Sheep to Shawl

Introduction

This month’s feature is a discussion of a competition called ‘Sheep to Shawl.’ A number of competitions are held each year in which teams turn wool into shawls. The following pictures were taken at a competition held on the campus of Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana.

Shearing the Sheep

Because the process is very lengthy, some short cuts are used for the benefit of spectators.

The process starts with the shearing of sheep.

Sheep to Shawl image

Spinning

Ordinarily, the fleece must be washed before it can be used. In the competition, a prepared fleece is used after the shearing is complete.

Here is a team ready to start the spinning and the weaving. The loom is warped (warping is the process of putting the lengthwise threads on the loom) prior to the competition with handspun yarn.

Sheep to Shawl image

Weaving

When enough yarn has been spun, it is given to the weaver to start weaving the shawl. (The threads being woven into the warp are called the weft.)

The images show a weaver beginning to weave, and then later in the process.

Sheep to Shawl image
Sheep to Shawl image
Sheep to Shawl image

Removing

When the weaving of the shawl is complete, the weaver hemstitches the shawl so that it will not unravel. The shawl is then removed from the loom.

Finishing the Shawl

At right are pictures are of the shawl being given finishing touches before the judging. Below is the completed shawl.

Sheep to Shawl image
Sheep to Shawl image
Sheep to Shawl image

The Shawls

Here are the five final shawls from this competition.

Sheep to Shawl image
Sheep to Shawl image

Indiana State Fair

Sheep to Shawl competitions have been regularly featured at many fairs. This is a photo of a young woman modeling a completed shawl at the Indiana State Fair.

Tags: weaving
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