Tag Archive | hand dyed yarn

Yak Yarn! A review

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.

img_8040

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! 

fullsizeoutput_1de4

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.

fullsizeoutput_1de1

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??

fullsizeoutput_1de0

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.

A Yarn Pick-Me-Up

It’s easy for me to get discouraged right now. I fight it off most days, or at least I pretend to. Fake it ’til you make it, right? But sometimes good things happen that boost my spirits right up. Yesterday’s mail brought me something very happy: a single skein of lovely yarn that I impulse-ordered recently.

I follow a lot of yarn-dyers on Instagram because I’m a knitter, right? That’s what we do. I look at pictures of yarn and puppies. It pleases me greatly. Most of the time that’s all. But then on Black Friday, @_lolodidit posted a photo of this yarn, Purple Rain, on worsted weight, and said it was the LAST ONE! Well. Of course. Strike one: purple. Strike two: worsted weight, when so many hand-dyed skeins are sock weight. Strike three: last one?? That was just fate calling my name so sweetly. I immediately went to her Etsy shop and ordered the little beauty and yesterday it arrived. IMG_4340I immediately wound it into the most perfect little ball of yarn.IMG_4341I knew it would be something for me (and I mean it this time) but what? It would make a gorgeous hat, but I just don’t wear many hats. I like fingerless gloves, but I wanted something faster. That meant a cowl, and my favorite cowl has to be River Deep, Mountain High. I’ve made it twice and want to keep both of them, so I need one just for me. I cast on after dinner and today I’m ready to start the pattern portion. IMG_4372I just love this yarn so much. You should check out her Etsy shop, lolodidit, and her Instagram handle is @_lolodidit. She makes such pretty yarn, I can’t wait to order more! This came at just the perfect time, too, because I was starting to feel that tiny bit of discouragement. The good news is that I finished almost all my lingering commissions (except the ones that need yarn that hasn’t arrived yet) so I got to work on personal projects. Remember, I cast on for the Color Tipped Shawl, and I do love the style and the color combo I picked. (The third color is a dark teal.)IMG_4373But I don’t love the yarn. It’s Berroco Maya, a blend of cotton and alpaca, and while it feels nice in a cake, when it’s knit up it feels kind of…crunchy? Crispy? Not as soft as I would want in a scarf. So now what? Do I frog and find a different pattern for this yarn? I think I have to. If I wouldn’t wear this, I don’t know that I should continue making it. So that project went into timeout.

I do have another personal project that I started yesterday. The boy is a huge Sherlock Holmes fan (of the Benedict Cumberbatch variety) and he got a dark gray peacoat this winter. What else would do but me making him an appropriate Sherlock scarf? I’m using Knit Picks Preciosa Tonal in the Captain colorway. I’m really enjoying this yarn. Lovely softness and gorgeous colors. IMG_4374I just can’t work on it when he’s home, so here’s hoping I can finish it before school lets out for the holidays!

And just so you all know: it looks like I’m knitting a lot, but I’m being careful with my arms, I promise! I’m wearing my brace on the left elbow and the supportive glove on the right hand, and I’m taking lots of breaks. I finished the Vanessa Diffenbaugh book (very good, if not as good as her first), re-read an old favorite (Theory of Relativity by Jacqueline Mitchard) and am now happily in the middle of The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee. The balance is nice, even if there’s a part of me that would still rather be knitting all the time.

So there you go. Yarn is still saving me when I need it to. I go back to the doctor on the 8th for another x-ray. I’d like to say I’m expecting good news, but I’m not really. It will only have been 5 weeks then, and my foot is still achy/tender enough that I can’t imagine him giving me clearance to walk on it yet. But I’ll keep resting it and hoping for the best. That’s all you can do, right?