Every year our sheep to shawl experience is a bit different than before. This year we were lucky to feature wool from Susan Johnson, one of our Guild members who raises sheep at her farm, Blue Sheep Fiber, in Westerville. Susan donated a luscious white fleece from her Bluefaced Leicester ewe named Bumblebee.
Bumblebee’s wool became the weft for our shawl. Kim Johnson washed the fleece and Kathleen Craig carded it. The resulting fluff was soft and gorgeous, and the spinners created a beautiful yarn that Ed Morrow wound onto bobbins for Scott Hanratty to weave with. This year, we opted not to ply the yarn for the weft, and the beautiful singles yarn that our spinners created proved we made the right decision! Thanks to spinners Annette Dixie, Connee Draper, Inge Noyes, Joanne Knapp, Lori Seeger and Susan Johnson for stepping up to the challenge.
Scott Hanratty, Kathleen Craig, and Sue Briney prepared the loom. We choose pattern #727 from “A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns” by Carol Strickler. This pattern is very popular on the “Strickler in Color” Facebook page. It caught our eye and we opted for the straight treadling version in order to show off the warp. The warp was wound as a gradient, using 3 ends of 2/20 wool acting as one. We used 20 different colors in the warp, ranging from greys, pinks, maroons, browns, and even some orange. (One of the advantages of having a stash!) We gave Susan the option of picking the warp colors for her shawl, and she couldn’t decide. So, she ended up getting almost every color!
The demonstration wouldn’t be complete without our terrific spokespersons who demo and educate the crowds who come to enjoy the show. Nicky Fried demo’d on the drop spindle and Kim Johnson brought her great wheel. Everyone enjoyed seeing different methods of spinning yarn and hearing their explanations of the process.
The folks from Malabar Farm Spinning and Weaving Guild joined us again, and this year they were using natural handspun for both warp and weft. They added a little Angelina when spinning their weft yarn to give the shawl a little glitz. Their weaver was creating a beautiful Leno shawl, which they plan to complete when they return to Malabar.
Thanks to Jon Briney for taking photos. We hope to have an updated Sheep to Shawl scrapbook soon to share at guild meetings.
On Sunday after the Sheep to Shawl demo, the hand spinning fleeces were judged at the fair. Linda Reichert won for the white fleece as well as the natural colored fleece. We gifted her with the second shawl (woven using commercial heather gray yarn for the weft) and the hand-spun, hand-knitted afghan that the guild created using natural colored fiber.
Guild member Sue Briney
Editor’s note: To see all the photos from this year’s Sheep to Shawl presentation, check out our Facebook page!