The strongly resurgent woolcraft sector and its major national competitions will form a central part of Australia’s largest fibre market at the show.
With more than 300 exhibitors in 60 classes and the winners’ work displayed, this popular part of the event also showcases the production of a wide range of wool and fibre products – from yarns to woolen garments and wearable art.
The woolcraft sector has become an important crucible for the emergence of innovative design talent, often beginning as on-farm value-adding.
Competitors for the main design competition this year have been asked to celebrate the work of iconic Australian children’s author, May Gibbs.
Gibbs is noted for her celebrated Aussie characters, including the Gumnut Babies, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Bib and Bub, the Boronia Babies, the Wattle Babies and Banksia Man.
Winners will be decided on Thursday, July 14, and first displayed at the public fashion parade at 11am on Friday, July 15, and the same time on each of the show days.
Competitors cover the gamut of crafting techniques from hand knitting to crochet and felting using bespoke and commercial yarns.
The winning designs will also be paraded at the Women of Wool lunch on Friday, July 15, where their composition and the techniques required to make them will be explained.
Visitors are also being asked to become hands-on and contribute to a major, large-scale textile art project that is designed to build community relationships, while highlighting the need to create a sustainable natural environment and address climate change.
The WARM project has been running since March and will culminate in September when hundreds of knitted elements will be brought together into an installation piece and exhibited at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery.
A nationwide call for knitters to produce the pattern pieces will continue in the woolcraft section of the show - including the need for gum leaves, trees, native flowers, wind turbines and knitted squares.
There will also be beginners’ knitting classes run each day of the show.
Around 300 retail stallholders will form Australia’s largest wool and fibre shopping marketplace and range from fashion items to wearable art and yarn. The undercover shopping precinct celebrates the production end of wool and fibre, with everything from the finest Merino wool garments to alpaca and cashmere.
Visitors to Bendigo will be greeted by one of the city’s antique trams as it takes to the rails in what can be described as its “winter clothes”.
Local knitting groups have “yarn bombed” the tram, which takes tourists on a trip around the city.