Friday, June 27, 2008

The Wool Show -

Quite frankly, in the number of times that I've been to Black Sheep, I've never really paid any mind to the wool show. I wasn't spinning then, we didn't have any fleeces entered, and it really didn't interest me much.

That all changed this year.

The judge this year was Lettie Kline from Kalamazoo, MI. Lettie has over 25 years experience raising Karakul sheep and has co-authored a book about making braided wool rugs called "The Shepherd's Rug" that is available on her web site. She also writes wonderful stories for the Black Sheep Newsletter. She pretty much knows her stuff when it comes to wool - and she is, admittedly, fond of Shetlands.

The Pavillion where the Wool Show was held is about twice the size of this picture - there were 31 divisions and about 15 fleeces (three of them ours) entered in the "Shetland Yearling and Younger" fleece division.

The judging had started on Friday morning. We had heard that the Shetland fleeces were to be judged Friday afternoon. We stopped in to check on it but the "fleece crew" decided to start again on Saturday morning, with the Shetland young fleeces being first. All the fleeces in our class were out on the front table waiting for the next a.m. event. You can bet that we checked them all out before we went to dinner.

Lettie was wearing a microphone and evaluates each fleece as she goes along, so you know what her thinking is. First off, she went through all the fleeces, looking and touching, moving some around. When she picked up Luna's fleece and took it to the "head" of the table, we (The Shepherd and myself and our friend Donna)
held our collective breaths.

Lettie explained that one thing she looks for in Shetland fleeces is denseness in the locks, and Luna's fleece is indeed dense. It is also very soft and passed the "rub" test when she rubbed the locks on the side of her arm and along her neck. The fleece has good staple length and is very "strong" when you pull on it.

Several times she went back & forth between first and second place fleeces - The Shepherd is chanting (in his mind, of course) "Pick mine, pick mine, pick mine" And she did!

Luna's fleece got The Blue Ribbon for Shetland "Yearling and Younger" fleeces. Moni's fleece was 7th and, for reasons we now understand, because of her descriptions of fleece qualities, Jewell's fleece was at the very bottom of the batch. It's not a bad fleece, it just didn't have the denseness that she was looking for.

Clicking on Lettie's name in the second paragraph will take you to her web site. I highly recommend her articles on fleeces and wool judging - you will learn a lot from them.

The Shepherd's Pride and Joy. Already slated for a couple of additional fairs - hope she does as well there.

Someone asked me if we won any money.

Nope, just braging rights.

And hopefully this will help to sell this handsome little dude - her half "brother" from this year. He's well on his way to having just as nice, if not nicer, fleece! Any takers?


Kathy said...

I have so enjoyed catching up on these posts, Tina. Thank you, thank you - for letting me live vicariously through your blog on the trip we should have made!
I will have to have the Hired Hand With Benefits sit to look at these and the pictures!
Thank you so very much!

Leigh said...

A microphone for the judge! What an excellent idea. I have a friend who used to volunteer as a judge's assistant every year at SAFF. She said it was the best way to learn. Thanks for Lettie's link. Very informative. Again, congratulations on Luna's fleece!

I need orange said...

What fun to get a bit of the sights and sounds of the festival!

I enjoyed all the details about how the wool was judged (love that the judge's comments are broadcast for all to hear!), as well as all the info about all the different things that went on.

Thank you for sharing it all with us!!!!