While the majority of points in a skein competition are reserved for technique, presentation points can mean the difference between 1st and 3rd place, or a ribbon and none at all. While it may seem picky to judge on presentation, it does make sense. A neat and orderly skein is easier to examine than one that’s one the verge of tangling, and skeins of a uniform size look a lot better on display at a festival than a haphazard collection of short and long skeins. Your skein should conform to the requested circumference (often 2 yards, though 1 or 1.5 isn’t uncommon), be tied in 4 places (I lost points this year for tying in 3), and be rinsed or washed to bring out the true twist.
Here I’m winding a 2-yard skein, using an 18″ (1/4 of 2 yards) central bar in my niddy noddy. I start by holding the free end in the middle of the bar and passing the yarn up and over the top right arm:
I pass the yarn down below the back bottom arm, and up again over the top left arm:
I then pass the yarn under the bottom front arm band and up over the top right arm again:
I repeat this until I run out of yarn:
This is also a good point to measure the skein by counting the number of strands and multiplying by 2 yards (or whatever the circumference is). I then tie the two ends together and trim the free ends to about a centimeter in length:
Next, I place my first tie. The ties should coordinate with the yarn and be strong enough to hold the skein together, if possible they should be pieces of the yarn itself unless otherwise noted in the competition rules (e.g., Maryland Sheep and Wool asks for ties made of “fine string” — I used embroidery thread). If your yarn is very delicate, such as a low twist singles, it’s best to use a stronger yarn of a similar color. I start by dividing the strands of yarn roughly in the middle with my finger:
I thread a piece of yarn (shown here in a contrasting color so it’s more obvious) over and under the 2 sections to make a figure-8 tie. The tie should be a little bit loose to allow the strands to slide easily. Tie the ends in a knot and trim to about a centimeter.
Space the other three ties evenly throughout the skein. Some people slide their finger between the 2 sections to divide the skein at exactly the same point for each tie; I find this hard to do on a niddy noddy and I’m not sure it makes much of a difference anyway (anyone with skein competition experience who can comment on this?). If you do want to divide the skein at exactly the same point, it’s easier to do if you take it off the niddy noddy first. Once your skein is securely tied in 4 places, you can remove it:
At this point, I would finish the skein by rinsing it in cool water and allowing it to hang dry, to set the twist. I would then wind and tie the skein a second time, and then it would be ready for competition. I hold my thumb through one end of the skein and twist the other end until the whole thing twists back on itself, finally tucking one end through the other:
The skein is now ready to go, save for a tag and mailing materials, if needed. That will be the subject of Part 4–see you next Sunday!