As I think back on it, this festival started as a sheep show and has grown into the amazing event that it is now. It has a full livestock show, fleece show and auction, vendors in two large barns, a sheepdog trial that runs all three days and classes from nationally known instructors.
This year I entered the Open Handspun Skein Competition in two categories. Experienced adult spinner class - fine yarn lot, and Drop spindle class - medium lot. The entry for the first one was a yarn that I just finished, I called it Deep Blue Sea and my plans for it are a very large shawl called Shipwreck so I still have a lot of spinning to do! The shawl requires 1600 yards of fine yarn. The skein I entered will be used for part of the beaded netting that the pattern calls for out near the edge. I may alternate the sequined rows with the regular yarn, I'll sample it and see. Here's what the yarn looks like:
|Deep Blue Sea|
|Deep Blue Sea - swatch|
|Blue Neon 3 ply and extra black chain ply|
|Blue Neon - swatch|
The skein competition was interesting to watch. The instructions were that no talking or questions would be allowed, and the judge worked in silence. Disappointing to me, after listening to the wool judge on the prior day. He chattered away as he judged the fleeces. Talked about what he looked for and what he was finding as he worked his way through the many fleeces in that show. Just a difference in the way the two judges worked. Perhaps there is a tradition there as well... I don't know, but I did enjoy the way the talkative judge worked. I think I learned more from that method.
The results were available after the judging and I was allowed to keep my score sheets, which I appreciated. Sadly, there were no comments on the papers, just the numerical scores. The nice thing was that I was permitted to speak with the judge when she was finished. The standard calls for perfection, and appears to compare the handspun skeins to millspun yarns. I fared pretty well, my Deep Blue Sea got 96/100 points and the Blue Neon got 100/100 points. Both were awarded second place ribbons. Deep Blue Sea was topped by a bamboo/silk 2 ply that was perfectly even. Not as pretty, in my opinion, but it was perfect. Blue Neon was beat by a beautiful heavier weight two ply, that again, was perfectly even. That skein also won Best In Show. I'm content, my scores were very good, and I still love my yarn. Actually, the judge did too, as I learned in our conversation after the judging was done. She told me that she knew how difficult it is to ply with sewing thread and that she just LOVES sequins. So..... I think she liked my yarn - quite a lot.
Will I do another competition? I don't know. I learned a lot, but I also know that my yarn scores very high in such a competition. That part was quite satisfying. The payout isn't really enough to make me want to do very much of this. Each of those skeins represent many hours of work, and though the booth was attended, I was uncomfortable leaving my hard work out there for the whole weekend.