Local team competing again in worldwide wool challenge
By Heather Killen
A group of knitters and spinners are teaming up again in an international race that will raise money for the local libraries.
Last year Shear Delights was one of three Valley teams that took the back-to-back challenge. This Annapolis County team pulled the wool from sheep to sweater in 11 hours, 58 minutes, and 59 seconds.
They raised about $1,000 for four-year-old William McGill, of Inglisville, who had been battling leukemia. This year, on May 31, the team is back, this time spinning their wheels at the Lawrencetown Fire Hall.
Diana Ackroyd, manager, says the competition is set to start 9 a.m. with doors open at 8:30 a.m. Shearer Alix Kusch is back with a team of five knitter-spinners and two knitters.
In honour of the event Erica Pretzlaw, of Middle Town Sweets, is whipping up some special treats for the day. A lunch will also be available featuring soup, meatballs, chili, and other baked goods made by the Shear Delights team.
This year the team is raising money for the Annapolis Valley Regional Library. The new bookmobile will be onsite throughout the day, offering children two story times: the first at 11 a.m. and the second at 3 p.m.
This is the second year Annapolis County has had a team in the international race to see which team can take the wool from sheep to sweater in the least time. About 10 teams from various countries usually compete in the race.
The Back-to-Back Wool Challenge started in Australia in 1994 and has since caught on worldwide. Teams race to shear the sheep, spin the wool and knit the sweater.
The rules are the same for everyone -- no mechanized tools are allowed. Each team consists of one blade shearer, and seven spinners (with spinning wheels) and knitters who follow identical rules, and a pattern to knit the adult size sweater.
Two years ago Sheep Thrills, a team from Gaspereau Valley Fibres, placed first in Canada, ranking seventh overall at nine hours, 46 minutes, and 37 seconds. They were topped by the first place team from the Netherlands who set a new mainland European record at six hours, three minutes, and 28 seconds.
Last year Shear Delights entered the race for the first time, and by 11 a.m. spinner/knitters Barbara McKinnon, Caroline Hanncock, Donna Conyers, Jen Janz, Judy Foster, and Sally MacDonald and knitter Tracey Hatcher were comfortably assembled and working on the sweater.
There was a great deal of interest in the competition and it may have hooked some new interest in learning the age-old craft as various people inquired about learning how to spin and knit, she added.
Stop by to see Shear Delights in action in the International Back to Back Wool Challenge at the Lawrencetown fire hall on May 31, starting at 9 a.m. Visit the Shear Delights page on Facebook, or call 584-7243 for more information.