Sheep and the wool they produce have been front and center with me over the last few weeks. Two weeks ago I went to Oregon and visited two firms that are rather wool-centric. Dehen makes the most amazing sweaters and jackets out of wool fabric that they knit themselves.
And Pendleton makes wool blankets in Oregon that are truly legendary.
So I was happy to come upon an Oregon company which has formed the foundation of the wool trade in Oregon for generations: Imperial Stock Ranch.
Imperial Stock Ranch is located in Shaniko, Oregon and has been raising sheep for more than a hundred and forty years. Shaniko is on the east side of the Cascade Mountains and is located near the Warm Springs Reservation. That part of Oregon is semi-arid. Not great for growing tomatoes, but great for raising sheep. Founded in 1871 by Richard Hinton, the Imperial Stock Ranch is now owned by Dan and Jeanne Carver. Many of the ranch structures that Richard Hinton and his family built still are being used by the Carver family today.
Hinton, through years of hard work, eventually introduced an entirely new breed of sheep that are the perfect sheep for the terrain around Shaniko: the Columbia Sheep. But being a fairly enterprising fellow, Hinton didn’t limit himself to breeding sheep. He also raised cattle and grew the grain and hay to feed his woolly and bovine charges through the harsh winters Shaniko routinely dishes out. To this day, Imperial Stock Ranch still sells fine grade wool, Imperial Yarn, high quality beef and outstanding lamb. I urge you to visit the Imperial Stock Ranch website; it is beautifully designed and executed and contains a lot of fascinating information.
The Carvers seem to be a lot like the Hintons: not content to just raise sheep and cows and produce wool and yarn, they were looking for a new challenge. So they decided they wanted to produce stunning apparel that utilized their sheep’s wool. So they partnered with Anna Cohen who had been working with them for several years. Together the Carvers and Ms. Cohen produced the Imperial Collection. It’s a match made in heaven! The Carvers provide the Imperial Yarn, Ms. Cohen designs the clothes and members of our extended American family produce the apparel in the Imperial Collection. What could be better? And man, are the pieces in the Imperial Collection beautiful!
With Christmas less than three weeks away, now is a great time to order some items from the Imperial Collection for your wife, daughter, mother, grandmother or any woman in your life who appreciates beautifully designed and created wool apparel. Giving an item from the Imperial Collection is a wining proposition all round. Your gift will support Americans who work on the Imperial Stock Ranch and who crafted the Imperial Collection. You will have the pleasure of knowing that your Imperial Collection sweater is a stylish and quality gift. And the gift’s recipient will be very happy to have received a beautiful addition to her wardrobe that she can wear proudly for many years to come. When your Imperial Collection sweater is opened on Christmas morning, expect lots of oohs and aahs. And if you listen very carefully, you might be able to hear a few baaaaaas from the sheep on the Imperial Stock Ranch who provided the wool for that beautiful sweater.
So get shopping!