Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feedback on my Handspinning Skills

Some time ago I purchased the handbook for the "Certificate of Excellence in Handspinning" from the Handweavers' Guild of America.  The first time I read through it, I set it aside on a shelf.  It was way too much work for me at the time.  A few years later, my youngest child went to school, and I pulled the handbook off the shelf again.  This time, I was familiar with spinning almost all of the fiber types required, and was much more comfortable with my spinning abilities.  So, I decided to go through the work.

The work consists of 40  one ounce skeins of yarn, spun from specified fiber types and spun to specified parameters, as well as written work.  There was a group of wool fibers--starting from the dirty fleece, doing the prep work, and then spinning the yarn; a group of cotton, silk, flax...Forty skeins!  I was amazed at how quickly the thick skeins spun and how long (forever for some!) it took to spin some of the extra fine fibers.

Eventually, I got to the point where I had to decide once and for all if I was going to submit my work for evaluation.  I did a lot of hemming and hawing.  Some of the arguments included "but it's expensive!" and "what if they tell me I'm terrible!", but finally it came down to the value of having someone else critique my work so that I would know how to improve.  And so, I finished the written work and sent off my skeins.

And I thought that I didn't care whether or not I passed the evaluation and received the certificate.  But I was wrong.  I didn't pass--I was in the 82nd percentile and needed to be in the 85th to pass--and I was depressed about that.  I think the hardest aspect was that three of my skeins failed to meet criteria and received zero points.  Those failures are still very frustrating!  My hope had been to have no zeroes, but to earn at least some points in every category and that didn't happen.

The positive side of those failed skeins is that dealing with failure, pushed me to read the comments of the reviewers over and over again.  I don't think I would have looked so closely at the comments if I had succeeded in earning the certificate.  I was very pleased with the feedback and evaluations I received on my spinning.  Most of the skeins were scored out of 54 points.  If I earned anything less that 52 points the examiners made sure to provide comments so that I could know where the problems were and what could make the yarn better.  That was worth every penny of the cost of the evaluation.

Would I do this again?  Maybe.  Maybe in a few years I'll decide to see if my skills have improved and repeat the process.  I think I would start fresh, rather than resubmit these skeins. I think it would be nice if I could do well enough to earn the certificate at that time.  Until then, I'll keep spinning.  There's merino wool on one wheel; a bit of a horned dorset fleece to wash up and spin; some Cormo for the Russian spindles...I may be busy for a while just spinning the things I want to spin!

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