Swift Indiana

Spinners and Weavers of Indiana Fiber and Textiles

Sheep to Shawl 2012

2012 Indiana State Fair Sheep to Shawl – Part I

By Benita Story

Sunday, August 12th, was the day of the Sheep to shawl competition.  For starters, we could not have asked for nicer weather – partly cloudy and temps in the low 80’s.  Today, I am going to introduce the teams and show you a bit of what they did.  Tomorrow, we’ll go through the judging portion and show the winners.

This was a completely new team called the Neverlanders.  Theirs was the most detailed and elaborate poster and table I have ever seen.  They even had a miniature Neverland island.

The team characters consisted of Peter Pan, team captain and weaver, Tinkerbell, Smee, Tootles, Princess Tigerlily and Wendy.  Their costumes were very well thought-out and designed.

So was their scarf design.  The handspun warp was naturally dyed with a dark indigo to represent the ocean, a lovely green with Osage Orange/Indigo to represent the island, and lavender with cochineal to represent the mountains.  The weft was white and their pattern was a chevron stripe.

The next team was called Spinning Through Time.

They really outdid themselves bringing in a weaving and spinning through time theme and the information on the poster was very educational.  I thought it was very well done.

And their costumes carried through on the history idea.  Represented here was Navajo, Egyptian, Japanese, Irish, Renaissance and, I think, modern.  This team went an extra distance with their costumes.

Their scarf was a lovely one of a soft grayish-brown wool with light pink (cochineal) accent stripes.  They used a spaced and crammed threading for an awesome undulating twill pattern.  And I hope I don’t embarrass the weaver here, but don’t you agree with me that she is a beautiful young lady?

The third team was the returning team of The Pirates of the Treadle.

In past years, they have been an all-boy team, but this year they have a hostage who wove their scarf for them.  I’m sure it was tough on a girl of genteel upbringing to have to work with the rough and tumble pirates.

Again, the pirates’ costumes were quite authentic in their shabbiness and use of color.  A couple of the pirates lacked proper footwear, which probably added to their hostage’s distress at having to associate with them.

I was impressed that their scarf colors included natural wool in white and brown, a section dyed with Queen Anne’s Lace (the tarnished goldy color) and I loved their use of the indigo and cochineal stripes.  The brown in the middle was to represent the ship as it sails through the waters.  I can’t remember what pattern they used to weave the scarf with.

The fourth and final team was the Legends of the Loom.

The characters from this team represented weavers and spinners in myth and legend, including Penelope (the weaver) and the three Fates.

Is it my imagination, or did the youngest member of the team play the part of the old crone?  Too funny!

Now this team did something completely different with their scarf design.

See these stencils?  They used cochineal and cochineal with copper to create a painted warp.  I was told that this was the first time that any youth team had done a painted warp.

Here is what the warp looked like on the loom.  How clever is this?

They decided to use a broken twill pattern to enhance the warp pattern.

And here are our teams taken from the stage above them.

Spinning Through Time in the foreground and The Neverlanders behind them, and…

Spinning Through Time again in the foreground, The Pirates of the Treadle to the left and The Legends of the loom to the left.

I can hardly wait to show you what their finished scarves looked like.

2012 Indiana State Fair Sheep to Shawl – Part II

By Benita Story


The second half of the 2012 Indiana State Fair Sheep to Shawl competition starts with each of the team cutting their scarf off of their loom.  I managed to get pictures of the first three, but not the last one because I was in the middle of judging the first scarf at that time.

The first scarf turned into us was from the Legends of the Loom and they were done at 3 hours and about 23 minutes, I’m not exactly sure on the minutes at this point.  Anyway, none were down to the wire like last year, so that made for less stress all the way around.

Mindy, the other judge, and I dove in and began checking the scarves out, measuring, trying them on, and writing down comments and points for each section.  The following pictures are in the order they were turned in to us.

Once we were done examining each scarf, we conferred, added up the scores, checked each other’s math and finished up our part.

And here are the four scarves from this year’s competition.

They are: The Pirates of the Treadle, The Neverlanders, Spinning Through Time and Legends of the Loom.

Close up of the Neverlanders’ scarf.

Close up of The Pirates of the Treadle’s scarf.

Close up of Spinning Through Time’s scarf

And a close up of the Legends of the Loom’s scarf.

Anticipation is so hard!

And the winners were, in reverse order:

4th place went to The Pirates of the Treadle!

3rd place went to Legends of the Loom!

2nd place went to The Neverlanders!

And the Grand Champions were Spinning Through Time!!

They all did terrific jobs, and the differences between the 2nd and 1st place winners were very small.  It was a tough choice for Mindy and I.  The only thing that kept The Neverlanders from winning was the fact their sett was too tight and their weaving was too tight.  It looked like a wet finished scarf straight from the loom.  I explained this to the weaver and to the person who ultimately purchased it in the auction.  I recommended washing it in cold water very gently to keep it from fulling any more and becoming too stiff.

After the ribbons were passed out, the auction began.

The auctioneer was good and funny.  He did a great job cajoling more money from the audience.

The first place scarf sold for $300.

The second place scarf sold for $275.

The 3rd place scarf sold for $400!

And the 4th place scarf sold for $375.  And it this pirate looks like he’s a character, you’d be right.  Watching him “model” the scarf was a hoot!

The total amount raised came to $1,350 and will be used for the youth program at Conner Prairie, which is where all four teams came from.

And here is everyone showing off their ribbons.  The lady at the far right in the blue shirt is Sue Payne, who taught and guided these teams to where they are today.  And you can tell ell the kids love her.  When her name was announced, they cheered so loud they could have been heard at the Midway.

And the little pin that Mindy and I were wearing?

They proclaimed us as judges.  I am keeping my pin in my little Lane cedar chest with all my other treasures.

I have already let them know that I would be happy to judge again next year.  I love being a part of this and getting to see firsthand how well these youth teams spin, weave and hold up under pressure.  I can’t wait until next year.

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