Photos and text Contributed by Barbara Bitetto
On September 17, 2012, judging took place for the 2012 Sheep to Shawl competition. Five guilds took part in Sheep to Shawl this year. Each guild came to the fair with a handspun warp ready for the loom. They were required to prepare the fiber, card and spin the weft for the shawl at the fair. The warp was threaded on the loom and woven during the 12 hour competition.
Cheryl Reed of Richland was the judge for the competition. She is a Northwest Regional Spinners Association certified judge. Judging took place in front of an audience of fairgoers including many guild members. She was required to look at both the spinning and weaving skills of each guild and the overall final product. She was quite impressed with the high level of skill shown in the five shawls.
Arachne Guild did a friendship scarf earlier this year. We decided that making our shawl in the same manner would involve more members in this project. Each member was requested to bring handspun yarn of their favorite color to be used in the mixed warp. A gray weft was used to weave the shawl.
Reserve Grand Champion was won by Olympia Weavers Guild with their 4-shaft lace weave shawl lacey iridescent soft weave capturing the contrast between colors and textures. It was inspired by a photograph of red flowers and green foliage.
Each of the remaining shawls highlighted skills in different areas which were recognized by Award of Merit ribbons.
- Tacoma Weavers Guild used color inspiration of a sparkling stream flowing through a forest. The plain weave wool represents the forest. Bamboo and mohair warp floats represent the stream. The float spacing was based on a Fibonnaci series. The shawl won Best Weaving
- Moonspinners’ “Mer Undulata” inspired shawl of bright colors based on bright color fish in the sea won “21st Century Esthetics”. The judge thought it would be something a young person would wear. They used bright color stripes on an undulating twill weave structure.
- Seattle Weavers Guild was recognized for Best Spinning. They used a guild-wide competition for the shawl design. The spinning team selected the winner. A team of dyers worked on the warp stripes in various shades of turquoise.
The competition is done by six member teams over a 12 hour period. They do the spinning of the weft and weaving at the fair plus fringe treatment during that time. They have a few days to finish the shawl before submitting it for judging. The shawls are on display at the northwest corner of the Merchants Building under the Grandstands for the remainder of the fair. No doubt teams are already thinking about their plans for next year’s fair.