Today we have a guest post from Felicity of flicstarstudios who is a keen fibre crafter from Melbourne, Australia.
Last weekend I went to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show which is held in Bendigo, Victoria every year. It is a highlight on the calendar for farmers and fibre lovers. There is sheep and wool judging, sheep dog trials and shearing, but the other half of the show is all about wool craft. They hold a wool fashion parade, craft competitions and many fibre vendors sell their wares. There were wood turners (with lots of crafty tools like spindles, crochet hooks and yarn gauges) as well as representatives from the Spinners and Weavers guild and Feltmakers guild of Victoria.
I left Melbourne at 8am in this:
But on the way up, Bendigo turned on the weather and I arrived to a glorious sunshiny day. This is my third year of going to the show so I know the layout now and straight away made a bee-line for the good stuff. I had a pocket full of cash and every intention of spending up big!
It wasn’t long before I made my first purchase: a sari silk batt for spinning. I am excited to try it.
There was a display of knit, crocheted and felted poppies for the 5000 poppies project which is a community tribute to the ANZACS. The poppies will be on display at Federation Square, Melbourne in 2015. Anyone can get involved to make and donate some poppies to the cause.
Next I headed to the sheds to check out the livestock. Smell the country! (A potpourri of straw, manure and sheep.) There was a mix of international and Australian breeds of sheep including Merino, Corriedale, Finn, Border Leicester as well as Angora goats and many more.
It was really interesting to see the different sheep breeds, the judging and the classed wool. The trophies looked pretty impressive, and it was all a very serious business.
One shed displayed all the place winners of the craft competitions in embroidery, felt, knitting and weaving. Unfortunately no photography was allowed in that shed but I can tell you the finished pieces were amazing. After seeing all the sheep I’d built up a farm-sized hunger. What else do you have for lunch at the sheep and wool show – barbecued lamb from the spit!
I watched the sheep dog trials out on the oval while I ate. There are a variety of tests on the course that the dog has to herd the sheep through, over and into. The owner has to stand with their hand on a pole and just call out the commands – most of them sounded like “go beyond”, “get around”, “to me”, etc. There is a time limit and if the dog doesn’t herd the sheep in time they have to give up. Like a fresh deck of cards in poker, each new dog gets a fresh set of sheep. These guys looked a bit pedestrian compared to the blue ribbon winners I’d seen in the shed. It was great fun to watch because it was clear that the dogs loved it and were very good at their job. The sheep didn’t seem too impressed though.
After lunch I chatted with a boutique wool farmer (Bennett and Gregor) who was selling natural coloured wool tops and yarn. He was saying that unfortunately it is becoming much harder these days for smaller operations like theirs to get their wool processed in Australia. Luckily there are still woollen mills in New Zealand they can use – their only other choice is to ship to China. I suppose this is a sign of the times. There was still loads more to see and I had more money to spend so on to the next shed.
Check out these big needles:
Amazing felt balls and knick knacks from Papoose:
This felting machine will set you back a cool $7,000. It made lovely smooth finished felt.
The Ashford stall is always worth a look because they have demo spinning wheels and blending boards.
It was a great day out and I was pretty tired by the end of it. I came home with enough yarn and fleece to keep me busy for a while. The most unusual fleece I bought is “Gra trondersau” which is from the Grey Troender a very rare Norwegian sheep (apparently there are only 50 of them!).
Thanks Felicity! It was a wonderful armchair trip you gave us and I’m sure everyone will enjoy the journey :)