Thursday, August 20, 2015

Attention to detail

It saddens me to see poor finishes spoil otherwise excellent projects.

Girlfriend market basket, Robyn Mozeika.
Knit and crochet. Useful and stylish!
4-H fairs are special. They're family affairs that are fun yet competitive and publicly display the work of the past year. Showmanship and projects are on public display--and judged. Everyone wants a blue ribbon.

The 2015 Mercer County 4-H Fair, its 97th annual fair, was held earlier this month at the Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville where local 4-H youth groups, their leaders and their livestock spent the weekend. This fair isn't about rides and cotton candy, but about time-honored, family friendly fun, such as pie eating contests and goat milking competitions, to name just two.

Speaking of fun: I wish I had a photo of the costume competition in which kids costume themselves and their animals carry out a theme. One quick-thinking young man with a brand new rabbit put his bunny on a dustpan and added a brush. The theme? Dust bunny! The audience votes, so it should be no surprise that popular culture themes--think "Frozen" and "The Minions"--are the big vote-getters. 

Open classes

Although the focus of the fair is on 4-H youth, the judged show is open to the public. Most entrants in these classes are adults. Items are judged on merit, that is, they are judged against a standard of excellence. (In competitive judging, only one item in a class can receive a blue ribbon.) I was honored this year to judge needlework sections. There were some lovely items and I've included a few photos below. 

It was interesting to note that some of the pieces would have definitely scored higher but for the finishing techniques. They were beautifully crafted, but poorly finished.

Notes for needle artists

As I thought about entries where poor finishes lowered scores, I wished I could talk to each entrant. Except for seaming and grafting, which is its own skill and should be nearly invisible, most of the problems could have been worked out by working a swatch before starting the project. That is the time to identify whether the needle/hook size is right for the yarn and your working method; whether the bind-off is too tight; and whether the sides and edges are going to roll to distraction. 
A good finish can't salvage a poorly executed project, but a poor finish can seriously detract from what is otherwise a well done project. 

A few of the projects from the show.

If you're near Lambertville, plan to visit the fair in 2016. And consider entering something in the show. It's fun!


  1. Thanks for featuring my shawl. It was a pleasure meeting you and M.

  2. Wow you know crochet making!! What a lovely craft, I does not know to do it else I would have crafted it so nicely to a cap, shoes etc.
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