Tag Archive | yarn

Yak Sock Yarn: Bijou Basin Ranch Review

The wonderful people at Bijou Basin Ranch gave me another opportunity to review some of their yarn, this time the Tibetan Dream fingering sock yarn. Like the yarn I reviewed previously, this is a yak blend. (I mean, they’re a yak ranch. That’s kind of their specialty.) They have a wide variety of solids and stripes, but perhaps not surprisingly, I chose Purple Dragon, a gorgeous limited edition color dyed exclusively for Bijou Basin Ranch by MJ Yarns. And guys, okay, BBR is one of the best at first impressions! Look at this assortment:

 

Tibetan Dream is 440 yards, 85% pure yak with 15% nylon. Their website states that yak fiber is warmer than wool and softer than cashmere. I can’t say for sure that it’s warmer than wool, but it is warm, and best of all, yak fiber is hypoallergenic, so it doesn’t make me itch the way some wools do. And yes, it is indeed very soft! I chose a simple pattern for my socks with a ribbed leg and stockinette foot. The colors really are so pretty.

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It’s a very smooth yarn, a texture reminiscent of a premium pima cotton. I noticed it the last time I used their yarn and wasn’t sure which fiber to attribute it to, but it must be the yak. I really like the feel, but it is a little splitty, as cotton is, and it doesn’t feel quite as elastic as wool. However, I have worn and washed and worn the socks, and they’re wearing nicely. These photos are after a wear and a wash, actually. And they are indeed comfy to wear, as soft and smooth as they are!

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The yarn retails starting at $39.95 and goes up to $49.95, so it is more of a splurge yarn, for me at least. As much as I love my socks, I might be more inclined to use this yarn for shawls and wraps, especially gifts for special people. The yak does block out beautifully, making it an ideal choice for lace patterns.

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Thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and Bijou Basin Ranch, who generously sent me one skein of Tibetan Dream (retail value $49.95) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

New yarn from Manos!

Manos del Uruguay is one of my favorite brands, has been for a while now. I’ve used the Maxima and Alegria with great success. Their colors are gorgeous, the yarn is soft and wears well, and it’s all certified Fair Trade. Plus the yarns are made by artisans in cooperatives located throughout Uruguay, and each skein is signed, so you know who made your yarn and which village it came from. That makes it so much more personal for me, and I feel like I’m doing a good deed just by buying yarn.

So, when given the opportunity to review a new yarn from Manos, of course I jumped at the chance. Feliz is 70% superwash merino, 30% modal. Modal is a man-made fiber from vegetal pulp, and I was familiar with it from my past life in retail: I knew it was smooth and had fantastic drape. I could only imagine it would be equally delightful in yarn. It’s available in several of the gorgeous Manos hand-dyed colorways; I chose Wildflowers.

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Doesn’t it make you swoon? Yum, it does me! I cast on almost as soon as they sent it to me! It’s listed as DK on Ravelry, and has about 350 yards per 100g skein. Fairmount Fibers, their North American distributor, was generous enough to send me two skeins. I selected a pattern called Late Harvest, which was written for a different sport weight Manos yarn. It has a really unusual slip stitch pattern.

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Guys, I love this yarn. It felt like premium merino, all bouncy and supple, but even smoother, almost silky. There’s almost a hint of a sheen to the yarn. I didn’t have any issues with splitting, and it tinked back nicely when I made the inevitable mistake.

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It was a happy yarn for me, a happy knit. It felt soft and comforting in my hands, it slid smoothly on the needles, and the colors were perfect for the pattern. I keep coming back to the smoothness, because honestly, I prefer that to the fuzziness you get with some yarns. I can’t wait to see how it wears long-term, because if it doesn’t fuzz and pill as much as all-merino yarns, it will make some truly fantastic sweaters! Plus, I’m sensitive to some wools against my skin, and this feels like a yarn I might be able to wear without a layer underneath.

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Even though it’s mostly superwash merino, it does say to hand wash, which I did. It blocked out beautifully without much work, and the water was still clear after the soak, so the dyes didn’t bleed. I didn’t even pin it, just laid it out and nudged the edges into the shape I wanted, and now I’ve got a big, gorgeous shawl that will go with so many things. You can see my Ravelry project page here.

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You can see Feliz in all the pretty colors on their website, including their special 50th anniversary color, Cincuenta. It looks like Feliz sells for around $26 a skein, which seems perfectly reasonable to me. I’m happy to pay that for yarn that looks good, feels good, and helps women support their families!

Many thanks to Stitchcraft Marketing and Fairmount Fibers, who generously sent me two skeins of Manos del Uruguay Feliz (retail value $52) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

Holiday Projects

It’s been a busy few days around here. The girl was here for Thanksgiving, which was marvelous, but she also had to work two shifts and see a couple of friends, and then she had to leave a day early to beat today’s blizzard warning, so it was really only three days. And that’s not quite long enough for me. But I enjoyed her while she was here and I am very glad she’s back at school safe and sound. I would have gone nuts thinking about her driving through a blizzard warning! After she left yesterday, I wanted something fun to do to distract me, so I made the boys take me to a cute little nearby town for some retail therapy. I did pretty well!

I found this awesome yarn bowl at an art collective and even got a fun tote with it! Hooray for Small Business Saturday! While we were there, I did some knitting on my Hogwarts Cowl at the guitar store and at dinner. I’m halfway through now and like the size much better than my first version.


There’s actually been more crochet than knitting this weekend. One of the nephews requested a Pikachu hat and he’s three and very cute so I couldn’t say no. And since I made one nephew a scarf and another a Pikachu hat, I had to make something for the Pokemon-obsessed niece, so I used the last of my yellow yarn for a wee Pikachu for her.

They are cute, I will admit it. But that’s enough Pikachu to last me a very long time! I’m taking a break from gift projects today during the blizzard for some selfish knitting…maybe. Or maybe I’ll start a pair of gift socks. In any case, it’s windy and snowing and you will find me on the couch with yarn and dogs for the rest of the day! Everyone else in the path of the storm, stay safe and warm!

A Scarf in a Weekend?

Okay, not quite but almost! One of my Christmas knitting projects is a scarf for a nephew. He requested pale blue and white, neither of which were colors in my acrylic stash, so Saturday morning I headed to the closest big-box craft store. Just my luck: they were having a buy-two, get one free sale! I got the yarn I need for my other Christmas project, and for this scarf I chose more of the Lion Brand Jeans yarn, this time in the faded blue color, plus some Vanna White white. (Except when I started knitting with it, the Vanna White worsted was thicker and not as soft, so I pulled out a partial skein of KnitPicks Brava worsted in white instead.) I cast on that afternoon and it’s been my only project this weekend. He’s only five so it doesn’t need to be a big scarf, which means that the 47″ I have tonight is very close to being long enough. If he’s 45″ tall, and I make the scarf 60″, that’s plenty long enough, right?

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But that’s not all I got at the store. I kind of went past this jumbo yarn on my way out and…well, buy 2 get 1 free, you know?? It’s a good deal. So this went into my cart too.

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Pretty sure it’ll be a couple of cowls, but not anytime soon. I have more Christmas knitting to do!

 

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!

FO: Test Sock

I finished my test sock! There was a lazy part of me that wanted to switch to stockinette for the foot, but I was good and followed the pattern like I was supposed to, and it came out quite attractive.

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As I mentioned, this was a test knit so I have no pattern to share…YET. But I’ll definitely make sure to post it when it’s live.

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The yarn is KnitPicks Stroll Handpainted. It’s my first time using it and I really like it. It feels very soft and squishy, so I’m eager to see how they wash and wear. I’m guessing they’ll be nice and toasty!