Right, so this is my post about co-judging the Stylecraft yarn competition. Settle y’selves, friends, for it threatens to be a long’un. There may also be gaps where I run upstairs to gullibly respond to yet another request from the Toddler Twinnage. (Y’know, twins, I’m not convinced that you’re really scared of the rain any more. Anyway, you’re still in trouble for that water fight in your bedroom half an hour ago that I’ve only just finished cleaning up. Now will you GO TO SLEEP?!)
Whilst I’m gone, you’re welcome to some of that wine but I’ll be honest, it’s not the best.
I’ve been waiting to write this post all week, but all sorts of things have had to come first, such as going to work (Wow, it’s been busy on the ward.) Meanwhile, thank you for your kind comments. And I promise that a skirt post is coming very soon!
So if you entered the Stylecraft competition, you’ll know already that the deal was this: send in something in a shade that you thought Stylecraft should add to its range of Special DK yarns. Could be anything: something painted, your toenail clippings, anything. (Thankfully, nobody did send in their toenail clippings.) The plan was to meet at Spectrum Yarns’ mill (they own Stylecraft) in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, to judge the entries and compile a shortlist of ten shades to be whittled down to one winner via a vote by YOU. My fellow judges were Sarah Neal (editor of Let’s Knit magazine), Lucy (Attic24 blog), and Annabelle Hill (sales director at Spectrum). Would you like to see us?
We had a tour round the mill on arrival, but more on that in a separate and over-excited post. And then we settled down to business. Truly, it was hard to know what to expect in terms of entries. There were 350 of them, I think, and I helped open the envelopes with initial trepidation but then increasing fascination at the treasures inside. People sent photos, beads, slips of paper they’d coloured in, little jars of spices, a photo frame, nail varnish, a chocolate wrapper, scraps of fabric, and meticulously-compiled mood boards that must have taken happy hours to compile. They also wrote cards and letters explaining their choices and sometimes suggesting names for the new yarns they were proposing. All of it was fascinating. None of it was dull. It was so varied and imaginative. And there were no toenail clippings.
We laid them all out on a table, and then we were a little quiet for a while whilst we figured out quite how to begin. Can you blame us? There was so much loveliness here, but we could choose only ten. The range of suggestions was, as you’d probably imagine, huge. And yet there were certain concentrations of similar shades, whether reflecting new trends, or definite gaps in the existing range of shades, I wasn’t always sure at first. After all, the range of Stylecraft shades is already large:-
We decided to assemble the entries into groups of related shades, and then judge one group at a time, excluding any entries that were too close to existing Stylecraft colours, and debating which colours would work best both on their own and in combination with others from the range. That probably makes it all sound quicker and easier than it actually was, but at least we had copious tea (green, in my case), sandwiches, and cake to fuel us. I’ve definitely worked under worse conditions. ;-)
It was interesting to notice each judge’s expertise and preferences. Sarah was incredibly thoughtful about colours that work together, and was a source of wisdom on the eternally tricky (apparently) matter of ORANGE. Lucy had clear ideas of bright palettes and combinations that work for her designs, as well as colours that are currently trendy. Annabelle – as you’d expect – had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Stylecraft’s existing range and where its gaps might lie. She wielded the Pantone scanner thingy, enabling us to translate random objects into recognised shades, including Sarah’s cardigan in the process of making a point. (No, Sarah’s cardigan wasn’t an entry.)
And me? Well I was thinking about individual shades rather than any overall palette, because different projects demand such different colours, but I was also conscious of the arguable paucity of greens in the Stylecraft range. And I confess, I’m a sucker for a muted red or purple or green or orange: nothing too bright and gaudy, nothing too pale.
Anyway, we did it! No fur (or yarn) flew and no vows of eternal enmity were sworn: pretty much a success, I’d say. (The other three judges were lovely, in case it’s not obvious that I’m being flippant in that last sentence. I had dinner with two of them the night before, which confirmed my impression that judging was going to be both interesting and enjoyable.) Actually it felt like an honour to be sorting through the fruits of so many people’s creativity with three other colour/yarn-addicts. The hardest part was narrowing our initial selection of about sixteen possibilities down to the requisite ten… and even when we’d managed that, we decided that we weren’t happy with a couple of the ten after all, and had to backtrack a bit.
So…. ten (wonderful and quite diverse) shades have been selected. Want to see them? Well I’m afraid that I’m not allowed to share them with you for a few more days yet. But I will as soon as I can, I promise, and then we can talk about the next stage of the competition: how to vote for the final winner.