Adele Davies photoAdele Davies ~ July 2013

Adele and David bought land in Everton Upper and after a few years moved there permanently. Adele had spoken to Ethel Stephenson about her coloured sheep. Ethel bred English Leicesters and so that is where Adele began her own flock and this breed remained her favourite. The network of coloured sheep breeders followed with interest as she and David embarked on the construction of the massive pole house on the original Brown Brothers’ Everton Hills Estate site.

At this time Adele was studying viticulture at Charles Sturt University in Wagga – grappling with the chemistry but finally winning through. There followed a number of memorable vintages. The wine making and storage was on the lower level of the two-storey house. We had a nice mix of wine and wool the day we wound off our new wool tops amongst the wine-making equipment with the odd pause for tasting. The vines were across the road from the hill where they had built. Vines formed an avenue up to the original house and this is where she and David later lived. Adele had a great interest in pursuing different techniques of dyeing and there was a great day when we dyed all sorts of colours over our initial grey yarn and the skeins were hung out to dry in front of the house.

There were goats on the rough terraced hills where the original vines had been and also a super duper hen house with a variety of breeds including bantams from Gay Prichard. In fact Adele was always experimenting with new breeds, new techniques, new approaches to farming (through the soil carbon project) and generally used her very active mind whenever the opportunity arose.

On the working front Adele had extensive experience in the fields of psychology and social work and put these skills to great use, influencing the direction of many people who had lost their way. She trained groups in management skills in Australia and also in Singapore and Malaysia. More recently she conducted courses through The Centre in Wangaratta. She was particularly interested in the training of apprentices for the wine industry and at various times each year would travel to vineyards throughout the region to meet with the apprentices and their employers. Adele had a passion for supporting women in all avenues of life. She worked to improve women’s health. She had formed strong networks in many avenues of community life.

Returning to her interest in textiles, Adele loved tackling new projects and learning new skills and so she progressed through spinning, weaving and knitting to wet felting, needle felting and Tunisian crochet which became her forte. Passionate about promoting women’s groups, she took over as chairperson of the Stitched Up Textile Festival when that looked like folding up and she set it on a strong grounding to ensure its continuation. For North East Yarns she was a driving force. She found funding available and together we put forward a successful submission that resulted in us having our very professional logo and our first 3-fold promotional flyers. Then there was a presentation to the funding body at a dinner at Milawa.

More recently Adele was not going to miss the presentation to the Victorian Feltmakers in Hartwell and spoke eloquently and passionately about our group.

Apart from remembering her unending wisdom and good company we all remember the rainbow of colours she dyed her English Leicester fleeces to liven up our market stalls and her often whacky creations which all eventually sold even though we less creative souls wondered at times if anyone would dare wear them.

 

Marj LarkinMarj Larkin

 

Marj was a very valued member of North East Yarns. Marj joined this group when she retired from dairy farming. In the following years she was in the crafting phase of her life and enthusiastically took up a whole range of woolcraft activities.

Marj was fun and she loved meeting up with her crafting friends. Whenever she arrived at a gathering her face would light up and she would have another priceless story to share. Felting became a passion and a successful one at that. Marj quickly learned the various techniques and turned her new skills into items for sale through our craft markets and the 10 to 4 Gallery in Glenrowan.

She will be particularly remembered for her needle felted footy bears. Marj was particularly proud of the 3 dimensional needle felted possum she created at a felting workshop. She was always ready to volunteer as a demonstrator at our annual Wool Day and markets where she would enjoy passing on her enthusiasm for textile crafts to members of the public and also to children. In between all of the above she continued her knitting, weaving and crochet projects and made sure every day was productive.

We who were privileged to know Marj as a friend will miss her dearly but her spirit and her craft work will always be remembered in our hearts. 22 January 2016

 

 

 

Gay Prichard photoGay Prichard

 

Gay Prichard was well-known in North-East Victoria as a breeder and exhibitor of coloured sheep. Gay ran a flock of coloured sheep on her property in the Tallangatta Valley. She was an avid spinner and knitter, producing a range of garments in natural colours. She and her husband Tom lived on the property “Grassmere” 22km down the Tallangatta Valley.

Over all the years she bred coloured sheep Gay was never one to miss out on a market, social gathering or agricultural show and travelled great distances to enjoy the company of her fellow breeders and craftspeople. Gay bred a wonderful line of silver grey Corriedale sheep. They produced long generous 

fleeces and had calm temperaments. It was a sight to see the Prichard trailer arrive at an agricultural show and the show sheep all calmly unloading themselves and being guided into pens. At the end of the day these same sheep would wait for the gates of the pens to be opened and then they would load themselves, jumping into the trailer without halters.

There were many prize winners in the sheep section but Gay had equal interest in the poultry pavilion where she would also accumulate many prizes with the entries she brought along with the sheep. Tom had built a double row of boxes which sat in front of the sheep trailer to house the poultry. Her special love was soft-feather bantams and her pride was “Champion of Show” at Royal Melbourne Agricultural Show.

Gay was a wonderfully skilled country woman. She had grown up riding with hunts in the Yarra Valley and was a highly respected horse-woman. She was active in local community activities and a hard worker for the Tallangatta Valley School and the Country Women’s Association. Her baking was another skill which won her many show prizes. She made the best sponges – high, light and flavoursome. It must have been those lovely eggs she produced on the lush pastures in that high rainfall area of Victoria.

 

 

 

Joyce Stewart photoJoyce Stewart (1913 – 2012)

 

Joyce Stewart passed away at the age of 98, happily spinning the day before her death and having enjoyed sharing the joy of the 2012 “Wilanjie” lambing season which included a set of triplets.

Joyce Stewart began a 38 year involvement in the breeding of coloured sheep after her daughter Marion gave her a spinning wheel in 1974. She was given two coloured sheep but soon realised that the fleeces from these sheep were not easy to spin. From that time she committed her efforts to breeding a style of sheep that would produce a free-opening, long-stapled fleece which would make spinning easy for herself and also for other spinners.

Joyce was present at the meeting, chaired by the then State President Ethel Stephenson, to form a branch of the Black & Coloured Sheep Breeders Association of Australia (Vic) in the North East and subsequently held the position of secretary for several years.

In those early years Joyce was the instigator of on-farm field days where she and other breeders could share their knowledge. This included inviting speakers such as Ted Scarlet to address members and give pointers on breeding and nutrition to improve the quality of sheep. There was also a day with the local vet on how to control worms with drenches, to vaccinate, to assess teeth, trim feet and administer antibiotics.

Joyce was always seeking to extend her knowledge and read many books on sheep breeding and management. She fondly remembered the Association bus trip to merino studs in the Riverina. Others will remember her cornering the stud masters and picking their brains for tips on breeding and showing. Joyce was an experienced farmer and knew the harsh conditions which were often experienced north of the Great Dividing Range. Each year she selected the sheep to remain in the flock and ruthlessly cull those not suitable.

She had settled on Corriedale sheep as the basis for the flock. They had stamina for drought conditions and produced long, clean fleeces for hand spinning. Very soon her fellow spinners started asking for coloured fleeces and so Joyce began selling spinning wool. Showing sheep began at Wangaratta Show in the 1980’s and then spread to other district shows: Yarrawonga, Rutherglen, Wodonga, Tallangatta. Joyce was always interested in the comments of the judges and frequently called them back to ask advice on breeding and nutrition.

As the quality of the “Wilanjie” sheep improved sheep were entered at the Royal Melbourne Show and also the ASBA Sheep Show in the years that show was held at The Royal Showgrounds in Melbourne. It was at the AGM of the Black & Coloured Sheep Breeders Association of Victoria that Joyce would enjoy social contact with other members and this became an annual tradition. After a difficult run of drought years and disappointing fleeces Joyce decided to coat the sheep to produce clean fleeces free of grass seeds and without sun bleached tips.

For about 12 years the entire flock was coated with customised covers. Because of the huge difference in the size of the Corriedale sheep from shearing to full fleece, the coats were adjusted with front gussets and larger leg straps. Two tucks were stitched along the back and also into the front gusset and these were opened as the fleece grew. At shearing time these coats were washed and the tucks re-stitched. The domestic sewing machine did a massive amount of work on the kitchen table over these years.

The purpose of the flock was always aimed at handcraft workers. Producing quality spinning wool was always the aim of the breeding program. Joyce’s interest was in individual fleeces and the flock developed a delightful mix of colours to satisfy the wishes of spinners. Joyce continued her membership of the Wangaratta Handweavers & Spinners from the time she started spinning in 1974 until the time of her death. As with the members of the BCSBAA, Joyce found great happiness with the friendships she formed through spinning.

Joyce had grown up on a large property in Gippsland where she developed her empathy with animals. Throughout her life her closest friends were those who had connections with the land and like them she was always open, sharing and supportive.