Who We Are

 

WALLA WALLA VALLEY QUILT

FESTIVAL COMMITTEE

cathy wiese
I started quilting in 1992 after buying a new sewing machine.  Seemed to me that I had to justify it with products to show my hubby.  I didn't know any other quilters so I purchased a pattern (a tissue paper pattern) a ruler, rotary cutter cutting board, and went for it.  That was the first of many quilts.  As we all know..so many quilts, so little time.  My sewing room is my sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the world.  And I do spend a lot of time working on Festival Business, but it is a labor of love!


judy benzel
Judy has been sewing most of her life and continues to create with fiber.  A Home Ec college grad, she has branched out to computer sciences in her vocation, but her avocation still remains sewing and quilting.   An accomplished quilter and seamstress, she never ceases to amaze with her creative products.   One of Judy's specialties is putting together the Demonstrations and schedules at the Festival. 

Judy Benzel

 

jan eaton
I took my first quilting class at Saxon’s Sewing Center in 1982. It was a 12 block sampler but the quilt was to be a wedding present for my younger sister, so I decided to make it into a 25 block king size bedspread. I hand quilted it.  When I finished the third quilt top, I was ready to try machine quilting…stitch-in-the-ditch. Whenever I see it now, I cringe!  The quilting did nothing to enhance the beauty of the patchwork design. In December 1990, I completed my fifth quilt.  It took me three weeks from start to finish. It was at that point that I realized I loved quilting more than garment construction, and I had been making all of my clothes for nearly 20 years! I began experimenting with free-motion quilting in 1994.
A few years later, I took two classes from Pam Clark, a well-known machine quilter from Spokane, WA. In 2004 I went to Harriet Hargrave’s 
Celebration of Machine Quilting in Estes Park, CO. However, I still have lots to learn. I do all my quilting with my Pfaff sewing machine and enjoy making free-motion designs using only minimal guidelines. My favorite designs are feathered wreaths and cables.

I taught family and consumer sciences education for 32 years, retiring in 2008.  I introduced my middle school students to quilting by turning 9-patch blocks into pillows as a tune-up for their sewing projects.  Over the years, several groups of older students wanted to make quilts as their sewing projects.   I am particularly proud of the actions my students took following two world events.  In December 1992, my students stitched together scraps of donated polar fleece to create blankets which were sent to Croatian refugees of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. Then, after Hurricane Katrina, my students created 28 beautiful lap sized quilts from donated fabrics and sent them to students in a 5th grade class in Long Beach, Mississippi.

Relatives and friends get most of the quilts I create. I also donate quilts for use as fundraisers to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Blue Mountain Archers, and other good causes. Currently, I teach patchwork and machine-quilting classes at Walla Walla Sew & Vac and Spas.

 

pam murray
Pam is an accomplished writer, speaker and consultant.  She travels far and wide visiting Europe and the far east.  You can easily see this influence in her lovely work.  She began quilting in 1973 before the advent of rotary cutters.  Her first project was a deacon's bench seat composed entirely of 1-inch squares.  She meticulously cut each square with her scissors.  That was enough for her for many years.  Quilting again called her name and her second effort was a pot holder.  Pam has graduated into making lovely quilts which she machine quilts herself.  She says she still often gives thanks for the modern quilting tools we all enjoy!

Pam Murry 

 

becci lund
I learned how to quilt about 15 years ago from a "how to" book.  Needless to say it, it was not very successful. I took some classes, joined a guild and was hooked.  My husband was in the military and we moved every couple of years. Every time I went to a new location, I was always able to find a group or guild to join.  That is the best thing about quilters!  There is always a friendly group to join for friendship and of course  quilting.   After a break from quilting while my kids were young, we ended up here in Walla Walla about 7 years ago.  I joined the guild, made many new friends and got (as my family says)  "obsessed" with quilting.   A new house,  a mom cave, and a few( million) stitches later ,I am helping with the festival.  I look forward to continuing my journey of quilting, friendships and the quilt festival.  Happy Stitching!

Becci Lund pic 

 

becky martin
I started quilting about 15 years after I took a class from my good friend Jan.  Then I took more classes and have been hooked ever since.  Went to Estes Park, Colorado to Harriet Hargraves Quilting Celebration and took several classes from well known teachers from here and abroad.  Each time I take a class, I learn something new.  Jan and I now teach classes at our local Sew and Vac store here.  Quite a change from knowing nothing to becoming a teacher.  Can't find me, I'm in my sewing room!  

 

nancy kessler
I started sewing in 7th grade when you learned how to make one of those lovely gathered skirts using 3 yards of fabric.  Sewed clothes, costumes, etc. for family and friends through the years. But in 2000 a small newspaper ad caught my eye announcing the 2nd annual WWVQF and they were having a quilt challenge.  Well, I love a challenge and the quilt was only wall hanging size, so I bought a book, fabric and other tools of the trade and went to it.  Much to my surprise, and a few other peoples', I won third place.  I was now hooked big time on quilting.  After the quilt festival that year, I volunteered my services and as they say, the rest is history.


 

dyann swanson
Love fabric, love the texture, feel, and look, it’s my downfall. Wanting to be a stay at home Mom while our two children were little, I sewed for them and eventually even sewed suits for my husband Chuck. One day our son, Eric brought home a quilt that he found at a garage sale. It was comprised of two different blocks, a 10” block, and a 12” block. Needless to say, it was an interesting and colorful combination…but it didn’t quite fit together.  After making that find into two quilts; finishing a velvet quilt a friend had started for my Aunt Irene, I was deep into repairing old quilts that families were trying to save.  That naturally led me into studying old fabrics, their history and which period in time they were produced.  After a few years of piecing together other people’s treasures I joined the Blue Mountain Piecemaker Guild in Pendleton and made my first new block, Ocean Waves, then Delectable Mountains then…well I was hooked.

I quickly found out that I am a starter, not a finisher so I really have to push myself to finish projects. Quite often I will declare a year “A finishing year” and will not start any new projects until I finish the ones at hand. While that sounds very noble, in trying to finish up I get so many new ideas that I have to start…a few new ones. A couple years ago I decided I had too many hobbies so I have cut them down to five: quilting; tole painting; card making; crosstitching and knitting.  I will let you guess how many unfinished projects that creates!

Dyan S.

 

kay fortner
Like many quilters, I started sewing in 4-H with after school meetings and entering the county fair.  I signed up for the beginning quilt class in Hood River, Oregon in 2009. I was interested in making quilts for my family and grandson.  When I picked up my class supply sheet I thought the instructor was so funny because the sheet had a warning "quilting may be addicting."  By the third class, I purchased a new sewing machine after learning what the term "nesting" meant. Well, the joke was on me because I am hooked, addicted and totally in LOVE with quilting.   
In 2013, my husband's job brought us to Walla Walla.   When we made our first visit to Walla Walla, to see if we would be interested in moving, we just happened to visit the weekend of the Quilt Show (and of course checking out the local stores)!!  My first impression was WOW, there are a lot of quilters here...... Yes hubby, we can move here!!! Quilting has provided me with an excellent opportunity to meet amazingly talented and friendly people in my new town, through classes, and the Walla Walla Valley Quilt Guild.  In addition to my involvement with this amazing Quilt Festival,  I am currently serving as the President of the Guild. I consider it a privilege to sew among so many talented quilters in the valley, and to call them friends!!  
Kay Fortner pic
 
catherine spanish
I inherited my love for creating and sewing from my mother. In my early years, I made my Easter suits and prom dresses. After marriage and children, I was making diapers, children's clothes, and lots of crafts.  Somewhere around 1982 I made our first bed quilt, a double Irish Chain design, and soon after that a machine appliquéd bed quilt for our son. I didn't produce very many quilts for many years after that. Then when my first grandchild was expected, I made a hand appliquéd, hand quilted baby quilt. That was so much fun!  But, truly active quilting began for me in 2011 following retirement.
I love every aspect of quilt design!  I pet fabric, drool over colors, have an ever- growing thread collection. I always have several projects going at the same time. I'll be working on one, while thinking about how the next one will be planned. I enjoy both machine and hand appliqué, and my newest love is wool appliqué combined with cotton pieced quilt tops. The design possibilities are endless!  I'm still learning everyday, but my goal is to become more accomplished as a finish quilter after piecing the tops.
Cathy Spanish pic

terri hellberg
I started sewing in the usual way, having to take the mandatory “home ec” class in Jr. High.  I didn’t do real well. I couldn’t walk by my moms’ machine without it breaking!  (Mom was a great sewer)  I really started sewing when my husband bought me my first Viking sewing machine in 1983. I could sew thru coyote fur!  I started sewing clothes for the kids and really enjoyed it.  I took classes in pattern fitting to tailoring.  When I made my first quilt, a king size log cabin, I didn’t even have a rotary cutter, ruler or matt.  I have several rotary cutters, and numerous rulers now.  I love quilting. My time spent quilting gives me peace and makes me happy.   If I’m cranky, my husband has been known to say “Don’t you have some sewing to do?” I finally figured out that he was saying you're cranky, go sew. I’m afraid that I won’t get all the quilts made that I want.  There isn’t enough time in a day and I always seem to find new ones that are waiting to be created!

Terri H.