Meet Our Staff


Shop owner, Mary Humphrey, began COTTONWOOD in 1993 by vending at miniature doll and quilt shows and working from a home studio. When the studio was moved to a retail location in 1995, her dream of a quilt shop was born. In 1999, she added the BERNINA dealership and in 2000 moved from the village of Palmyra to the current location.  Mary began hand embroidery projects by age 5, making her own clothes at 9 and her first quilt at 12. Mary comes by it naturally, learning from her mother, Helen, who was an avid weaver, appliquer and bobbin lace maker. Mary lives with Buddy, her husband of 34 years, at Lake Monticello outside of  Charlottesville.                                   
Brenda has done many kinds of sewing her entire life, but now her focus is on quilting. Her particular interest is in piecing, hand applique and machine quilting of traditional style quilts. Her other interests include gardening and cooking.


Call her "old fashioned," because as long as Marilyn can remember she has enjoyed sewing. When her children went off to college she decided to get a job, thus the start of her quilting career. Her boss was a quilter, they took classes together and enjoyed a wonderful learning experience. During this time she acquired her first BERNINA. She worked for 19 years before retiring and then along came COTTONWOOD. She couldn't resist when a part-time job was offered. Since then, she says she has been enriched by the friends she has made, especially while teaching classes. Since she has spare quilts, she donates them to different charitable organizations such as The Arc of the Piedmont and Area 3 Special Olympics for fund-raising. She also enjoys sewing for her grandchilden and making totebags for relatives, friends, and of course herself. She has 2 BERNINA sewing machines, 2 embroidery machines and a serger to keep her busy quilting for a long time.
Shannon started sewing after her children were born.  Her first project was making superhero capes for her son and daughter.  Quilting became her passion after taking a class with Nola Rich a few years ago.  She also enjoys embroidery and basic garment construction.  Working at Cottonwood keeps her inspired and always thinking of new projects.



Jill Murchland came to Cottonwood after working at the “Sunday Best” quilt shop in the Columbus, Ga. Area.  She started quilting 15 years ago and loves making shop samples and helping beginning quilters.  Her other interests are cooking, baking, and selling Pampered Chef products.

Although recently retired from the Postal Service, Elizabeth Barretta-Davis has a background in Graphic Design, Crafts and Fine Arts.  She studied weaving at Arrowmont School of Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and at The Craft House Fiber Studio/Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico before finally moving to the Charlottesville area in 1975. With a full time job and a new family she sold her floor loom and became interested in art quilting after seeing the work of Kumiko Sudo and Kitty Pippen using Japanese patterned fabrics.  Elizabeth’s early quilt designs were wall hangings interpreting Haiku poetry so her fabric stash before coming to Cottonwood was primarily Japanese themed fabrics. She is excited to join the quilters at Cottonwood to learn more about traditional quilting techniques and expand her palette of fabrics.  Elizabeth is married to Reggie and lives in Earlysville with Spike, an American Bulldog.




Anne Williams has made a few attempts to sew. She did make some clothes for her first born, but put the machine away. Twenty years later while looking at becoming an empty nester, she bought a new machine from Cottonwood and sewing became a passion. Now Anne works at Cottonwood along with a job at a local radio station. She is always looking to learn more about quilting and enjoys talking with customers about their new project.



Cindy Hopkins took sewing in high school while in Nebraska and although new to quilting, she has jumped in with both feet and loves it! Cindy enjoys learning new quilting techniques by talking to quilters at COTTONWOOD and taking classes.

Janis Arave moved to Charlottesville with her husband and four children (later to become 5) in 1963. She has been sewing most of her adult life and has made everything from her husband's suits to heirloom christening gowns. She even made wedding dresses for her daughters and a daughter-in-law. She supported herself for several years by doing alterations. She bought her first BERNINA sewing machine 28 years ago, loved it so much that she now owns two. One of her greatest joys at the present time is caring for and being with her granddaughters, Summer and  Maxine.



Dan Harris, formerly of Vac & Sew City and Holloways Vacuum & Sewing. Dan has over 30 years of machine service and repair experience. His vast knowledge allows him to service all brands of sewing machines, sergers and industrial sewing machines. Dan has lived in Charlottesville for 38 years.