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Extreme Fiber Arts

It all began with a bet, of course: “Sir John Throckmorton laid a of a thousand guineas that at eight o’clock in the evening of June the 25th, 1811, he would sit down to dinner in a well-woven, properly-made coat, the wool of which formed the fleeces of sheeps’ backs at five o’clock that same morning. Such an achievement appearing practically impossible to his listeners, his bet was eagerly accepted.”

The Newbury Coat in progress

“The sheep being shorn [at 5am], the wool was washed, stubbed, roved, spun, and woven […] The cloth thus manufactured was next scoured, fulled, tented, raised, sheared, dyed, and dressed, being completed by four o’clock in the afternoon. [….] For the next two hours and a quarter the tailors were busy cutting out, stitching, pressing, and sewing on buttons, in fact, generally converting the cloth into a “well woven, properly made coat,” and at twenty minutes past six Mr. Coxeter [local cloth mill owner] presented the coat to Sir John Throckmorton, who put the garment on before an assemblage of over five thousand people, and sat down to dinner with it on, together with forty gentlemen, at eight o’clock in the evening.”

The Newbury Coat completed

But here’s my favorite part: “To commemorate the event, the two sheep who were the victim of Mr. Coxeter’s energy were killed and roasted whole in a meadow nearby, and distributed to the public, together with 120 gallons of strong beer, this latter being the gift of Mr. Coxeter.”

Sheep to Shawl done right! The making of the Newbury Coat was repeated only once, in 1991.

2 Comments on “Extreme Fiber Arts”

  1. #1 cyndy
    on Apr 10th, 2009 at 7:26 am


    Thanks for this!

  2. #2 Diane
    on Apr 10th, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    So that’s where the sheep to shawl contest originated? What fun?