Sheep to Shawl with a Paco-Vicuña Twist

The contest looms were pre-warped, but all of the weft yarn was prepared and spun during the event. Photo: Cheryl Neib.

The contest looms were pre-warped, but all of the weft yarn was prepared and spun during the event. Photo: Cheryl Nachtrieb.

Do you like to spin wool and mohair? Have you ever tried lusciously soft Paco-Vicuña? The Recycled Lamb, a popular fiber shop in Golden, Colorado, helped to organize a unique spinning contest earlier this month at the National Western Stock Show. Much like a sheep to shawl contest, teams started with fiber and a warped loom, creating beautiful textiles as onlookers cheered. Organizer Cheryl Nachtrieb tells us more:

“This year we had three teams, made up of spinners and weavers from around the state, and sponsored by Jefferson Farms Natural Fibers. The contest took place in the sheep barn, a main area with lots of traffic, so we were able to share the fibery-love with lots of people.

“This was a different contest than usual, in that the teams were provided with multiple types of fiber— Paco-Vicuña, alpaca, llama, sheep’s wool, mohair, and silk, and were allowed to embellish with dyes and beads. The rules were that the shawl had to incorporate some of each type of fiber and had to meet a minimum square-inch requirement. Other than that, the word was ‘creativity!’ Warp was spun and dyed in advance and the looms were warped during the week (or night!) before the contest. The weft was clean and could be dyed, but not picked or carded in advance of the contest. There was even a last-minute challenge of fleece given at the beginning of the contest, for extra points if the team could incorporate it.

Can you card under pressure? Photo: Cheryl Nachtrieb

Can you card under pressure? Photo: Cheryl Nachtrieb

“One of the teams was made up primarily of alpaca growers. They chose to weave a shawl on a rigid heddle loom, and the weaver had only learned to weave in September. It was a lovely shawl when it was finished, mostly natural-colored with dyed highlights.

Photo: Cheryl Nachtrieb.

Photo: Cheryl Nachtrieb.

“The second team used a handpainted warp and wove an incredible undulating twill shawl in blues and grays. They dyed their weft as well, and blended it into a lovely grey color to highlight the warp.

Photo: Cheryl Nachtrieb.

Photo: Cheryl Nachtrieb.

“The third team, who chose to call themselves the Spinning Beauties, dyed their warp a vivid blue, and created batts of blue/green to spin then weave into a huck pattern. This was the winning shawl!”

Photo: Cheryl Nachtrieb.

Photo: Cheryl Nachtrieb.

The Recycled Lamb has been stirring up knitting, spinning, and weaving excitement for over thirty years. Stop by the shop in Golden and say hello!

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