Every year there are Agricultural Shows held around Shetland. There are locally area based shows in Voe, Walls, Unst, Yell. The only show that anyone resident anywhere in Shetland can enter is the Cunningsburgh Show. Every show has displays and competitions for animals, poultry, baking, crafts and hosiery (knitting). This year I was honoured to be asked to judge the knitwear section in the Cunningsburgh Show. This was one of those ‘Me?!’ moments?
I was also asked to judge the crochet but I decide instead to ask my friend and avid crocheter, Claire Robertson as I knew she had much more experience and knowledge than me
Hilariously, when we arrived it was to find that the crochet section has 2 classes while the knitting one has more than 50. Evidence if it was needed of Shetland’s preference for knitting! Thankfully, Ella Gordon had been asked to judge half of the knitting including the Colour Box Challenge leaving me with 24 sections to judge.
The enormity of the task became apparent when the first class I was to judge was fine lace shawls.
Every one deserved a prize, the skill and time gone into each shawl was humbling and I really wondered at my ability not to award everyone a prize. That wasn’t an option though so I had to grit my teeth and get on with it.
The interesting thing with being a judge is it does give you an insight into what judges are looking for. The standard or entries is so high that really to be a prize winner demands perfection. Beautifully knitted but poorly finished items were set aside. Corners and seams were examined, the overall design was considered and the tension and regularity of the knitting stitches checked. Then there is also going to be the effect of variations in judge’s preference. I like bold colours and originality and that would have affected my choice in some cases.
It really is such a privilege to be asked to judge. At the shows I’m normally being dragged through the knitting section by my children trying to get so see the hens/their friends/ their entries so it was such a joy to have time to actually handle the entries.
Many of the decisions were easy when all factors were taken into consideration. One class was only decided when I turned all the items inside out and examined the backside (as it were) and the finishing, then a clear winner emerged. I did have a sleepless night though over one decision that was agonisingly close. But at the end of the day, the judge’s decision is final.