Bothwell International Highland SpinIN and Fibre Festival 2019



I was privileged to be taken to and around Bothwell by Juliet Smith, President, BIHSIFF Committee, who explained and showed me just what the Bothwell SpinIN is, and is all about. She was such a fountain of knowledge and exuberance! 




Bothwell is a small, historic town nestled in the highlands of Tasmania on the river Clyde. It has more than 50 heritage-listed buildings, and in many parts, a lovely colonial character.



We met up with some of the local lads while driving around the streets of Bothwell ☺






Celebrating 40 years since it began, the SpinIN is held biennially (initially it was annually), with a SpinOUT in the alternate years. The SpinIN started in the garden of Barbara Fowler OAM with 15 people attending to demonstrate their skills and exhibit their work to the public. In 1989 the World Sheep and Wool Congress came to Bothwell, including the SpinIN as part of the Congress. Now the festival attracts people from all over the world to take part in the challenges and competitions, workshops, demonstrations and sense of community.

This year, the SpinIN will be held in the centre of town in Queen’s Park, Market Place, 1st and 2nd March, 10am to 4pm, with additional events either side of these dates. For example: After the SpinIN, a two-day Subtraction Cutting Master Class will be held with Julian Roberts. Subtraction Cutting was developed by Julian Roberts and is an experimental method of hollow construction to create men’s and women’s fashion garments, accessories, and other hollow products.



The SpinIN involves people from across the community, and this includes the students at Bothwell District High School. The school has 70 students ranging from Kinder to Year 10 and the students from Kinder to Year 6 have been decorating a total of 40 candles for the SpinIN birthday. Their decorations reflect what is important to them about Bothwell.


Shown here are the candles decorated by Years 1 to 3 students.


When I was in Bothwell, measuring for The Longest Thread Competition was under way. Entries had been received from across Australia and from Internationals. The aim is to spin and ply 10 grams of wool as fine and long as possible to be the winner. Only 10 grams is considered for the actual length. Would you believe that the current record holder, Julitha Barber, spun a length of 966.721 metres?

Here’s how they are measuring the thread lengths:



Entries will be on display in St Luke’s Uniting Church—which will also host a “show and tell” of hand-crafted items.

St Luke’s Uniting Church was opened in 1830, and was built by the colonial government for joint use by the Anglican and Presbyterian congregations.



Its interior is a delight to see – so make sure you go in for a look ☺


For the Fashion Design Competition, students, professional garment makers and home sewing talents will be competing across five sections. One section involves the Tasmanian Tartan, but it is not essential to use this tartan. I dropped in on TasTAFE in Launceston prior to reaching Bothwell and met three students participating in the tartan section—two of whom are using the Tasmanian Tartan. See previous blog post HERE. Rudolf Ramseyer, coordinator of the competition, said that the addition of the competition was looking to draw in a younger demographic, and show the progression from land to animal to fleece to garment.

In the same previous blog post, you can check out the vast array of different craft competitions that will be on display during the SpinIN  

Tartan plays a large part in the Bothwell community whose families have been there for many generations—in fact Barbara Fowler OAM arranged that many of the town’s street signs have a tartan background. They look really good! Have fun hunting out the different tartans ☺







The Tasmanian Tartan features on the front of the Central Highlands Visitor Centre.






As part of the SpinIN, there is also a fun and exciting Highland Challenge, a challenge of skill and speed which sees teams of four comb and spin fleece into yarn and then knit it up using a set pattern that they have not seen before. They are racing against the clock and receive penalties for lack of quality or faulty stitching.


I had the pleasure of visiting the shearing shed of Lovely Banks Farm to see shearing in action – including (above) a shearer in training (instructed by Jack Monks, a well-respected and acclaimed shearer and shearing instructor).


I had to put a picture in of Juliet ☺ – Here she is with Jack Monks and Raymond Edwards (a lovely man, with many a tale to tell, who co-ordinates a huge number of shearers).











I was quite blown away with all that is going on around the SpinIN, and the way it has united the community.

Need any more reasons to go and check out the SpinIN? How about checking out the church you can see in the photo at the beginning of this post?

St Michael’s and All Angels Anglican Church will be hosting the fashion parade. Information on the plaque near the entrance of the church informs us that it was consecrated in 1891, and is a gothic revival ‘small country cathedral’.


Its organ was built by Samuel Jocelyne in 1862 and is one of two surviving organs of this type in Australia. The church’s tower was added in 1923.


The inside of this church is absolutely stunning!



Can’t make it this year? Keep an eye out for the next SpinIN, or perhaps consider a SpinOUT – or even just go along and visit Bothwell at any time of the year! You will always be welcomed.


For more information about the SpinIN, click HERE.


Article by Lynda Worthington

(see also Embellish issue 37)

No Comments

Post A Comment