Guest Author - Laun Dunn
As a self taught spinner, I was unsure I was spinning “correctly”, even though I was making and using large amounts of yarn. After just a few months of spinning, I knew it was my calling, and I began spinning not only for my own use, but also for other people either via fiber exchanged for spinning services from local farms, or selling my handspun at fiber and arts festivals. I later found that arts festivals are not the correct venue for yarn, as most attendees are looking for finished products. Still, the nagging voice in the back of my head was saying: “are you sure you are doing this right?” So, to quiet that voice, I entered my handspun into a skein competition.
When you are spinning for a competition, carefully read the requirements. While most rules are the same, some shows have guidelines that are just a bit different as far as length of skein, fiber content, or experience level of the spinner. Be sure that you have an ample fiber supply. I have found it is much easier to choose a competition length from a larger skein of yarn.
To keep your bobbins as even as possible, pre-measure your fiber and divide it into equal weight portions which can then be used to fill each bobbin. For example, for a 2 ply skein weighing 4 ounces, you would divide the fiber into 2 portions each weighing 2 ounces. Then as you spin, the bobbins will be reasonably close in length, to reduce waste.
Once you have spun your yarn for competition, be sure to wind it off using a swift or niddy-noddy. You can also use the back of a chair, or my latest improvised tool, an unopened jumbo pack of toilet paper or paper towels. Just be sure to check the competition requirements for any specifications in regard to skein circumference. Carefully tie the yarn in 4 places using a figure 8 loop. This will keep the yarn neat, and make it easier for the judges to evaluate. Be sure to finish your yarn with a technique appropriate to the fiber content. For example wool should be soaked and fulled, while mohair or angora may improve with a light brushing. If you need to include a write up, which is almost always the case, be sure to type it, and include all of the required information
Be sure to select your best length of yarn from what you have spun, because if you can see the flaws in it, why pay a judge to point them out? Even if you don’t win the competition, you can still benefit greatly from some impartial advice from an experienced skein competition judge.