For the last three years the SpinDyeWeavers have demonstrated at the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show. The first year we were in the Wessex Marquee along with a lot people selling stuff, it wasn't very good for us and we didn't think that we fitted in. So last year we moved to the Action Crafts Marquee which was much more us and to our surprise we won Second Place in a competition that we didn't realize we were in - so as you can imagine we were rather gob-smacked.
Last year we didn't have a real purpose other than too promote spinning and to show how the fleece of the sheep in the show rings ended up as sweaters and other knitted things. So this year having taken on board some of the questions posed to us last year we came up with a new focus. British sheep breeds and natural dyeing.
As spinners we are naturally concerned that some breeds of sheep are endangered and one, the Boreray is on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's critical list. That means that there are less than 300 breeding females. But where to start?
One of the groups favourite books is Beautiful Sheep, known as the 'sheep book of porn' because many of the rams shown in the book are rather well endowed! So last year we bought the Beautiful Sheep Postcard Book and began to collect a samples of fleece from each of the 30 breeds shown in the book. It was these knitted samples that were going to form the basis of our display for 2013.
We felt that it was important to use fleece samples as it would give us insight into the breed characteristics and the handle of the fleece which you wouldn't get from just buying commercial top or yarn.
Thus far we have all but the Galway, Border Leicester and the Wiltshire Horn and quite a few others that weren't in the book (can't quite believe this but yesterday we were offered Wiltshire Horn, so only two to go!). This of course doesn't fully represent all the breeds in the UK - as there are 86 distinct breeds of sheep in this country and many many more from overseas, but we are well on the way!
This year we won first prize and we have a shield to keep for a year and here is the winning team together with the Mayor of Gillingham.
This post has ended rather abruptly as my PC crashed and over the weekend the hard drive has been wiped and the system completely re-built thanks to Nico at http://www.ekonnic.com so now I am able to get back to normal life with PC.......