International Back to Back Wool Challenge

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Information and Entry Form for the 25th International Back to Back Wool Challenge 2019 – click here.

Media Release 2018

Australia Regains Back to Back World Wool Trophy                  

After six years in second place, an Australian team has regained the coveted Scottish Wool Centre’s International Wool Challenge Trophy. The Spinning Knitwits team of seven handspinners & knitters & a blade shearer shore a sheep, handspun and knitted a jumper in a time of 6 hours 08 minutes 37 seconds to win this years 24th International Back to Back Wool Challenge.

The team was hosted by Tocal Agricultural College at Paterson in New South Wales.

A team from The Netherlands last year broke the Guinness World Record in a time of 4 hours 45 minutes & 53 seconds previously held by Australia’s Merriwa Jumbucks, NSW and originally held by the Shetland Isles, Scotland.

USA gained second place, their time being 6 hours 11 minutes 38 seconds with Canada third.

Australia competited against teams from USA & across Canada.

Each team consisted of a blade shearer, a country of origin sheep and seven

handspinners (with spinning wheels) and knitters who follow the identical

Challenge rules and pattern to knit the adult size jumper.

The Australian team shore a Merino X Border Leicester Cross sheep and spun on Majacraft, Ashford & Kromski spinning wheels.

The Back to Back teams promote wool world wide in their own public venues by blade shearing wool from their sheep’s back then handspinning & knitting the Challenge jumper for their backs.

Substantial funds are also raised for Cancer Research World Wide.


  1. First: Knitwits, Tocal Agricultural College, Paterson, NSW, Australia – 6 hours 08 minutes 37 seconds.
  2. Second: San Diego County Spinners, Bonita, California, USA – 8 hours 15 minutes 31 seconds
  3. Third: PolyWesters Alberta Lethbridge, Canada – 9 hours   36minutes 00seconds                    

2018 Awards:-


Scottish Wool Centre Trophy – The winning team world wide.

Spinning Knitwits-Newcastle, Patterson, NSW, AUSTRALIA  6hr   08min 37sec  

City of Geelong Trophy – Winning Australian team.

Spinning Knitwits-Newcastle, Patterson, NSW, AUSTRALIA  6hr   08min 37sec            

Shipway Trophy –     For the winning New South Wales, Australia, team. Spinning Knitwits-Newcastle, Patterson, NSW, AUSTRALIA. 6hr   08min 37sec             

Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers Ltd Trophy for the winning Canadian team.

Poly Westers, Lethbridge, Alberta, CANADA. 9 hr 36 min 00sec


Brigadoon Trophy-   The team with the greatest donation to charity.  

 Spinning Knitwits, Newcastle, Patterson, NSW    

 AUD$3,619.70   Calvary/Mater Cancer Research Centre, Newcastle.

For further information:

Wendy Dennis. International Coordinator, IWC.

New Guinness World Record Time :-

4 hours 45 minutes 53 seconds ~ Groenewoud ~

Swalmen  ~ The Netherlands ~ 2017

For full 2018 results and entry form for the International Back to Back Wool Challenge 2019 click here.

back to back

The International Back to Back Wool Challenge Story

In 1811 at Newbury in Berkshire, UK, a one thousand pound wager was made to make  a coat from  the sheep’s back to a mans back in one day.

Watched by 5000 people, the coat was completed in thirteen hours. The sheep was eaten with much quaffing of beer to celebrate.

Todays Challenge began in 1992 when Richard Snow, a keen young spinner at the Scottish Wool Centre at Aberfoyle in Scotland, developed thyroid cancer. His desire to raise funds for cancer research sparked off their Back to Back Challenge, a competition very similar to that run almost two hundred years ago.

The event created enormous interest in the UK, not only because of the clever wool promotion but also because of the funds raised for cancer research.

That same year, Australia held a similar contest.

Teams representing football clubs The Cats, Geelong, Victoria and the West Coast Eagles, Western Australia competed in a race to spin & knit a football scarf from freshly shorn wool.

When Australian Wool Showcase member, Wendy Dennis took part in the 1994 Fourth World Congress on Coloured Sheep at York University, UK, she also visited the Scottish Wool Centre.

With similar annual competitions held in Scotland and Australia, combined with fundraising for Cancer Research, the seed was sown for a combined International Competition and the rules were developed to suit.

Teams consist of a blade shearer, a sheep and seven handspinners & knitters. Team nominate time keepers, assessors & coordinators monitor each team competing at their own wool related venue.

All teams follow the identical Challenge rules and pattern exactly as they are written.

The 1995 inaugural Challenge with nine teams competing from three Australian States, Scotland and the Shetland  Isles, was  won by the Shetland Isles in 5 hours 57 mins 58 sec.

Over 1,350 Pounds was raised by the Scottish Wool Centre for the Cancer Research Campaign.

1996 saw twenty two teams competing, sixteen in Australia from four States. USA entered a team from Michigan and the UK had teams from Scotland, the Shetland Isles, Devon and Cambridge.

Again, the Shetlands were unbeatable, breaking their blistering 1995 record by 39 minutes.

They clipped another nine minutes off the next year.

In 2004,  Merriwa, New South Wales,  Australia broke the 5 hour barrier. Their time:- 4 hours 51 minutes 14 seconds is now in the Guinness World Records book. Merriwa also raised a record $15,000 for Cancer Research.

Ireland, Wales, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Czech Republic & Republic of South Africa have since joined the Challenge.

In just a few short years, the Challenge has developed at a remarkable rate.

It is a simple and direct method of promoting wool from ‘sheep’s back to spinners back’ using the ancient skills of blade shearing, spinning and knitting.

And it is timed to coincide with  Australia’s long  weekend in June and the tourist summer season in the Northern Hemisphere

For information and new team enquiries, please contact Wendy Dennis-