Women all wrapped up with wool

29 Jun, 2009 11:40 AM
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Designer Jo Nathan, of WooliiWoolii, Deniliquin, NSW.
Designer Jo Nathan, of WooliiWoolii, Deniliquin, NSW.

FOR self confessed wool devotees Jan Lowing and Jo Nathan, the soft unique handling characteristics of wool has always been too appealing to resist.

It is about true natural beauty for Ms Nathan, turning a fibre grown in her own backyard into a piece of art that can be enjoyed as apparel.

Ms Lowing, on the hand, never concerns herself with the end product.

She happily admits she has led a life that has never strayed far from the grass roots end - breeding big productive fine wool Merinos.

Ms Nathan and Ms Lowing are now coming together along with four other fellow female “wool tragics” for the Women of Wool day, a concept instigated by the Australian Sheep Breeder’s Association that has made its mark on the Australian psyche by merging the tradition of wool growing with the innovation of apparel design.

For Ms Nathan, who boasts curriculum vitae that includes representing Australia at Hong Kong Fashion Week, bringing it back to the woolgrower level is especially important.

“It’s so great to have woolgrower ring up and say they’re proud of me and congratulate me on promoting wool with my designs,” she said.

“I love it when that happens; people really encourage each other in this industry.”

Ms Lowing agrees the camaraderie of wool industry is important, but at the sleeves rolled up level of wool production being the lone female has more often been the tag.

In the 1960’s, Ms Logan was one of the few professional female wool classers, and soon after became the first woman to be elected to the Victorian Stud Breeder’s Association.

Now living at Nobby in Queensland, returning to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show with her Queensland State pair winners to compete in the prestigious National Pairs Competition, will be a special thrill.

“My Victorian friends thought I’d taken leave of my sense when I moved to Queensland,” she said.

“It’s been a case of swapping lame sheep, dags and barley grass for dingoes, dust and drought but Queensland has definitely come out on top.”

Women, both in Australia and around the world, have been steadily carving out a place in the tightly male dominated wool world, largely driven by their passion and skills.

In the Women of Wool celebration, Ms Nathan and Ms Lowing take the spotlight alongside Australian Wool innovation chief executive Brenda McGahan, Wendy Denis of Tarndwarncoort Polwarth wool, Birregurra , woodcraft demonstrator Dot Vallence of Wheeler’s Hill and Pat Cantos, of the Thread Room, East Malvern.

The Women of Wool invite all women to take Friday July 17 off to attend the Sheep show’s Laugh and Lunch.

Contact 1800 813 153

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