the knitter tells me, "And I want to know what I did wrong, I really want to know. I'm not cross or anything."
She is probably in her twenties, old enough to have children who like the Simpsons and young enough to be nervous about her temerity to enter anything in the big Show. She has come to pick up her show entries, two bright red child size pullovers with Simpsons characters on the front and a small cardigan with a lacy pattern. The small cardigan won a third prize but what did she do wrong with the others?
Fortunately the first prize winning garment in the relevant section is still there. I can show her.
Wow! How did she do that? I try to explain and then say, "The knitter who made this is apparently more than 80 so she has probably been doing it for years - and anyway you should feel pretty pleased with yourself getting a prize the first time you entered anything."
She goes from anxious to looking relieved. I get her e-mail address so that I can send her the judge's report - so she can try again. I think she will.
Other people came and went and said they wanted to know why they had not won prizes. Some really wanted to know others wanted to know why their work had not been appreciated. I pointed out to one woman that she had entered it in the wrong class.
"It is a rug!" she told me.
"Yes, but it is crocheted, not knitted."
Oh. She looks stunned and then she starts to laugh and she takes it from me, "You must think I am an idiot."
She already has the knitted rug in her other hand and had entered that in the crochet class.
The woman who has made the exquisite gansey comes to collect it. We had talked earlier about her entering this in the Show. The attention she has paid to the detail, even down to finding the right button for the shoulder opening is extraordinary. A lot of research has gone into it and I can tell her now how impressed the senior judge was. She glows and tells me of her new project, another research and then knit project.
At the end of the morning there are items which have not been collected. There is a particularly large collection from someone who has been entering items for years. Until this year she has managed to win prizes for almost everything she had entered, often first prizes. She was known to the previous judges. Her work may well have been the best there was when she first started entering. They may well have gone on considering it was. This year things are different. She is clearly in no hurry to collect her work. It will be left for a while in a locked cabinet.
The very elderly champion knitter has not collected her items, or perhaps someone has not collected them for her. I would like to have met her and asked her, "How do you do it?"
That is what matters in the end. How do you do it? It is not whether you win a prize or not. It is learning something new - and then passing it on.