Misfit Spinners
at
El Dorado County
Harvest Fair
9/13/03

Sheep to Shawl competitions are held to demonstrate to the public how fibers were traditionally processed and how clothing was made in the past. The hope is that such exhibitions will also spark interest from budding fiber artists in all aspects of the process of creating a garment. Sheep to Shawl contests are timed events in which teams are required to take a garment from raw, washed fleece to a finished shawl, showing each phase of processing. The times vary from four to five hours depending on the contest. Since a primary purpose of these competitions is to educate the public, it is essential that the team members be able to field questions, give explanations, and provide historical background to the audience.

Team and Judge. The three official members of the Misfit Spinners Junior Team worked together for the first time at the El Dorado County Harvest Fair on September 13, 2003. All team members were required to be under eighteen years old. This contest was judged by Stephanie Gaustad, owner of Studio Gaustad, master of all things fiber, and the partner of Alden Amos, author of The Big Book of Handspinning. The team had two spinners and one weaver. Nancy Campbell, the organizer, was an unofficial team member, spinning with the Junior Team.

The Wool. This Sheep to Shawl contest was also used to promote interest in Shetland sheep, and the teams were required to use a weft of 75% handspun Shetland for the scarves. Each team pre-warped their loom with a warp of at least 50% wool. We received our Shetland fleeces about three weeks before the competition, and we were allowed only to wash and dye the fleece. Because the Junior team had only three members, all the Shetland fleece was carded on a drum carder before the competition began. Our fleece was provided by Nancy Campbell, organizer of the event.

The Design. Weave structures were left up to each team. The Misfit Spinners used a plain weave pattern to demonstrate the beauty of handspun materials. The warp consisted of white LambŐs Pride Bulky yarn. The team blended 25% dyed mohair locks into the natural white Shetland wool during the drum carding. The final weft yarn was a lovely mix of pastel colours. The scarf was 75'' by 9'' as it came off the loom, but we had an unexpected take up of 15'' in length within ten minutes. During judging, the scarf proved to be only 60'' by 9''.

An Eclectic Team. The Misfit Spinners are an eclectic group of inspiring young people. Ashley Burgie, the oldest member at fifteen years of age (tenth grade), spun with a Fricke spinning wheel. She provided the team with maturity and watched over her fellow teammates. Aryn Freeman, eleven years of age (sixth grade) and organizer of the team, spun with an Ashford Joy spinning wheel, equipped with a WooLee Winder. Aryn was also the team's weaver, and she used a Harrisville Loom. Ross Lai, the only boy and youngest member at eight years of age (third grade), spun with Majacraft Gem spinning wheel equipped with a WooLee Winder flyer. Not surprisingly, each of these children had a mother on the Moral Fiber Team, who competed on the same day in the senior division Sheep-to-Shawl. Nancy Campbell, the event organizer, rounded out the junior team as an unofficial member, helping with spinning, weaving, and finish work using equipment borrowed from the senior teams.

Judging. Honourable Judge Stephanie Gaustad found the Misfit SpinnersŐ garment to have very consistent spinning, with an average of 6 picks to the inch and 7 warp ends to the inch. H. J. Gaustad found that the Misfit Spinners had prepared and woven 158 yards of a two ply aqua Shetland and mohair yarn. H. J. Gaustad was deeply impressed with the sustained team work and enthusiastic spirit of this very young team! The Misfit Spinners Team effort lasted just over four hours. Despite being very uncomfortable in the feat, the young people pulled together and worked without complaint nor support from their parents, who were busy competing in the senior competition. WHAT CAN WE SAY? These kids blew us all away!

Tribute. Randy Freeman, spinner/carder for the Moral Fiber Team, worked her heart out to help Aryn organize the Junior Team. She even stayed up until 1AM carding the wool and making aprons the night before the competition, despite the fact that the teams were leaving at 4AM the following morning for Placerville. THANK YOU, RANDY!

Misfit Spinners Team members:


Photos    --    Competition, Junior Division

42 Aryn Freeman, spinner/weaver 43 Ross Lai, spinner 44 Ashley Burgie, spinner 45 Aryn starts weaving 46 Jr. team weaving a scarf
42 Aryn Freeman, spinner/weaver 43 Ross Lai, spinner 44 Ashley Burgie, spinner 45 Aryn starts weaving 46 Jr. team weaving a scarf
47 Ashley and Ross making a plied yarn ball 48 Ross concentrating 49 Nancy Campbell binding ends 50 Aryn tying fringes 51 Ross, Aryn, and Ashley presenting scarf
47 Ashley and Ross making a plied yarn ball 48 Ross concentrating 49 Nancy Campbell binding ends 50 Aryn tying fringes 51 Ross, Aryn, and Ashley presenting scarf
52 Wow, are these kids talented or what? 53 Aryn presents Jr. team's entry to H. J. Gaustad 54 Junior Team's scarf 55 Honourable Judge Stephanie Gaustad examines Jr. team entry 56 H. J. Stephanie Gaustad shows off the Jr. Team entry
52 Wow, are these kids talented or what? 53 Aryn presents Jr. team's entry to H. J. Gaustad 54 Junior Team's scarf 55 Honourable Judge Stephanie Gaustad examines Jr. team entry 56 H. J. Stephanie Gaustad shows off the Jr. Team entry
57 Ross Lai, Stephanie Gaustad, Aryn Freeman, and Ashley Burgie 58 Winning Junior Team! 59 We are so excited! 60 Okay just one more... 61 Junior team with ribbons and prizes
57 Ross Lai, Stephanie Gaustad, Aryn Freeman, and Ashley Burgie 58 Winning Junior Team! 59 We are so excited! 60 Okay just one more... 61 Junior team with ribbons and prizes

Photos    --    Sheep

62 Sheep says:  Baaahhh! 63 Naked sheep says: How degrading... 64 Sheep says:  Hey friend, let me share my coat! 65 Sheep says:  I'm hot and tired, tired and hot...
62 Sheep says: Baaahhh! 63 Naked sheep says: How degrading... 64 Sheep says: Hey friend, let me share my coat! 65 Sheep says: I'm hot and tired, tired and hot...

 

Comments to: Denise Lai.