Friday, March 16, 2012


Clara Parkes recently revisited Imperial Stock Ranch yarns in Knitter's Review (an update to a previous glowing review from 2003), and it reminded me that I have an Imperial Stock Ranch project to share!

There's something amazing about using American yarn where you feel good not only about the yarn, but also about the producers, the history, the sheep, and the business model. In the words of Clara Parkes:
With so many wool yarns on the market, why should you bother going out of your way to find this one? For starters, it's a great knit that produces a spongy and succulent, home-grown fabric. But perhaps more important, when you've cast off that final stitch you'll be wearing a tale of Western expansion and the American dream.
You're wearing the story of how one man, equipped with just a saddle horse, pack horse, and six-gun, became the biggest landowner in the state of Oregon, running tens of thousands of sheep on the very same land as the sheep that produced your yarn today. And your garment will be physical proof that, while increasingly challenging, it's still possible to produce good domestic wool on a large scale while following ethical and sustainable business practices.
I stumbled across Imperial Stock Ranch's bulky 2-strand pencil roving at Loopy Yarns last fall, and I was intrigued. Soft, unspun roving in a gorgeous palette of colors. The yarn itself drew me in -- the pattern was really secondary here (unusual for me).

pattern: Pembroke Wrap, by Andrea Rangel
yarn: Imperial Stock Ranch bulky 2-strand pencil roving
wild iris, 1.5 skeins
needles: Clover US 11 bamboo circs


Pembroke was really fun to knit, and I love how soft and airy the yarn is. That said, it's a bit fragile since it's unspun, and the more natural feel of the wool comes with a few bits of vegetable matter sprinkled in. Loopy Yarns' owner warned me to be careful while knitting it, as it tends to break. You can easily felt it back together, but that's no one's favorite part of knitting.

My yarn only broke two or three times -- overall I had a great experience with it, no doubt because I am naturally a loose knitter. I suspect that a tight knitter might not enjoy the yarn as much. I was very careful when washing the finished shawl, as I feared felting; pinning it out to block it was no problem.
And now it's time to finish packing for my knitting group's annual getaway weekend. Michigan, here I come! We're slated to have glorious weather (80 degrees in the Upper Midwest in March?  madness!).


barefootrooster said...

gorgeous. love the color, and (of course) i love yarns with a human story. happy weekend!

Chris said...

It looks warm and cozy!!

I know, it's 79F here right now. CRAZY.

lincannon said...

Where in the world in th UP would you find those kind of temperatures? You are crazy,, Please Post?????

Tracy Altieri said...

The wild iris color is just beautiful - as is the story behind. Hope your weekend is wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Just beautiful. :) I'm making one in the Imperial Yarn Pembroke knit-along this month-- a slightly smaller one because it's for my 9-year-old. I love the color of yours!-- I'll have to try the roving some time. I discovered Imperial Yarn last year and I really like how you know where the yarn comes from and who makes it.

Caffeine Girl said...

That is a beautiful shawl. Thanks for pointing out the pattern.

Katie M. said...

Lovely! I saw this yarn about my own LYS not too long ago -- the unspun is sooo soft and woolly. And coming from a long line of Oregon sheep ranchers, I loved the history, too.

Monica said...

love the color. thanks for sharing the Imperial love :-)

im new to your blog...have you used any other of their yarn?

Rachel said...

Thanks for bringing the yarn to my attention...I hadn't yet heard of it. Curious...what do you do when it breaks? Do you felt the ends together or leave sections to weave in later?

Sampson and Lorrie said...

This does look soft and airy! Love the beautiful clolour as well. We are avid knitters :)