Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Smell-o-vision needed here

Level 2 Wool Judging

Or maybe not, if you don't like the scent of greasy fleece.... (grin)

This is how I spent a good part of my Level 2 Fleece Judging Course up at Olds College on Monday, June 30. Late in the morning, we were presented with 20 green garbage bags full of fleece: before lunch, we had to take them all out, sort them as to breed. We decided one was probably a Perendale, three were from down sheep (Dorsets/Hampshires/etc.: i.e., meat sheep) and the rest were Rambouillet, a fine, crimpy fleece breed.

After lunch, we had to separate out the finer Rambouillets (fibre size under 24 microns) from the strong (over 24 microns) and several lamb fleeces. (Lamb fleeces, for the curious, have never been previously clipped, so the tip end isn't blunt, like it is on older sheep. Confused yet?)

(The lamb fleece table is the near one on the right, with the table to the rear holding the down and Perendale fleeces, while the fine Rambouillet fleeces are the near table on the left, and the strong fleeces on the table behind them.)

Once we had them all separated into groups, we paired up (five attendees, two instructors) and judged them. That took awhile, as you, dear readers, might suspect, and we were urged by our head instructor, Morris Beauvais, who is the chief wool classer in Alberta for the Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers, "not to dawdle."

There is, of course, a form to fill out, numbers to assign -- which is why we paired up: we took turns being judge and scribe -- calculations to make, and a whole lot of addition to perform.

But it was a lot of fun, and the discussion after -- we went through the fine fleece table one by one, talking about how we ranked them and why -- was pretty interesting. I'm pleased that I agreed with Morris's assessment more often than not, and for the same reasons.

And I'm here to tell you: my hands were so soft when we were finished, thanks to the magic healing power of lanolin.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I taught some terrific students the mysteries of entrelac and double knitting. Keeners all, the entire entrelac class finished their flat sample in very good order, and went on to complete a circular one, while two students finished off their flat double-knitting sample, and one even finished a small circular one.

Good work, all of you!

The trip was a (mostly) great time, with the exception of the overwhelming number of mosquitos and the heat in the upstairs bedroom of my townhouse, I'm glad I went. Got to meet some terrific people, catch up with some old friends, and play with fibre.

That they liked me enough to ask me back to teach again next year was a bonus, and I'm now working hard to put together classes for next year.

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