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As the Woolcraft representative on the executive of the Australian Sheep Breeders Association, Chrystene is the conduit to the wide world of all things Woolcraft including hundreds of passionate knitters, spinners, felters, weavers, crocheters, embroiderers and designers of ultra-funky ‘wearable art’.
Chrystene’s small team of hardworking volunteers coordinate more than 300 exhibitors in 58 class classes involving four national guilds, several schools and a hundred Woolcraft traders and demonstrators.
The Australian Woolcraft competition at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show has now grown to attract international representatives and a loyal, very vocal band of fans who congregate on the knitters social media mecca Ravelry, a site that boasts more than 1.3 million members.
During the year prior to the Sheep Show Chrystene works with many members of the Handweavers & Spinners Guild to prepare garments to showcase the fibre from the Feature Breed of that year’s show. This year creations using wool from heritage breeds will be on display.
“I can’t remember who taught me to knit; as a lefthander it must not have been easy for my mother, who I presume it was. It fostered my love of wool and natural fibres,” Chrystene says.
She first joined the Handweavers & Spinners Guild in 1971 and says her love of wool and textiles has grown along with her love of gardening, painting and wholistic living. She was enjoying the antics of small herd of cashmere goats while working with their fibre when she decided to undertake a Diploma in Studio Arts (Textiles) at RMIT.
It was there she was introduced to Sheep Show and Woolcraft committee members seeking a someone special for an important role; overseeing the much-loved Kids Corner where hundreds of future Woolcrafters have learnt to spin a wheel and felt like an expert.
“Teaching children and many adult showgoers to have a love and appreciation for wool, the magic fibre that it is, is very rewarding,” Chrystene says.
Content courtesy of the 2011 Women of Wool
If Woolcraft had a chief executive officer or global head of communications, Dot would be a prime candidate. The 32-year veteran of all things Woolcraft is a passionate advocate of the soul-soothing qualities of taking the time to work with wool.
The Australian Sheep & Wool Show’s ‘day off to discover wool’ is a perfect antidote to the frenetic pace of life, according to Dot.
“We are all so ‘busy, busy’ these days. I believe the resurgence in women working with and also wearing wool is about seeking a little bit more luxury – the luxury of time to knit, or weave, or spin and the luxury of wearing a beautiful natural fibre,” Dot says.
“Working with wool has all the elements of what we may need right now – taking time to slow down a little and focus on something else than daily life, it can be very social, it can bridge generations and it’s highly creative,” Dot says.
Social is the word. Dot helps to organise Woolcraft’s biggest national competition, is part of the 370,000 strong online community for knitters, Ravelry, and regularly attends the affectionately named ‘Stitch & Bitch’ groups and Knitting in Public Days.
Content courtesy of the 2010 Women of Wool
The Women of Wool invite you to take the whole day off to view fine woollen designs, see Australia’s top Woolcraft competitors, buy beautiful woollen products and enjoy a very funny gourmet luncheon hosted by comedienne Rachel Berger and presented by Deborah Hutton.
Friday 20 July 2012
12:30pm – 2pm
Bendigo Exhibition Centre
Prince of Wales Showgrounds, 42-72 Holmes Road, Bendigo
Tickets are $77 and include entry to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show. Lunch includes a gourmet two course meal, top local wine, light refreshments and lucky door prizes. Please inform us of any dietary requirements at the time of booking your tickets.
Book tickets online or call 1800 813 153