Great Southern Yarn is the realisation of a dream that Jennifer Smart, and her husband, Andrew Wilshire shared; to create a luxury yarn range that is ethically produced, sustainable and 100% Australian.

Producing a quality yarn was not enough, we wanted to know where the fleece came from and how well the animals were treated.

Since our initial production runs of ‘The Blend’, a 50:50 mix of SRS Merino and Huacaya/Suri alpaca, we have introduced ‘Elizabeth Macarthur’, a 100% SRS Merino yarn, named after the founder of the Australian wool industry.  We also now have the ‘Jindabyne Series’ with three natural Snowy Mountain greys and by popular request, tweeds.

Our hand-dyed colour range has been inspired and named after Australian female artists and their paintings and come in 25 solid and 13 variegated colours.

But, it all starts with the fleece and a big thank you to:

Nadine and Andrew Hulme of Adagio Mills

Trish Esson of Cashmere Connections

Kathrina Bognar of Wangaratta Woollen Mills

Great Southern Yarn is hand dyed. Our first range was created with the help of Gina Ermer, a Newcastle based fashion designer and Anna Humphries. Gina has an impressive resume as a colourist, teacher and textile designer and is well known locally for being the creative force behind her shop Fringe Dweller by Design. Anna is passionate about fibre and was experienced in hand dyeing her own handspun yarns and roving and was invaluable in bringing the palette to life. Anna
also had her crochet business, @florrieandme.

As our production grew, extra hands were needed and we recruited Rachael Laves, also dyeing under her own label, Drover and Classer to assist in the dyeing. Our first range of variegated colours was produced in tandem with Anna.

Our latest range, The Snowy Mountain Series, has been created with Catherine Lee, the first to be dyed at our new dyeing studio in Newcastle. Catherine is one fortunate woman, wonderful in textiles, a great knitter, dyer and teacher.

Jennifer_Smart of GSY

Jennifer Smart – Founder of Great Southern Yarn


We have single origin sourced our fleece from three producers, each selected for their ethical and sustainable approach to animal welfare and the quality and handle of their fleece.

Mount Bodangora MERINO

Our merino wool comes from Mount Bodangora Merino , a six-generation Merino property run by the Lyons family, near Dubbo, NSW.

The Lyons have 9,000 Soft Rolling Skin (SRS) Merino sheep that produce a wonderful fleece that is ideal for yarn.

The SRS Merino is fast growing with a high crimp that binds particularly well in the milling process and is renowned for its low itch feel. The SRS Merino sheep are smooth bodied, naturally resistant to fly strike and never need to be mulesed.

The Lyons run a mob of 290 sheep especially for Great Southern Yarn to supply us with a longer length fleece of around 100mm or four inches to create the best of yarns.

The wool at Mount Bodangora is grown under the ‘SustainaWOOL’ integrity scheme. This is an accreditation program run by Italian woollen mills to promote “sustainable production of superfine wool with emphasis on wool produced under natural pastoral / grazing conditions and with the highest regard to the Environment and the Animal.”


Mossvale Alpacas

Our alpaca comes from Australia’s greenest state – Tasmania. The cold climate and rich pasture produces a lustrous, clean and well-nourished fleece. Mark and Helen Jessop, of Mossvale Alpacas, run a herd of 300 alpacas and work with a collection of boutique alpaca farmers from the region to select fleeces for their softness, fibre length and suitability for yarn.

The Jessops have raised alpacas for over 20 years and have a special connection with their animals and their fleece.


Banjo Ridge Suri Alpaca Farm

Bronwen and Michael Redgate of Banjo Ridge Suri Alpaca Farm run a herd of 100 Suri alpaca’s at Dungog, NSW. Their animals are lovingly cared for and their fleece prized for its luxurious handle.

Their free-roaming alpacas have a low environmental footprint as their padded foot means they are gentle on the pasture and their compaction of the soil is significantly reduced.

Each fleece is carefully selected for Great Southern Yarn


Jennifer's Inspiration

I’ve always thought the job of creating paint ranges would be fun, although after your 23rd shade of white, maybe not. But I looked forward to naming the colours and decided very early on (even before I’d received the first skeins from Adagio Mills), that I wanted a theme which would hold the range together.

Initially, I had thought of theming the colours and ranges based on Australia Fauna and Flora as an obvious extension to the idea of an Australian Yarn. But I quickly decided that this was already a well-trodden path. Once that decision was made, the idea of naming the colours after Australian Female artists was not so much a lightbulb moment, but a conscious desire to acknowledge the extraordinary work produced by Australian women artists.

The visual arts is a very broad category, so I have decided to limit my choice to painters. I could have chosen photographers, ceramicist, sculptors, film-makers and textile artists.

The hardest choices involved those I couldn’t include, but there will be other colours and more artists.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this process and my appreciation of the work produced by this group of women has been greatly enhanced. Matching the artists to the gorgeous colour range did take some time, as I wanted the colour to be a true representation of the colour palette of the artist. Of course, many artists spread their brushes broadly across their palette and a number of shades could have been chosen for some, even within individual artworks.

There are no Indigenous Women included as I did not want to offend the cultural practice of not naming those who have died, but I would encourage you to check out some of our remarkable Indigenous Women Painters, some who came to painting in their 80’s. National Gallery of Australia

Here are some of the artists and their paintings that have inspired the Great Southern Yarn.


Davida Allen (1961 – ) Islands On A Clear Day, 2000. Oil on board

Del Kathryn Barton (1972 – ) Come of things, 2010. Synthetic polymer paint, gouache, watercolour & pen on canvas

Clarice Beckett (1887 – 1935) Taxi Rank, 1931. Oil on canvas

Jean Bellette (1908 – 1991) Still Life with Wooden Bowl, circa 1954.

Stella Bowen (1893 – 1947) Self Portrait, 1931. Oil on Board

Judy Cassab (1920 – 2015) Portrait of Judy Barraclough, 1955. Oil on hardboard

Yvette Coppersmith (1980 – ) Self portrait in the style of George Lambert, 2018. Oil and acrylic on linen

Grace Cossington Smith (1892 – 1984) The Sock Knitter, 1915. Oil on canvas

Grace Crowley (1890 – 1979) Abstract painting circa, 1950. Oil on cardboard

Elisabeth Cummings (1924 – ) Arkoola Landscapes, 2004. Oil on Canvas

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917 – 1999) Cat Tracks, 1989. Sawn and split soft drink crates on plywood

Cherry Hood (1959 – ) White Horses, 2005/6. Oil on Canvas

Nora Heysen (1911 – 2003) Mme Elink Schuurman, 1938. Oil on Canvas

Joy Hester (1920 – 1960) Lovers, 1957. Gouache, brush and ink

Mehwish Iqbal (currently living & working in Western Sydney) Carcass, 2016. Silkscreen, Collagraph, Etching, Embroidery

Mirka Mora (1928 – 2018) St. Kilda Angel, 1988. Digital Giclee on archival paper

Margaret Olley (1923 – 2011) Still Life with Leaves, circa 1960

Margaret Preston (1875 – 1963) Waratahs, 1925. Woodcut, hand coloured

Thea Proctor (1879 – 1966) The Rose, 1927. Woodcut, hand coloured

Hilda Rix Nicholas (1884 – 1961) The Bathers, 1921. Oil on Canvas

Ellis Rowan, (1848 – 1922) Flannel Flowers ,1879. Watercolour

Wendy Sharpe (1960 – ) Sydney Studio with Venice, 2011

Paintings that inspired our new variegated range

Grace Cossington Smith – Rainclouds at Dawn | The Reader | Stormy Sea Wave | Bridge in Curve

Hilda Rix Nicholas – View from a Garden, Mosman | Autumn Magic | The Artist’s Studio

Margaret Preston – Anemones | Implement Blue | The Brown Pot | Western Australian Gum Blossoms

Margaret Olley – Still Life with Kettle