Update September 16:

After months of activity, planning, doing, laughing, learning, and enjoying being part of a team, the Virtual Sheep to Shawl competition has come to an end.  All is done except a few shawls to be wet finished and reports to be made.

Here are photos of the eight shawls and one in progress from the nine teams that participated.  Judges scores were tallied for the following results. 

First place to team Covid Baaa Damned,

Second place to team Vancouver Shawlympics, and

Third place to The Organizers.

Well done, all.  I hope you’re ready to participate in whatever we come up with for next year.

Brenda Nicolson


Update June 26:

The Virtual Sheep to Shawl has nine teams registered.

To follow some of the activity on Facebook, there is a private group called Virtual Sheep to Shawl 2021 (VHWSG) that I believe you can view even if you are not a member of the group.

Teams are from Victoria, Gabriola Island, Courtenay and Vancouver.  Team names are as follows:

  • The Organizers
  • Covid Baaa Damned
  • Shuttle Fish
  • Tagalong Singles
  • Sheep Shifters (Courtenay)
  • Mighty Mycelium Magic Makers (Gabriola)
  • It’s a Wrap
  • Wednesday Creative
  • Vancouver Shawl-ympics (Vancouver)


  1. Jane Stafford Textiles – $50.00 gift certificate (janestaffordtextiles.com)
  2. A dyeing kit (https://www.harmonique.ca/catalog/introduction-dyeing-kit) from Harmonique Fibre Arts Supply Inc., Ashford Handicraft’s Canadian Distributor  (www.harmonique.ca)
  3. Jill’s Fibres – $50.00 gift certificate (www.jillsfibres.ca)
  4. A wooden blanket rack
  5. The book: A Short History of the World According to Sheep
  6. Book: FIBERSHED – Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and Makers for a New Textile Economy, by Rebecca Burgess with Courtney White  (donated by Beatrice Keizers)

We missed the Saanich Fair Sheep to Shawl demonstration last year, so the idea of a virtual Sheep to Shawl was born! This event is supported by the VHWSG but is open to all spinners on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland and the Islands in between.

A “Sheep to Shawl” is an event at which spinners begin with a newly shorn and skirted fleece and end up with a finished shawl! Loads of fun to work with a team – together or apart. A Visual Record of the project is a new part of the fun. Registration is limited to 10 teams. Registration opens April 1, ends July 1st. Shawls must be received by the judges by August 31st, 2021. This will be a summer project, beginning in May when the sheep are shorn to be completed by August 31. The only cost is $25 per team for the fleece which will be provided by the organizers – all fleeces raised on Vancouver Island.

Sheep to Shawl Registration Form – download, complete then send along with your payment.

If you want to join in but don’t have a “team”, Brenda Nicolson 250-721-1873 — sheep2shawl@vhwsg.ca  —  will keep a list of persons looking for a team and facilitate them finding team mates.

The Rules

Teams are to prepare and spin wool and weave a shawl that is judged at the end of the contest. The loom can be warped ahead of time and teams will have received and washed their fiber, but no other work is to be done (except perhaps dyeing the fleece) until the contest starts. Fleeces will be provided by organizers. Recording of your team’s efforts by video or photographs with your story is requested. Shawls will be returned to the teams after judging – the scoring criteria are listed below. Registration is limited to 10 teams. Registration due by July 1st. Shawls are due for judging August 31st, 2021.

Teams – Each team will consist of 2 to 6 members with a maximum of 30 maker-hours to complete the shawl. You do not have to be a guild member. You may choose to compete all together on one day or separately over several days. Team members record their time in half hour increments and keep a photo/video record of their efforts. (e.g.: A 2-member team can contribute 15 hours each, a 6 member team can contribute 5+2+9+6+8 hours for a total of 30 total hours.) A recorder/photographer can be an additional team member not part of the 30 hours.

Fleece – Assigned to you through the organizers with your registration fee. We will provide the fleeces to promote local growers and so that each team has an even start. The shearer, Pieter, will make a video of the shearing available so each team could see their sheep being shorn. We will draw numbers and then distribute fleeces. (Extra cost for shipping).
Must be 100% wool. Raw fiber may be washed (and dyed) before the competition starts, but must remain in an obvious lock formation.

Weaving – Each team will provide its own warped loom. The sett should be no less than 8 epi (1600 to 2000 yds./lb.). Natural colored or hand dyed warp may be used, but no commercial yarn will be allowed. Warp yarn may be stash yarn previously spun by team members.

Weft – Hand carders, wool combs and drum carders (human powered) are allowed for preparation of fibre for spinning. The weft yarn may be no thicker than 2 times the diameter of the warp end.

Shawl Design – Any weaving pattern may be used; however, the shawl must measure a minimum of 20 inches wide by 70 inches long at time of judging, with an additional minimum 5 inch fringe on each end. Do not wet finish the shawl for judging.

Time – The honor system will be in effect. Time used for photography is not included in the time limit. Fleeces will be available early May (shearing of yearlings). Completed shawls and team videos must be received by August 31, 2021

Registration and fees – $25.00 Registration deadline: July 1st, 2021 or when the limit of 10 teams is reached.

There will be extra costs if we need to ship your fleece to your team or to return mail your shawl to you.

Prizes – Teams will receive appropriate ribbons and bragging rights. Prizes are yet to be determined.

Judges – The judging team for video/photo points will be separate from the judging team for shawls.

Participants – This is not a guild-dependent event. It is open to all interested participants from Vancouver Island,  the lower mainland, and the islands between them.

Photography – A visual record of the project will be submitted with the shawl for judging.  This can be in the form of a series of photos and a  video of discussion or chat (via Zoom) or …?  Teams will be awarded points toward the final score for each shawl.  You may include responses to the following questions:

Describe your part in the process of the shawl project.
What intrigues you about spinning/weaving?
How did you get started?
Who was your teacher/inspiration?
For you, what is fun about choosing to do this contest?
Is there something about participating in this contest that contributes to your well-being, especially during this time of the pandemic?

The Scoring

This scoring point system will be used:

Video (20 points)
A short record and explanation of each member’s contribution to the team. Points awarded will not be based on technological skill.

  • Creativity, 5 points
  • Information about the Team members 5 points
  • Information about the process 5 points
  • Storytelling 5 points
  • Bonus point – Wow factor (2 points)

Spinners (30 points)

  • Fleece selection – cleanliness, 10 points
  • Fleece preparation for spinning, 10 points
  • Uniformity of spinning – size and type of yarn produced, 10 points

Weaver (30 points)

  • Even selvedge, 10 points
  • Even beating, 10 points
  • No threading or treadling errors, 10 points

Finished Shawl (20 points)

  1. Detail and difficulty of design, 10 points
  2. Drapability of shawl, 5 points
  3. Color compatibility of warp and weft, 2 points
  4. Finishing (ends, hem stitching or fringe), 3 points

Deductions for measurements outside of standards

  • Length, 5 points
  • Width, 5 points
  • Fringe, 5 points

Bonus Points

  • Finishing 5 points
  • Plied weft yarn, 5 points