Feorlen's COE Adventure

It's done!

I sent the box off and got back my results. Page after page of judging sheets with comments. I am updating the online version of my material with additional notes, both comments from the examiners and my own.

See my COE entry

The judging is based on a point system, each item is assigned a point value. For the current version of the requirements, the total maximum score is 3824 points with a minimim of 3250.4 (85%) required to pass. The final total is the average of two sets of points awarded from the two examiners. My total was 3413.5 points, or 89.3%. I scored 262/284 (92.3%) for Part 1, 1079/1188 (90.8%) for Part 2 and 2079.5/2352 (88.4%) for Part 3. The two scores were 3446 (90.1%) from Examiner 1 and 3381 (88.4%) from Examiner 2.

Selected comments from both judges and my notes are on each page. Also, there is an "Overall Impressions" from each examiner:

Examiner 1
"Your forte is very fine spinning, your even multiple-ply yarns are astounding. You need to work further on your novelty yarns so that you are more comfortable with the irregular processes involved. I would have liked to have seen a soft, short down like cashmere, yak or camel down somewhere in the 40 skeins."
Examiner 2
"Your written work is very technical and precise. Your yarns were either very creative and unusual or very uninspired. You did not use any short, soft down (cashemere, yak, bison or camel down) in any yarn. Also, I would have liked to have seen some of your wonderful imagination expressed in other yarns in the plying and blending sections. There was an over abundance of "barber-pole" plied yarns. The yarns where you used your creativity, i.e.: reeled silk, camel hair, mohair/silk (skein 34) were wonderful and your incredibly fine yarns are awesome."

About the COE

The Certificate of Excellence (COE) is a program offered by the Handweaver's Guild of America (HGA) to recognize outstanding technical and artistic merit in a variety of textile arts. For general information about the COE, see the Program Overview at the HGA website.

The COE in Handspinning program has been available for many years, but few people have successfully completed it. Many people I have spoken to, including handspinners who teach and publish, feel that the COE in Handspinning is not relevant to their work and has little practical purpose beyond personal accomplishment. Within the HGA, the COE is respected as a mark of accomplishment but outside the organization many handspinners have failed to find it meaningful enough to pursue.

That the handspun samples are challenging and diverse does not appear to be the problem. The overwhelming reaction I get from intermediate and advanced spinners who would be expected to be interested in the program is that it is more a test of one's ability to follow the presentation requirements, described in minute detail in the Handbook, than of technical ability in spinning. People who are otherwise fully capable of producing handspun at this level are unwilling to go through the process of submitting an entry for examination.

I believe that programs such as the COE are important to the handspinning community and there will be more interest in them as the number of spinners grows. The recent surge in hand knitting has spilled over into spinning as knitters discover the unlimited possibilities of creating one's own yarn. By going through the process and publishing my experience, I hope to both encourage other spinners and offer suggestions for how the program could be more relevant to the average spinner.