inspiring projects: best in show

A few days ago, all of us at KDD were very excited to hear that Jennifer Moats (WonderfullyWovn on Ravelry and Instagram) had won Best in Show at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival skein and garment competition for her beautifully-knitted version of Kate’s Shieling blanket from the West Highland Way collection. We caught up with Jennifer to hear more about the project, and her historic win.

“I live in Columbia, Maryland. I am originally from Florida. Florida is a rather warm place, so not that many people knit wool there, at least as far as I ever knew. Moving to Maryland about 10 years ago, I went for the first time to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival as a non-fiber person, having no knitting and very little crafting experience. My first reaction was disbelief that so many people would gather to celebrate sheep, knitting and all varieties of fiber art. But, with that introduction, I was inspired to learn more. I have a long commute on the bus into DC each day for work and I was looking for a way to productively occupy that time. So, I decided to take a knitting class at my local yarn shop. I went from knitting and then purling to devouring all things Elizabeth Zimmerman and educational knitting blogs and publications, like Kate’s, and then learning how to spin and weave and even competing on a couple of sheep to shawl teams. I fell all the way down the fiber rabbit hole. I just love the creativity and color that knitting and the fiber arts provide. I also love the pursuit of understanding textiles, design structure, fiber characteristics and how to be creative in general.”

“I was immediately drawn to “The Shieling” blanket as soon as it was introduced in the West Highland Way series. The pattern and color work is so mesmerizing! And, I mean, a blanket that inspires someone to carry a couch to the edge of a lake in the middle of winter to get a photograph to do it justice. I mean, right?! That’s a must knit. I couldn’t get the project out of my head. I knew it was going to be a challenge, but it was one that I desperately wanted to take on. As I considered the project, although a larger project as a whole, it was perfect for “on the bus” knitting because each square is knit individually and I could knit up each square and then set it aside while I worked on the next square without having to commute with an ever increasingly large blanket in tow. As my friends, acquaintances and even passers-by would watch me knit each square they would invariably ask what I was making and I would say, “A blanket” to which they would say something funny like “That’s an awfully small blanket.” “Haha, yes! This isn’t all of it,” I would reply with a wink.

“As I knit the first couple of squares, I got used to the process and developed a rhythm that made each block go faster and faster. As I was nearing the end, I knew that, if I was going to complete a project of this magnitude with such a stunning design, it deserved to be entered in the Skein and Garment Competition at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I was a little behind schedule to accomplish that, but I thought, if I worked diligently, I just might be able to pull it off. As I blocked each square, the Milarrochy Tweed came to life and exuded a new softness…

“I thought I might win something, but, honestly, when I learned that I had won Best in Show, it was a lot to take in! I was so grateful. Now, that I think about it, talk about coming full circle. Winning Best in Show at the wool festival that introduced me to the fiber arts. I want to take this moment in. And after this moment, I have this beautiful blanket that is so cozy warm that it will be a favorite decorating my home for years to come. Not a bad way to spend my time in traffic.”

Huge congratulations on your very well-deserved win, Jennifer, from all of us at KDD!