Moral Fiber
at
Lambtown USA
7/26/03

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 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.

The seven members of the Moral Fiber Team worked together for the first time at the Lambtown Fiber Fiber on July 26, 2003, and it was sponsored by the home guild of most of the members, Spindles & Flyers. This contest was judged by the "King of Spinning," Alden Amos, author of The Big Book of Handspinning. Each team was permitted one flicker, three spinners, one plier, one weaver, and one floater for interaction with the public. From the time that the shearer finished shearing the Cotswold lambs, the teams had four hours and thirty minutes to finish their shawls.

This Sheep to Shawl contest was also used to promote interest in Cotswold sheep, and the teams were required to use a warp of 50% handspun Cotswold and a weft of 75% handspun Cotswold for the shawls. Each team pre-warped their loom with materials provided by Lambtown and handspun by team members. The sheep were washed thoroughly and dyed with vinegar and Kool-Aid the day before the contest. The coloured sheep were sheared at the opening of the contest.

Weave structures were left up to each team. Moral Fiber used a herringbone pattern with equal panels of large chevrons and tiny chevrons. The large chevrons were dark blue on one side and medium blue on the other (to make them look shaded), while the tiny chevrons were in white. The sheep was dyed with Strawberry Kiwi Kool-Aid, and 25% white angora was blended in for softness, so the weft was pink. Moral Fiber's shawl was 24"x72", in accordance with the Fiber Fair rules.

Judge Alden Amos found Moral Fiber's garment to have the best spinning and weaving among all the contestants. However, the Moral Fiber Team did not complete any finish work on the shawl and cut it off the loom only 60 seconds before time was called. Hence big deductions were taken for time, a critical element of the contest. For this reason, Moral Fiber was the third place team. A superb performance for a young team! On to the El Dorado County Harvest Festival in September...

Moral Fiber Team members:


Photos
01 Poster 02 Denise hangs weights on loom 03 Laura, Denise, Bea 04 Laura's spindles from around the world 05 Presentation table (later)
01 Poster 02 Denise hangs weights on loom 03 Laura, Denise, Bea 04 Laura's spindles from around the world 05 Presentation table (later)
06 Alfred setting up 07 Gary the sheep 08 Sheep 09 Dirty lambs 10 Kool-Aid dyed lambs
06 Alfred setting up 07 Gary the sheep 08 Sheep 09 Dirty lambs 10 Kool-Aid dyed lambs
11 Shearing a lamb 12 Shearing another lamb 13 Naked lamb 14 Kool-Aid fleece piles 15 Kool-Aid fleece
11 Shearing a lamb 12 Shearing another lamb 13 Naked lamb 14 Kool-Aid fleece piles 15 Kool-Aid fleece
16 Sorting fleece 17 Randy carding 18 Alfred carding, Bea and Rise spinning 19 Judith plying (back) 20 Judith plying (front)
16 Sorting fleece 17 Randy carding 18 Alfred carding, Bea and Rise spinning 19 Judith plying (back) 20 Judith plying (front)
21 Denise weaving 22 Laura explaining the drop spindle 23 Shearing sheep goes on all day 24 Removing shawl from loom 25 Removing nylon selvedge edge
21 Denise weaving 22 Laura explaining the drop spindle 23 Shearing sheep goes on all day 24 Removing shawl from loom 25 Removing nylon selvedge edge
26 Alden Amos judging 27 Alden Amos judging 28 Alden imparting his wisdom 29 Team Moral Fiber  (clockwise: Alfred, Randy, Judith, Rise, Laura, Denise, Bea, Natalia, Karen) 30 Denise and Robin
26 Alden Amos judging 27 Alden Amos judging 28 Alden imparting his wisdom 29 Team Moral Fiber (clockwise: Alfred, Randy, Judith, Rise, Laura, Denise, Bea, Natalia, Karen) 30 Denise and Robin
31 Finding an error 32 Finished shawls 33 Distributing prizes 34 Denise loves prizes! 35 Denise with Stephanie Gaustad
31 Finding an error 32 Finished shawls 33 Distributing prizes 34 Denise loves prizes! 35 Denise with Stephanie Gaustad
36 Rise and Denise 37 Denise examining skein contest entries
36 Rise and Denise 37 Denise examining skein contest entries

Photos    --    Preparation at home

38 Raw Cotswold fleece 39 Raw Cotswold locks 40 Washed Cotswold fleece 41 Locks after dying and carding 42 Practice shawl, on the loom
38 Raw Cotswold fleece 39 Raw Cotswold locks 40 Washed Cotswold fleece 41 Locks after dying and carding 42 Practice shawl, on the loom
43 Practice shawl, close-up 44 Practice shawl, fresh off the loom 45 Practice shawl
43 Practice shawl, close-up 44 Practice shawl, fresh off the loom 45 Practice shawl, complete

Movie Clips     (requires QuickTime 5)

1 Denise weaving 2 Shearing a sheep
1 Denise weaving 2 Shearing a sheep

 

Comments to: Denise Lai.