Sheep To Shawl Competition

New location for 2022 – Main Exhibition Annex

Five team members – one shearer, three spinners, and one weaver – will compete to shear a sheep, spin the fleece and weave it into a shawl, all in a couple of hours.

After judging, there will be an auction of completed shawls at 2:00 p.m.



Due to space considerations, the number of competing teams will be limited to five. One back-up registration will be accepted, in case a team cannot compete as planned. Each team will consist of one shearer, three spinners, and one weaver. Please note: the shearer may not assist in the wool preparation or act as a helping member of the team during the contest. Youth teams (where all three spinners and the weaver are under 18 years of age as of January 1) are welcome to compete, and they will have different guidelines for their shawl.


Each team will provide its own sheep with health papers; see Animal Health Regulations. Any team needing help in finding a sheep should email for referrals. Each team is responsible for arranging to have their sheep at the shearing area at the beginning of the competition, and led away immediately after shearing. The team is is also responsible for making arrangements to pay the sheep breeder for the fleece.

Sheep Breeders:  The Sheep-to-Shawl committee is always looking for sources of sheep for our contest.  If you have even one sheep with handspinning quality wool unshorn by the Festival date, please write or email us at address listed below.  We always have teams that want to compete but don’t have a sheep or know where to look.


Each team will provide its own warped loom. The sett should be no less than 8 epi (1600 to 2000 yds/lb.). Natural colored or hand dyed warp may be used, but no commercially dyed wool will be allowed.


Hand carders. wool combs, and flickers are permitted; drum carders are not. In addition to manual spinning wheels, one battery-powered e-spinner will be allowed per team. The weft yarn may be no thicker than 2 times the diameter of the warp end.

Shawl Design

Any weaving pattern may be used; however, the shawl must measure a minimum width of 22 inches sleyed in the reed. The judges will check this width during the competition. The finished woven length must be 70″ minimum, with a minimum 5″ fringe on each end. The shawls will be measured after removal from the loom. All ends must be finished by the end of the timed period. Removing knots to re-tie or alter the finish after measuring will not be allowed.


Each team will be timed from the beginning of the shearing until the shawl is off the loom with fringes finished. There will be no pause in timing after the shearing.  In addition, the spinners may not start their work until their shearer is completely finished. The contest is limited to 3 hours. A team that fails to have its shawl ready for measurement within that time will not participate in the prize money, although it may have the judges’ evaluation of its work after the other shawls have been judged.


Each team will receive the proceeds from the sale of the shawl less 10% contributed to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Shawls will be wet-finished by the teams, at home, after judging. The teams will be responsible for mailing shawls to the buyers.


This scoring point system will be used:

Team Identification (10 points)

  • Team appearance, 5 points
  • Team display, 5 points

Shearer (10 points)

  • No second cuts, 5 points
  • Appearance of sheep after shearing, 5 points

Spinners (30 points)

  • Fleece selection – color, cleanliness, and hand, 5 points
  • Fleece preparation for spinning, 5 points
  • Uniformity of spinning – size and type of yarn produced, 10 points
  • Ability to keep weaver supplied, 10 points

Weaver (30 points)

  • Even selvedge, minimal draw-in, 5 points
  • Even beating, 10 points
  • No threading or treadling errors, 10 points
  • Quality of fringe/hem stitching, 5 points

Finished Shawl (20 points)

  • Detail and difficulty of design, 10 points
  • Drapeability of shawl, 5 points
  • Color compatibility of warp and weft, 5 points

Deductions for measurements outside of standards:

  • Length, 5 points
  • Width, 5 points
  • Fringe, 5 points

Bonus Points

  • Handspun warp, 5 points
  • Plied weft yarn, 5 points


Teams will receive appropriate ribbons and proportional share of $1000 prize money. Other non-monetary prizes may be awarded as available.

Jane Hyland Memorial Award to the Best Spinning Team – $150

How to Enter

Registration will be accepted beginning March 1, 2022.

Please send the following:

  • Team name
  • Members’ names (including the shearer’s name and source of your sheep)
  • Name, address, contact phone number, and email address of the team captain
  • Registration fee of $20

to Chris Gahs, 2628 Wentworth Road, Parkville, MD 21234 or email this information to: .

Make checks payable to: Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. There will be a $25 charge on any check returned for any reason.

Warm up for the Festival with Winterfest 2023!

Two days of virtual spinning, knitting, and felting classes on January 28 and 29.

Registration opens November 19.

Schedule of Events

Search schedule by:

Event Type


A preview of our in-person classes for 2023 has been posted at Full class information will be posted once we work out a few more details. Registration will open on February 12. #mdsw #mdsw2023 #celebrating50years #fiberartseminars #yarnlove #dyeing #felting #fiberprep #colortheory #spinning #handspinning #knitting ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Thank you to our wonderful instructors - Maggie Casey. Jillian Moreno, Esther Rodgers, Kira Dulaney, Alasdair Post-Quinn, and Kristen Walsh - for teaching virtually for our second annual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival Winterfest. Thank you, too, Angela Muller, for your fabulous and informative lecture. And a resounding thank you to all the participants (and class assistants) that made Winterfest a success!See you at the live 50th annual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival on May 6 & 7. The class listings for that should be posted in the next week or so. Registration will open on February 12. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Be sure to visit the Maryland Make it with Wool booth in the Main Exhibition Annex at the Festival this year...I hear that in honor of the 50th annual festival, they are planning a display of 50 outfits from past competitions!We are cheering on Jessica - our Maryland Make it with Wool Junior Champion - as she competes in the National Make It With Wool Contest in Fort Worth, Texas! #marylandmakeitwithwool #nationalmakeitwithwool ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook