Could You Go From “Sheep To Shawl” In Less Than Three Hours?
by Trisha Leigh
There are some seriously niche skills in this world, and honestly, before this I would have thought “shearing sheep” and “knitting a shawl” would definitely be separate categories.
In this competition though, 5 people get 1 sheep and 3 hours to make it happen.
It takes place at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, and each team is comprised of a shearer, three spinners, and a weaver. They have three hours to shear the sheep, card the wood, spin it into yarn, and weave that yarn into a shawl.
Margie Wright, who is the captain of The Fidget Spinners, told NPR that finding the perfect sheep is key – preferably one that’s “not too greasy.”
The wool has lanolin in it, which makes the wool greasy and difficult to spin. They also prepare by readying the looms for weaving, which can take up to seven hours.
One of the groups was comprised of high school students from a Quaker school, and included 18-year-old Caitlyn Holland.
“Learning to weave was the most difficult thing I’d tried in my life.”
Their teacher, Heidi Brown, says this is her second junior team to compete – the first was in the 70s – and that the group are impressive spinners and weavers.
You can’t just slapdash some yarn together and call it a shawl, either. In order to win, your shawl has to be functional and aesthetically pleasing.
The Quaker Bakers (the students), donned aprons and made rainbow cupcakes that matched their shawl. The Fidget Spinners had an “I Love Ewe” theme that accompanied their heart-covered garment, and a third team, Mutton but Trouble, wore crocheted acorn hats and incorporated squirrels and a fall-colored theme.
The Fidget Spinners came in first, but if there’s one thing I know for sure, every single one of them did something I could never do.
I hope they had a good time.