Preparation Matters

Last weekend, I participated in the annual Fleece-To-Shawl competition at the Waynesburg Sheep and Fiber Festival. We had a team of 5 people (carder, 3 Spinners and Weaver-me). Over the last several months we had been practicing. Most of the practice centered around our Spinners.

As usual, we had a limited time at the competition to card the raw (unwashed) fleece, spin yarn and then weave a shawl to specific dimensions.

This year, we challenged ourselves to make a 2-ply yarn rather than the usual singles (one strand). That meant that we had 2 people spinning singles yarn and 1 person putting those strands together to make the 2-ply yarn for me to weave with.

To see if we could do this, we practiced. We spun the yarn we would use for the warp threads (the lengthwise threads) and this gave us a chance to practice spinning the size and grist (weight) of the yarn we would need to produce. But it didn’t give us as much practice for speed.

So, we practiced some of that; first on our own and then in a “mock competition” setting. As the weaver and team captain, I set up the parameters for how many yards were needed within the time period I thought we’d need (and have available). This mock session was an excellent way to see how we all worked under a time pressure.

The conclusion was that we saw if there were any adjustments needed at the actual competition. Although it took lots of calculating and planning on my part to come up with the rates we needed to spin, it seemed to be what we needed. We were able to spin and ply and weave all within the time allotted. In fact, we finished with 30 minutes to spare, which gave us hope we might be able to go to the big state-wide competition in January.

And we won the competition. A fitting reward for all the hard work everyone put in preparing.

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