Sheep To Shawl Competition
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 competition. 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 Susan at 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 sheep to provide fleeces to be shorn for teams without their own sheep. If you have sheep with a nice quality handspinning fleece that could be used (the team will pay for the fleece), please contact .
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. 5 bonus points will be added for a handspun warp.
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.
Any weaving pattern may be used; however, the shawl must measure a minimum width of 22 inches as 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 shawl length 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. Junior teams, with all members aged 17 and under, must have a shawl measuring at least 19 inches sleyed in the reed and at least 64 inches finished woven length, with at least 5 inch fringes.
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 shearing and completion of the shawl must take place within the 3-hour competition time period. 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.
Immediately after the judging there will be an auction of all shawls. Each team will receive the proceeds from the sale of the shawl less 10% contributed to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. Shawls will be wet-finished by the teams, at home, after judging. The teams will then 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
- 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, 2023.
Please send the following:
- Team name
- Members’ names (including the shearer’s name and source of your sheep)
- Name, address, phone number, and email address of the team captain
- Registration fee of $20
to Susan Withnell, 1191 Long Valley Rd, Westminster, MD 21158.
Make checks payable to: Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. There will be a $25 charge on any check returned for any reason.