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