Even before coming to Australia (from Canada) I had a fascination for
wool and wool products. We used to attend the 4H Agricultural Show locally where we lived in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia and where a lot of
children my age would go straight for the rides. Not me -- the sheep were my main attraction – and I would spend
a great deal of time ‘spinning yarn’ – tales - with the owners! Mom and Dad always knew where to find me.
Mom used to knit some lovely things for us as we were growing up. She was not into spinning yarn
herself; she worked with commercial yarn, but she put lace patterns in some garments and fairisle patterns in
others and showed us how versatile the medium can be. Sadly, we outgrew the garments soon enough, growing too big
to knit for!
One of my earliest memories of Australia is the shearing contest at the
Dandenong Show back in 1972. What better place to learn about wool than the premier
place in the world for sheep and shearing! (Australia, that is, not Dandenong!). Plenty of action, plenty of
fleece, lots of sheep and breeds, lots of great sounds and – dare I say – smells! AAAH! The Bush!
Years later, back in the days when my children were small, we lived for a while on the Murray, in
Mulwala - and country things were all the go for me! I learned to stoke the fire and
cook on a wood stove, I learned to chop wood, I learned that sheep can have bronchitis, I learned that Magpies
eat duck eggs, I learned that dust and dirt creep into the tiniest places, and I learned about spinning
I have always wanted to be spinning yarn. I bought my tutor's wheel and happily
spun until I ran out of fleece and then I faced a new challenge: How do you choose another lot of wool to spin? I
enrolled for wool classing at Wangaratta TAFE and completed my Certificate at the Melbourne College of
Textiles when we moved back to Melbourne (1991). It did not occur to me that “classing” could be a career – I
was too interested in spinning yarn.
There are no Shearing sheds in the city, so - where do you find the sheep? On the
outskirts, of course, and up in them thar hills! Sometimes as a pet in the backyard! One of the ladies where I
worked (who lived in the hills) asked if I could teach her about spinning yarn so that she could use
the fleece from her pet sheep. She was my very first student.
This is not the kind of woolclassing I had originally intended, but it is eminently satisfying, as
well as creative and exciting. Classes are full of eager and willing students to inspire and there is always room
for more. Ewe too can be creative and inspired. Ewe too can be spinning yarn! Click here for enquiries