Roving Reporter: The Handspinning Challenge

We spin for many reasons. I often sit down at my wheel just to feel the fibers in my hands and my worries melt away. While I find these judgment-free yards an essential part of my spinning life, it’s also important to be able to spin the yarn I want for a specific project. How do we hone our technical spinning skills? One way to practice spinning to a standard is to choose a commercial or handspun yarn and try to duplicate it as closely as possible. Give it a try!

Handspinning Challenge

The 2016/2017 Handspinning Challenge is underway! Photo courtesy of VSGA.

Last year, the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association (VSGA) launched its first annual Handspinning Challenge. Not your typical skein competition, the Handspinning Challenge participants are provided identical kits containing fiber, a yarn sample, and spinning information such as yards per pound. Judging is then based on how closely the spinner’s final handspun skein matches the yarn sample provided. Three fantastic skeins were selected from nearly fifty entries and named the 2016 winners.

Handspinning Challenge

Three winners were selected by judge Laura Buermann. Photo courtesy of VSGA.

The Handspinning Challenge is back this year and there is still time to participate! Spinners are now asked to produce a worsted-weight, 800 yd/lb, 2-ply yarn from Vermont-grown Romney wool. This delicious natural-colored wool from the flock at Hurricane Ridge Farm was processed into pin-drafted roving at Hampton Fiber Mill and Spinnery, located outside of Burlington. Everyone is welcome to participate, and a kit can purchased from Michael Hampton for $14 including shipping. Half of the entry fees are awarded to the top three winners, who will be announced at the Vermont Farm Show held at the Champlain Valley Expo on January 31–February 2, 2017. To learn more about the contest, visit the VSGA website.

Who can resist pin-drafted Romney? Photo courtesy of VSGA.

Who can resist pin-drafted Romney? Photo courtesy of VSGA.

—Kate Larson

2015/2016 Handspinning Challenge

Kits ($14, including shipping) contains 2 ounces of fiber, contest rules and entry form, and a sample of worsted-weight, 800 yd/lb, 2-ply yarn. Limited quantities are available. To order, contact Michael Hampton at

Completed skeins must be postmarked by January 15, 2017.

For a full list of rules and deadlines, visit

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