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Weaving Warriors Want Win

By Staff | Jan 5, 2010

The debut of the Warrior Run Weavers in a 'Fleece to Shaw' contest at the farm show will include (l-r) Blyss Bieber, Exchange; Emily Smith, Limestoneville and Kyle Whitmoyer, Turbotville. Not pictured are Lydia Smith, Limestoneville and Abby Heggenstaller, Loganton.

The hands of some area teens aren’t busy pushing buttons on the newest video games but plied to mastering a centuries old art once required for human survival.

For the third year, a ‘Fleece to Shawl’ weaving contest will be held at the upcoming Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg for youth age 18 and under.

Supported by husband Wayne, Frances Appleman of Turbotville was inspired to learn and teach weaving subsequently forming two groups. “It’s a dream come true as our children wanted to participate several years ago. Back then, teens were required to enter in a single category along with adults,” she said.

This the the first year the ‘Warrior Run Weavers’ will vie since forming in April. However, under the same instructors, the area’s original group, the “Fort Freeland Flickers’ earned grand champion status the past two years. Those champs were Katie Watson, Exchange; David Weaver, Allenwood; Emma Olshefski, Danville and Erin and Megan Webster of Cogan Station. Consisting of five members per team, local youth range in age from nine to 17.

This year’s state event will not just be against unknowns for Lebanon, York and Ephrata, but against friends, and in some instances school mates. So far good-natured rivalry exists as teams often practice together.

“During the year, teams must enter one competition plus provide one demonstration. We competed at Troy Fair and demonstrated at the Danville Iron Festival, the Montour-DeLong Fair, Washingtonville and at Turbotville during an open house at Clark’s Ag Center,” Mrs. Appleman said.

At the Farm Show, each team provides a display around their individual theme. The debuting group chose “Tire Tracks,” the pattern of which is incorporated into the borders of a 22 x 78 inch shawl. To augment the pattern, various brands of model tractors will be placed with a sample weaving.

According to Mrs. Appleman, “The Flickers chose “Pennsylvania Barns” as their theme. Attention to detail is important as judges award extra points for the best display. Consideration is also given for the first completed shawl, weaving continuity, and quality of fleece. Our fleece comes from Romney crossbred sheep at Yorkshire Meadows in Mansfield.”

Learned from her years in 4-H, team member Blyss Bieber proceeded to name several breeds of sheep. Re-emergence of many all but forgotten arts may have inspired these youths, some of whom participate in Warrior Run-Fort Freeland’s annual Heritage Days. However, this weaving program is mentored solely by the Applemans.

Competition is enhanced with concentration, dexterity and speed with a 2 1/2 hour time limit for completion of shawl. The process begins with carding which brushes foreign material from raw wool, on to spinners who join the wool into yarn and ready for the loom and weavers.

Swineford Bank of Shamokin Dam was last year’s successful bidder when the championship shawl auctioned for $550.

The 2010 event will take place in the small arena on Wednesday, January 13 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.