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Harrisburg - Spinning wheels accompanied by the ups and downs of the loom and the scratch of carding wool signifed the beginning of the 32nd annual Sheep To Shawl Competition at the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm Show, Wednesday, Jan. 12.

The Dream Weavers of Northumberland County, three-year competitors, came in first with their bluebird-inspired shawl. Team members include Abby Schrack, Jack Smith, Carol Chaapel, Joanna Smith, Wayne Appleman and Francie Appleman, who explained, "We thought the bluebird was a nice idea, and the blue and grey colors complimented each other very well."

Eight teams competed in the competition. Each consists of six members who shear, card, spin and weave the freshly-shorn wool. Teams are given two and a half hours from the first shear off their sheep to the completion of a themed shawl. Each team picks a specific theme to which they match their shawl.

Judges based their criteria on the following factors - shearing, fleece, design and speed. During the contest they circulated among the teams to determine how each was performing, along with making a detailed inspection of the finished shawls.

Judges for the contest were Ben Bow of Lebanon County, Cynthia Baker of Lancaster County, Kris Peters of York County, and Susan Withnell of Westminster, Md.

Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding gave a brief address and handed out awards to all winners.

Team placings were as follows:
1st Place Grand Champion- Dream Weavers of Northumberland County
2nd Place Reserve Champion- Treadlers Through Time of Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks counties
3rd Place- Fort Freeland Flickers of Montour County
4th Place- Friends Thru Fiber of Franklin and Adams counties
5th Place- Time Warp of Montour County

Each hand-crafted shawl was auctioned off following the contest. Topping the auction block was fourth place Friends Thru Fiber's shawl with a selling price of $2,250 to Peggy Brown of Aurora, W.V.; the winning shawl sold for $925 to Dennis Wolgemuth of Wolgemuth Auction in Leola, Lancaster County; second place Treadlers Thru Time's shawl sold for $850 to Patty Houck of Harrisburg, Dauphin County; third place Fort Freeland Flickers' piece sold for $650 to Mike Sprout of Mt. Wolf, York County; fifth place Time Warp's sold for $750 to Kevin Ricker of Harrisburg, Dauphin County; and sixth place Loyalhannon Spinners' shawl sold for $850 to Charles Bowers of Dillsburg, York County.

Other prizes included:
Champion Shearer Award- Matt Geissinger of the Treadlers Thru Time
Fleece Award- Friends Thru Fiber
Team's Choice- Friends Thru Fiber
Weaver's Award- Libby Beiler of the Time Warp
Premium Spinning Group Award- Ellen Anderson, Irina Lawrence and Kathy Kenworthy

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 290 commercial exhibitors. The show runs Jan. 8-15 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free and parking is $10.

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For event photos, click here.