From sheep's back to knitter's back, competition promotes wool

From sheep's back to knitter's back, competition promotes wool

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Produce a knitted jumper from sheep to human by hand is all part of the Back to back Challenge.

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TEAM: The Canadian team, the Polywesters, Lethbridge, Alberta, that finished second in a time of 10 hours and 10 minutes.

TEAM: The Canadian team, the Polywesters, Lethbridge, Alberta, that finished second in a time of 10 hours and 10 minutes.

A United States-based team beat teams from across the world to win the 25th International 'Back to Back' Wool Challenge.

For the last twenty five years, teams have competed for the coveted Scottish Wool Centre's International Wool Challenge Trophy.

The San Diego County Spinners, Bonita, California, United States was this year's winners, breaking the US record from just over eight hours to seven hours, 52 minutes.

The PolyWesters, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, gained second place, their time being 10 hours and 10 minutes also breaking a Back to Back record, having competed for the past 18 years.

A first-time New Zealand team was third grinding out their time to almost fifteen hours.

Special mention to the Mainely Spinners team, Maine, US, which made it to the finish in almost 16 hours.

According to the organisers the competition was a simple and direct method of promoting wool from 'sheep's back to spinner's back' using the ancient skills of blade shearing, spinning and knitting - within one day.

Eight different countries and 140 individual teams have competed including seventy from Australia and twenty seven in Canada.

Foundation record holders, the Shetland Isles, to the latest Guinness World Record holders,

Swalmen (The Netherlands), From the Czech Republic to Chiba in Japan, Manitoba to Minnesota, Christchurch to Cairns, Bloemfontein to Devonport, even Merriwa to Maine, teams of handspinners and knitters gather to knit the Challenge jumper from freshly blade shorn wool racing against the clock.

A team consists of eight members. One blade shearer and seven hand spinners and hand knitters with up to seven non electric spinning wheels. The sheep can be any colour or breed but must not be housed or coated for two months prior to shearing.

Teams follow the identical Challenge rules and pattern to knit the adult size jumper.

The Back to Back teams promote wool world wide in their own public venues by blade shearing wool from their sheep's back then hand spinning and knitting the Challenge jumper for their backs.

Substantial funds were raised for cancer research world wide.

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