Sheep Shawl

Sheep to Shawl demonstration part of this year's Fall Fest

Sub Headline
A lot of people still think weaving and spinning are things that people just don’t do anymore
Visitors to Holton’s Town Square on Saturday, Oct. 11, will have the opportunity to view the process of turning alpaca fiber into an article of clothing — or from “Sheep to Shawl,” as the process is known.
Sarah DeVader of Sarah’s En­chanted Cottage on the west side of the Square is putting the “Sheep to Shawl” demonstration together for the Holton/Jackson County Cham­ber of Commerce’s Fall Fest that day. For those in attendance, DeVader said it will be a chance to watch alpaca fibers go through the process of being spun into yarn, which will be knitted into a shawl — and a chance to win the finished product.
It’s also going to be an opportu­nity to watch what some might consider a lost art, she added.
“A lot of people still think weaving and spinning are things that people just don’t do anymore,” DeVader said. “But I’ll have three or four spinners and a couple of weavers in here on a Saturday… It’s becoming popular again.”
The idea for the “Sheep to Shawl” demonstration at Fall Fest came from one of DeVader’s cus­tomers who has participated in similar events involving “fiber arts,” she said. The upcoming dem­onstration will also be a first for her, she added, noting that the demonstration will be the first time she has participated in such an event.
“I’ve never been to one. I’ve just heard about them,” DeVader said.
This particular “Sheep to Shawl” event, however, will not involve sheep despite the name, she noted. Instead, Diane Howard of Effing­ham’s Serenity Hill alpaca farm has provided sheared alpaca fiber for the Oct. 11 event, and Barbara Beyer of Effingham, whom DeVader said often assists Howard with alpaca shearing in the spring, will be on hand as the event’s “overseer.”
The “sheep to shawl” process begins with the shearing of sheep — or, in this case, alpacas — fol­lowed by the “skirting” of the fi­bers, or the removal of unwanted, weaker fibers and other matter from the stronger fibers. The fibers are then cleaned and carded, meaning that the fibers are aligned so that they are mostly parallel to each other, ensuring that the yarn that is produced will be stronger.
Carded fibers are then turned into “roving,” or long, narrow bun­dles, and then spun into yarn, which is then knitted into an article of clothing, such as the shawl that will be knitted during the Oct. 11 event. DeVader said those partici­pating in that day’s demonstration plan to have “a finished shawl” by the end of the day.
DeVader said a drawing is planned once the shawl is com­pleted, and tickets will likely be sold for $1 each to win the shawl. Proceeds raised will benefit the new palliative care room at Holton Community Hospital, she said.
Those who watch the demon­stration will also have the opportu­nity to learn more about the “sheep to shawl” process, as stations will be set up explaining each step of the process, DeVader said. A sheared alpaca “blanket” also will be shown “so that people can see what it looks like straight off the animal,” she added.
DeVader said she is happy to see that knitting and crocheting, inte­gral parts of the “sheep to shawl” process, are enjoying a surge in popularity among young people who might have otherwise viewed it as an “outdated” activity.
“It’s something relaxing to do in this fast-paced world we live in,” she said. “High school and college-age kids are doing it.”
The “Sheep to Shawl” demon­stration is part of the Chamber’s Fall Fest activities, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on the Jackson County Courtyard. For more in­formation on the demonstration, contact DeVader at 364-3960; for more information on Fall Fest ac­tivities, contact the Chamber office at 364-3963 or visit

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