Alpaca Association of Western Oregon

Alpaca Association of Western Oregon

Building the North American Alpaca Industry on All Levels

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2020 AAWO Spin-Off

winning alpaca fleeceWhat is a Spin-Off?

Contestants submit a two-ounce sample of their alpaca's fleece. An experienced spinner spins half of it into a small skein of yarn and evaluates the fleece based on first impression, cleanliness, uniformity, handle, lack of second cuts and guard hair, and other desirable qualities. Entries are divided into classes based on the alpaca's breed (suri or huacaya), age, and color. Fleeces from 2019, 2020 and 2021 shearings are eligible. Entry deadline is June 21, 2021.

After spinning all of the entries in her group section, each judge selects her favorite fleece that she worked with. The Judge's Choice Award winners are based on the judge's subjective feelings – just which entry spoke to her – so they are not necessarily first place winners.

Why enter a Spin-Off?

  • It's easy to enter, compete, and win ribbons. The deadline is June 21, 2021. Fleeces from 2019, 2020, and 2021 are eligible.
  • There is a $100 cash prize for the Judge's Choice in both the Suri and Huacaya divisions, several cash prizes for Judge's Choice in Youth/4-H entries, and a $100 cash prize for best entries for Suri and Huacaya in the 10 years of age and older category.
  • You can mail in entries - no hauling your alpacas and fleeces off the farm.
  • You need only 2 ounces of fleece; the original fleece can still be entered in other competitions.
  • The judge does the spinning; you get a yarn sample.
  • You receive an expert spinner's evaluation of your fleece.
  • Your alpaca's fleece and photo and your farm name will be displayed at the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival in September 2021.
  • You can use the results for marketing and breeding decisions.

Click here for downloadable entry form. (PDF, 2-up)
Entry fee: $25/each. Students (18 and under) may enter for Free.

What are the judges looking for ?

2019 Spin-Off Winners
Points are awarded based on:  
Fleece: Spinning:
  First Impression
Cleanliness - absence of dirt, vegetation, hay, etc
Absence of second cuts - short bits of fleece
Absence of guard hair
Uniform length
Uniform fineness
Preparation of your entry
    Ease of debris removal and carding
Ease of drafting and spinning
Loss during processing
  First Impression
Handle - softness, texture, feel next to skin
  • Fleece with signs of parasite infestation will be disqualified and discarded
  • Fleece with breaks, tenderness, excess debris, and felting will lose points.
  • Fleece with weights over 4 ounces or under 2 ounces will lose points; if there is not enough fleece for judging, the entry will be disqualified. 
  • Huacaya - Minimum length of entire two ounce fleece sample should be three inches with no maximum before first birthday, and with a maximum of eight inches for first birthday and older.
  • Suri - Minimum length of entire two ounce fleece sample should be three inches with no maximum before second birthday, with a maximum of nine inches for second birthday and older.
  • Fleece that doesn't meet maximum and minimum lengths will lose points if the length varies by more than half an inch.
  • Entry must score at least 70 points to qualify for a First Place.

Instructions to the Judges

The Handcrafter’s Spin-Off competition is an opportunity for the exhibitor to enter a sample of fleece which is evaluated on criteria relevant to the production of finished product.

Judges shall:   
   1. Evaluate, prepare and spin a portion of the sample, taking care to ensure that all samples are prepared in the same manner (i.e. hand or drum carded) and that prepared portions are relatively equal portions of one fleece sample to another.  You may spin the raw fiber unwashed or washed; if washed, use only soap or a scouring product and rinse in clear water with no other enhancing products added (i.e., fabric softener, conditioner) using the same method and procedure for each entry.
   2. Wash the spun yarn, as in Step 1, to properly evaluate its hand feel and softness.
   3. Twist the yarn into a skein.

Judging Criteria, Maximum Points, & Explanations

skirting alpaca fleeceFleece criteria (40 points total)

a. First impression – 5 points
    The feeling or desire that you experience in wanting to spin this fiber when you first see it as presented in the bag, when you remove it from bag, and when you first handle it.  “Would I purchase this fiber? Would I want to spin it?” are questions that you should ask yourself when awarding points in this category.  This can be due to its style, color, preparation, lack of dirt/vegetation, or simply a feeling that says to you, “Spin me.” A well prepared sample with ends aligned would generally receive more points than the entry that was just pulled from the fleece and stuffed into the bag.

b. Cleanliness – 10 points
    Absence of vegetable matter – 6 points
    Points should be deducted proportionately for the amount of vegetable matter present including feed, hay, chaff and other pasture vegetation.
    Absence of dirt or other contamination – 4 points
    Points should be deducted proportionately for the amount of dirt, dust, sand, fecal matter, and other contamination present that is not vegetable matter.

c. Absence of second cuts – 5 points
    This is a somewhat objective criterion and is similar to cleanliness in that points should be deducted for the amount of second (double) cuts, comb crumbs (shear burrs) or short pieces of fiber present.

d. Absence of guard hair – 5 points
    Points should be deducted for clearly visible guard hairs that can be seen sticking out or protruding from the locks/staples (a hairy fleece). Points should also be deducted for the inclusion of fiber that would be considered britch that should/could have been skirted out before submission.
    When selecting the fiber to prepare and spin, the judge will include some of those strong fibers in proportion to the amount found in the entire sample. The judge should be spinning a representation of all the fiber submitted, not only the best of the sample.

e. Uniformity of length – 5 points
Points should be deducted if there are obvious varying lengths throughout the sample.  The variance of length of the fibers should not range more than half an inch. In addition, there is a minimum and maximum length for all fiber in the submitted sample as follows:
    Huacaya – Minimum length of entire sample to be three inches with no maximum for Juveniles (under first birthday), and with a maximum of eight inches for Yearlings and older.
    Suri – Minimum length of entire sample to be three inches with no maximum for Juveniles and Yearlings (under second birthday), with a maximum of nine inches for second birthday and older.

f. Uniformity of micron – 5 points
Points should be deducted if there are differences in micron throughout the sample. The sample should be consistent within a difference of 3 microns (or what can be noticed by the “untrained eye”). This may be a somewhat subjective criterion.

g. Preparation of entry – 5 points
Points awarded for the time and care that was put into the actual preparation of the entry. The better prepared an entry is, the easier it is to do all the initial judging and preparation for spinning.

hand-spinning alpacaSpinning criteria (35 points total)

a. Preparation for spinning – 12 points
    Ease of debris  removal – 7 points
    Obviously if there is no debris in the sample, there will be no need to remove any debris. Points should be awarded here for how easily and quickly the sample can be cleaned in preparation for carding. Some vegetation/sand/dirt falls out easily while prepping the fiber either by finger picking or by flick carding the ends. Other dirt/vegetation holds on to the fibers and pretty much has to be picked out a piece at a time. Points should be awarded accordingly.

    Ease of carding – 5 points
    More points should be awarded for the fleece that is ready to be spun - the fleece that is clean, not matted or felted, that can be easily carded or combed. This is a somewhat subjective criterion.

b. Ease of drafting – 8 points
    How easily does the fiber draw/draft from the prepared rolag, batt or roving? How evenly does it draft/draw? Does the fiber catch on itself? Can it be drawn or drafted evenly or does it draft inconsistently? Points are awarded for ease, evenness and consistency of drafting.

c. Ease of spinning – 10 points
    Is the fiber enjoyable to spin?  How evenly does spin?  Does it make a nice, consistent, smooth yarn with no noils and bumps?  Uniformity of fiber length and absence of second cuts may be a factor in this.  How easily does the yarn ply? Does plying even out the singles producing a more consistent yarn or does plying enhance the inconsistencies of the singles? This is a somewhat objective criterion.

d. Degree of production loss – 5 points
    Points are directly related to how fiber sample was prepared before sending; how many ounces were lost during the Judge’s processing of the sample as a result of dirt, vegetable matter and other non-desirables that were removed during the spinning process.  Weak tips and tender fleeces may also result in fiber loss during preparation for spinning.

Finished product (25 points total)

a. First impression of yarn – 6 points
    Points awarded for the overall desirability of the finished yarn. This is a completely subjective criterion.

b. Usability of yarn – 7 points
    Points to be awarded based on the yarn’s ability to be used in finished goods. Is it durable?  Is it versatile? Can be related to uniformity of length of fibers as well as strength of the fleece. Can it be used to create the product(s) for which it was spun?

c. Brightness/luster of yarn – 6 points
    Points awarded for the ability to reflect light. Points deducted for dull, lifeless looking yarn.

d. Handle of yarn – 6 points
    Points awarded for feel next to skin. The focus is on the softness, smoothness, uniformity and overall texture; lack of fuzziness or hairiness relating to the coarser guard hairs; absence of slubs, noils, and nebs and/or
vegetation. This is a somewhat objective criterion.

•  Less than 2 oz. submitted – deduct 1 point for each 0.1 oz less than 2 oz submitted.
•  More than 4 oz. submitted – deduct 1 point for each 0.1 oz more than 4 oz submitted.
•  Fiber that is unsound, felted, contains tender breaks, mats or excessive debris will be discounted
appropriately – up to a maximum deduction of 10 points
      Fleeces with parasites will be disqualified
hans-spun alpaca yarnJudge's comments should include:
1. Suggested use:
    Knitting/Crochet/Weaving (weft)      Weaving (warp)
    Next to the skin garments                 Baby items
    Outerwear                                       Felting

2. Processing Recommendation:  
    Commercial - large
    Cottage – small or mini mill

We invite you to come join us on this adventure!

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