A Trip to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show
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 🙂
11 thoughts on “A Trip to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show”
I’ve never seen a carding board before! The felting machine (now that I’m of-a-certain-age) looks very tempting but it’s out of my reach. After walking through the sheep pens, I don’t think I’d have fancied the lamb burger. I’d love to have seen the poppies – amazing! What a lovely day you had.
Wow! Now that was a fabulous Fair! Your photos really told the story of the fun and beauty to be had at an outdoor Sheep & Fiber Show. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
Great fun Felicity! What a great experience. Thank you for sharing it with us. I felt like I was there. I’m sure you came home tired, but inspired. I look forward to seeing your creations with your new goodies.
Thanks Felicity! Great post and I enjoyed seeing the fiber festivities. Is this a once a year event?
What a great day out, Country Show and Woolfest all rolled into one! Superb! Look forward to hearing what you do with that rare Norwegian fibre. 🙂
Looks like a great festival to go to. You will have to let us know how the sari silk bat spins and take some pictures of your fleece before and after washing. I think I would have bought such a rare fleece too.
It looks like it’d be a brilliant place for a day out! I hadn’t seen a carding board before, either, and the sari silk looks gorgeous. Thanks for showing us 🙂
Your description of the fair brings me right back the atmosphere the sheep etc I visited the mohair expo in Graaf Reinet SA a few years back and just loved it.
Thank you all for your kind comments. I’m sorry to have to report that I left the door to the craft room open yesterday and the dog got into the Gra trondersau – can you believe it!? Out of all that merino she chose the most exotic. I suppose its smell was intriguing – coming all the way from Norway!
I didn’t catch her in the act so I couldn’t reprimand her. It was my own fault for leaving the door open. Good news is that it was recoverable – the fleece was just all pulled out of its braid and slighlty moist. *sigh*
I thought you were going to say it was completely ruined. So glad the dog didn’t kill it 🙂
As from today, I am the proud owner of a plait of Gra Trondersau. from the same person I suspect. As chair of the woolcraft committee at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show I was so very excited to come across this site, hear and feel your excitement about your very pleasurable experience. Words like this make all the hard work and planning worthwhile. I do hope you will come again perhaps in 17th, 18th or 19th July 2015, bring a friend and make a weekend of it. By the way as there are so many poppies it has turned into the 50,000 poppy project.