Shop | Thursday, June 14 | 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Cynthia Spencer

Cynthia Spencer has owned her local yarn shop, Stitch Your Art Out, for 15 years. Her shop is half knitting and half quilting, and both sides keep busy! She schedules classes for nearly every night of the week (and on Saturdays and Sundays) and currently coordinates 20 teachers in addition to herself. She also designs beginner through advanced knitting patterns for her pattern company, Really Clear Designs. Her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology makes her a strong advocate for teaching and learning through classes, with an emphasis on the practical how-to.

Class Cynthia Spencer is teaching:

  • Build Your Yarn-Shop Business with Classes | Wednesday, June 13 | 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Heather Walpole

Heather is the owner and creator of Ewe Ewe Yarns, a small independent yarn company focusing on modern colors and fun-to-knit patterns. Along with starting her own yarn line, Heather is an accomplished graphic designer, knitwear designer, author, and knitting personality. Heather has published knitting patterns for own line, her book Scarves in the Round, as well as Interweave, Knit Simple, and Creative Knitting magazines. Her most fun achievement was being featured as a “rockstar guest” on The Knit Show with Vickie Howell in 2017.

Find more information about Heather and Ewe Ewe Yarns at


Class Heather Walpole is teaching:

  • Hues You Can Use: Putting Color Theory to Work in Your Shop | Wednesday, June 13 | 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Kara Gott Warner

Kara Gott Warner, Creative Knitting Magazine Executive Editor, and host of Power Purls Podcast, began her career designing knitting patterns in 2002. Her designs have been published in Creative Knitting, Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits. Kara has a background as a technical illustrator, with past clients including: Random House, Lark Books, Sterling Publishing and F+W. Kara is the media relations lead for Annie's Signature Designs, an upscale knit and crochet pattern collection. Kara podcasts at

Class Kara Gott Warner is teaching:

  • Digital Marketing Strategies for Shop Owners & Yarn Crafters | Saturday, June 16 | 7:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.

Beverly Army Williams and Gale Zucker

Beverly Army Williams is a writer and writing teacher, teaching creative writing, composition, grant writing, and business and technical writing at a small public university in Western Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The Dandelion Review,, Interweave Crochet, and Project 333 among other places, and she co-edits the webzine Beverly works as ghost writer and writing consultant for makers, creative non-fiction, and fiction writers. She has been co-teaching with Gale Zucker about the partnership of beautiful words and dynamic images since 2013. Her website is and she blogs at When she’s not teaching, writing, or stitching, Beverly hikes in the woods of Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and serves a demanding terrier and a stubborn, handsome husky.

Gale Zucker is an award-winning editorial/commercial photographer. She is the co-author/photographer of the books Drop Dead Easy Knits, CraftActivism and Shear Spirit . Her clients include yarn companies, magazines, designers and artisanal manufacturers.  Gale has been teaching Photography for Knitters and iPhone-ography workshops  across the country since 2009. Find her on Instagram as @galezucker.

Classes Beverly Army Williams and Gale Zucker are teaching:

  • Leveling Up Your Business on Social Media | Wednesday, June 13 | 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • Photo Shoot A-Z: Planning, Producing and Picture Making | Thursday, June 14 | 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
  • 10 Photo and Hashtag Tricks to Build Community | Friday, June 15 | 7:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

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