Thrilled Skinny

Well, time is moving on and I have still not presented you with more detail about this year’s Show. It will soon be way past topical if I do not get my skates on, so I thought that instead of waiting for the next Tellit Tuesday to come along, I’d post under the Thursday Thrill heading. The logic will become clear as we progress…

This post will be relatively photo-light, sadly. If you cast your mind back a little you may recall that I was feeling unwell, and that it was a dreary day and on top of that, I forgot to take photographs at appropriate points…

Now, I just need to pop off and see where we got ourselves up to

  • We praised Jared Flood (Brooklyn Tweed) and had a peek at my Bridgewater Shawl on the blocking mats
  • We looked at Gill’s sheep and learned about the mysterious hints that came my way regarding some knitting that I had entered in the Industrial Show
  • We admired a very nice fleece Icelandic ewe
  • Success was noted in the Scarf, Item Knitted from Handspun, and Shawl classes
  • and  then we stopped off for a look at Herbert Niebling and I promised a further view of the Show later

Well, it is now later, and very much so. I could let the subject wither on the vine but (I am certain that you can tell) I do love the Show so much and I want to record it both to share it with you and also to be able to remember next year what went on this year – it would be a disaster to re-enter something that had success previously…

The Sanday Show is a little marvel – perfect in every degree, it offers all that you would expect at such an event, but in very small measures. The best things about it are the mounting of a good display – there has to be something to show, and that it is all so very good-natured. There is competition, but usually there are no poor losers. I suspect that most entries in both parts of the Show come from individuals like myself, competing mainly against themselves and attempting to raise personal standards year on year. The important thing is that nobody appears to resent any other competitor’s success. Individuals might have judged the class differently had they been in that position, but they know it is a reasonably subjective process and that their own turn will come around again. At least that is the general case, as I had perceived it.

I am particularly fond of the Industrial Show  submission process, where everybody turns up en masse to hand over their entries on Thursday evening. It is fun. The queue is always huge and the camaraderie and general jollity is something to behold… and so are the vegetables! It really is a wonderful experience, to see the community coming together in this major social event and pulling out all the stops to ensure that there is a good Show – plenty to see, and always of amazingly high standard.  The queue is always long; it seems never-ending at times. Eventually one’s pound is handed over, to cover the entry fee, and one’s entries are handed over to the committee – and that is the last we see of our treasures until let in at 2pm the following day to how we have all fared. Who got the coveted cards? Red, Blue and Green… and, of course, Yellow cards for special prizes.

And I missed all that this year as our car was off the road. SpinningGill kindly took my entries up to the hall for me.

Maybe that is why I felt so flat on Friday morning – I had missed engaging with the process in the usual manner. Yes, I had a Horrible Scabby Thing on my face and my neck was swollen like a grapefruit. Yes, I had face-ache. Yes, the weather was wet and windy and cold. But would that normally have stopped us from heading up to the Show field early in the day? I do not think so.

Whatever the reason, it was afternoon before we set  off and I did not even bother to take my good camera with me – I just slipped the pocket camera into my hip pocket.

I had 13 entries in 9 classes this year. A poor show on my part – I usually put in far more effort.

  • Two Scarf entries yielded one First
  • One Knitted Hat came Second
  • Two Knitted Shawl entries took First and Second places
  • Two sock entries in Any Item From 100 gms Wool gave me another Second
  • Two entries in Item Knitted From Handspun Yarn gave another First and a Third place
  • Two pairs of handspun skeins gave yet another First
  • Entries in Greetings Card and Any Other Craft failed to pleased the judge this year

That much alone – eight prizes from thirteen entries – would have been sufficient to delight, but the crowning glory (as I thought) of the Best in Section ticket on my red shawl? I was speechless!

And people were lovely. Really lovely, and so generous in their compliments – ladies who might have expected to have taken the class themselves were really happy for me. I was baffled, slightly embarrassed, but mainly very happy… though the event was spoiled by some off-key moments that we need not go into here. It was sad to see that not everybody was in tune with the spirit of the day.

Between feeling rotten  and being completely wrong-footed by several completely unexpected successes, I forgot to take many photographs. The ones that did get taken are rather poor too – but here’s a brief tour of the Hand Knitting and Crochet, and Handicrafts sections.

My first view across the hall, spotting the handspun knits and scarves

A Third on the Merino/Silk Pamuya handspun triangle that I made especially for the Show and a First on the Merino/Mohair Hypotenuse scarf that I made a while back – I washed it and made it my backup entry! Further along the line, a First on the Waves of Grain scarf that I made as a rush entry in the week before the show. You can’t see it here but the scarf with the blue card on was a lovely Cockleshell pattern scarf, done in hand-dyed North Ronaldsay yarn. The blue card for the handspun knits class was taken by Sarah’s flower-decorated hat, bottom-left. It was Sarah’s first year in the show and she had some great successes.

Gill’s natural-dye domino knit pot holder failed to attract the judge’s eye. I like it though! The camera hasn’t done the lovely colours much justice. I think she should finish her Fair Isle socks from the same yarns and get them entered next year – that should knock the rest of us into a cocked hat!

Here’s a slightly better view of Myra’s North Ron scarf, and a far better view of the Waves  of Grain. It’s a pretty scarf but I didn’t feel that it merited a First. I shall make the scarf again one day in a finer yarn, and beaded as Romi intended.

Next we have the 100 gram and the hat classes side by side. The 100g class continues to evade me. Each year I feel confident of the work in an intricate pair of socks and hopeful of a  red card  but have not yet improved on a blue Second. This year I entered two pairs of Silk Road Socks, and the lovely purple Nain pair got the blue card. The far more (to me) taxing Gordes did not get a look-in.  Maybe next year’s judge will like electric blue…

The hat was a last ditch entry as I failed to graft the Antalya in time – I  got this one out of the cupboard and washed it on the afternoon of submission day. It is an Amanda, in Paton’s Jet.

I was pleased to see a good display of skeins this year – hoping for even more next time! It was a surprise to see the red card on my Zwartbles/Mohair skeins.

The plain Zwartbles skeins were unsuccessful – Joanna took Second with her funky Wensleydale locks, and one of Sarah’s entries took Third. Gill did not please the judge this year. Again. Let us hope that she takes pleasure in the fact that her passing of skills to us has been so successful. It must surely be her turn next year.

I really wish that more of the Spinning Group would enter skeins — and also the other spinners of the island. It would be pleasing to show the island just how much spinning is going on here, and of what standard, and that it neither a dead art, nor a dying one.

I have won the red card each year since the class started, and also won a red card in Any Other Craft for skeins in the year before we got our own class. It is high time somebody else took the honours and I would step down and not enter in order to ensure this, but I would like to be confident that the class had sufficient entries remaining. I would hate to see it taken away as insufficiently supported.

Look behind the skeins

Amazing! This piece of work attracted no less than four special prizes as well as winning First place in its class. The work is done by a very talented lady named Joan, and she swept the board – taking Best in Show…

…though I might have wished to see that honour go to Jim, for this prize-winning Article in Wood.

The same Jim who makes the Niddy Noddies etc. for Sanday Spinners.

Way to go, Jim!

I did not go to the evening’s prize-giving and dance. I never do – we are always far too tired, and usually in bed by 8pm. I did think that I ought to attend this year, given that I had a special prize, but I was really feeling rotten AND I had to prepare the Open Studio for 11am next day. SpinningGill said that she would collect my prize for me, which was kind of her.

We had purchased some Elsness fillet steak – we took that home and made a fine supper of it, followed by some locally home-made chocolates that I had also succumbed to. A bottle of wine on the side and I was soon ready for my bed.

Saturday’s Open Studio came around.

I could not resist giving The Shawl pride of place in the display 🙂

Oh, come on, give a girl a break – at least I didn’t add the Red and Yellow cards to it in order to swank!

The day went well – we had assistance from Studio Cat #1

and from Studio Cat #2 as well

Mr and Mrs SpinningGill came round with my prizes – the envelope with cash winnings for individual class entries. My 8 prizes yielded £3.10 – you can see why tempers do not normally run high, there is little at stake! But I am £2.10 up on the event at this point…

…then they gave me a second envelope? With £10 inside for the Yellow card prize, Best in Knitting Section. Eh up – £12.10 profit!

… and then they gave me the basket of local Orkney goodies (Biscuits! Fudge!) that was my prize  for winning most points in the Knitting and Crochet Section. I had no inkling of that one until that point.

There was a trophy, too.

I had a lovely day – no other spinners to assist this time, but I was quite grateful for a peaceful day in which I did not have to be sociable too much. Friday had really taken the wind from my sails, one way and another. There were several very pleasant visitors and I was able to spin outside in the sunshine, with three wheels showing different things: Spinning commercially prepared fibre, plying from home prepared fibre, and spinning with fleece in the grease. I just hopped from chair to chair, showing the processes -  and folk appeared to be truly interested.

On Sunday I had Gill to assist, and Sarah came to join us for most of the afternoon. No visitors, of course! Not for most of the day. Not until ten minutes before closing, actually. I was just about to begin packing up at ten to four, when a car pulled up and several people got out. I invited them in. The first thing that was said was “We found the shawl!” and a hand reached out to fondle the Bridgewater.

Somewhat unnervingly, we found ourselves visited by this year’s Knitting Section Judge.

The Knitting Police!

She was lovely.

We learned much from her that we can apply to our entries in future years, and she repeated much of what was reported to me about the shawl comments on Friday (so, the ladies were not exaggerating.) What was particularly fascinating were her comments on general standards at the Sanday Show. She told us that it is always hard when they come out here – the baking section is not so bad and the First prize is usually easy to find, but in the Knitting section it’s always more a case of eliminating entries from First prize place because the standard is always so very high. She told us that it is a matter of turning every entry over and peering closely, tugging at seams and looking for stray ends.

I guess my grafting wasn’t all that bad, then.

I’ll be paranoid about seaming in future, though. My finishing skills leave much to be desired.

The judge did confirm my long-held shawl suspicions. She told us that the white shawl would have been placed first, had it been a full shawl and not a triangle. To her mind, she said, a shawl is a full square. So there we have it, straight from the horse’s judge’s mouth.

I wonder what she would think of a circle.

One final note from the judge – she told me that the Best in Show was a toss up between Joan’s needlework and my red shawl. I was actually in the running. Unbelievable! but rather thrilling.

We got her to sign our visitors book before she left. One of the ladies with her turned to  me and said “I’ve seen that in the Show” – and she was correct – it took a place in the Any Other Crafts a few years back (2007, in fact.) Long memories these stewards have!

… which is why it is necessary to document which article got what in the way of prizes. Entering one that has previously been placed would be deemed grounds for elimination. I almost did it this year, when I totally failed to recall that the owl hat had been placed. It was a last minute check on last year’s notes that had me scrambling to wash Amanda.

OK. Time to get on with next year’s batch of entries.


  1. Sarah
    August 18, 2011

    What an atmospheric write-up. Like you I loved Gill’s pot holder – far more deserving of a prize than my blooming hat that was felted from use! You gave me pause for thought with your circular shawl comment – hope we’ve not been looking at the same one on Ravelry 😉

  2. August 18, 2011

    You gave me pause for thought with your circular shawl comment – hope we’ve not been looking at the same one on Ravelry

    With so many to choose from, it’s not very likely, though it wouldn’t be a problem in any way at all, would it? We could have a KAL…

    I have two on the go in my UFO pile and Gill and I were considering having a mini KAL on a third (Heliotaxis)this winter. Or perhaps Camping. But probably Heliotaxis. We wondered if anyone else would be up for it.

    I should finish my Evenstar, but still have not chosen my beads…

  3. August 19, 2011

    Maybe the judges need to take a look on Ravelry. There aren’t many modern shawl designs that are a full circle…
    I’d love to enter our local show this year, but the 2 knitting classes are for a cushion, and a toy. Neither of which are things I knit. There’s not even a “other craft” section I can enter, maybe next year!

  4. August 19, 2011

    Maybe the judges need to take a look on Ravelry. There aren’t many modern shawl designs that are a full circle…

    LOL – but this is the Islands and tradition lingers. 🙂
    The thing is, I prefer half shawls because you can see the pattern. I always think it a shame to fold a shawl in half and hide all t hat work. It’s warmer, yes, but you can’t see the stitches clearly!

    I’ll probably do one of each again next year (though recent developments may stop that from happening – more about that later)as showing the handiwork is the aim, not satisfying the judges.

    I’d love to enter our local show this year, but the 2 knitting classes are for a cushion, and a toy. Neither of which are things I knit. There’s not even a “other craft” section I can enter, maybe next year!

    That’s a real bummer – you shall have to get yourself on the committee and rearrange the schedule. Tell them the importance of knitting as a skill that must not die out…

    A cushion is a good vehicle for trying out new skills in a simple form – look at it that way, then accept that a cushion makes a fine gift… maybe that’s sufficient incentive to have a go.

    I haven’t entered the cushion class here as I don’t make cushions either (ye gods – THE CATS! Imagine!) but I’m thinking of having a go next year as I have a couple of techniques that I want to practise and they might as well be a cushion. They’ll come in for the Christmas Fair after that, if for nothing else.

    • August 19, 2011

      Ah but I have a very firm policy of only knitting things I will actually use or wear. Cushions for me, need to be woven fabric, I’ve yet to see a knitted cushion that I am happy will still look nice after a year of use, so I don’t make them.
      I also don’t have any friends with young children yet so no real need to make knitted toys (it’s also like cushions, I’m just not sure how well a knitted toy actually stands up to being played with, and you need to knit them very tightly so the stuffing doesn’t show).
      I have so many things I really want to knit that I won’t make things specially just for a show.

      • August 19, 2011

        That’s interesting – different outlooks. I’m actually quite looking forward to knitting a toy for next year – never done one yet but I do have some interesting projects as candidates that I am viewing more as very interesting constructions and/or significant knitting challenges.

        Does that make me a Process Knitter?

        I do like to make things that I love and will wear/use but it’s always more about the “can I make it – and can I make it well?” appeal of a pattern in the end. I have absolutely no issues with knitting on a real beast for weeks and merrily giving it away on the grounds that “it just isn’t me!” and I also tend to view the yarn investment as hours and hours of hobby pleasure, so that it never feels wasted when I gift it or sell it or stuff it in a cupboard.

        Until I wrote this down it never really occurred to me that I don’t care all that much about the finished objects. I guess that is why I have so many UFOs – once it becomes clear that the pattern is not as interesting or as challenging as I thought, I move on to the next hurdle because I am no longer stretched!

        And yet, I still like comfort knitting acres of garter stitch… at the right time or place

        Perplexing, isn’t it?

        I’d certainly be up for knitting a stunning cushion cover and… framing it to brighten up my stone walls. I just would not let the cats near it.

  5. […] Beth of Woolgathering.  She entered socks made from one of my patterns in her local fair and she won.  Now obviously she won because of all the skill and work and time she put into knitting them.  […]

  6. August 24, 2011

    The Knitting Police. That really made me laugh.
    Congrats on all of your fine entries. Beautiful stuff!
    I love that the cats think that they are art, too.

    • August 24, 2011

      Thank you, and welcome to the blog, honeysuckleblue!

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