When I went to the Royal Winter Fair this year, one of the reasons was to see the Sheep to Shawl – each team gets a raw fleece, and they spin and weave it into a shawl in four hours. The finished shawls are judged and then auctioned off in the fleece auction.

I’ve got one aunt who just LOVES handknit gifts, but sadly this year I don’t really have to make her something! So I decided to buy a shawl for her.

The shawl I bought was made by the Etobicoke guild, and funnily enough, she lives in Etobicoke. So it’s pretty fitting, or something. It’s woven with a colour progression along the width – it’s really cool.

Of course, since the wool is not washed before spinning and weaving, it’s got all the straight-from-the-sheep goodness – lots of dirt and grime and lanolin. It’s a bit of a surprise to see how it washes up – you know it’s going to be good! I washed the shawl the next day in hot water and Palmolive twice, a couple rinses, and a final soak with Eucalan.

Before: Pretty, but a bit stiff, definitely lanolin-y.

sheep to shawl, before

After: the light parts are actually white, the fabric is soft and cushy and cohesive, everything’s plumped up. There’s less colour variation, because some of that which was woven in was actually differences due to dirt!

sheep to shawl, after

It might be hard to tell from those photos. Let’s try a closeup.

Before:

sheep to shawl, before

After:

sheep to shawl, after

Yep, they’re really from the same section of the shawl! It’s beautiful. I’m planning on needle felting or embroidering my aunt’s initials on one end, to make it more personalized – and, well, maybe I’ll knit her some socks too.

This just really clinches the desire to weave; I’ve got a rigid heddle loom but just haven’t really gotten into it yet. I think it’s the whole setup that’s kind of intimidating – with knitting, I just sit down and start. With weaving, there’s all the planning and the time spent warping and such…maybe over Christmas I can get going on that.

In the meantime…back to work!

15 Responses to “one shortcut gift”

  1. sweetgeorgia

    OMG. Weaving??? Go for it. It’s contemplative and meditative… I just love the whole process. From the time spent selecting yarns to warping to dressing the loom… Let me know if there is anything or any info I can send your way to help!

    Reply
  2. Lynn

    Weaving – go for it! It really doesn’t take that long, especially with a rigid heddle loom. In fact, it’s a LOT quicker than knitting!

    Reply
  3. Maddy

    I got a $1 loom at goodwill a while ago… It can only really make a plain weave but it’s soooo much fun. Also, I made an entire 8 foot scarf with 100g of yarn!

    Pull out the loom! You will be happy.

    Reply
  4. denny mcmillan

    In 5 years from now you will all be “sucked in ” to the weaving.

    Mark my words, I have spoken. I’m never wrong. (well)

    I have a plan. And then we will rule the world.

    Reply
  5. Sophia

    That is absolutely beautiful!! it makes me want to take up weaving agina (loom sitting un-used in the upstairs….) And thanks for the quick intructions on how to wash lanolin-saturated wools – 2x hot water & Palmolive and 1x Eucalan!

    Reply
  6. Rebecca

    This is such a lovely gift, it is so amazing to see the difference between the before and after – I love spinning with raw fleece and feeling the change and this makes me want to learn weaving (my husband will pull his hair out!).

    Reply
  7. Shannon

    Wow, what an amazing difference. I like the dirty colours better! Amazing they weaved it all up and got such great colour transitions due to dirt!

    Reply

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