One of the most joyful aspects of our work at Brooklyn Tweed is connecting with remarkable individuals in the world of wool. Melding passions and expertise can create magic, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer Ranch 01, a new single-batch yarn that showcases extraordinary Rambouillet wool grown by the Estill family of Bare Ranch.

In addition to Rambouillet sheep, the Estills also raise Suffolk sheep, cattle, and hay, on a northern California ranch first established by Thomas Bare in 1888. Nestled in the Surprise Valley on the Nevada border, the Bare Ranch was built by pioneers and is now an early partner in efforts to rethink the ways ranchers use rangeland pasture. The Estills are working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Fibershed to adopt innovative Climate Beneficial farm practices that sequester carbon, repair damaged streams, and steward their land and animals. As part of the Fibershed movement, Bare Ranch is also connecting with regional artisans to keep their wool clip close to home. The Estills now send some fleeces to a local mill to produce woven wool fabric called Community Supported Cloth.

Lani Estill noticed the incredible quality of their purebred Rambouillet wool and wanted to find a buyer who would share in her appreciation of the fleece, as well as share in the vision of giving back to the land to make wool production truly sustainable. She sought to work with a buyer willing to pay a premium for her top-quality wool as a means of investing in Fibershed to support the ranch's work of creating a regenerative landscape — for example, by adding compost to their soils, planting miles of trees in windbreaks, restoring stream ecosystems to health, developing rotational grazing practices, and increasing the use of no-till farming practices. Brooklyn Tweed was honored to answer that call, and we believed many of our customers would be as excited as we are to play a part in this worthy story.

It’s rare to find a supply chain that goes all the way back to an individual ranch, and rarer still to find a ranch working so hard to change both their practices and their business partnerships to create better models of fiber production, community, and environmental stewardship. When you purchase a skein of Ranch 01, you’re supporting Bare Ranch’s work towards sequestering the amount of carbon equal to what is produced by 865 passenger vehicles every year. (You can read Bare Ranch's Carbon Plan here.)  You’re directly funding implementation of a Climate Beneficial farming plan that will let the ranch draw six to nine times more carbon out of the atmosphere than it emits in livestock production. And you’re contributing to improvements in forage, shelter, and health for Bare Ranch’s 4,000 sheep.

We also think you’ll thoroughly enjoy knitting with the buttery soft, bouncy, 3-ply worsted-weight yarn we created from Bare Ranch’s beautiful Rambouillet. As you select your favorite hues from the naturally dyed palette, we hope you’ll meditate on how this special wool plays a role in making your crafting more local and more environmentally sustainable. Our post next week will take you deeper into the idea of Fibershed, a movement and organization founded by Rebecca Burgess to connect local farmers, artisans, and consumers and to radically change our framework for textile production.

All of the photos in this post are courtesy of Paige Green Photography.

12 comments

  • Back to the farming practises on the farmers before the big chemical companies.
    So happy to see these efforts of combining sustainable new ideas with what use to be called “good farming “ when I was a kid.

    Cherry Nettleton on

  • Hello Paige,

    We intentionally partner with ranches where the animals are carefully tended. Our ranchers do not utilize harmful practices on the animals. Specifically, they do not implement mulesing, which is one of the greater concerns in world wool production. Thankfully, the practice of mulesing is almost completely non-existent with US producers and is definitely not in practice at the ranches we work with. Each spring, the flocks receive their annual shearing. While the shearers of the sheep are paid by volume, we have been assured both by our wool brokers and the ranch owners that this does not mean the shearing process is harmful. In fact, the percentage of animals that experience any shearing-related problems or injuries is under 1%. To keep the sheep from being consumed by ticks and lice right after shearing, the ranchers employ veterinary-approved insecticides, akin to pest-control treatment for domestic dogs and cats. Since a stressed or sick sheep would have a weak fleece, it is in the best interest of the farmers to keep their sheep healthy and happy. The ranchers we work with take great care to ensure the health and well being of their sheep, and, as a result of their careful tending, we are able to produce our beautiful yarns.

    Jamie Maccarthy | BT Customer Service

    Jamie Maccarthy on

  • this is so inspiring and beautiful! It makes my heart sing…. I am a knitter, a healing practitioner, and a lover of Nature, & this makes me so happy for so many reasons! thank you to all the wise, dedicated souls that are making this happen.

    Shelley Tetz on

  • The New York Times has just published a feature article about a farm in Northern California that has been doing and studying Carbon Farming — which is what Bare Ranch is doing. Here’s a link to the article for those interested in learning more about it: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/18/magazine/dirt-save-earth-carbon-farming-climate-change.html
    (I think the article can be read for free, without a subscription. I think the New York Times allows 10 or so articles to be read for free each month without a subscription. I do have a subscription, so I could be wrong.)

    I’m really looking forward to the yarn!! I’m thrilled to support better farming and ranching practices.

    Ashley Engelund on

  • I would like to know how they treat their animals. How their animals are shorn and treated while being shorn as well. Bravo for the carbon sequestering as recently read about in the NYT this week. But I want to know that Brooklyn Tweed is supporting ranches that follow the Humane Standards (shelter, vet care, free to engage in natural behavior, etc…)

    Paige Scott on

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