Now that I have a nice digital camera, I fear that I may be going a little crazy with the photo-taking but, who doesn't think that the Sheep to Shawl Contest at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is the coolest thing ever? It's hard to not want to post a bazillion photos of it because every part of it is so amazing!
It starts with the shearing of the sheep, to get the fleeces that the Sheep to Shawl teams will use in making their shawls.
Unfortunately, I got to the Festival too late to photograph the shearing at 8 a.m. I took the photo above at Sheep to Shawl 2007.
Each Sheep to Shawl team gets their own fleece to work with:
The teams have to then card the fleece, spin the fleece into yarn and weave the fleece into shawls. The looms are already warped but that's the extent of the preparation. The teams competing this year were:
3 Wheels Shy of a Loom
Chesapeake Spinners & Weavers
Mount Vernonís Tidewater Treadlers
Butler County Pedalers
Waterford Weaverís Guild
The Wool Fools
Springwater Fiber Workshop
Here, Wini Labrecque (alpaca fleece judge extraordinaire and, owner of Starweaver Farm) in Pennsylvania, cards while other members of the Butler County Pedalers spin.
Here a member of the team from Mount Vernon, the Tidewater Treadlers, winding a bobbin for the weaver while her teammate cards:
Fiber Friends (the eventual winners) had matching chef's outfits and the cute gimmick of using a Mixer to wind their bobbins in keeping with the cooking motif:
How adorable are the outfits of the Mount Vernon ladies? I want one to wear next time I do a spinning demo!:
The weaver from Springwater Fiber Workshop in Alexandria got going almost right away.
Gotta give it to the 3 Wheels Shy of a Loom team, they don't take themselves TOO seriously. It takes a real man to hand spin AND wear bunny ears! Where'd they find this guy?
The Waterford Weavers Guild also had beautiful costumes and I loved their gray fleece!
The Chesapeake Spinners & Weavers team wore beachy outfits and created an, appropriately-beachy, seafoam/sand colored shawl.
The spinning got pretty serious as the teams tried to get their shawls done as quickly as possible:
The Wool Fools worked away:
And so did the Butler County Treadlers but Wini found time to politely answer the questions of many of the onlookers. People LOVE this event and kids seem to be fascinated by it too.
A FEW HOURS LATER, IT'S TIME FOR THE PUSH TO GET THE SHAWL FINISHED, CUT FROM LOOM,
Rush it to the table to be examined:
Clip any loose threads:
Make one final examination:
Then rush out behind the Fair Office, where Mr. Sheep to Shawl himself, Ed Hyland, waits with the hot water still, to wash the shawl.
The crowd was delighted by the happy, shawl-wringing-dance done by the team from Springwater Fiber Workshop:
The Waterford Weavers pat their shawl dry:
Then, a break for judging. The teams get a well-deserved rest before the announcement of the winners and the annual auctioning off of the shawls to the public.
Close up of the winning shawl:
photo of winning shawl - Sheep to Shawl Contest - Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival 2008
If you, also, think this contest is one of the seven wonders of the Fiber Universe, you can see live footage of Sheep to Shawl 2007 on Let's Knit2gether's Video podcast, which I found here:
Video of Sheep to Shawl 2007
For information about the entry rules and judging criteria, go here:
Sheep to Shawl Contest at MD Sheep & Wool Festival
Next entry, Sunday at the Festival starring.....Working Sheep Dogs!
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