Warner Mountain Weavers — Bonnie Chase
Bonnie has been a tremendous mentor, teacher and friend throughout my journey to creating Lani's Lana and our fabulous wool yarns and combed top. My interest in fibers and the process came through my involvement with Agriculture in the Classroom. We raised sheep, I was on the Ag in Classroom Board in the early 1990s and wanted to have something to teach the kids about Agriculture. Wool was the perfect answer, so I set out to learn as much as I could, but it was Bonnie who encouraged me to go to the next level. She and her teaching staff taught me to spin, weave, knit, and natural dye. We started cleaning and carding my wool and soon decided that it was better suited to being cleaned and carded in a mill. We found Zeilinger Woolen Mills and Mountain Meadows Mill and have developed a line of yarn that is still evolving. We currenly have nine products and I imagine that they will change and grow as we continue to learn what our customers want and love to work with. Please leave us feedback as you work with the yarns. When in Cedarville, visit Bonnie's studio or look for her at events like Lamb Town in Dixon, CA, Fibershed's Wool Symposium in Point Reyes Station, CA, and the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR. Bonnie also hosts a Wool Gathering every September in Cedarville, CA.
Our wool is grown using sustainable natural methods rooted in tradition with respect for earth, animals, people and the product created for future generation...Full circle, natural, organic, and with no harmful dyes or chemicals.
Our goal is to offer a product that is produced right here in Northern California/Northwest Nevada that is often only imported from countries far away. We want our wool to be available right here at home. For although we sell in bulk to companies like Pendleton Woolen Mills, we have an amazing superfine wool that is just so good, that home spinners and fiber artists should be able to access it too. Please take a minute to visit the Products tab to see all the fine yarns that are available.
Lani and her daughter Anna
The Rambouillet and Merino Breeds of sheep are very similar and originated from the same blood lines. The Rambouillet originates from the Spanish Merino Stock and were known for producing the finest wool in the world. The Spanish banned the export of the breed, but the King of Spain finally granted 359 sheep be given to France in 1786. The sheep were located in Rambouillet, France and became known as Rambouillet sheep. They made their way to America in 1840 from Germany and have become the backbone of the western United State Sheep Industry. They are well suited to the dry open range climate and do very well here. They are a little larger than Merino, are not as apt to wool blindness, and have smoother skin, making them easier to shear.
The wool is essentially the same as Merino Wool and is marketed under the Merino name most of the time. Originating from the same genes, the Rambouillet and Merino sheep produce identical fibers. The Merino clothing that you may be enjoying may very well be from Rambouillet sheep!
We cross our Rambouillet ewes with Hampshire or Suffolk rams to produce a larger, meatier lamb, but our ewe herds are maintained as Rambouillet. We sometimes get a black or colored Rambouillet which is a recessive gene in the breed. We keep all of the colored ewes because they are marker sheep which help keep the herds from straying and also because the fine wool produced in color is unusual and highly sought after. This is why we can offer naturally colored wool from a sheep that is traditionally white. Lani keeps all of the colored wool for the yarn business.
Lani's presentation at Fibershed's 2016 Wool Symposium can be viewed below.
For more presentations, visit the Fibershed website.
Many of the photos on this page are by Paige Green, courtesy of Fibershed.
We are a diversified livestock operation raising cattle, lamb, hay, and my favorite — wool. The Bare Ranch was the first ranch settled in Surprise Valley at the eastern foot of the Warner Mountain Range. It was on the route that Peter Lassen scouted for pioneers to travel to Susanville and the north central valley of California during the Gold Rush. It became a trade route and then later a ranching community. The Bare Family settled here and the ranch still bears their name.
The fourth generation of the Estill Family is now actively involved in the ranch operations. Lani's Lana is the dream and creation of Lani Estill. Lani loves wool and is a fiber artist. The development of a line of yarn came slowly but was a natural extension of the ranching business and Lani's love of wool and natural fibers.
For more about Lani and the excitement she feels for this project, please read the Fibershed blog post — featuring Lani's Lana.
Lani's Lana -Fine Rambouillet Wool