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Make It With Wool contest sends winners to Arizona

MORTON, Minn.- First the wool dress earned Sarah Thelen acclaim in Washington County 4-H, then a trip to the state fair. Now, it's taking her to the American Sheep Industry Association's national convention in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Make It With Wool contest sends winners to Arizona
Sarah Thelen, left, won the senior division of Minnesota's Make It With Wool contest. With her are contest participants Amy Marquette of Buffalo and Angela Rouch of Coon Rapids.

MORTON, Minn.- First the wool dress earned Sarah Thelen acclaim in Washington County 4-H, then a trip to the state fair. Now, it's taking her to the American Sheep Industry Association's national convention in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The seventeen-year-old from Oakdale won the senior division of Minnesota's Make It With Wool contest Dec. 3 in Morton.

She and the junior division winner, Andrea Dunrud of Forest Lake, will advance to the national contest, held as part of ASI's Jan. 26-28 convention.

Traci Lafrentz of St. Joseph was once again the contest's adult winner. She will submit a video and photo of herself modeling her garment. If named the national adult winner, she will receive a trip to the national contest.

The Make It With Wool contest is held to promote wool by highlighting its beauty and versatility.

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All 35 contestants in Minnesota selected, constructed and modeled garments made of at least 60 percent wool.

The contest ties garment construction back to agriculture and living off the land, said the state director, Glenette Sperry.

"They're using something that they could've potentially raised," she said.

Thelen, who got into sewing through 4-H, spent time each day in June working on her black and white polka dot dress.

She knew she wanted to make a black garment so she could incorporate accessories. In Morton, she added a red necklace, bracelet and shoes.

"I found the wool and I fell in love with it," she said.

Meanwhile, friends from North Branch, Connie Linder and Gwen Swenson, competed in the adult division. They've been participating since they were children.

Linder made an easy fitting jacket and a pleated skirt. The skirt's fabric came from a long-ago road trip with Swenson that involved a trip to a Pendleton store. Swenson made a car coat.

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They like the contest because it gives them a reason to sew just in time to have a new outfit for the holidays. Phone calls occur back and forth during the construction process for moral support.

Both said knowing how to make one's own clothes is an invaluable skill.They understand the value of a garment, so they know whether retail items are priced right.

"It makes us better consumers," Swenson said.

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