This Tuesday on the last Yarnthing Podcast of 2013: Jeanne Carver of Imperial Stock Ranch: from Oregon to Sochi 2014!
The Imperial Stock Ranch is a family owned and operated ranch located in the high desert area of Oregon. Dan and Jeanne Carver are the fourth owners of Imperial Stock Ranch. It was started in 1870’s by Richard Hinton. He started raising sheep in the 1880’s and helped develop the Columbia breed of sheep which is ideally suited to the high desert terrain and produces high grade wool. James Hinton took over from his father in 1915 and kept expanding the empire. Through various family dramas and such, he ended up selling the ranch in half-stakes to George Ward who took over the ranch fully in 1967. George Ward then sold the ranch to the Carvers in 1988 and they have been running it since. You can read all about their sustainability practices, their designation as a National Historical District, and their educational program on the Imperial Stock Ranch website.
The Ranch didn’t always produce yarn. Originally the ranch sold their wool, but in 1999, the buyer that had been buying their wool for 100 years told them they were moving overseas and wouldn’t be buying their wool anymore. At the same time, the US domestic production of lamb (the other big product of the ranch at the time) was being decimated by imported frozen lamb from Australia and New Zealand. They started making yarn on-site and Jeanne became involved in the local knitting guild. Their business grew and in 2009, they started collaborating with designers including Oregon knitwear designer Leigh Radford and internationally known fashion designer Anna Cohen. You can find all the yarns and patterns from Imperial Ranch Yarns on their website ImperialYarn.com. It isn’t out right now, but Anna Cohen’s Imperial Collection will be available in Fall 2014.
Now this isn’t the end for Imperial Yarn. Last year, out of the blue, Anna got a call from product development for Polo Ralph Lauren. They were starting to source American yarn for the 2014 Sochi Olympics but weren’t letting that info out yet. Anna sent off a few samples of their yarn and had a few more conversations with her guy in New York. A few months later, the design team from Ralph Lauren came out to see the ranch. Still not knowing what the yarn was for, they made an order in December of 2012. Now, over 40 US producers and manufacturers are part of the Made in the USA effort for the apparel for Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Ralph Lauren has produced a video all about the journey of the opening ceremony sweater which you can see below; listen and watch for Jeanne! Listen in below to the podcast to hear the whole story!
You don’t just have to watch their Olympic yarn, you can get it yourself! Erin, a worsted weight 3-ply wool is available in a variety of colors on their website. You also might be able to find the official Olympic colors at your local yarn shop, check their website here to see if it is available in a yarn shop near you! Imperial Ranch Yarns produces 10 yarns and rovings that include not just wool, but also alpaca and cotton in amazing colors. Check out all their yarn and kits here.
As always the GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment below for your chance to win the Rhombus Feather Shawl Kit in the color Rain. Marly will announce the winner on the first podcast of 2014 on January 7th.
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