Published: 01 April 2013

Judging a knitting competition

Last week I judged a competition for knitted hats and cushion covers for Scottish Women's Rural Institute's Shetland Federation. There were 26 hats and well over 30 cushions so it proved a big task which took almost two and a half hours to complete.

The hats are all destined for charity and the winning hat will be judged against hats from SWRI members all over Scotland. My ability to judge would also be judged, so I had to choose a perfect hat. The only stipulation was that they were to be knitted from double knitting yarn. The members from one branch hadn't got the message about double knitting so the beautiful hats knitted in jumper weight had to be discounted.

Seams were checked first and any imperfections meant they were rejected. Some were knitted in the round with stitches on 2 needles and a third working needle - when I could spot the 'ladder' between the needles (by holding them up to the light) those were rejected too. Choosing a winner after that became difficult as I needed to look for uneven stitches or some other tiny imperfection.

Cushion covers were in all different shapes, sizes, materials and patterns. As with the hats, every one was inspected, starting with the seams and any tiny fault meant rejection. Then I checked for loose ends.  I still had over a dozen left, so I had to inspect again, looking for uneven stitches as well as anything I'd missed in the seams at the first look. In the end I was faced with about 8 cushion covers so the only path I could take was to assess how challenging they had been to knit and design. In the end it was a choice between a beaded cover knitted in cotton or a Fair Isle cover in Shetland wool. Both were of exceptionally high standard and choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. I plumped for the cotton one simply because I find it's harder to get even tension when knitting with cotton than with wool.

Below are photos of just some of the covers I had to judge. I am sure these, and the winners, will be on show again in Shetland over the summer - and perhaps at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh in June.  

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About Shetland


Shetland is the most northerly group of Scottish islands. Apart from mainland Scotland, the other near neighbours are Norway to the east and the Faroe Islands to the north west.