knit | spin

Wool Craft Judging Criteria

August 14, 2015

As a follow up to my post about judging criteria for handspun and knitted articles at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, I thought it might be useful to share with you some fibrecraft scorecards used in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Montana. They were sent to me by US reader, prolific spinner, weaver, knitter and baker…the wonderful Susan.  I am very grateful to her for sharing this information.

IMG_1337These scorecards give some really useful judging categories and information that help us understand what qualities judges look for in judging handspun yarn, articles made of handspun yarn and handwoven items.  All the scorecards begin with a mark for the overall appearance of the entry.

For handspun yarn entries, these judges are assessing the preparation for exhibition. Is the item clean, properly skeined and tied, of listed yardage and/or weight and blocked if necessary? They are also interested in the suitability of fibre to yarn, in the amount of twist and diameter of the yarn. The judges are particularly interested in technique allotting 40% of the final score to this category. They are looking at fiber preparation, even twist, appropriate plying twist, consistent thickness of yarn, durability of the structure (that it doesn’t fall apart when pulled), a consistency to special designs (like boucle and art yarns) and a consistency in any dyeing or blending in the yarn.

IMG_1339For articles made of handspun yarn the categories are similar. They include suitability of the yarn to the article and this includes the consistency of spinning and appropriate yarn characteristics. In short your yarn must be suitable for the project, such as a high twist fingering weight for socks or a low twist two ply for a lace shawl. These judges are also interested in assessing the suitability of the fibre to the project. They are looking at your fibre choice, preparation, drape, handle and durability. So a fine wool, prepared by carding with loads of drape might score poorly as a rugged coat but well as a christening robe. Articles are also judged on technique, that is appropriate gauge, even tension and perfect (crikey!) execution. Finishing is also considered, judges examining blocking, yarns ends, cleanliness, seams and notions.

Handwoven items are judged on suitability of fibre and yarn to project, particularly durability, drapability and hand; technique including gauge, even tension and perfect execution; and, the level of finishing in blocking, ends, cleanliness, seams and notions.

IMG_1341I think these categories give us provocative insights into our fibre and preparation choices for any project irrespective of whether we are entering them in a competition. They challenge us to think about making things that are fit for purpose and durable rather than just being pretty or colourful or soft.

There is a Going to the Fair group on Ravelry that has lots of useful bits of information on judging criteria and how to prepare your show entries. It is exciting to enter something you have made in a show. Sometimes, the deadline helps you actually finish something!  It is nice to win something but the really special thing about putting something in a competition is that it represents the best work you could do at the time, it is work you are proud of.