High Desert: An American Wool Story

As we set out to create High Desert, Crafts Group’s first all-American-made yarn, esteemed Rancher, Jeanne Carver of the historic Imperial Stock Ranch and now, her newly launched Shaniko Wool Company, was also looking for an American brand to join forces with and use Shaniko’s certified Textile Exchange’s Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)* wool bounty.

Shaniko sheep ranch

Located just 120 miles east of Vancouver, Washington-based Crafts Group home, in north-central Oregon’s high desert, Shaniko Wool Company is committed to producing fully traceable and sustainable wool, with an emphasis on honoring the land, water, and animals.

Carver’s decades of experience transforming raw wool to finished goods was the perfect source for our High Desert yarn line. Carver’s passion for seeing Shaniko’s wool make its way to an American manufacturer was also in line with our vision.

It was a match made in (wool) heaven and a partnership was born. 

“I saw this partnership as a valuable opportunity to bring Crafts Group its first yarn from America,” said Carver. “The fact that we are 3rd party certified to this international benchmark is something that I and the other ranchers have felt the yarn industry and its consumers are ready for. In addition to premium quality and performance in the wool, it gives added confidence in our practices.” 

For Carver, a rancher and wool producer in her own right, building the relationship with Crafts Group was important because of the positive impact she says the needle arts crafters have had on her during her own 20+ year journey taking the wool harvest direct to market. Those crafters helped her see just how important traditional skills have always been, and the connected circle from the animals who provide the wool to our clothing.  

“They have mentored me and taught me things I did not know,” said Carver. “They showed me the critical importance of needle arts across cultures around the world and how important those skills have been in the development of humankind. They helped me build my wool marketing efforts. They are family.” Summing it up, Carver said, “I learned plain and simple that we need needle crafting.  Since primitive times, this circle remains constant.” 

Like her, the ranchers Carver works with have a deep respect for the land and animals from which their wool originates.  The RWS* certification process ensures a fully traceable and sustainable wool supply all the way to the product. Transparent about her intimate connection to both land and animals as a rancher, Carver believes honoring the roots of fiber is a key element in today’s fashion and textile industries. 

A farm-to-fashion movement (similar to the farm-to-fork movement in the culinary world), Carver describes the Shaniko Wool Company operation as the first step in a wool value chain that supports the use of wool from American land, making its way through American manufacturing, American designers and ultimately the consumer, while keeping it as close to home as possible. 

“Working with family ranching operations specifically in the American West connects timeless traditions and the culture of tending land and sheep to the actual product,” said Carver. 

Crafts Group looks forward to following along on Carver’s journey and continuing its partnership with Shaniko Wool Company to bring even more American-made yarn to consumers.   

*The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), developed by Textile Exchange, is an international benchmark program for responsible land and animal management.


9 comments

  1. Jan MacWatters / April 11, 2021 / Reply

    Thank you. I’ve been trying to support US workers by purchasing only US wool, but it’s difficult… Until now. Excited to place my first order.

  2. Ann / April 11, 2021 / Reply

    As a Eastern Oregon-born knitter, I treasure hearing this success story. This is land so undiscovered by many. To know this enterprise thrives in what is thought to be desert is great news.

  3. Dawn Hughes / April 12, 2021 / Reply

    I’m so excited to try this yarn! I’ve been attempting to support more American made wool in the past few years and really enjoy trying new yarns!

  4. Ginger / April 24, 2021 / Reply

    It’s profoundly wonderful to access an American yarn and support small business; however, your offerings thus far include only 100% wool. I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and need a wool-blend for comfort as well as extend garment usage. Are there plans to add additional U.S. fibers? Cotton? Silk?

    • Kate M / May 4, 2021 / Reply

      We are very interested in continuing to work with domestic farmers and fiber suppliers! Currently we do not have anything in our development pipeline for domestic cotton or silk. We source those fibers from a small group of international suppliers who are certified for Organic, Oeko Tech and RSW (Responsible Wool Standard).

  5. Nancy Lykins / April 25, 2021 / Reply

    Have my pattern all picked out! This is all wonderful news, and I can’t wait to place my first order. This is going to be great!!

  6. Helga / April 25, 2021 / Reply

    I am a yarn lover (horder), and I can’t wait to place my first order of “all American made” yarn !

  7. Wendy / April 25, 2021 / Reply

    As a fellow Oregonian, I’m excited to see an Oregon yarn company. My daughter raised some sheep for her FFA project, one of which was an extremely intelligent Montadale that could open gates and conspire with another ewe to open doors with doorknobs.

  8. KAMMiller / April 27, 2021 / Reply

    Looks like lovely yarn. I’ve wanted yarn just like this. As an aside, your model looks to be having a great time on the ranch with dog and sheep! Must have been a cool day. Often, your models look like they are about to melt!