From Farming to Artistry: Tasmanian Couple Turns Cormo Sheep Wool into Treasured Family Keepsakes

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This Tasmanian couple has found a unique way to turn their farming life into an artistry one – by turning the wool from their Cormo sheep into beloved family heirlooms!

What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a gift? Is spending $16,000 too much?

Mandy and Carl Cooper, who used to work as pharmacists but are now semi-retired, manage a small farm located in Rowella, situated in the Tamar Valley. Farming has become their primary occupation.

Mandy believes that amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous ingenious concepts emerged, and their undertaking to create keepsakes was among them. The fleece they employ originates from a group of Cormo sheep they raise on their land, along with cattle.

Cormo sheep, a breed developed in Tasmania’s Central Highlands, a crossbreed between superfine Saxon merino and Corriedale sheep.

The Coopers retained two bales of wool from the market and transported it across the Bass Strait to Victoria for cleaning, combing, and straightening.

After this process, they were left with 250 kilograms of soft fibre strands called tops.

Next, the couple approached the Waverley Woollen Mills in Launceston, which happens to be Australia’s sole fully operational mill and will celebrate its 150th anniversary the following year. They wanted the fibre transformed into blankets.

Dave Giles-Kaye, the CEO of Waverley, expressed that this was a unique project. “Throughout the process, we acquired valuable knowledge,” he said. “We took their fibre and spun it into exquisite boucle yarn. Then, we dyed it, wove it, finished it, and ultimately crafted these stunning blankets.”

Giles-Kaye further explained that they aimed to reconnect with local woolgrowers as part of their multimillion-dollar revitalisation plan. “Tasmanian wool has been transformed into traceable textiles before,” he acknowledged. “However, it had to be sent overseas for spinning or weaving. This presents a unique opportunity for us to collaborate with farmers in Tassie.”

Although processing wool in Australia can be costly, the Coopers were willing to overlook the expense to launch the project. “At the time, our wool was valued at $9.60 per kilogram,” Ms Cooper disclosed. “The entire processing procedure cost us nearly $16,000. So, for us, it amounted to $64 per kilo.”
However, their motivation for embarking on this venture was not financial gain. “We did it to provide our children, grandchildren, and loved ones with something originating from these Cormo sheep, distinctly Tasmanian and uniquely Australian,” she stated.

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