Saturday, 20 August 2016

About the time I went to Bendigo for the Sheep and Wool show...

What I came home with from "Bendi Spendi" this year.

Hello my sad neglected blog...I'm back with a post that is weeks overdue. This is my round up of the Annual Australian Sheep and Wool show that was held in Bendigo back in mid July.

For woolcrafters in this neck of the woods this once yearly sheep and wool show is one of the most exciting weekends of the year. It is this event that will prompt the migration of knitters, crocheters, spinners, felters and all fibre lovers into this lovely regional city each year. They come in their little gaggles donning their handmade woollies and find a fibre heaven in the woolcraft market sheds.

This year instead of dragging the family up with me I did the day trip with some knitty girlfriends. We piled into the car with the largest boot and headed off even before my littlies had woken up (such a rarity, and of course it happens on the day that I'm not able to sleep in.). As much as I love having my family with me on such adventures, doing the show with friends who are on the same page when it comes to fibre was such a nicer experience than having to put up with the complaints of Sir S who declares, "I don't like sheep." 

My "Women of Wool". Love you girls!
I confess, I went quite crazy last year at the show because it was my first and I'm going to blame it on the wool fumes. This year I prepped myself to be restrained and to be the supportive enabler for my friends instead. To help me, I was prepared to stick to my woolly wool filter and continue to avoid purchasing any superwashed fibres even if the colours sung to me. My one must buy item was a knitted dinosaur softie because last year that was the one thing at the show that Sir S took an interest in and I told him that if I had money at the end of the day I would buy him one. Well, I'm sure you can guess that I ran out of money last year.

The show did not disappoint this year. The selection of beautiful yarns, fleeces, knitting accessories and bits and bobs were all marvellous. I love seeing the number of independent hand dyers who are around these days and discovering new people who I were not familiar with before. I love seeing how Nan Bray's White Gum Wool is becoming quite a popular base for hand dyers to use and that makes my heart sing because I am a huge fan of her principles and practices. It excites me to see Aussie hand dyers using her bases because it means that I can still buy from indie dyers and support their small businesses.

Here are some of my stand out favourites from the show this year:

1. Alpaca Allure
At this stall I met a family who run their own alpaca farm and a mini mill out in the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria. They had all this lovely undyed yarns in gorgeous natural alpaca fleece colours. The thing that really got me was on each of their labels they listed the names of the animals that the fibre came from as a dye lot. So, I bought a skein of their 8ply that came from Rose and Leo in 2016. It is so so soft and I love the natural sandy grey colour.

I bought some yarn from her last year and I was happily a return customer this year. It was the super luscious camel/ silk lace weight yarn that got me this year. Knitting with lace weight yarn is a bit of a scary prospect but getting to work with this beautiful yarn will motivate me to give it a go.

Impossible to resist touching this fleece.

A family run Australian farm that is growing some beautifully crimpy and superfine merino. They had this raw fleece on the table and I could not keep my hands away from it. What can I say, crimp excites me.

I had a lovely conversation with the man behind this mill, Alasdair while I pawed over and sniffed his skeins of Gotland wool. He too runs an alpaca farm and mini mill in regional Victoria and he had some really exciting blends of Gotland with fibres like silk and recycled wool or cashmere. I am so impressed to find a small industry of fibre milling and production just on my doorstep in Victoria. I am filing away this information for future fibre dreams.

I came away with a couple more business cards and flyers of things that caught my eye but I restrained myself from buying. If I get the chance to follow up on those yarns and fibres in the future I'll tell you about them.

It was such a fun day amongst the wool fumes and the tactile heaven of fibre. Did you make it to Bendi this year? What caught your eye or should I say hand as you fondled through the stalls?

BTW, I did buy the dinosaur for Sir S this year and redeemed myself (and wool) in his eyes.

It was clear I had a bit of a colour theme this year.

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