It’s not often you can walk into a store and talk with someone who knows the animal that grew the wool for your jumper, but Robyn Betts has a special passion for fleece.

Story Dankea Hill   Photos Neil Newitt

Our wardrobes are full of globetrotters. Often, by the time it’s bought, a shirt’s fabric has visited more countries than the person wearing it. 

Robyn Betts, from the small town of Violet Town, Vic, is in the business of going to the other extreme. She has been selling her hyper-local knitwear at farmers’ markets for years and says people are always shocked to hear what she is doing – and that it is even possible.

“They’re surprised we have the capacity to grow and create our own knitwear here in Victoria,” Robyn says. This surprise is particularly common when she attends markets in Melbourne, where knowledge about the wool-making process is thin on the ground.

Robyn’s dedication to local processing means her fashion label – Grace Knitwear – is the only commercial knitwear producer in Australia that can brag about being 100% grown and made in Victoria. 

But it hasn’t been an easy journey to go from alpaca hobbyist to fashion designer. “I’ve been working away at this like a dog with a bone,” Robyn says. “I’m known for being quite stubborn.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #147

Outback Magazine: February/March 2023