Practice shawl

Joanna’s sheep-to-shawl team will travel to the Pennsylvania Farm Show this week. The team has been planning for the competition since the moment after last year’s competition ended. The theme for this year’s entry is Basket of Apples and the highlight of the shawl is a name-drafted twill in shades of red on a gray, basket-weave ground. A name draft uses the same strategy as the cryptogram that you’ve seen in the puzzle section of your local paper. The most common sort is the substitution cipher in which each letter of the alphabet is replaced by a different letter. Once the pattern of replacements is determined the puzzle may be solved. In a name draft each letter of the alphabet is assigned to one of the four harnesses which are involved in the process. There are many ways to do this, for example: ABIJQRYZ = 1, CDKLST = 2, EFMNUV = 3, and GHOPWX = 4. By substituting the harness number for each letter of the draft (1-4-4-2-3 for the word Apple, for example) an unusual design of significance may be created. In preparation for the competition the team has produced several shawls as trial runs. Such practice allows the team members to work on the efficiency of all aspects of shawl production including carding, spinning, plying, weaving, and finishing. Because Joanna is the backup weaver she thought it would a good idea to produce one of these competition shawls in the unlikely event that the team’s lead weaver would be unable to participate on the day of the competition. Sometime shortly after the Solstice Joanna began spinning the darker gray warp. Then she produced the lighter gray weft. She warped the loom this past Wednesday and was weaving on-and-off on Thursday and Friday. She finished the shawl early on Saturday afternoon. She’s pleased with the result.

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