Posted by: Leslie | July 6, 2010

Skein competition how-to

Formal competition has been a big theme on the blog lately, and pretty much reflects what I’ve been up to in fiber arts this year. An injury I’m still recovering from has kept me from knitting or spinning for almost six months, so instead of making new things I decided to fill the creative gap in my life by entering some of my already finished skeins in the bigger wool shows throughout North America.

I mentioned in my last post that spinning for competition requires staying within relatively narrow guidelines, aiming for precision and consistency over innovation and experimentation. There’s good reason for this, as it would be difficult to judge skeins that are not spun to uniform requirements (and there’s trends in handspinning, just like anything else, that dictate a style that judges want). Although the requirements such as smooth, even, and balanced yarns may seem limiting to some, competitions are a good way to gauge your ability to spin with control and create yarns that come out just like you planned.

When I was a new spinner, I knew of skein competitions at places like Estes Park but was too intimidated to enter. I know now it would’ve been a great opportunity for me to track my progress and get good insight from the judges on how to improve, and I’ve started to encourage my students to give competition a try. Many skein competitions are adding a novice or beginning spinner category as well, so everyone has a shot at a ribbon and/or prize money, if that’s what you’re after!

With all this in mind, I’m starting a new series about skein competitions, covering everything from where to find shows to enter, to how to properly tie a skein for showing. I’ll be posting every weekend for the next four weeks, which is enough time to get a skein ready for Rhinebeck (one of the biggest wool festivals, and one that accepts mail-in entries). The first topic will be Finding Competitions, so check back this Sunday!

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