Put Your Skills to the Test with Vermont’s Handspinner’s Challenge


Have you ever tried spinning pin-drafted roving? This tidy preparation is a great fit for the crossbred fleeces from Settlement Farm. Photo: Michael Hampton. 


Many spinners find contests and competitions are a great way to learn more and hone their craft. Legions of spinners enter their handspun skeins in fairs and competitions for judging or participate in competitions like Spinzilla to see how many yards they can spin in a week. The Vermont Sheep and Goat Association (VSGA) recently launched an exciting new option—The Handspinning Challenge.


This new contest, launched at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival in October, focuses on technical spinning skills. To participate, each spinner purchases a $10 kit that includes 2 ounces of Vermont wool and a sample skein of three-ply yarn. The goal is to spin a skein that is as identical as possible to the sample yarn. VSGA member Michael Hampton says, “The Handspinning Challenge brings something new to handspinning contests. First, spinners are being asked to produce the same yarn from the same fiber. When you remove color, fiber content, fiber preparation, and yarn type from the equation, judges are able to objectively concentrate on the skill of the spinner and the technical aspects of the yarn he or she has produced. Second, the fiber in the kits was produced and processed in Vermont—a truly local collaboration designed to showcase Vermont wool and help connect fiber producers with handspinners.”


The handspun skeins submitted for judging will be evaluated at the Vermont Farm Show in late January. Judges will provide feedback on the entries, helping participants to build their technical skills. And what do the top skeins receive, you ask? Fifty percent of the proceeds raised from the kit sales will be awarded to the top three entries selected.


The organizers hope to have about fifty participants, and thirty-four kits have already been sold. This means that you can still participate! To purchase a kit, contact Michael Hampton at the email below. Michael processed the pin-drafted roving included in the kits at his mill, Hampton Fiber Mill and Spinnery, located outside of Burlington. Michael says, “The wool was sourced from Dave Martin of Settlement Farm in Underhill, Vermont. The wool from Dave’s flock of crossbreed sheep exhibits characteristics of Montadale, Coopworth, and Border Leicester breeds. With a staple length of approximately 5½ inches, the pin-drafted roving is a joy to handspin.”



Purchase the $10 entry kit from Hampton Fiber Mill and Spinnery. Photo: Michael Hampton.

2015/2016 Handspinning Challenge

Kits ($10) contains 2 ounces of fiber, contest rules and entry form, and a sample of three-ply, 900 ypp yarn.

Completed skeins must be postmarked by January 15, 2016.

Judging will held at the Vermont Farm Show January 27‒29, 2016.

For a full list of rules and deadlines, visit the VSGA website.

To order a kit, contact Michael Hampton at mhampton@gmavt.net.

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