Kylie Gusset, a yarn entrepreneur based in Victoria with focus on locally produced and hand dyed yarns works with Tasmanian wool producers, started a project called Ton of Wool. Under this project, wool from the Cormo sheep breed is used and Kylie works with the Downie family, the Tasmanian Central Highlands sheep farmers who were the first to breed Cormo's around 1960.
The Ton of Wool project emerged from a successful crowd funding campaign in 2011, aimed at a niche, more discerning local textile market, and itâ€™s based around manufacturing wool as locally as possible, where Kylie raised about $40,000. As someone who was working with and studying textiles Kylie said that it was hard to get locally processed wool.
The project started as Kylie wanted to source wool that had been processed locally but around 80% of Australiaâ€™s wool is processed in China. Another driving factor was the environmental impact of shipping local wool to have it processed so far away.
All of the wool comes from Cormo sheep, a cross between the Corriedale and the Merino, and there are a number of advantages the breed has to offer. Cormo has a lustre and a strength, a softness and a fineness that is quite difficult to achieve.
Itâ€™s a multipurpose animal in that it can be used for both wool and meat. But while the project is based on the premise of producing and processing a product locally, recently Kylie has had to send wool to New Zealand for processing. Although she will continue trying to have it processed in Australia.
Australia is getting the bulk of their wool processed in China, so if thatâ€™s happening, and thatâ€™s happening at extremely large quantities, when youâ€™re looking at niche markets, thereâ€™s really nowhere for them to go.
With the rise in popularity of local, handcrafted products, Kylie sees plenty of opportunities for other people looking for a way to market and fund new products through crowd funding.
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