Sheep to Shawl

I’ve had this post in mind all week, and here we are, almost 7 days after the fact. I swear, the more things I have on my mind to do, the faster time flies.
Anyways- Last Saturday was the Waynesburgh Sheep and Fiber festival. As you read in my last post, I was on the Butler Gals Sheep to Shawl Team. Indeed. We came, we sheeped, we shawled. In my limited experiance, sheep to shawls always start rediculously early, and we were supposed to kick off at 9:00am, but ended up starting at 9:30. This means my behind had to be up at about 6:30 to be out the door at 7:30, to get to Waynesburgh at 8:30.
There were 4 teams in the sheep to shawl, basically 2 teams from 2 guilds. Waynesburgh is a tiny show, more country kitchen crafty than sheep and fiber related, but I digress. To give you a comparison, Maryland has 6 teams from 6 guilds. We set up, and the as soon as our shearer started shearing our sheep, the show was on, this sheep to shawl had a time limit of 4 hours. This is long for a sheep to shawl. The shortest one I know of is 2.5 hours. Yea. We were using a small brown sheep, a Southdown, I think, I never found out for sure. Two sheep were sheared, and each guild split the fleece between the two teams. believe me there is more than enough on one sheep for several teams! This is our sheep-o being sheared-

Isn’t that crazy!!?? Check out the belly on the white sheep. Yikes. As much as I love wool and fiber and all that is related, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to own sheep, or livestock of any kind for that matter. Nothankyouverymuch.
This was not only my first sheep to shawl, but my first time “spinning in the grease.” Which is when you spin right from the fleece, right off the sheep, without cleaning it or preparing it or anything. It. was. greasy. But not so bad. I learned that when the locks get cold, the grease sort of congeals, and is very hard to draft, but when they are warm, the locks draft like butter. Needless to say I kept my little bucket of locks right in any sunbeam I could find. We were spinning sport weight singles, which was very good for me, as I tend to spin thin, rather than thick. Also- for a team with three unique spinners on it, all of our spun yarn was very consistant. A team consists of usually 4 members, a weaver, and 3 spinners. I think that’s standard in sheeps to shawls, but I might be wrong. This time though, we were allowed a flicker. A flicker (Hi Angie!) is the person who takes locks from the fleece, and “flicks them” (didn’t see that one coming didja?) with a flicker, or flick carder. This opens up the burnt end of the locks for easy spinning. This made things go very smoothly.

Since our sheep was a chocolatey colored sheep, our weaver (Hi Sandy!) got the idea to do a Neapolitan themed shawl. Brilliant, I think. The warp on our loom, (those would be the vertical yarn strands running up through the loom) was brown, with pink and cream stripes. The genius of a the shawl comes from the weft pattern. the weft is the yarn that is woven horizontally through the warp on the loom. Each warp yarn strand runs through the loom, and is connect to a harness, and each of several harnesses are connected to peddles under the loom. When the peddles are pressed, harnesses move up and the weft yarn is passed through, the peddles are pressed in a specific pattern, which will create the pattern in the shawl itself. The basics of weaving are simple, but can be very confusing if you have no idea what I’m talking about. Allow me to illustrate-

Pretty, no? I had a great time, and I’ve already volunteered to spin in any other sheep to shawls that come up.

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24 Responses to Sheep to Shawl

  1. Gina says:


  2. Mintyfresh says:

    that’s a very cool challenge!

  3. Angela says:

    I never got to see the finished shawl ’til now. It looks pretty darn good if I say so myself! The Flicker

  4. Faith says:

    Awesome post- it looks like a great (if a bit exhausting) time!

  5. chris says:

    How very cool! And the shawl y’all did is soooo pretty!!! I think it’s nicer than some of the ones I’ve seen at the “big” festivals.

  6. Wannietta says:

    It’s beautiful!

  7. Chris says:

    Wow, that shawl is really, really pretty! Sounds like an intense 4 hours.

  8. Specs says:

    I remember looking at the Sheel-to-Shawl-ers in awe when I was little at the MDS&W. I remain impressed 🙂

  9. Sheila says:

    Nice! Julia – did you win? Looks like you had a nice day!


  10. Amanda says:

    Simply awesome! I even made my husband look at the before and after pictues!

  11. Tara says:

    It sounds like a really fun time! Thanks for sharing. The shawl is wonderful.

  12. Celtic Queen says:

    MD only had 4 teams this year too. Laurie and I thought we should see if we couldn’t put a team together and funny thing was your name came up. Who knows, maybe one day. Glad to see you had fun.

  13. Kelly says:

    Wow! That is sooo cool! I’d love to see one of those contests in action. Your shawl is beautiful, great job you all!!

  14. Arleta says:

    Wow, that’s cool!

  15. that is one gorgeous shawl! Great job to you and your team.

  16. Nanc says:

    That is beautiful! Amazing, and I lovelovelove the neopolitan theme! It turned out a lot better then 3 of the 4 shawls at MSWF, imho.
    Great job (for the whole team)!

  17. julia fc says:

    That’s fantastic! I had been thinking about getting a blogger team together for next year’s New Hampshire fair because they only had one team this year. Did you guys practice at all?

  18. Kate says:

    love it! I’ve always wanted to see the whole process. 🙂

  19. Cheryl says:

    My spinning group does a sheep to shawl but I’ve never joined in. They take it very seriously, and meet a few times a week to practice in the months before the competition. It’s a big deal, and I’d probably bring them down!

  20. Angie says:

    Beautiful, shawl, sounds like fun.

  21. kelpkim says:

    WOW! that shawl is amazing! way to go and represent! and that shawl definitely looks like neopolitan ice cream…yum…have you heard about haagen daz’s new special flavor line–The Reserve flavors? like Pomegranate Chip? yum…that is my current fave. and it comes on a stick, in popsicle form too! so yummy. and they have another great flavor with the Acai berry (i think). ice cream…YUM!!!

  22. Laura says:

    What an amazing concept! I love how you can see the transformation and the whole process. Fantastic 😀

  23. Jenni says:

    Wow I love that shawl! Beautiful 🙂