Tag Archive | lace knitting

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.

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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!¬†

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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.

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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??

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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.

Moving forward

Thanks for all the kind words and suggestions on my shawl dilemma! As several people suggested, I decided to frog the lace section and start it over with a contrasting color. I have a cream in my stash that will be quite lovely with the green. Last night I threaded the needle through the last row of stockinette (or so I thought) and started frogging the lace. Of course once the lace was gone, I didn’t exactly have one row of stitches on my needle, but it was simple enough to go through and fix that. Tedious and time-consuming, but simple. With that done, I was ready to pick up with my cream and start the lace section anew.

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I love it! I think it’s going to be a perfect Christmas shawl this way, maybe worn with a red sweater, or is that too much?

Also this morning, I made a quick trip to the craft store for felt and safety eyes so I can make this baby sloth. Found the felt easily enough, but can you believe they don’t carry safety eyes?? Craziness. It’s not for a baby, so I can substitute tiny buttons and it will be fine. Still, I couldn’t just buy one 40 cent sheet of felt, could I? Plus all the yarn was on sale! Plus I stumbled across this new jean yarn and it’s awesome, even if it is acrylic.

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I may have bought enough to make this sweater. (And for only $21!!) I know, the pattern is DK and the yarn is worsted, and I’m going to have to swatch and do math and all that. I’m okay with that! I can swatch sometimes, when I have to.

Speaking of swatching, the crochet hat that I struggled with is done. It seemed to grow a little bit in washing but I’m crossing my fingers that it will fit. It is pretty, at least! It’s the Ski Lodge Beanie and you can see my Ravelry notes here.

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I’ve discovered the best part about getting an extra hour today is not an extra hour of sleep (I have three dogs, are you kidding me?) but an extra hour of knitting!

What would you do?

Okay, so I’m test knitting a shawl. I like the shawl; it’s a pretty pattern and it looks very nice in the yarn I chose.

 

 

BUT. I ran out of yarn. I still have two and a half repeats of the lace pattern and I’m down to 4 grams of yarn, just enough for the bind off. I thought about binding off early, so I put the stitches on waste yarn, and I don’t think it’s long enough. I don’t want to spend $25 buying another skein of the green, so what now? I have a few options:

  • Continue with a contrasting color or coordinating variegated
  • Frog and reknit with a different size needle (But what size?? My gauge is right!)
  • Reknit in a different yarn that I have more of
  • Throw it in the corner and forget it about it

So tell me, what would you do??

 

Mermaid Shawl

I couldn’t wait any longer–I had to cast on for my mermaid shawl! This is the one inspired by a book which will use a whopping five skeins of yarn purchased at the Loopy Ewe. After pondering several patterns, I settled on the River of Time. I like the massive size, the suggestion of waves, and the mythological inspiration of the pattern. I decided I wanted the deepest purple as that small inner half-circle, so I wound that color first, then found the recommended needles. The pattern said I needed 36 stitch markers (eek!) so I pulled out all the cute little beaded ones I’ve made. Then I started reading.

The pattern starts at the outer edge. Not only did I have the wrong color wound, but I would also need to cast on 426 stitches! (EEK!!) That’s kind of a lot of stitches. I guess the silver lining is that the shawl will be getting smaller as I knit, making it appear to go faster…right? Here’s hoping.

I wound the color I’d chosen for the outer edge, a seafoam color called Ivy Snowbell, and started casting on. I put in a marker at every 50 stitches, which made it so much easier to keep track of how many stitches I had. As I knit the first row, I pulled those markers out and added in the markers specified in the pattern. I got about halfway through that first row and couldn’t help but admire how pretty it was with all the little beads dangling from the cord.

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But I also couldn’t help but feel how heavy the beads were making it. One or two of these beaded markers isn’t a big deal, but you get up to about 20 of them and you definitely feel it! I switched to plain plastic circle markers, which aren’t as pretty but also don’t add extra weight and stress to my hands and arms.

The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere and it’s as marvelous to knit with as you might imagine, so soft and warm. But since each row is so long, I’ve only managed to get about six or seven rows done. It’s not much but I can already see the scallops of the border. I’m so excited to knit this shawl! It might take me three months, but I’ll enjoy every minute of it!

Bijou Basin cowl

Have I shared my Bijou Basin project yet? I can’t remember, but I’ve made progress in any case so I’ll show that too. This is the pretty pretty yarn I started with:

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It’s Llahsa Wilderness by Bijou Spun for Bijou Basin Ranch. It’s 250 yards of yak and bamboo and super soft. It’s sport weight but for some reason I thought it was fingering weight, so I picked a pattern for fingering weight, the Lace Eyelet Cowl, and it’s working out just fine.

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I can’t wait to get it done and blocked; I think the lace is going to open up beautifully!

Fastest Shawl Ever

I bound off my Denim Sprinkles shawl on Monday night, just eight days after casting on. I have never finished a shawl that quickly before, but the combination of the gorgeous yarn and addictive pattern meant I wanted to work on it all the time, and BAM! It was done!

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I did have to improvise though: the pattern calls for 380 yards of fingering weight yarn on size 5 needles. My yarn was 437 yards of heavy fingering/sport, so I went up to a size 6 needle and assumed I’d have more than enough yarn. Oops. I ran out with three rows and a bind off left. Luckily, I had some sock yarn in white that matched perfectly, so the eyelet edging is all white, and I think it’s absolutely perfect. A happy accident, as the husband said. Even unblocked, I could tell this was going to be an awesome shawl, and it needed blocking badly.

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In that before shot, the edge is undefined and wavy, and the shawl itself sort of squishes all together. But then you wash it and pin it out and let it dry and it becomes a whole new thing of beauty!

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If you like lace shawls, I highly recommend Sugar Sprinkles. It’s easy enough for beginners, interesting enough to not be boring, and makes a wonderfully wearable shawl. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making this one again! The yarn is Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts Passion 8, in the color T-Shirt and Jeans, and I loved it. It’s definitely heavier than I would use for socks, but it’s perfect for shawls, and I bet it would make an amazing sweater!

I probably won’t ever make another shawl so quickly! What’s been your fastest shawl?

I made a sleeve!

This sweater is going so fast, I can’t believe it! I finished the first sleeve last night, and it went so much faster than with my last two sweaters. I think it’s because before I was managing two skeins all the way through, either doing stripes or alternating skeins. Just having one skein and doing stockinette all the way makes it zoom. And now that I have that extra color on the sleeve, I love the color combo so much!

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The girl is still coveting the sweater. I’m waiting to see how it fits me before I decide who gets it. But the nice thing is, even if it fits her better, I could make myself another one!

Since I’m so close to finishing the sweater, part of my wants to power through that second sleeve this weekend. But I’m also drawn to a new skein of yarn…

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This was a gift from a friend as a thank-you for helping her with knitting and for taking her with me to a concert recently. She was at a yarn store where Potion Yarns was doing a trunk show and picked out this little beauty for me. It’s Seductress Sock in the color Her Wicked Ways, and they recommended the pattern Changing Staircases for it. Since that pattern was already in my favorites, I figure that’s what this yarn needs to be, and I’m eager to cast that on this weekend too. So hard to choose! Which would you do, sleeve or shawl??