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My Feelings on The Fiber Factor - Elizabeth Unexplained
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greyautumnrain
greyautumnrain
My Feelings on The Fiber Factor
I've been following The Fiber Factor for the past several months. I found out about it because I know Rachel Henry and she was in it, and since I also knit quite a bit I was interested. I find I have a number of feelings about the contest that I wanted to share, but I didn't want to post them in a forum because while many of my feeling are positive a few of them are pretty critical, and I've found that knitting forums in particular are not a good place to say anything less than completely complimentary.

Since I watched all six of the challenges I think it's fair to say the show was pretty engaging, and kudos for Skacel for doing this and putting it together. Overall I enjoyed it and it certainly introduced me to a few new designers that I might be interested in purchasing patterns from. I'm not sure if I'll watch it again if there is a second "season" of it, but there's a good chance I might.

I'm can't fault their choice of guest judges. Most of these folks are pretty well-known authors and designers, or at least many of them were names that I'd heard before. On the other hand it was a good indication that what I like is often divergent from what the people in the industry think should be popular. If it were up to me Jeanette Cross would have won two of the challenges, and I generally liked all but one of her pieces. Sadly she did not win any of the challenges, but it looks like the pattern for the sweater by her that I really loved will be available.

I liked the first three challenges. They were interesting challenges, though the first challenge was perhaps a bit too open-ended. Challenge three was the best one in my opinion: here's some yarn, design something that will be a hit with it. I'd probably be more inclined to watch the show again if some of the challenges were replaced by different iterations of that challenge using different yarn. Challenges four and six seemed a bit contrived to me, but were not unreasonable. If someone bought me a knitting machine as a gift I might do one of the designs, but I'm not going to run out and buy a knitting machine based on any one design. Challenge five I thought was silly. Some nice things were produced by the designers, but it was just too much with the art-felt and the unconventional material, and the runway show. I basically skimmed through that one. If it not a practical thing to knit I'm just not interested.

I liked having the progress videos and having the designers present their finished objects on video. Of course some people were better at this than others. I loved Katie Rempe's videos to the point where I felt bad that I didn't like her designs better (they were good, but too unconventional for me personally). There was one woman who had some great designs but her affect on the videos really put me off, and at least one person clearly put little to no thought into the videos. If Skacel want to increase viewership they may want to give partial credit for good videos. I also did not care for and mostly skipped the mentoring videos. Maybe the mentoring was really helpful for the designers, but the videos were long and chatty and just not that interesting. I'm just not interested in a video of someone else's Skype call, even if it is about knitting.

There are two places where I really take issue with the judging. The first is in the results of challenge six. I really think that Rachel's hat was not given a fair shake because Carin is "not a hat person." I don't think this is a case of me being upset because my friend didn't win, because I didn't feel that way about any of the other times Rachel didn't win, but I am a hat person, and of the challenge six entries that was one of only two designs I would even consider knitting. Then again, I'm not a bag person and so many of the entries were bags.

My second judging quibble is the one I feel really strongly about, and that is in choosing the finalists. Tracy Purtscher won three of the challenges. For me that means she should have been automatically one of the finalists. She did end up as a finalist, but in the discussion it seemed like they were trying to justify not having her and the way they announced her name on the video last, saying that they had a fourth finalist, made her inclusion seem like she squeaked in there, and I don't think it was fair to her. Tracy's designs weren't my favorites, but it seems like winning half the contests should have you more than squeaking into the final. I'm also puzzled by Terri Rosenthal's inclusion in the final, especially when they went from three to four finalists. I liked some of Terri's designs, especially her first one, but she did not win any of the challenges. It doesn't seem right to me to have her included when some folks who won challenges were not. I think I'd feel the same way if it were Jeanette whose designs I nearly universally loved but who also didn't win any challenges were the one included in the final. This one thing makes me really question the objectivity of the selection process for the finalists, and makes me less likely to watch the final challenge.

I really liked the idea of this show, and I think that it could be a great thing if they try it again, but there is definitely room for improvement. I also think a bigger presence of ravelry would be a help, not to mention a better web site. Also, if Skacel wants this contest to generate yarn sales for them they really need to think about making it easier to buy their yarn online. I purchase 90% of my yarn online, with my yarn shop purchases being limited to impulse or near-impulse buys for small projects. I know I'm not alone there, so unless they start selling their own yarn on their website this show is likely to bring more business to Knitpicks than to Skacel.
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