News from Estes Park: Keep the Fleece contest

At the Estes Park Wool Market, I learned about an upcoming project being sponsored by Wild Fibers magazine, along with some other folks. Called Keep the Fleece, it pertains to topics I care a great deal about—and I’m working on a related project myself. There will be a web site, but it is not active at the time I’m writing this (at, when it’s ready). So I’d like to share the initial information that I picked up at the Wool Market here. If you want to submit your work to a contest like this, you can’t ever get started too early. It’s good to have lots of imagining time, as well as working time.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when I was editor of Spin-Off magazine, we sponsored a project called Save the Sheep. It included what turned out to be an international juried competition, a traveling exhibit (on the road for two years), a book called Handspun Treasures from Rare Wools (now unfortunately out of print, but still in stock at some vendors), a slide show, and a trunk show of rare-breed samples. It was an amazing endeavor to be involved with, and. . . .

It’s definitely time for the next step! How nice that Wild Fibers is the primary catalyst this time.

Here are the basics:

  • 2009 is the United Nations International Year of Natural Fibres.
  • There’s an international contest, with a deadline of April 1, 2009.
  • There will be a book published in September 2009 (fast track from the deadline!) that includes selected winning entries.

Here’s the front of a brochure on the contest (many details still being ironed out):


Here’s what it says inside:

  • "We want people from around the world to be inspired by the versatility of natural fibers, and to understand their importance not only as a natural resource, but to the environment and the people who are directly involved in the farming, harvesting and manufacturing process."
  • "Four Simple A’s (otherwise known as the contest rules): Anyone can enter. This contest is for everyone—professionals and amateurs alike. There is a separate category for professional designers although a single item may be entered in multiple categories where appropriate. For example, a scarf designed by Pam Allen made from Shetland wool could be entered in both the Island Life category (for the island wool) and Pro-create (for professional designers). Anywhere in the world. "Keep the Fleece" is focused on creating a universal fiber community including women who knit with feverish abandon Down Under and cops who crochet on the beat in Guatemala. Any fiber—naturally. "Natural" fiber includes any type of protein fiber (from animals) or cellulosic fiber (from plants). April 1st, 2009. No fooling—that’s the deadline. A select group of winning entries will be published in a book available by September 2009—so get busy!"
  • "Contest Categories (this is only a partial listing): Camelot, Fiber from camelids: guanaco, vicuna, alpaca, llama, and camel; Island Life, Any fiber that originates from an island, such as Icelandic wool, or sheep native to North Ronaldsay, St. Kilda, etc.; Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, Plant fibers, including but not limited to cotton, hemp, jute, and coconut; Inch by Inch, 100% pure or recycled silk; Like a Virgin, Any fiber from a young animal (kid mohair, baby alpaca, etc.) . . . "

Because the organizers haven’t completed the categories, I’m not going to key in the rest, but that gives the idea. Whatever natural fiber anyone wants to work with, there will be at least one category and probably more to choose from.

Sounds like fun. My time’s already committed, so it’s extremely unlikely (one chance in a million) that I’ll be entering, but many of the activities I’m committed to are related, so some of my posts may be helpful to those who will be participating.

I’m planning, for example, to talk soon about today’s task: washing some rare breed wool that sure wasn’t raised with handspinners in mind. But now I’ve got to go tend the soaking bowls again.


3 thoughts on “News from Estes Park: Keep the Fleece contest”

  1. Hmm. By then I may have sanity enough to enter this, given that my fiber supply is currently living within 20 feet of me. Thanks SO much, with your busy life, for informing us of this wonderful contest and work!

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