Guess what!! I WON!!! The sewing thread doily got Best of Show in Fiber Arts!!
WooHoo!! I was fairly confident that it would get Best of Class for crochet (which it did), but there’s so much talent on these islands, I wasn’t at all sure how it would stack up against the beautiful knitting and weaving. In the back of my mind, I really really wanted it to win Best of Show, but when you’re standing there looking at all the amazing Best of Class winners spread out on the table, you have to be realistic. It could have gone to any of them. I was so nervous when the judge (Judith McKenzie-McCuin) was trying to decide which entry to give the big purple ribbon to. My heart was pounding, and I felt like there was a 20 lb. weight on my chest (I was trying really hard not to react outwardly, because the names on the entries were still covered at this point and she didn’t know it was mine). Finally she had it narrowed down to two entries, mine and a truly amazing Fair Isle sweater.
She talked about the sweater first, listing all the great and beautiful things about it, but I was thinking “OK, maybe she’s decided, and is talking about the sweater first because it’s the runner-up.” Then she talked about my doily, and said how nicely done it was, and how she’d never seen anything like it. Then she went back to the sweater and started talking about it again, and I felt totally deflated because I was sure she had picked it. Then she went back to the doily again and said things like “This reminds me of the antique lace I’ve seen in museums in Spain and the Netherlands,” and “This shows an incredible amount of talent, dedication, and attention to detail,” and “I don’t normally care much for decorative crochet pieces, but this really speaks to me,” and “This reaches a higher level of achievement,” and lots of other things that made my face turn red and my head spin. And she put the purple ribbon on the doily!
I had to sit down.
I won Best of Show in 2002, for a knitted lace shawl, but I wasn’t present during the judging that time. This time I was there all day, and the suspense at the end was incredible. I’d seen all the entries and I knew I had a shot, but........still.
When she placed the ribbon, and I was shaking and (not quite) teary from the tension release, and everyone was congratulating me, she looked at me and “YOU made that? But you have a two-year-old!”
Everything else I entered did well, too. I had 25 items in the Fiber Arts and Textile Arts Departments, and all but one got blue ribbons. In addition to the Best of Class/Best of Show for the doily, I got runner-up for Best of Class in crochet for a mobile of crochet snowflakes and Best of Class for the square hardanger doily! The only red ribbon I got was for Emma’s little ladybug dress, and nobody knows why it wasn’t blue. The judge (a different one, not Judith) only wrote glowing comments, and the Department Superintendent says she thinks it should have been given blue. Whatever, at least Emma likes it.
What snowflake mobile, you say? Well, I’ve wanted to make this for a while, but have been putting it off because I don’t like the blocking part of making snowflakes. Sticky and gluey and messy. But I wanted to enter snowflakes in the fair, and a mobile seemed the best way to display a bunch of them. So on the night before the fair, I was busy doing this:
I blocked as many as I had pins for, because I figured if I was going to get gluey, I might as well do it up right. They dried overnight, and in the morning I had this:
Emma and I had collected a few driftwood twigs on a beach walk last week, so quick like a bunny, I put together this:
Half an hour later I was at the fair turning everything in. Nothing like waiting to the last minute! It’s really hard to take a picture of a mobile, but I like the way it turned out. The only problem was when I was constructing it I wished I had some clear monofilament that I could have used to hang everything. The thread just showed up too much, and Judith mentioned it during the judging. Oh, well. It still got runner-up Best of Class. I may not keep it as a mobile, anyway. It might get disassembled for Christmas giftoids.
I would recommend against using Elmer’s Washable School Glue to stiffen textile projects. I’ve never used it before, but that was all the store had on the day before the fair. It doesn’t dry hard. The snowflakes hold their shape, but are still flexible and not quite as crisp as I’d like. They also feel ever so slightly sticky. So whether I keep the flakes in the mobile or break it up, I’ll be taking them off their threads, washing out the glue, and re-blocking them with proper glue. Emma can have the washable stuff, at some later date when she can be trusted not to glue the dog to the couch. Some people say they’ve had problems with Elmer’s yellowing over time, but I haven’t had a problem with it. Snowflakes I made 10 years ago still look like new. Of course, I only have them out over the holidays, so they’re not in the sun all year long.
So it was a fun time at the judging, and it was very interesting to hear all Judith’s comments and suggestions. I feel like I learned a lot. I made an album here for everything I entered and their ribbons, if you’re interested in seeing them. I don’t want to clog up the internet with more pictures of things I have mostly already shown here.
I do want to mention, though, that I entered handspun yarn for the first time this year. (It’s also my first time entering weaving.) I finally felt that my yarn was really consistent and good enough for judging, and I was a little nervous. I entered the skeins of 3-ply teal Colonial (worsted spun wool), 2-ply 50:50 Merino/silk (worsted spun blends), and 4-ply Rambouillet x Cormo (woolen spun wool), and ALL of them got perfect scores- 100 out of 100! I guess all that spinning last winter paid off!
One last thing and then this swelled-head entry is over. Emma got her first blue ribbon! We participated in the public library’s Summer Reading Program, and they had a booth at the fair with the final awards. The goal they set was to read enough minutes to get five stickers, at 45 minutes per sticker. If a kid did that, they got a blue ribbon. (Being read to also counted, so preschoolers could participate.) Emma loves being read to, and we not only filled the goal page of five stickers, we filled SEVEN pages! That’s 26 ¼ hours of reading since the last week of June. (And I’m sure there were books that didn’t get written down.)
The librarian who gave her the ribbon told me that Emma was their youngest participant, and also had the most minutes of anyone! That’s my girl!