By Mary Spicer
WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP —
With one pre-teen and three adults with years of experience under their respective belts competing in the Crawford County Make-It-With-Wool contest, Judge Marian Dronko of Woodcock Township had plenty of time to devote to paying close attention to each entry — and ended up with some difficult choices Wednesday morning at the Crawford County Fair.
“All the articles were very nicely done,” she said after the prizes had been awarded. “It was hard to choose the placing — they were all very well done.”
Sponsored by Northwest Pennsylvania Sheep and Wool Growers Association and the Crawford County Cooperative Extension, the contest took place on the free stage at the fair. Woven fabrics were required to be at least 60 percent wool, and knitted or crocheted garments had to be made of 100 percent wool.
For Jade Wilson of Titusville, daughter of Karen and Douglas Wilson and a rising eighth-grader at Titusville Middle School, entering the contest was a natural choice.
A member of Purple Circle 4-H Club, Wilson raises sheep — she’s taking home the Grand Champion award for her market lamb and Supreme Champion with her Southdown sheep this year — and has been sewing for five of her 12 years. The black-and-purple plaid vest-and-sklrt outfit she entered in the contest, by the way, had already captured Grand Champion honors in the 4-H Coordinates competition.
“It was really hard to match the plaid,” Wilson said, noting that she had decided to work with plaid in the first place because of the extra challenge it presented. Wilson placed first in the pre-teen category.
Lisa Sheets of Meadville submitted two entries, one in the “Adults” category and one in “Sewing for Others,” and took first-place honors in both.
Winner of the fair’s 4-Star Homemaker Award in 1990, Sheets took a break from competition sewing and just sewed for fun for awhile. In fact, although she’s been sewing since she was 5 or 6 years old, she hadn’t entered anything in the fair for about 15 years. This year, however, she’s back, also capturing awards for best heirloom and best embellished garments.
Sheets developed her own pattern for the mohair/wool knit cape she created for her mother and used a Vogue pattern by designer Marcy Tilton for the fitted purple alpaca/wool jacket that took first place in the adult category.
Pam Marburger of Espyville, winner of second place in the adult category, has been entering the contest for the past 20 years.
“I do it because I enjoy it,” she said. “Now it’s a habit. I enjoy sewing — and I make sure to make something wool every year.”
All entries qualify for the state Wool Growers Association contest if they comply with state guidelines. Of the 16 years Marburger has entered the state Make-It-With-Wool contest, she said she’s won 11.
Marburger’s entry was also created using a Vogue pattern by Tilton. Describing the flowing jacket as “easy to wear,” Marburger noted that the fabric, a two-sided wool, was from her mother’s personal stash of fabric.
“I like the little ‘extras’ added in with Vogue patterns,” she said.
Millie Mitchell of Rockdale Township took home the third-place award in the adult category with an outdoor sweater knitted in seed stitch with cable accents.
“I’m an old 4-H’er,” she smiled when asked what inspired her to enter the contest. “It sticks with you.”
The sweater also brought home a blue ribbon in the fair’s hand knit wearing apparel division. Mitchell, who started knitting when she was about 8 years old, was taught to crochet by her mother and grandmother and taught to knit by her great-aunt.
“They’ve passed on,” Mitchell said, “but I keep their memory alive with my hands.”
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.