Sometimes, it is easy to forget that the Royal Melbourne Show is primarily an agricultural show amid the showbags, fairy floss, giant rides and booming music. These certainly make it a giant spectacle and if you get one of those amazing blue sky, spring days, it looks marvellous. But inside the pavilions, there is a different pace, a respite from the noise and the urgency and a glimpse into other aspects of the Show.
Inside the Craft Pavilion, you can see an extraordinary array of domestic crafts from baking to preserving to knitting to basketry displayed and judged. This is no art and design fair but a competition for serious amateurs pushing their skills to their utmost for best bread loaf, best fruit cake, best sweater, best sock.
As a young adult, I remember being scornful that the entries looked so ordinary. I didn’t place any value on the skills displayed. The everyday crafts celebrated here offended my aesthetic as I thought being fashionable, avant garde or artistic was the mark of …well, everything. And now, somewhat wiser I hope, I marvel at the breadth of the craftwork. I am awed by way it seems to undercut what corporatised fashions or lifestyle subcultures think is cool or saleable. It celebrates instead what actual people make and value: the everyday made with skill, the useful made with experience, and the decorative made with joy.
Fully humbled over best biscuits and junior cupcakes, I went next to the livestock pavilion to fill my lungs with smell of hay, lanolin and manure. Heritage Sheep Australia had a great display of rare sheep breeds in Australia.
I saw Tintern School showing their rare breed Romney’s for which they win lots of prizes. Secondary school girls raise these sheep, breed them and show them as part of their studies. If you want to buy a Romney fleece from the school, you can make contact with the Farm Manager on 9845 7777.
Granite Haven had a great display of fibres and yarns in the Livestock Pavilion with Wool2Yarn. If you remember, I got rather excited about Suzette Sayer’s Paddock to Ply fibre mill project? Well, the things really do seem to be changing in Australia, as Wool2Yarn is a new micro-mill based in Mornington, Victoria. They specialise in small quantities (really small) and can take greasy fleeces! They will scour and process into roving or semi-worsted yarn. They are also creating some of their own yarn lines that can be purchased at a bricks and mortar shop in Mornington.
Cheryl Crosbie from Granite Haven has had some of her Gotland fleeces processed into these amazing rovings ready spin into art yarns. Her fibre range has really expanded and she has some lovely naturally coloured yarns in a shawl kit ready to knit.
I also saw a display of natural coloured sportsweight yarns from Kan-B-Colours. These new-to-me yarns are from prize winning Comeback sheep raised by Helen Wright at Glenlofty, Victoria. I haven’t found a website but the yarn can be purchased through an email firstname.lastname@example.org. It looks beautiful and is a fine wool but it was in display case, so no squish test sorry. Have any of you tried these yarns or know about them?
Again, just so we are clear, these are my own opinions, I have not been asked to endorse or promote these sellers in any way and have received no financial gain from doing so.