After college, I moved out to Portland, Oregon with my boyfriend (also known as my now-husband, Tyler). We lived there for three years, and while most of our time there was pretty difficult in the monetary/job sense, there were some really great things that imprinted on us - such as the importance of buying local.
At the best of times, Portland has a tight job market, and we moved there right as the economy started to tank (well, one of the many times, I suppose...but you get the idea). We did somehow find jobs - not the greatest jobs, mind you, but jobs that paid money in exchange for us getting out of bed each day. There were periods of unemployment for both of us and we were even on food stamps at one point....ironically, that was the best we'd ever eaten. That's pretty much the Portland experience, I suppose.
But the emphasis on locally-produced foods, goods and services was an ethos that really grabbed us and stuck. It hit the food world long before making waves in the world of yarn, but it's gaining steam and I can't help but wonder if it's driven by the harsh realities of our economy - much like when I lived in Portland. Those living in the Pacific Northwest knew long before the rest of us that, in order to survive, they needed to be choosy with how they spent their hard-earned money, and that it was best to pump it back into the local economy. We're finally catching up to them, I guess you could say.
I should probably get to the point: I'm a little obsessed with Imperial Stock Ranch. I discovered their pencil roving a few years ago at Nina, and I'm finally getting around to spinning with it! I'm thinking the finished product will want to be a chunky cowl...time will tell.
I was fortunate to have spent some time chatting with Jeanne at the TNNA trade show in Columbus last summer, and not only are they environmentally-minded producers of sustainable yarn, they're nice people, too! I can't wait to get my mitts on more pencil roving....and I'm definitely going to give The Wool Dispensary's Imperial Poison a try: Imperial Stock Ranch yarn hand-dyed right here in Chicago! Being a fan of Tanis Gray's recent book Knit Local, which profiles many homegrown producers of yarn (and of course, includes lots of fun new patterns, too), it's been fun exploring yarns that come from my home turf. While I'll always love a good German sock yarn or an interesting import from England or New Zealand (or anywhere that makes yarn, really), it feels really good to support American-made yarns and fibers.