AS a little girl, Ali Wanchap fell in love with wool - more specifically, woollen jumpers.
Her grandmother Barbara was well-known for her hand-dyed, hand-knitted creations made from wool produced at the family's Tenterfield property.
She joined forces with her sister-in-law Shirley and formed the label Shirbaa.
"They'd cook for the shearers then choose the wool they needed, soak it, dye it and spin it," remembers Wanchap, a Newcastle PR consultant.
"They'd knit jumpers and cardigans and in the 1980s they were selling for $400. Nanny had quite a successful little business."
The grandchildren would often step in as models at the numerous fashion parades Barbara and Shirley would host at country shows.
"We always had an appreciation for wool," says Wanchap. "It's part of my heritage, an Australian tradition, and I've always valued that."
Now, after five years of planning and research, Wanchap, 28, has followed in her grandmother's footsteps and created an online label called Jude, which features super-fine merino knits for women and children (the label is a family name, as are some of the products, which are also named after family properties and even horses).
The wool is produced in Australia, then milled and dyed in Italy. Wanchap then buys back the machine-knitted fabric and the jumpers, scarves and baby blankets are made here.
"It's very sad that we no longer have wool manufacturing in Australia, but I was adamant that I wanted the line made here," she says. "I wouldn't have started the business if I'd had to send it all offshore."
When we meet, Wanchap is wearing the quirky "Avery" jumper with an image of a sulphur-crested cockatoo - a nod to 83-year-old Barbara who used to include quirky graphics in some of her designs, as well as an acknowledgement of the label's Australian heritage. The fabric is silky smooth and soft to touch.
"I was interested in creating quality, something special," says Wanchap, adding proudly, "and something very Australian".