knit | spin

Show and Tell

July 24, 2015

As promised, some show and tell.

IMG_1100This wee Kowhai and Fern Beanie went to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show this year. I have wanted to knit this little cap ever since I saw it, in the 2013 Summer edition of Spin-Off. It seemed so suited to some Finnsheep fleece I had left over from a previous project. The fleece was prepared with a flick carder and spun with a worsted short draw into a two ply laceweight yarn. Details are ravelled here.

IMG_1102Finnsheep yarns are so so soft, as soft as the proverbial baby bot. This fleece came from Fairfield Finns, a good few years ago now.

Margaret Stove, famed New Zealand lace spinner and knitter, is the designer of this beanie. In 1982, she designed, spun and knit an exquisite lace baby shawl from a local prize winning fleece as the gift of New Zealand to the British Royal family upon the birth of Prince William. She designed two beanies using motifs from the original shawl for the birth of William and Kate’s first child.  Living in a colonial outpost of the British Empire, I am not really into royals but I do appreciate a good back story.

IMG_1113The Woolcraft judges generously gave this wee beanie a First. I am very grateful to the prize donors Ixchel and Moseley Park. And thank you to Jay Peterson from the Handweavers’ and Spinners’ Guild of Victoria for running a taxi service for entries, taking up and bringing back entries to Melbourne.

IMG_1104If you have never entered an item in a Woolcraft competition before, judges allot a score against a number of different categories. These are Suitability of Purpose, Structure, Finish, Presentation and Overall Impression. The scores are added up into a total score and the entry with the highest score is the winner. I have never seen a description of how these categories are judged so if anyone reading this has knowledge to share please do. Woolcraft competitions are essentially about encouraging us to better our skills so making the judging criteria open and understandable assists this aim. These are my best guesses from previous entries and tips passed on by more experienced competitors.

Suitability of Purpose as I understand it, means that your fibre choice, preparation and technique suit the item you have made. So a newborn jacket made out of chunky Herdwick would probably score low in this category but the same yarn as an outer garment for a adult might score highly.

Structure, I have no idea what this category means.

Finish is all about neat seams, lined up edges, appropriately sized buttons, woven in ends etc. An article I entered a few years ago scored poorly in this section because my yarn change occurred in the middle of a row. I certainly never did that again!

Presentation is about how the entry looks. Handspun skeins score more highly if tied with matching yarn with neat cut off ends. A knitted garment should be clean and freshly blocked. A lace shawl covered with cat hairs would score poorly but the same shawl minus cat hair with points sharp and even would score more highly in this category.

Overall Impression is the wow factor. Less points are available for this category, so wow will only get you so far.

Please do share any knowledge or tips for entering fibre craft competitions in the comments.

The next post will feature the beige symphony shawl of the Waysides, so do come back.



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  1. it looks even better in your photo than it did in fact trying to see through the glass i think was the difference congratulations again

  2. Congratulations, Rebecca! What an enchanting little beanie – and a richly deserved prize. I wonder what you are going to do with it now? – have you a good space in your house to show it, or is there a babe on the horizon who might wear it? I just wish the internet provided virtual stroking! Can’t wait to see the beige symphony shawl : -))

  3. Well done! I am very impressed. But it seems most deserved, I think

    I have not a single thought about what the category of ‘Structure’ might be. Sorry…

  4. Congratulations Rebecca. A perfect little piece.
    It is rather forward of me to suggest a definition, but maybe “structure” has something to do with the knitter’s handling and choice of structural elements like sleeves, button bands, etc.?
    I can hardly wait to see your natural dye project.

  5. Congratulations!

    You learned from a loss and moved forward. That’s a lesson that’s harder to learn than most and yet you made the effort sound like a pleasure.

  6. Lovely job, Rebecca! It looks wonderfully delicate!

    I’m not sure about the judging criteria for Structure either. I will have to check with some of our guild members!

    Can’t wait to see the shawl!

  7. I’ve never entered a Woolcraft competition, so I am going to read your posts to gather the knowledge! Love this stitch pattern of a beanie!

  8. whoo HOO…congratulations!! It is so exciting to win, yes I know it’s ‘just’ a knitted garment but it has so much of us in it 🙂
    In our scorecard for articles we have General overall appearance, Suitability of fiber to project, Technique and Finishing and under those are many other things to look for. I think your Structure would be our Technique which has the categories of guage, even tension and perfect execution–no uncorrected mistakes. But I would be happy to hear other ideas. Each of our articles has a scorecard and everything is given a number with all of the categories adding up to 100.
    So pleased, that bonnet is lovely, surely the dear One has a doll…
    A beige symphony shawl ho ho and remember the last post from Katherine and colours galore 🙂

  9. Congratulations! Such beautiful work.

    I had a lovely visit with a young Finn ram called Yorick at this year’s show, and there was another Finn ram there who looked just like my dad! (I’m sure Dad wouldn’t have minded the comparison; he grew up in the country.)

  10. Such a sweet little hat – well done indeed! I imagine it is no mean feat to win a prize at the Show…. I confess I have a soft spot for the Royals colonial outpost and far flung empire or not – I am sure the little princess, if she got the chance, would love to wear your beanie and then the whole world would need you to knit a few thousand more! Fantastic and beautiful work….

  11. Yay!!!! Congrats clever lady!! That teeny cap is exquisite. I am so delighted for you that you brought home the blue ribbon.

  12. Your baby cap is lovely, both the pattern and the yarn and knitting. I also have had good experience with Finnsheep wool. I flick carded and spun a sport weight 2-ply yarn from Finnsheep wool and knit an Aran Cap for my daughter when she was about 8 years old. She is now 39 and still wearing that cap! It has not pilled, still has some lustre, and it has been her winter cap for many years. I’d say Finnsheep wool is very sturdy and long wearing. Your baby cap may last for many generations. Thanks for sharing.

  13. It looks absolutely beautiful, so soft and cosy. The backstory of Royal connections doesn’t do much for many of us living in the UK either, though I know they have their devoted admirers. I admire your skills far more, Congratulations.

  14. Congratulations on getting a first!! It’s such a beautiful little beanie. I can just imagine it being so soft, but so lovely and warm for a little one. It’s interesting to read about the judging criteria. Do you get a written critique of your work from the judges?

  15. Wow Rebecca! Lovely to see your blue ribbon and what a beautiful piece- perfectly adorable for a new born. Your skill is inspiring and I do enjoy my regular forays into your world of creativity and beauty. I must say I was impressed with the calligraphy of your name too!

  16. Wow!!!!! Congratulations. It is such a beautiful baby hat. So beautifully knitted and spun. You are soooo talented. Thanks for the info about the judging as well. Am not that much into the Royals as well, but i do find Margerat Stove really inspiring, and love that she designed a New Zealand inspired lace pattern in her shawl for the young royal (s). Am looking forward to seeing the beige symphony shawl….

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