Episode 29 – Tarndie – Home of the Polwarth

Tarndie - Home of the Polwarth - Ep. 29 - Fruity Knitting Video Podcast

Tom Dennis from Tarndwarncoort in south eastern Australia is our interview guest on Episode 29 of the Fruity Knitting Podcast.  Tarndie is the homestead where the Polwarth breed of sheep was developed by Tom’s ancestors around 140 years ago.  Tom takes us through the history of the breed and the homestead, and tells us why Polwarth wool is now a favorite around the world.  

Sydney Crabaugh, from Brooklyn, New York, also known as Squidney Knits, is our guest on Knitters of the World.  From the Women’s Land Army to the Bluebell Bolero, Sydney will take you back to the fifties and leave you smiling.  

All that and more.  And Madeleine.

Tarndie - Home of the Polwarth - Ep. 29 - Fruity Knitting Video Podcast
Tarndie – Home of the Polwarth – Ep. 29 – Fruity Knitting Podcast

Tom Dennis – Tarndie – Home of the Polwarth

The first Dennis family, around 1840, Tarndwarncoort, Australia
The first Dennis family, around 1840, Tarndwarncoort, Australia

Tom Dennis is the sixth generation of the Dennis family to be farming on the Tarndwarncoort homestead in south-eastern Australia.  Tom’s ancestors settled in the area in the 1840s, bringing their farming expertise from England.  The homestead was originally stocked with Merino sheep, brought over from “Van Diemens Land” (now Tasmania).

Norman, Alexander, Noel and Bob Dennis
Norman, Alexander, Noel and Bob Dennis

Merinos are known for their fine, soft wool, but they are suited to a dry climate, and suffered from the wet weather in this part of Australia.  The damp conditions caused problems with the feet and the fleeces of the Merinos, originally from Spain.  The Dennis family crossed the Merino with the British Lincoln, gradually developing the Polwarth, with a great fleece but tolerant of the wet.  The Polwarth has continued to be the focus of the Tarndie homestead for nearly 140 years.

Shearing in the early days at Tarndwoorncoort
Shearing in the early days at Tarndwarncoort

Tarndie offers Polwarth in all stages of processing, including fresh fleeces, tops and yarns.  The fleeces come in a range of natural colors, from white through greys to dark blacks and browns.  The sheep are “coated”, so the wool is clean, with very little vegetable matter.

Skirting the fleece at Tarndie
Skirting the fleece at Tarndie

In addition to wool products, Tarndie offers events and accommodation for visitors. They run an open farm and encourage people to come and check out how their sheep are handled.  Tarndie is one of the oldest original homesteads in Australia is listed by the Australian National Trust.  Check out their websites for upcoming events, or plan your holiday stay.  Tarndie is around 140 km from Melbourne.

Finding Tarndie

Sydney Crabaugh – Squidney Knits – Knitters of the World

'Trimmed with Roses' Twinset Jumper by Susan Crawford
‘Trimmed with Roses’ Twinset Jumper by Susan Crawford

Black hair and smiling red lips make up the finishing touch on Sydney Crabaugh’s vintage look.  Sydney uses her knitting skills to fill out her vintage wardrobe, covering the 1930s to the 1950s.  Where possible she wears original garments from the period, but when she’s creating her own, then it’s from original vintage patterns.

P&B 2792 Women's Land Army Pullover
P&B 2792 Women’s Land Army Pullover

Finding Sydney

Madeleine – Lantic, by Sarah Hatton

Madeleine is getting through her Lantic sweater by Sarah Hatton, when she’s not studying.

Zoé Dress by Lillestoff

Andrea has completed her second Zoé dress from the Lillestoff design.

Zoé Kleid from Lillestoff
Zoé Kleid from Lillestoff

Check out the tutorial video, in German, here.

Very Easy Vogue – V8993

Vogue V8993 x 2
Vogue V8993 x 2

Drachenfels Shawl, by Melanie Berg

I have completed my Drachenfels shawl, a design by Melanie Berg.  It’s knitted in the recommended Rosy Green Wool, colors chosen by Andrea.  I’ll be sending it of to my mum for her 86th birthday and I’m sure she will love it.

Drachenfels shawl by Melanie Berg, with Rosy Green Wool
Drachenfels shawl by Melanie Berg, with Rosy Green Wool

Other news

James Rebanks – The Shepherd’s Life

Tom mentioned the book The Shepherd’s Life, by James Rebanks.  We’ve both read this book and agree that it is an extraordinary account of the life of a shepherd.

James Rebanks - The Shepherd's Life
James Rebanks – The Shepherd’s Life


We enjoy watching the Kammebornia Podcast, produced by Pia and Dennis Kammeborn, in Gotland, Sweden.  Even reading subtitles, this podcast is a pleasure to watch.  Pia presents her designs and other projects, there’s good chatter and stunning scenery.  Check it out.

You might also like…

needle & spindle blog

Whilst releasing this Episode I did some googling around fleece and spinning and stumbled across the blog needle & spindle, written by Rebecca, in our old hometown Melbourne.

The "Final Project Spencer", spun and knitted by Rebecca of Needle & Spindle
The “Final Project Spencer”, spun (from Tarndie Polwarth) and knitted by Rebecca of Needle & Spindle

Rebecca focuses on spinning, but her writings cover a broad range of topics – you can meet her old car, and her new bicycle (complete with sewing machine rack), read about lost sheep, farming inventions and the environmental impact of clothing.  It’s beautiful writing and fascinating material, so drop by.

Other Episodes

Lace Garment or Hap KAL

Thank you very much for the interest in the Lace KAL.  Put your pictures up on Instagram with the hashtag #FruityLaceKAL.

Vicky, who runs Redgum Soaps in Australia and who we have met on Knitters of the World, has generously donated a prize consisting a project bag and some handmade soapy products.  Thank you Vicky!

From Redgum Soaps for the Fruity Lace Garment or Hap KAL
From Redgum Soaps for the Fruity Lace Garment or Hap KAL

Fruity You and Me KAL

Join the Fruity You and Me KAL, hashtag #FruityYouAndMeKAL.  One garment for you, and one for someone you love, with some connection.

Find all our guests!

You can find all of our guests – Interviews and Knitters of the World, under:

The links take you straight to the guest in each Episode.

Music Credits

6 thoughts on “Episode 29 – Tarndie – Home of the Polwarth”

  1. Elizabeth Rutledge

    Hi Andrea and Andrew- just finished watching this- so fascinating and full of interest and inspiration! The story of Tarndie was most captivating- I know where I’ll be heading when I’m next over in Melbourne ? You are doing such a magic job of bringing us stories from around the world from people who share our very same interests- just love it !

  2. Cheryll Crocker

    Hi Andrea, Andrew and Madeleine, only just found you and spent 3 weeks catching up from the first podcast,i cant say in words how fascinating i find it, i am a newbie to podcasts and i cannot fault your episodes at all i love every part and everything about it, i happily became a patron and wish you success, looking forward to the next episode, just wish my late mum could of seen all the programmes she would absolutely love it too

  3. This weeks interview was just far too long for me. I switched off. I find the stuff with yourselves much more interesting and engaging to watch. I like the world knitter’s bit usually but not a huge fan of some of the interviews although some have been OK. Wish your part of the podcast were longer.

    1. Hi Ellie. Thanks for your honest feedback. I’m sure you’ll understand that we can’t please everyone all the time, and we have to make our decisions. We loved hearing about Tarndie, but we do have a personal connection, even if it’s not that close. Hope you keep watching for the bits you enjoy! A + A.

  4. Pingback: Fibre of Memory – needle & spindle

  5. Andrew, you have inspired me to start my Drachenfels shawl once I get a few other projects out of the way. I have had the pattern and yarn for two years!

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