SHEEP TO SHAWL CONTEST
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.
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.
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.
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!!