Judging Judges have their own personalities and preferences and no matter what, are subjective. Even in the perfectly objective part of the judging, I saw preferences! For instance, skein tying...I followed a print out from Interweave Press, put out by SpinOff, written by a local judge, to the letter.
And one judge made negative comments about the way it was tied.
Whatcha' gonna' do?
There are some chancy bits and pieces to these contests. For instance, how many entries in the different classes will depend on the level of competition. Typically, blends of protein fibers (like wool and silk and stuff, without glitz and sparkle and stuff) have more entries. Also medium spun sheep's wool have several entries. Classes like spindle spun yarns, or finely spun wool, or exotics like llama or dog/cat, not so much competition.
In addition, the organizers seriously want entries. So when I show up with six or seven different items, a little abashed by the number, it makes no difference to the superintendents (the people in charge of receiving entries, organizing the display, helping the judge, and getting the entries back to the right people). One local fair had one entry last year. One. Entries are their life's blood.
The Judging Judges are not known in advance by the entrants, but they tend to be local. And also there are a relatively small circle to choose from. I, myself, who have only been entering handspun for maybe five years, am beginning to know some of them! One also begins to recognize the other entrants, more or less. I recognize fellow guild members, at least.
Circling back to what I heard in the judging...
I am very glad I went, because with the exception of one fair, the written comments were very minimal compared to what the judges said, and that is unfortunate. At that fair, the superintendent wrote on a 3x5 card everything the judge said, and stapled it to the judging sheet. Excellent.
Some of my skeins consistently rated highly, but perhaps because the competition was slim. Or maybe it was because the fiber was awesome!
I had a judge comment at one fair that a particular skein "seem heavy", that it could be spun finer. She had a bit of a leaning toward finer yarns, I think, because that yarn won the big ribbons at another fair, and a prize at a second.
There was another skein that could not get any love any where! Until with the last judge, who had obvious tendencies toward crazy, colorful, artzy yarn.
heavy, and could have been spun finer, guess who by...) and said "sometimes you just know when you see something that it's going to be first!"
So. What I learned is this
- Know what I am spinning, and think about the intent, if not at the start of the project (because REALLY WHO DOES THAT!!!), then when I am writing it down for the judge. That makes a big giant difference in judging.
- Write down all the info I want about breed, staple length, and way I spun the yarn and why. Might make a difference in judging or not, but it will explain why I did what I did. I will have thought through what I did, at least.
- Spin the best I can spin, and spin what I want to spin, Judging Judges be damned. They aren't going to be the ones knitting with my yarn.
I may or may not enter next year. A two sided coin, as it were. While I want to support the local fairs, I don't want to be the one that everyone sees and thinks..."omigawd...she wins everything!" Then again, I wasn't. My friend, Gina, was that person! Haha!