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Saturday, 8 June, 2002, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Woolly jumper record challenge failure
Sheep shearing generic
Sheep shearing is a traditional farming skill
An all-woman team from north Wales, who took up world-wide challenge to shear a sheep, spin its wool and knit a sweater in under eight hours, have failed in their record attempt.

The event was held at Ruthin Jail - the town's latest tourist attraction - on Saturday at 1000 BST.

Ruthin Jail
Ruthin Jail re-opened to visitors last month
The eight-member team tried to beat the current champions of the Back-to-Back challenge from Shetland, who shaved the record down to five hours and nine minutes last year.

However, the north Wales team - made up of women from the Clwyd Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers - took 10 hours and 25 minutes to complete the task.

As part of the competition, 40 teams from across the world took part in similar events in their own countries.

The majority of the competitors attended events in Australia and New Zealand.

Only four teams from the UK entered this year with the aim of completing the challenge in the fastest possible time.


We took part in a practice run which we did for fun and we came very close to the record

Lynn Blanchard, team member

Before the event north Wales team member Lynn Blanchard, believed they had a good chance of winning.

"We took part in a practice run which we did for fun and we came very close to the record," she said.

"It is a very, very quick time but I am pretty confident we can do it."

The teams all over the world follow a very strict set of rules and every competition follows the same instructions - like knitting the same pattern of jumper.

International challenge

The challenge was set up in 1993 by the Aberfoyle Spinners in Scotland to raise money for cancer research.

A visiting Australian woman suggested the competition should be made international and this was set-up in 1995. The event has taken part annually ever since.

The Back-to-Back name stands for the back of the sheep to the back of a person.


At one time in the prison's history, prisoners were employed in spinning, weaving and knitting

Kevin Matthias, archivist for Denbighshire

Ruthin Jail closed in 1916, but the site was recently redeveloped after the Heritage Lottery Fund stepped in with a 1m grant.

Over 3,000 people have visited The Grueling Experience at the jail since it reopened on 4 May.

Kevin Matthias, county archivist for Denbighshire, said: "At one time in the prison's history, prisoners were employed in spinning, weaving and knitting.

"Some of the equipment used is on display in The Gruelling Experience attraction in the jail.

"It is unlikely that the punishment was as popular as the Back-to-Back challenge."


More news from north east Wales
See also:

23 Jan 02 | Wales
04 May 02 | Wales
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