When I think of fiber for knitting, obviously wool is the first to come to mind. Then silk, alpaca, cotton, nylon, acrylic, bamboo…there are so many options! But I confess that I had never thought about knitting with yak fiber. So when I was given the chance to review the Lhasa Wilderness from Bijou Basin Ranch, and I saw that it’s 75% Tibetan Yak and 25% bamboo, I thought it would be a great way to broaden my horizons, and maybe yours too!
I’d heard of Bijou Basin Ranch before, but never knew that it’s a small family-owned yak ranch in Colorado. I mean…yak? For yarn? Who knew?? Not me, anyway! They have registered, full-blooded Tibetan yaks and they harvest their coats once a year. I had to google “Tibetan yak” to see what they look like, and they are impressive animals!
Anyway, enough about animals: BBR supports other small businesses by using indie dye houses for their yarns. I chose a colorway called Fantasy, dyed by Colorful Eclectic, and I was so excited when my package arrived! It was beautifully put together with several extra goodies, including a mobius scarf pattern, a handy To-Do list, a sticker (which I immediately put on my Ikea knitting cart) and a pretty stitch marker. The presentation made a great first impression. To me, it shows that they really appreciate their customers.
The colors were lighter than I was expecting, based on the photos on the website. I thought the pink would be a darker fuschia; overall it seemed a bit watered down from the colors I saw online. But I know that colors can vary with hand-dyed yarn, and can look different in person than online. Plus, it is still beautiful, and so soft! I don’t know what I was expecting from yak, but it felt very much like a premium cotton, only even softer. It’s very smooth, feels silky running through my fingers. I’m guessing the bamboo is what reminds me of cotton, and the yak provides that delicious silky softness.
Though they generously sent me a pattern, I chose a shawl/cowl pattern that I knew I’d wear more often called the Lace Eyelet Cowl. It calls for fingering weight, and while Ravelry lists the Lhasa Wilderness as Sport, it’s definitely a light sport and can be substituted for fingering without much trouble. My 250-yard skein was plenty of yarn and the knitting sailed by without a hitch. The yarn knits a bit like cotton, so it did sometimes split more easily than wool, and there’s less give when you’re working lace like k2tog, but neither hindered my knitting at all. And then it was done, and I washed it and pinned it out, and…BAM. Amazing!
The lace opened up so beautifully; is it fair to say it bloomed? And you know how cotton and silk yarns have a wonderful drape? This is the same! It lays perfectly, and is nicely lightweight and breathable. Plus, I think it will hold its blocking really well too, so it won’t need much attention as long as I keep it clean.
In a nutshell, this is wonderful shawl yarn. Though it feels like a strong, durable yarn, I wouldn’t use it for socks or garments because of its similarities to cotton (less stretch) and because it’s hand wash/dry flat. But I would absolutely make more lace shawls, and they have a wide variety of solids, semi-solids and variegated colors to choose from. The $22 price tag is more than reasonable, in my opinion, especially when you can get a gorgeous project from just one skein.
What do you think? Ready to try some yak??
Thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and Bijou Basin Ranch, who generously sent me one skein of Lhasa Wilderness (retail value $22) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.