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. Note new location for 2020 – Barn 7-8!

After judging, there will be an auction of completed shawls at 1:00 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 1 shearer, 3 spinners, and 1 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) are welcome to compete, and they will have different guidelines for their shawl. A booklet of information and helpful hints is available. Please email for a copy.


Each team will provide its own sheep with health papers. See Animal Health Regulations. Any team needing help in finding a sheep should ask the committee for referrals. Each team is responsible for arranging to have their sheep at the shearing area at the beginning of the competition and 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 and wool combs are allowed; drum carders are not. 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.


Immediately following the judging, there will be an auction of all the shawls. Each team will receive the proceeds from the sale of the shawl less 10% given to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.


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


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, 2020. Please send team name, members’ names (indicate the captain or responsible person), address, contact phone number, and email with a registration fee of $10 to: Chris Gahs, 2628 Wentworth Road, Parkville, MD 21234 or email the above information to: .

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

A final reminder, please be sure your team list is complete with the shearer’s name and the source of your sheep (name optional) included. Teams cannot be registered unless all of these conditions are met.

2020 Catalog Cover Artist

Presenting our 2020 catalog cover, featuring an original woodcut done just for us by Bobby Rosenstock of JustAJar Design Press.

Schedule of Events

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Latest From Facebook

Sharing a post from one of the contestants in our first ever virtual Junior Spinning Competition, which was held via Zoom as part of our Virtual Online Festival. Congratulations go to all of the contestants, whose ages ranged from 8 to 14. Here is how everyone placed:
Adeline - Most Even Yarn (spinning wheel category)
Grace - Fattest Yarn, Longest Yarn (spinning wheel category)
Caroline - Skinniest Yarn (spinning wheel category)
Theodore - Lumpiest Yarn (spinning wheel category)
Ava - Most Even Yarn, Skinniest Yarn, Longest Yarn (drop spindle category)
Preston - Fattest Yarn, Lumpiest Yarn (drop spindle category)
Astrid - Most Even Yarn, Longest Yarn (e-spinner category)

Special thanks to committee member Patricia Sanville for organizing this online competition!
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The Maryland Make it With Wool program relies on its sale of Wool Wax Creme at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival to fund their activities. Since the festival was cancelled, they are selling the products by email this year. The post below shows the products available with instructions on how to order.

MIWW is an annual youth-centered sewing and needle work competition designed to promote the beauty and versatility of wool fabrics, yarns, and fibers. Preliminary competitions are held at the state level, culminating in the National Finals and Awards Banquet at the American Sheep Industry annual convention.

Please help keep Maryland youth sewing by ordering your wool wax creme today (plus it's a really great product, too).
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4 days ago  ·  

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