FIBERUARY – SHEEP TO SHAWL CONTEST

FIBERUARY 2017

SHEEP TO SHAWL CONTEST

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Have you ever wanted  to be in a Sheep to Shawl Contest.  I am going to share some of the ins and outs of the contest with you and hope to get some of you to participate in one..    Years ago I belonded to a spinning group WOOLGATHERES.  It was a lucky find for me.  There I found like minded people who loved spinning, weaving, sheep and other fiber animals and lifelong friends, now we stil share the same things plus rug hooking!

It all starts with a fleece and 4 people who work good together.  We had a weaver, Renee, a carder and plyer and sometime spinner Lynn, and Debbie and I who were fast spinners.    The planning started way ahead .  The first thing was finding a fleece and deciding if we should use a handspun  warp.   Handspinning the warp is something we always did, the extra points you get always helps.  We found that it was best to have one person do the spinning,  that would make an even warp..    Another consideration was to dye the warp and or weft.  This always depended on the pattern.  

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Our favorite show was The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival which is held on the first full weekend in May every year..  We did it for quite a few years.  At this show you need a live sheep and your own shearer.  We did get some lovely sheep from a woman in Maryland , the shearer was another thing.  We had asked a shearer from around here to do it and he did agree.  Never showed up on the morning of the contest, luckily the owner of the sheep was there and she did an excellent job of shearing.  We won many times there.  I will agree there is a lot of pressure in these contests.  The rules are different everywhere and need to be studied before hand.  Folks can be very competitive.  We always had fun and laughed and chatted all through the contest.

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Costumes were worn and signs were made.  A rug and flowers or a plant helped make the space more homey.  Some people played music.  We found it distracting especially when one group play wolves howeling!!!!!! (at a sheep show really!!!!!) We always had some tools you never knew when you needed to fix a wheel or loom.  At the Maryland show Shawls were auctioned off and that was very exciting.  Shawls would go up to a couple of hundred dollars and with the first price money that added up to a tidy sum.

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We did win most contests and in the first year or two we divided up the money and each went our own way.  But later we decided to pool the money and we all took a wonderful trip to Ireland on our Sheep to Shawl earnings.  I am not saying we didn’t have some losses and we did learn from them. 

I really miss those wonderful times and wish we could do it one more time!!

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THE MASSACHUSETTS SHEEP AND WOOLCRAFT FAIR-FIBERUARY

FIBERUARY      MASSACHUSETTS SHEEP AND WOOLCRAFT FAIR  MAY 27 & 28, 2017

 

Massachusetts Sheep & Woolcraft Fair :: May 27 & 28, 2017

 

Shepherds are getting their sheep and fleeces ready, vendors are getting wool, yarns and crafts ready for you  to see and workshops are now in place.  Come and join us at the fair.  Located in the beautiful town of Cummington, Massachusetts, at the fairgrounds.   Good food will be available bring the family for a day of fun.  Sheep shows, Dog trails and lots of demos will await you.

WORKSHOPS

We are pleased to present our workshop schedule for 2017. We host great teachers from near and far. Bruce Engebretson writes for Spin Off Magazine, and teaches at Marshfield School of Weaving. He was trained in the Scandinavian tradition of fiber work. Katherine Johnson will teach us about Naalbinding, spelled variously: in English it is needle binding. Emily Gwynn enlightens us on using charts for knitting! Dotty Taft will be bringing her fleet of drum carder for us to experiment on.
On Saturday the cotton expert Joan Ruane of Bisbee AZ will be demonstrating how to spin cotton. On Sunday, Bruce Engebretson will demonstrate. Other guests will be joining us for various demonstrations.. Check out the Website for times and days.  masheepwool.org

 

Potluck Supper

A potluck supper will be held on the fairgrounds dining room at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. Everyone is welcome. Please bring a prepared dish or salad sufficient to feed your family to the kitchen by 4:00 p.m. NO BREAD PLEASE! Rolls, beverages, and place settings will be provided.  Both refrigerators and a warming are available on the grounds.

Fleece Judging

The Dog Trials are always an exciting event

See you there

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIBERuary Eric and Barbara Goodchild

Hello

FIBERuary   Day 19  Eric and Barbara Goodchild -Handspun Yarn

HANDSPUN

Hello.  We are Barbara and Eric Goodchild of Barberic Farm in Shelburne, MA.  We are going to tell you about our handspun wool yarn.

Handspun yarn is yarn that is created by “hand” using just fingers, simple sticks, or more complicated machines run by people power, to twist fibers into heavier string than the original fiber.  This twisting holds the many short fibers together to create a stronger and longer “string” to make items from.

On our farm, handspun starts with our Romney sheep.  Care is taken all year to keep the wool on the sheep as clean as possible.  The sheep are fed from pastures free of high weeds and grass, with seeds that could get into their fleece.   In the winter, once the sheep are off of pasture, and in the barn full time, we put coats on the sheep.  A sheep coat is much like a dog coat.

Extra nutrition is given to the ewes (female sheep) when they are nursing their lambs, to keep the fibers strong while there is a big drain on the ewes natural resources as she feeds her lambs and grows her new fleece.  If a sheep becomes under-nourished or sick, this can cause the wool fibers to become thin or brittle.  This will cause a weak spot in the fiber that will break while being made into handspun.

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Shearing time on our farm is in March, about 4-6 weeks before lambing.  At that time each fleece is skirted to remove the dirty fleece and vegetable matter, weighed, measured, and labeled with the sheep’s name.  Fleeces are stored in brown paper bags until they are sold or sent to Still River Mill in  Eastford, CT to be made into roving.

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Roving is a continuous  length of washed, combed fibers that we use to spin into handspun.  The spinning of the yarn is done on our Ashford spinning wheel, which is powered by a foot pedal that causes the fly wheel to turn that powers the spinning apparatus.

Handspun wool yarn can be spun fine, medium or thick.  Just like commercially made yarns, the yarns thickness is defined by a number system.  Lace is #1. Sock is #2. DK or light worsted is #3. Worsted is #4. Heavy worsted is #5. And Bulky is #6.  These weights allow the knitter to know how best to use the yarn.

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Once the yarn is spun, we can ply 2 or more strands together to make a thicker or variegated colored yarn.  Once the bobbin on the spinning wheel is full, we remove the yarn and put it on a kniddy-knoddy.  This stretches the yarn to prevent tangles, and makes what is called a skein.  After plying each skein is soaked, drained, squeezed to remove the water, and hung at full length with a weight at the bottom to dry.  This process sets the twist of the yarn.

After the yarn is fully dry, we measure the skein’s length, weight, and thickness.  Now it is ready to be made into beautiful wool garments or crafts.

 

 

 

FIBERUARY THE JOURNEY

Welcome to all

Day one of FIBERuary

THE JOURNEY

Three or Four year ago I discovered WOVEMBER.  I learned so much from the wonderful folks that wrote daily blogs.  From knitter to spinners and weavers to dyers and writer’s of knitting books.  Everything I needed to know about British Wool was in the blog.  I still look forward to WOVEMBER each November 1st.  
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