Sunday, 16 October 2016


Woolstock was the name of this year's Fleece Festival.   It has grown from a big event to a much bigger event, which now encompasses the community centre and two of the fairground barns.   Usually I spend a good part of the day at the guild's booth.  Mostly I demonstrate spinning and talk up our guild and the fibre arts to various people wandering by.  However this year I was asked to help at the Cashmere Canada fibre judging, either helping the judge or spinning the provided cashmere.

There were 3 of us helping out and we started well before the event even opened, organizing the entries into their different classes and making sure all the identifying information was hidden away.      There were 40 entries to wrangle all together.    That is a lot of fondling time with exquisite fibre!

The one gal wanted to spin all day, as she wasn't comfortable helping the judge.  That was fine because that meant I got to help the judge all day. Phil, our judge, has about 200 cashmere goats on a farm in the Orillia area.   He is extremely knowledgeable with a very clear and succinct way of explaining what he is doing, what he wants done and the factors he was looking for that make a great cashmere fleece.  He was absolutely an easy person to work with and made what turned into a very long day, most enjoyable.  He was also a really good teacher.

I learned about style- crimp for us woolies, differentiation, fineness, why length is important and what lengths are good, and the way he weights what is important in a fleece.   I was looking at the fleeces from a hand spinner's point of view, while he was teaching me about the differences which were important for commercial machinery.  For instance, the guard hair that a hand spinner might be deterred by, isn't an issue for mechanical dehairers, if it enough of a difference in size from the fibre itself.     Since the goats are combed, the later in the season they are combed, the more likely the guard hair will shed along with the undercoat.  As well the larger, loopy crimp of some of the does, can cause pilling and catch in the machinery and the bucks have the finest fleeces with the finest crimp.  So very soft and beautiful.

It turns out there are no "official" cashmere goats, but just the genetic luck of having the right genes for having the downy undercoat. After a great day of education and fibre fondling, I helped break down the little booth, and went home with a lovely little baggie of cashmere to spin.   While I had hardly any time to shop and got no spinning in, most of my friends found me or we crossed in passing.   I have to admit that I had an absolutely great day.


Sharon said...

I miss getting excited about wool shows, discovering new fleeces and the joy of spinning. That has left me, to my great surprise, and I can only hope that switch gets turned on again.

Bettina said...

pity that there are no such shows around here - too much travelling involved for me to go to those in the uk:( but I can understand that you had a great day - fondling cashmere all day sounds great:)
enjoy the spinning - in peace!