Sheep to Shawl
Farm Show Contestants Explain That Quality Wool ‘Starts at the Farm’
Sheep Industry News Contributor
The work and time each team invests to compete in the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show’s Sheep To Shawl contest begins many months before the event.
“It all starts on the farm,” Terry Kunst said of the care required to raise and maintain a healthy sheep that grows quality wool.
And she would know.
Kunst, of Lykens Township, Dauphin County, was fleece and shearing judge for the 35th annual Sheep To Shawl contest, which included seven teams from across the state of Pennsylvania.
The event marked her third year as a judge. She also competed on Sheep To Shawl teams in the past and raises sheep, angora goats and rabbits.
The level of competition at this year’s show made her job a challenge, she said. “It was tough,” Kunst said.
She also said Sheep To Shawl seems to attract more spectators each year. “I think people really enjoy seeing the start to finish aspect,” she said. Each team in the competition chose a unique theme that was creative and inspirational, Kunst said.
Montour County-based team Time Warp – which took first-place in the contest –crafted a shawl to honor artist Jackson Pollock’s painting, Number 18, 1950.
Time Warp also won Sheep to Shawl in 2013, 2012, 2010 and 2009.
“You can never get used to it,” Baltimore Time Warp spinner Emily Kephart said of the excitement of winning the competition.
Kephart’s mother, Katherine Dashner, of Clinton County, also worked as a spinner on the team. She said the group’s camaraderie is key to its success.
Friends Thru Fiber, based in Adams and Franklin counties, competed in the event for the last six years and took second place in 2013.
This year, the team chose a baseball, which is made of fibers including wool, as its theme.
The team’s coach, Dan Dailey, of Chambersburg, sheared a Corriedale at the event. The group members – who wore baseball uniforms – used the sheep’s wool to make a cream-colored shawl decorated with red lines to resemble a baseball.
Dailey has been shearing sheep for 43 years.
“I started in 4-H,” he said of being raised in an agricultural environment in Venango County.
He said events such as the Sheep To Shawl competition help educate people about the importance of wool.
“Fiber art is what we’re all about,” he said. Several people in the audience waiting for the contest to start, knitted.
Micek said the activity has grown more popular in recent years.