Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Sheep to Shawl demonstration at the Indiana County Fair

Discussing how we'll proceed with the demo
As I mentioned on my Facebook page, we spent last evening in Indiana at the fairgrounds. We were asked to do a Sheep-to-Shawl demonstration. For those who aren't familiar with this type of competition/demonstration, there is a team of 3 spinners, 1 sheep shearer, and 1 weaver. The loom is pre-warped with the wool yarns but that's the only preparation allowed. Once the shearer starts working with the sheep, the rest of the team may not participate till the shears are turned off and the shearer throws her arms in the air to show that she's finished. Then the team moves in, going through the newly shorn fleece for dirty bits and taking the best of the wool. All 4 start to flick the wood to remove grass and hay and open it up for spinning. Once there's enough to start, all 3 spinners hit their wheels at top speed while the weaver continues to prepare wool for the spinners. When one of the spinners has a full bobbin she winds her yarn off onto a weaving bobbin and hands it to the weaver, who begins to create the cloth for the shawl. When the weaving is finished, all team members pitch in to help the weaver remove the finished shawl from the loom and present it to the public (or the judges if it's a competition). And all of this must be finished in under 2.5 hours! In a competition, there are a set number of points that can be earned in several categories--shearing, spinning, weaving, overall appearance of the team, difficulty of the woven pattern, and length/width criteria for the finished shawl. But this was a demonstration, meant for the enjoyment of the crowd while the Lead Line competition was taking place. We love educating folks in the process of wool-to-garment, love answering questions and discussing how our equipment works, why sheep need to be shorn for their health, and why we each have chosen this particular path of creativity. It's great fun for all involved!

Shearing begins

Are we done yet?

We start preparing the wool for spinning

Spinning begins while the weaver prepares wool

The weaver explaining how the loom and pattern work

Working away at the shawl weaving

My biggest regret is that I did not snap a photo of the completed shawl (Wini? Will you take a photo and send it?). At was late by the time we finished and my brain decided not to work after 9pm. However, the shawl was won by a lovely lady whose tartan exactly matched the colors in the shawl. And half of the auction price goes right back to the Indiana Fair for future development of their wool program. We hope to do this again next year, perhaps as a real competition if local teams can be persuaded to join us.


'Kolai said...

Excellent, thanks so much for sharing!!

RMK said...

Nice way to support the fair! Looks like you all had fun too .....