After the whirlwind of Knit in Public Day, life really didn’t settle down much for the knitters, locally.
Every two years, the local Knitters’ Guild holds an Adjudicated Show. Members can submit entries they’ve knit in the intervening two years, based loosely around a theme that’s related to our programming. We invite someone amazing and inspiring from the knitting world to come to town as our adjudicator — four years ago it was the Yarn Harlot, and two years ago it was Anne Hanson from Knitspot.
This year, we had the pleasure of welcoming Fiona Ellis.
I’d had the chance to meet Fiona at the Soakbox photoshoot a few weeks earlier — one of those lovely coincidences where life converges at just the right time.
Fiona arrived in town on Sunday evening, just in time for a farewell knit night sendoff for Gina of the Purple Blanket. She came along for that, and then on Monday, we really got down to business.
See, here’s what we had to contend with. This is my kitchen, with some of the 141 knitted entries that Guild members had submitted for the Adjudicated Show.
With 141 entries, in 13 categories, submitted by about 38 individual knitters… there was a lot for Fiona to adjudicate. We took over a (graciously donated) local community centre for the day, and category by category, worked through the stacks of knits.
This required more volunteers than you might think — besides Fiona, judging the entries, and me, transcribing her comments, there were always at least two or three people working on packing up the previous category and laying out the entries for the next, so there wouldn’t be too much delay. We had another volunteer printing up cards for the award-winners in each category, complete with Fiona’s comments — as soon as we finished a category, I dumped the notes onto a USB key and handed them off so that she could get the next batch of cards done up. One or more volunteers were frequently called over to double as models, so that Fiona could see an item actually on a body. And, of course, we had a volunteer on lunch and coffee duty!
It was fascinating to watch Fiona work her way through the categories, and through the entries in each. (Every adjudicator does this differently, as you might imagine.) One category (the first she had to face, naturally!) had an overwhelming 30 items in it. Rather than selecting winners right away, she went through the lineup several times, each time winnowing it down a few items at a time, until she had the crème de la crème to choose from. Other times, she was immediately drawn to something specific, and had to tear herself away to look at other entries.
Picking and choosing was no easy task, I’m sure — but we couldn’t have asked for a harder-working judge. Her comments on every piece were thoughtful, and she found little details to delight in at every turn. I think we all appreciated that she was working on two levels the whole time — noting the things she would want to say in public at the show (and dictating these comments to me for transcription), while also noting where certain pieces had fallen flat, so that she could narrow down her decisions for the prizes. I don’t think she said a single negative thing the whole day, which is a feat on a hot humid day when you’re faced with that much wool!
Anyway, eventually we got through the mountain of entries, and all took off home to collapse (or write up speaking notes for Tuesday’s show).
The prep for the show was a little more fraught with palpitations than any of us had anticipated. The church where the Guild meets is a 100-year-old building, and as such, has the odd misadventure with regard to, oh, say, plumbing.
The pipes were cracked and emergency repairs were underway, which left only one actual toilet functioning… for 150+ people, mostly women. Eeep! Thankfully, most people were patient with us, and with the lineup. For a while there, we thought we’d have no plumbing at all, which would have been disastrous. The show must go on, but with no facilities?
I’m getting ahead of myself here. And this is turning into a terribly long post, so let’s pause here, and I’ll pick up the thread again tomorrow…
Stay tuned for photos of the show and of the winning entries!