Saturday, July 23, 2011

A sheepish aside

A handsome Cormo

There hasn't been loads on here recently about my spinning and knitting, but believe me I am. I'm nearly done with a handspun cardigan, and just finished a handspun cabled beret last night. But I think this is worthy of a public announcement.

In 1959 an Australian farmer looked at his prizewinning merino flock and decided the sheep weren't productive enough - that is, they weren't making enough lambies on the dodgy Australian pastures. So he crossed in some Corriedale lines - all the while selecting for the best possible fleece - and developed the Cormo breed. The fleece is as soft as merino, but stronger, and the sheep are more pest resistant, produce more young, and are better parents.

In the late 20th century more and more wool processing facilities closed down in Australia. We even lost the small-scale, innovative research facility, the CSIRO scour, a few years ago.

But the Cormo is still a rare breed. A Melbourne woman, Kylie Gusset, is crowdsourcing the raise funds to process the smallest batch of Cormo that one of our few remaining scours will alow - a ton. It's operating like a co-op, so you can buy in to receive yarn or handspinning fibre from a super-high quality flock of Cormo sheep that are sustainably farmed in Tassie. Doesn't matter if you're Australian or international (I don't think). Go donate at Ton of Wool, and you can follow her efforts on the ravelry thread here.

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