Quality merino wool jumpers, coats, skirts, blankets

I wrote this blog post listing Australian wool clothing makers who are online because surprising numbers of people end up on my website after searching for Australian Merino wool-related subjects. Many are looking for woollen garments or information. So here’s a useful shortlist of some of the better-known retailers and manufacturers, so you can do the right thing and wear environmentally sustainable fibres this winter (rather than wearing synthetics, polluting the planet and wasting energy on heating):

Specialist wool garment retailers:

  • The Big Merino, Goulburn (NSW) – a range of brands by some of the best-known wool garment manufacturers. And, of course, information on the Australian wool industry.
  • The Uralla Wool Room, Uralla (Northern NSW) – just about every brand of woollen clothing under the sun – a one-stop shop for the lot.

Some Australian manufacturers of wool garments:

  • Bluey Merino Wool Clothing  (Burradoo, NSW) – a great range of very practical wool activewear & outdoor wear (great for hiking & vigorous exercise activites)
  • Casaveen, Oatlands (Tasmania) – Sadly now closed. They made beautifully stylish knitwear – including jumpers, cardigans and wool skirts. Unique feature? Customisable designs – made to order. *Buy clothing with these fantastic Australian businesses, so they’re profitable enough to continue!*
  • Creswick, near Ballarat (Victoria) – Created by a Polish immigrant in 1947, Creswick is still going strong – now the only coloured woollen spinning mill left in Australia. Specialising in wool & alpaca fibres, along with bamboo, in recent years. Great quality quality range of apparel in addition to home furnishings such as pillows, quilts and blankets – including billabong rugs; genuine wool picnic blankets backed with good quality rubber.
  • Hedrena Textiles, Geelong West (Victoria) – a very specific range of superfine wool ‘activewear’ items that are all classic in design, practical colours and machine washable. Also great travel gear! Special super-fine, machine-washable wool fibre developed in conjunction with the CSIRO. Now sold through Merino&Co.
  • Jolly Jumbuk (Jumbuk Wools), Bairnsdale (Vic) – I would love to be able to justify buying one of their beautifully knitted traditional-style Arran wool jumpers, but alas even on the coldest Townsville night, a wool jumper of this weight is not wearable in the tropics – way too hot for far northern Australia. But if you live in a temperate or cold climate, you’d be crazy not to invest in one of these works of art. You can even get one especially hand-knitted for you, if you have a longer or shorter back or arms than average or you’re simply fussy about the fit. Jumbuk Wools even have an explanatory diagram on the website to help you measure your carcase accurately. No excuses! What you’ll save in artificial house heating will pay for the jumpers in no time.  I love this style of jumper and have owned them when living in colder climates.
  • Lady Kate, (Narrabri, NSW)  – beautiful jumpers; particularly stylish.
  • Little Frock of Sheep, (Mornington Peninsula, Victoria) – limited run, uniquely patterned wool jacquard garments. And absolutely splendidly patterned 100% wool baby blankets!
  • Merino Country, Southeast Queensland based manufacturer of very durable and lightweight woollen underwear. Brilliant for travelling and suited to cold or hot climates, as it’s so lightweight, doesn’t soil easily and doesn’t require ironing. Merino Country was created in 1993 by Kerrie Richards, who grew up on a family sheep property in Northwest Queensland.
  • Merino Gold, (Victoria) – classic mens and womens finewool jumpers etc – also contract manufacturing.
  • Smitten Merino (Tasmania) – large & very stylish range of fabulous wool clothing.  Especially notable – the large number of great wool dresses!
  • Snowdrop – beautiful Merino wool jumpers for children, produced by someone who grew up on a sheep property in Victoria’s western district and spent years working in the Australian wool industry.
  • Tarcutta Textiles, Tarcutta (Southern NSW) – made to measure woollen clothing, plus everyday wool jumpers for adults & children.
  • Toorallie Merino Wool Knitwear (Victoria) – began in Bombala (southern NSW highlands) in 1991. Toorallie has a very interesting merino-related history, well worth reading. A great range of 100% wool jumpers but Toorallie’s special feature is denim wool (made into jeans etc).
  • Woolerina, Forbes (central NSW) – fabulous fine wool, lightweight singlets, T-shirts and longjohns that can be worn ‘under or over’.

Of course there are overseas companies providing Merino wool clothing also, including many in New Zealand.  But why buy from overseas when you can buy great quality Australian wool garments – supporting Australian farmers and other businesses?

Genuine sheepskin ugg boots:

PLEASE don’t buy those synthetic hideousities that pretend to be made of sheepskin, they will make your feet stink to high heaven – and of course don’t buy the overseas imitators, buy genuine Australian ugg boots.  There are so many pretenders, you must check carefully that they’re a) genuinely Australian and b) genuine sheepskin.  For information on a classic David & Goliath story, read this blog post on how Australian ugg boot manufacturers narrowly avoided being unable to use the term ‘ugg boot’, because an American company was claiming to own the term ‘ugg’.

Australian wool blankets:

Waverley Woollen Mills, Launceston (Tasmania) is Australia’s oldest woollen mill. Waverley makes wonderfully soft blankets and throws in beautiful colours and designs.  Good quality wool blankets aren’t as cheap as those made from petrochemical products but they’re great value as they will last longer than the person who buys them – as well as doing a much better job, over that lifetime!  Wool has natural fire retardent properties so if you live in a bushfire prone area, including a couple in your car boot is a smart idea.

Wool yarn for knitting:

Thankfully there are still a handful of wool knitting yarn producers of varying sizes, such as:

There are also manufacturers that produce garments and knitwear made out of merino wool blended with other natural fibres, such as possum (in NZ they are unfortunately a declared pest, as they are not native, so turning them into clothing is a practical solution) and alpaca (beautiful fibre but it can be prickly, so it’s not for undergarments).

Information on merino sheep, for children:

The Aus/NZ Shearing World has a page of great information on Merino sheep, shearing etc for children.

Caring for wool clothing:

Unfortunately some people were put off wool a long time ago because they bought a cheaply made wool jumper and gave it a rough time in the rough-as-guts top-loading washing machine (maybe even a turn in hot water and with harsh detergent, just to really kill it), and then blamed the product when it shrank, turned into a strange shape, transformed into a doormat and/or got little pills of wool all over it. Many finewool products are now machine washable but in any case modern front loading machines are fabulous at washing efficiently without beating clothes to death, so they’re kinder on everything. And you get what you pay for. Buy good quality woollen garments and follow the washing instructions on the label – it’s simple – and there will be no nasty laundry disasters and your clothing will last for years.  I wash all the wool garments I own in my frontloading washing machine – using woolwash and the wool (gentle) cycle – and never have any problems.  Wool garments and washing machines are much improved!

Why wear wool, rather than other fibres?

  • Wool is a completely sustainably produced fibre. Sheep poke around the paddock turning grass, water and sunlight into a fibre which is shorn annually, as it regrows. Less energy is used creating woollen cloth rather than synthetic, and most Australian livestock are run in areas unsuited to any other type of food or fibre production.
  • Wool is compostable rather than polluting – worn out wool garments and items such as pure wool carpets can simply be turned out onto garden beds as useful mulch; reducing evaporation and releasing nitrogen into the soil as they biodegrade.  All garments start to break down slowly when they are washed, and tiny fibres end up in the water.  Wool fibres are non-polluting, unlike fibres from garments made from synthetic materials.  Many people worry a lot about eating natural food – it’s smart to also think carefully about wearing natural fibres as much as possible, rather than those made from petrochemicals.
  • Wool has a long list of fantastic natural properties.  It is very resistant to fire, insulating yet breathable plus good at wicking (drawing moisture away), absorbing excess moisture and resists dirt and grease (so it stays cleaner for longer).  Wool is also exceedingly durable and has natural spring/elasticity (resistent to creasing – ironing is usually unnecessary).

You simply can’t beat a good quality wool garment for timeless style and environmental friendliness. You really can mulch the garden with it when you wear it out!

PS: this post was first published in February 2010 but has since been updated (most recently, March 2019).

Because people are still ending up at my website after searching for Australian woollen clothing. (Curiously, many spell ‘Merino’ as ‘Marino’, but they still manage to find the site.)

Some of the original businesses I originally listed, such as Armidale’s Frasers of Arran, have sadly closed.  Morrisons of Euroa (Victoria) appeared to have closed as well. They made great denimwool jeans and skirts. Denimwool is a fabric created from 13% wool & 85-87% cotton (2% elastane for stretch denimwool fabric) and was developed by clothing manufacturer Bradmill (Melbourne, Victoria). Other clothing retailers also sell jeans and skirts made from denimwool. I have skirts made of denimwool, and they are excellent – highly recommended.

Care about the planet? Wear wool.

Note – if you know of any good quality additions to the above lists, please let me know.

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