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Rambouillet Wool and Sustainable Farming

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Scenes from the Emigh Farm in Northern California where they have been sustainably raising sheep for 150 years.

What is climate beneficial wool?

Climate beneficial wool is fiber that has been produced using carbon farming practices. These practices include compost application, hedgerow planting, mulching and no till/direct seed.

The wool producers are committed to maintaining the health of their land and herd through these systems. Stronger, healthier grazing lands mean happier sheep which in turn create more beautiful fiber. I worked in collaboration with Imperial Yarn to create our custom-milled Elder and Maven bases, supplied with wool from certified climate beneficial farms.

Why Rambouillet? 

I wanted to work with rambouillet wool because of its unique characteristics. It is both springy and dense! It holds its shape well and maintains a soft-hand. I think it is incredible to use in cables because of its balance of maintaining stitch definition and creating a lofty, airy fabric.

Rambouillet originated with Spain's merino flocks. The Spanish breed was so protected that exportation was forbidden by the King of Spain. Exportation rules relaxed and in 1786, the government of France requested sheep to improve the native French stock. Louis XVI purchased over 300 Spanish merino and they were sent to the Rambouillet farm near Paris. They were crossed with English long-wool breeds to create a well-defined breed. In 1840, the breed was imported to the United States and became one of the first US Western area sheep flocks.

Rambouillet are a dual-purpose breed. They are big, hardy and vigorous sheep easily adaptable to hot and cold climates and a variety of foraging conditions.. Their larger size produces a dense but fine wool with a superior, long staple (over 3"). The average ewe will shear about 10 lbs of wool per year. They can be identified by their white face and wooly legs.

What are the different climate beneficial bases at RD? 

Elder is our first American grown and custom-milled 100% non-superwash Rambouillet base. We have partnered with Imperial Yarn to supply us with this climate beneficial wool. This versatile 2-ply yarn ranges from DK to Light Worsted and works up beautifully in textures and simple knits. Elder maintains a soft-hand and creates a squishy, structured yet light-weight fabric. It has quickly become a favorite at RD.

Maven is highlighted by its natural slubby texture which reads as an all-season fabric, its lightness makes it particularly suitable to knitted t's or light weight sweater. It looks beautiful in lace and cables. Color options make it ideal for colorwork or classic stripes. Explore holding mohair with maven! Our Fae base matches up to all the colorways on Maven. 

Happy Making!

Comments (1)

  • marianne regan on May 21, 2020

    While reading about your wool sourcing, I realized that it was Martin Emigh’s family farm you are using. I grew up in that same small town and remember that the Emigh siblings always had wonderful sheep for the county fairs. So nice to learn that Martin has taken the farm to the next level.

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