IT is famously said that Australia was built on the sheep’s back because for more than 100 years, wool was this country’s most important export.
Today, Australia is still one of the world’s largest wool producers.
The Country Women’s Association (CWA) of WA is keen to promote the industry at the Albany Agricultural Show on Friday, November 9 and Saturday, November 10, 2018, by sponsoring the CWA of WA Ewe to You Wool Challenge Demonstration in the Livestock Pavilion.
The aim is to raise awareness of the benefits of natural wool and to educate people about the manufacturing process from shearing to shirt (or in this case, a man’s woollen jumper!)
The event’s co-ordinator is Mt Barker CWA Branch secretary and Albany Spinners member Anne Radys, who specialises in the age-old craft of hand spinning and knitting.
A local shearer, Jarrad Norton has offered to donate his time to demonstrate his shearing skills and then it is over to the ladies of the Albany Spinners to take the wool from the sheep’s back, skirt it (remove foreign matter from the fleece), spin it and then knit it into a jumper.
“We will begin spinning straight from the sheep’s back without the usual preparation of cleaning and washing the wool,” Ms Radys said.
“The first spools of partly spun wool will then be plyed (combining the twisted strands together) and wound into balls with a wool winder and then the knitting process begins.”
Four knitters will work on a rotating basis.
Two knitters will start the front and back panels and another two knitters will work on the sleeves.
When completed, the garment will be sewn up to form the completed jumper.
“The difficulty with this demonstration will be keeping the spinning, plying and knitting as even as possible as no two people’s tension (the tightness or looseness of the stitches) is the same,” Ms Radys said.
“The other challenge is to knit in the grease.
“Normally the wool is washed prior to handling.”
If the jumper is completed on the first day of the Albany Agricultural Show, the Albany Spinners will continue to spin, knit or crochet beanies, scarfs or rugs for the enjoyment and interest of the showgoers.
“We will have a team of eight spinners and knitters with three reserves taking part,” Ms Radys said.
“The Albany Spinners include Leeza McLean, Jo Hislop, Karin Bush, Virginia Limberg, Sue Freshwater, Margie Nadge, Fiona Neely, Giulia Young, Marisha Stone, Agnes Roberts and myself.”