Of an island & the wearing of wool

I was born on this island, Tasmania. I haven’t always lived here. But the bulk of my childhood was spent in a bushy suburb of Hobart in the shadow of kunanyi/Mount Wellington. The wind whistling down the valley was referred to as “the freight train” by my parents; it was that loud.
I knew I lived in a cool climate, but I didn’t feel the cold much in those days. Young blood is easily stirred and I was a tree-climbing, rope-swinging adventurer. I had a sister and a brother to spend time with, and the rivulets and bushland gave us space and freedom to explore.

We found a tea towel once, discarded on the ground near the creek. The brand was woven into it – it was a Drymor. The towel became our flag, and we named our little land Drymor. I can’t recall what we did there in much detail. But we got muddy and sometimes wet, and came home with eucalypt air in our lungs and twigs in our hair.

Wool was always there. Our Dad wore it bushwalking. In those days, lightweight merino clothing wasn’t yet developed. I remember some heavy woollen pants, a good old tam o’shanter in reds and greens, thick woollen socks, and some handknits from various family knitters. Mum made lots of things for all of us – including a woollen shirt for Dad. Our beds were blanketed with wool. Although we were small city people, we liked to go walking in wilder areas, and we knew how to keep ourselves warm.

I married a Canberra lad, and we lived for a while in a small inland city in Victoria. When we moved back to Tasmania after eight years living on the mainland, I felt the cold so much more. We had young children and there was an innate feeling that I ought to keep them warm. Our heating bills were a shock. It didn’t take long for me to wise-up and think of better ways to warm us all. A trip to the Waverley Woollen Mills shop saw me investing in Merino wool blankets for all our beds. The difference these beautiful blankets make is extraordinary.

And of course, I knit for warmth too. With the five of us, as well as a large extended family, I can’t keep up with all the knitting I’d like to do. But nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing my knitwear keeping a loved-one warm.

I hope you will come with me on a journey. I want to take a good look at wool. Origins and production will come into it a little. But our main focus will be on what happens after the ball-band is slipped off. What do we make with wool? How do we wear it? What do we love about this incredible natural fibre? I’m passionate about Tasmania, and the wool Nan is producing here is just so stellar – I’d like everyone to experience it!

I’m also very happy to invite your input. If there’s something you’d like to know, leave a comment below. Or you can email me: sallyravels@gmail.com I’d be very happy to do some research about any aspect of woolcraft you’re intrigued by.

Warm wishes,