Thursday, March 08, 2007

Judging Alpaca

Here I am starting another judging assignment for the AOBA. I judge the Handcrafter's Spin Off contest for the national and a couple of state Alpaca shows and I just LOVE this job. I find this to be absolutely one of the best contests to evaluate the quality and marketing of luxury fiber to handspinners. The way this contest is structured a handspinner could really use the results to choose a great fleece to purchase and a great SHEPHERD to work with.
I'm going to try to post periodic updates about the judging process and what goes into this awesome job of mine. Now, I have to be totally honest here; much of this will probably be about my own neurotic ways and opinions, both of which I have in excess. :)
OK, the first step: Receiving the samples.
is is the first step for ME, but by no means the first step in the process. Before the samples arrive at my doorstep, they are received and processed by the supervisor of this particular contest. She receives the sample from the exhibitor, she checks the information for accuracy and completeness. The exhibitor lists the age of the animal in years and months, they list the number of months the sample fiber has been growing and the date of the last shearing. The color classification is checked against the AOBA show standard and they will attempt to eliminate any really flagrant disqualifications such as infestation. The supervisor will then remove ALL identifying material from the sample so that I - the judge - has no way of knowing who sent in the entry. Entry numbers are assigned, and judging forms are filled out and included in the sample entry bag. Then the entries are sorted into classes, packed into boxes and mailed to me.
Now the Postal Lady delivers them to Me!!!

And here is my first obsession. I have very specific tools I need and I have to have just the right stuff.
*Scale to weigh every sample in ounces (2 oz is the requirement)
*Pencil to record ongoing scores on the judging sheet - I have ONE style of mechanical pencil I'll use. The yellow Bic pencil with the cone that turns. I don't like the clicker style. I tore the house apart before I found ONE pencil to my satisfaction and then it was nearly empty. That required a trip to WalMart.
*felt marker to mark plastic bags
*Paper labels and stapler to re-label bags to my satisfaction
*Highlighter and red pen to remind me of things I need to remember about my scoring.
*Coffee - that doesn't really need explanation does it?
*Bins for sorting classes
*Detail judging score outlines. I literally assign specific score numbers to various traits. This is the best way I know to judge OBJECTIVELY when appropriate.
*Clear ruler to measure staple length of every sample entry.

Now, do I sound like I want things to be 'just so'? That would be correct, so what do I see when I open the boxes?
Now, mind you, the show super already did a great job of organizing and sorting these classes, but..... some are in grocery bags, some in white plastic trash type bags, some of the grocery bags are {GASP} not white! Oh! the humanity!!!
So the first thing that *I* do is re-sort and re-organize. I use white grocery bags, I relabel them with the class number and the number of entries in that class. This helps me to organize my time and keep track of what is supposed to be in that bag.
The advantage is that when I put all these bags back into boxes I can easily see what is what just by looking at the top of the box.
This also gives me the opportunity to eyeball all the entries to do a quick once over and look for infestations. I'm sorry, but it does happen. I have lost some valuable fleeces of my own from taking in fiber samples that didn't 'blossom' their cargo until a week or two later. I have also learned not to leave samples sitting around with the ziplok bags unsealed. If a bag zipper breaks, it gets a new bag. Wanna know the most sturdy brand of sealed plastic bags? just ask!
And this is what I end up with. Orderly, easy to work with, easy on the eyes and ready for the next step. Up to now, NO actual evaluation of the samples has taken place. This has been all about me and making my job easier. :)


Christine said...

Well, this should keep you out of trouble, euh I mean busy, for a while ! How many samples do you have there !
No chocolate? I thought you'd need chocolate to keep your sanity through all this...

Elaine said...

Chocolate works! You offering? :D Actually, my fav at the moment is Butter Toffee popcorn with pecans and almonds. yumm-o

Christine said...

Sure! I'll even deliver! Can't say I've ever tried butter toffee popcorn with pecans and almonds... I wonder if the chocolate store down the road has something along those lines...