Moral Fiber
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 six members of the Moral Fiber Team worked together for the second time at the El Dorado County Harvest Fair on September 13, 2003. 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. Each team was permitted three spinners, one plier, one weaver, and one carder, although everyone cards in the beginning.

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 shawls. Each team pre-warped their loom with a handspun 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. All other fiber preparation was done during the competition. Our fleece was from a prize winning sire to a local flock, provided by Nancy Campbell, organizer of the event. During washing it became apparent that this beautiful fleece was, well, suitably pungent for a ram. For future reference, put one full cup of baking soda into the first wash of your fleece, and your loved ones will not rebel and threaten to throw it away!

The Design. Weave structures were left up to each team. Moral Fiber used a crackle weave pattern with undulating arcs. Our four colour warp consisted of large bands of merino moorit brown or California Variegated Mutant gray broken up by black and white stripes. Our team blended 25% true black angora into the Shetland wool for softness, using hand cards during the competition. Our final weft yarn was a lovely true black. Our shawl was 75'' by 24'' as it came off the loom, but we had an unexpected take up of 15'' in length within ten minutes. During judging, the shawl proved to be only 60'' by 24''. Our shawl did have the finest grist (yards per pound of the yarn), but we were long on time and short in length.

An Eclectic Team. The Moral Fiber team members are an eclectic group of people, including full time fiber artists, a public relations consultant, a banking executive, and an executive administrative assistant. Being a Bay Area team, we are not heat tempered. As the temperature rises, we wilt. Each member of our team in this competition also has a disability. Two members have seizure disorders, one has a severe lupus-like autoimmune disorder, two have had cancer, and the weaver is legally blind. The composition of the Moral Fiber team demonstrates that anyone can excel in fiber arts, and that physical limitations can be overcome in the march toward excellence!

Judging. Honourable Judge Stephanie Gaustad found Moral Fiber's garment to have very consistent spinning, with an average of 10 picks to the inch and 16 warp ends to the inch, having very little variation. H. J. Gaustad found that the Moral Fiber team had prepared and woven 468 yards of a two ply black Shetland and angora yarn. H. J. Gaustad liked the crackle weave design and thought that future projects could easily win Sheep to Shawl competitions. However, the Moral Fiber Team did not complete the shawl in the prescribed time period of four hours. Our team effort lasted 5 hours and 38 minutes. The Moral Fiber Team was handicapped by working in the 104° heat, which to our Bay Area sensibilities seemed like the searing heat of an oven. In addition, the teams did not have fully shaded locations for the duration of the competition, a real hindrance for a weaver who is totally blind in direct sunlight. Chasing the shade required moving the loom four times, and, well, we faint-hearted Bay Area folk get intolerably cranky any time the mercury tips over 80°. Nevertheless, the Moral Fiber Team managed to create a lovely and unique shawl, and we will continue to work on speed as a primarily area of improvement. All in all, a superb performance for a young team!

What Next? During winter 2003/2004, the Moral Fiber Team is planning to conduct some practice Sheep to Shawl events, which will not be competitive. In November 2003, we plan to use Jack London SquareÕs Barnes and Noble Bookstore as a venue to create a shawl, educate members of the public about fiber arts, and work on our speed and timing. Prizes for the dayÕs effort will be made up from each team memberÕs fiber stash--too voluminous for some of us to describe!

Moral Fiber Team members:


Don't forget to also visit the Junior division competition!


Photos    --    Preparation at home

01 Warped ''Baby Wolf'' loom 02 Loom fully warped 03 Practice shawl on the loom 04 Moral Fiber glitter logo on red apron
01 Warped ''Baby Wolf'' loom 02 Loom fully warped 03 Practice shawl on the loom 04 Moral Fiber glitter logo on red apron

Photos    --    Competition, Senior Division

05 Team Moral Fiber getting started 06 Rise Burgie, spinner 07 Robin Roukis and Bea Bolesworth, spinners 08 Alfred Eberle, spinner/carder, using Alden Amos spinning wheel 09 Moral Fiber's educational display
05 Team Moral Fiber getting started 06 Rise Burgie, spinner 07 Robin Roukis and Bea Bolesworth, spinners 08 Alfred Eberle, spinner/carder, using Alden Amos spinning wheel 09 Moral Fiber's educational display
10 Handspun examples for educational display 11 Moral Fiber's poster 12 Randy Freeman, spinner, and Denise Lai, weaver 13 Bea carding, Robin spinning 14 Denise weaving
10 Handspun examples for educational display 11 Moral Fiber's poster 12 Randy Freeman, spinner, and Denise Lai, weaver 13 Bea carding, Robin spinning 14 Denise weaving
15 Robin still smiling four hours in 16 Denise at the loom 17 Rise carding 18 Rise carding, and still smiling! 19 Denise repairing the floating selvedge
15 Robin still smiling four hours in 16 Denise at the loom 17 Rise carding 18 Rise carding, and still smiling! 19 Denise repairing the floating selvedge
20 Bea and Denise cutting the shawl off the loom 21 Denise cutting the shawl off the loom 22 Denise and Rise trimming ends 23 Rise and Bea tying fringe knots 24 Moral Fiber's shawl, close up
20 Bea and Denise cutting the shawl off the loom 21 Denise cutting the shawl off the loom 22 Denise and Rise trimming ends 23 Rise and Bea tying fringe knots 24 Moral Fiber's shawl, close up
25 Moral Fiber's shawl, close up 2 26 The magic shrinking shawl 27 Honourable Judge Stephanie Gaustad counts ends per inch 28 H. J. Gaustad examines Moral Fiber's shawl 29 H. J. Stephanie Gaustad with all entries
25 Moral Fiber's shawl, close up 2 26 The magic shrinking shawl 27 Honourable Judge Stephanie Gaustad counts ends per inch 28 H. J. Gaustad examines Moral Fiber's shawl 29 H. J. Stephanie Gaustad with all entries
30 Third place--Moral Fiber! 31 Second place--Hangtown Fiber Guild! 32 First place--Silverado Spinners! 33 Silverado Shines! 34 Hangtown hits!
30 Third place--Moral Fiber! 31 Second place--Hangtown Fiber Guild! 32 First place--Silverado Spinners! 33 Silverado Shines! 34 Hangtown hits!
35 Moral Fiber makes good! 36 Randy and Denise, proud, happy, hot, tired! 37 Team decompression and post mortem 38 Moral Fiber's score card 39 Robin, Bea, Denise, Randy, Alfred, and Rise with the prizes
35 Moral Fiber makes good! 36 Randy and Denise, proud, happy, hot, tired! 37 Team decompression and post mortem 38 Moral Fiber's score card 39 Robin, Bea, Denise, Randy, Alfred, and Rise with the prizes
40 Alfred with Stephanie Gaustad 41 Denise with Stephanie Gaustad
40 Alfred with Stephanie Gaustad 41 Denise with Stephanie Gaustad

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...

Movies     (requires QuickTime 5)

1 Denise weaving 2 Rise spinning
1 Denise weaving 2 Rise spinning

 

Comments to: Denise Lai.