Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Bracken Pillows Kit: Techniques & Tips for Knitting Cables & I-Cord

We are delighted to announce another kit we have just launched, the Bracken Pillows Kit by designer Therese Chynoweth. This kit features 3 skeins of Himalayan Trail yarn in your choice of colors, a copy of the Bracken Pillow pattern, and 3 stitch markers from Purrfectly Catchy Designs. These pillows are timeless, yet contemporary and will add just the right touch of elegance and luxury to your home.

The pattern includes instructions for how to knit and assemble both pillows pictured and enough yarn to knit the pillow of your choosing, and today we’ll talk a little about about the techniques used in the pattern and share some tips and tricks for managing them.

The square pillow pattern features a beautiful cable panel across the center. If you haven’t worked cables before, this is a fairly simple pattern to start with. Cables are created by adjusting the order in which you knit your stitches. In the simplest terms, when you create a cable, you will be pulling a few stitches off the needle and holding them aside (either to the front or back of your work) and then knitting the next few stitches. Then you will go back and knit the stitches you have pulled aside. This essentially twists the stitches together to form your cable.

When you are first learning cables, the easiest way to practice is by using a cable needle. You can find these at your local yarn store or favorite online retailer quite inexpensively; there are a few different styles, but a cable needle is essentially a short double pointed needle. Some cable needles have a slightly bent shape to help keep your stitches from slipping off the needle until you are ready to use them. If you don’t have a cable needle handy, you can always use a spare double pointed needle (DPN) in its place.

For this pattern, you will be working 3 by 3 cables, which means that your cable section will be 6 stitches wide. When you come to the place for a cable in your work, you will take the next three stitches (stitches 1, 2 and 3) and put them on your cable needle or DPN:

You will hold these stitches to the front or back of your work as directed by the pattern, then knit the next three stitches on the left-hand needle as normal (stitches 4, 5 and 6). Finally, you will go back and knit the 3 stitches on your cable needle (stitches 1, 2 and 3):

Congratulations, you have successfully knit a cable!

For those who have knit cables in the past and wish to try something a little easier and more efficient, you could try cabling without a cable needle. In this technique, rather than pulling the stitches aside on a cable needle, you’ll be removing stitches from the needle and pinching them together with your fingers. It sounds scary, but it’s really quite easy for smaller cables. For a great tutorial on how to cable without a cable needle, check out this Interweave post by Sandi Wiseheart.


The rectangular pillow in this kit features a mini-lattice pattern, as well as some artfully placed I-cords for visual interest. In this pattern, the I-cords are created by picking up stitches at the cast on edges and then knitting those stitches into I-cords of a certain length. Then the I-cords you create are twisted, then tacked down and secured.

Which begs the question, what is an I-cord? An I-cord is a knitted tube created by knitting the stitches in the round using DPNs. This is done by knitting a row of stitches on your DPN, then sliding the stitches to the right-hand end of the needle, bringing your yarn around back, and then knitting them again. Bringing the yarn around the back of your work will join the edges of your work together creating a hollow tube, or an I-cord. For a nice photo tutorial on how to knit an I-cord, check out this Purl Soho post.

If you're new to this technique, try picking up your stitches and knitting your I-cord on one of your gauge swatches first! Begin by picking up 3 stitches from your cast on edge with the right side of the fabric facing you:

Turn your work so that you are ready to knit the increase row from the I-cord instructions with the wrong side of the fabric facing you:

Turn your work for the last time so that you can continue knitting the I-cord for the specified length:

It's that simple!

We look forward to seeing your finished Bracken Pillows - please share them with us on Instagram by tagging them with #bijoubasinranch and follow us at @bijoubasinranch where we post customer projects, new products and other fun ideas.

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Monday, February 5, 2018

A Most Addictive Slipped Stitch Hat Pattern Kit: Make it Your Own

Recently, we were delighted to launch kits with a lovely hat pattern designed by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter using our Himalayan Trail Yarn. The A Most Addictive Slipped Stitch Hat Kit features a ribbed brim which can be worked in either one or two colors, and then a slipped stitch pattern that is worked in two colors.  While we love a good pattern, sometimes we know you want to make a knitting project uniquely yours. What follows are a few ideas on how you might make a few changes to the pattern to make your own one-of-a-kind finished object.

More Art for Your Start

Want to make your hat a little different? The pattern is written for a standard K2/P2 brim in a single color or a corrugated rib in two colors. For those who want level up just a bit more, add a Latvian braid at the bottom or top of your ribbing section (this Latvian Braid tutorial may help you there). You could also add a fun pom-pom using your leftover yarn, or top things off with a fluffy faux-fur pom if you so choose!

Trim Your Brim Do you like to knit your hats so they fit snugly? Try going down a needle size to make the ribbed brim a snugger fit. Want extra warmth? Try a folded brim. You can simply knit the brim twice as long and fold it, or you can do a hemmed brim to start. Add a touch of elegance and warmth, not to mention “ooooo” factor, and knit the inside brim in one of our lusciouslace weight bases

Customize Your Size

As written, the pattern yields a hat approximately 8.5 inches/21.25 cm tall. Do you prefer a slouchier hat? Add extra repeats and inches to get where you want to be. Like your hats snug? Omit a few repeats before the crown decreases to make a snug, more beanie-like hat.

Choose Your Hues

Pick two muted colors for an elegant piece, two bright colors for a more fun statement, or go crazy and pick a variegated colorway and complement it with a solid that makes it pop!  

Check out all of our colorways of Himalayan Trail Yarn.
Fashion Your Passion
Are you looking for something other than a hat? Turn this great pattern into a cozy cowl! If you want your cowl a bit wider than the hat, cast on extra stitches in multiples of 6 and knit as tall as you want, omitting crown instructions - simply finish with your chosen ribbing before binding off!

Want to make one of those crazy messy bun hats? Knit the crown decreases through Decrease Round 5 or 6 and then bind off your stitches, leaving a hole at the top with finished edges for your messy bun or ponytail.

Or, take the colorwork chart and mash it up with your favorite mitten or fingerless mitt pattern!
You can mix and match any of these suggestions to create a project that is uniquely yours - click here to get your A Most Addictive Slipped Stitch Hat Kit. Please share your projects with us on Instagram by tagging them with #bijoubasinranch and follow us at @bijoubasinranch where we post customer projects, new products and other fun ideas.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Knitter Projects: 3 Inspiring Shawls & Holiday Update

Christmas is just around the corner, and this is a great time of year to treat yourself to an exciting new project in luxurious yarn because our holiday sale runs through Midnight MDT 12/23/17 (more on that in a bit!).

Today, we share 3 amazing shawl projects that we've spotted on Ravelry using our yarns. We're so happy that each Raveler was willing to share their beautiful FO's with us and hope they inspire you to start your own!

Luvmypip chose 3 colors of Himalayan Summit from our Autumn Spices palette to knit this stunner! Just one skein each of Cinnamon, Curry, and Oregano was enough to knit the Fog Smoke and Fog shawl pattern by Stella Egidi.

We love how Bi0chemcrazy transformed the popular Citron shawl by Hilary Smith Callis by substituting our Tibetan Dream sock yarn in a gradient colorway dyed for us by Modeknit Yarn. The pattern originally calls for lace weight yarn and appears in the Winter 2009 issue of Knitty.
Ull2tova used our yak and bamboo yarn, Lhasa Wilderness, to make the Knitter's DNA shawl by Martina Behm. The pattern is actually written for fingering weight yarn, but we're guessing that this sport weight version is every bit as delightful as the lighter weight original!
We have a few holiday updates to share with you this week: first, we added an extremely limited edition holiday color to our shop - so limited, in fact, that we had have already sold out of Yuletide! Don't worry, if you missed out, we'll be creating another winter-inspired limited edition colorway to release in the new year. We recommend following us on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated on shop news. We have also restocked many colors of Himalayan Summit and added skeins of Natural Cream to our online shop - perfect for mixing and matching with all of our hand dyed options

Our holiday sale is in its final week, and we have a gift for YOU this time around! In addition to free shipping on all US orders, we'll also be including free project kits (shown above) with qualifying orders. Now is a great time to stock up on yarn for the new year - click here for more details about this week's special offer!

Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 Holiday Gift Guide from Bijou Basin Ranch

The holidays are just around the corner, and most people are starting their holiday shopping (or will be quite soon!). Perhaps you need to drop some hints to loved ones, or have been searching in vain for the perfect gift to give a fiber friend. Either way, we have you covered: our gift guide is full of great ideas to give and get this holiday season!

Yarn, Yarn, Yarn!
Any knitter or crocheter would be delighted with yarn, especially if it's hand dyed or made with luxury fibers such as silk, cashmere, or yak. Non-crafters may find this range of choices intimidating, however. The key is to keep it simple: for example, email a subtle reminder that they can never go wrong with cashmere yarn (our 100% Mongolian cashmere yarn Xanadu is to die for), or drop a few hints about your favorite yarn dyers from the Indie Dyer Series (have you seen the gorgeous speckles from ModeKnit Yarns?!).

For that extra special someone, we have just one word: Qiviut. Enough said.
Xanadu cashmere yarn & Sand Layers Shawl

Keep it Clean
Question: what goes great with yarn, but is also a wonderful gift all on its own? If you answered Allure Fiber Wash, you are correct! Allure is an affordable add-on to include with the gift of yarn, and we also suggest including it with your handmade presents to ensure proper care - no one wants a felting mishap! If you're having a hard time choosing from our 3 scents, consider giving our sampler pack a try.

Put a Pin In It
Yarn lovers will be delighted by one of our two enamel pin designs, the Knitting Yak or Baby Got Yak. They make great guild gifts on their own, or pair them up with a BBR Project Bag!

Suit Them to a T
BBR Apparel is the perfect way to share your love of yarn with the world. Click here to choose from several fun t-shirt designs!

Santa Yak is Coming To Your Inbox
If you subscribe to our newsletter, get ready - Santa Yak will be delivering you some fabulous deals this holiday season, beginning Thanksgiving weekend! While we will be sharing these deals on our social media channels, our subscribers will be eligible for additional savings, so click here to sign up today!

Like this post? Need to drop a hint? Pin it using this handy graphic!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Autumn Inspiration: New Yarn, New Colors, & A New Project Kit!

When the air turns crisp, it's time to dive headfirst into creating warm and snuggly accessories and garments. Yak fiber is always an excellent choice because it's as warm and soft as cashmere - plus, it's hypoallergenic. Our newest yarn base, Himalayan Summit, is a luxurious 50/50 blend of Tibetan Yak and Superfine Merino in a fingering weight, and we have so many great colors to choose from for your next project.

The Autumn Spices palette is inspired by the exotic flavors of the season, and we'll be debuting a new addition to this collection at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival This weekend! Here is a sneak peek - can you guess the name?

This mystery color joins our palette of 7 semi-solid and 2 variegated colorways, all of which are perfect for mixing and matching, or for use on their own:

Top Row Above, L-R: Pumpkin Spice, Poppy Seed, Cajun Spice, Cinnamon.
Bottom Row Above, L-R: Oregano, Curry, Turmeric, Juniper Berry, and Barberry.

If you prefer something a little more colorful, try one of these vibrant colorways from Modeknit Yarns:
Above, L-R: Crab Nebula, Old Fashion Villain, and Dragonfly Inn.

The best part about introducing a new yarn to our lineup is finding the perfect patterns to let them shine. We're pleased to debut this exclusive new cowl design from Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter:

The Eyelet of the Tiger Cowl is a lacy cowl that uses the entire skein as you knit a succession of stitch patterns. It would look just as lovely in a semi-solid color as it does shown here in Old Fashion Villain! Each kit includes a skein of Himalayan Summit in the color of your choice, a print copy of the pattern, a BBR Project bag, and a 3-pack of custom made stitch markers from Purrfectly Catchy Designs.

Individual copies of this pattern are also available here; be sure to add this project to your Ravelry notebook or queue.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Refresh Your Knits for Fall With Allure: Free Handwashing Tutorial

After being safely packed away for the season, it's time to start bringing out your handmade garments and accessories from storage. Even if you washed them prior to stowing away, chances are that your hand-knit or -crocheted items could use a little freshening up. They may be a bit rumpled or wrinkled, but it's easy to make them look just like new with a quick hand wash!

Our own Eileen Koop is a household product chemist by trade, and was formerly the head of R&D for the company that produced Oxi-Clean. Drawing on these many years of experience, she created Allure Fine Fiber Wash, a no-rinse, no-residue soap that is tailor-made for exotic fibers such as yak, silk, cashmere, musk ox, paco-vicuña, and more. 

Many of the wool washes you are accustomed to contain harsh chemicals to strip away dirt and make fiber brittle, and others contain natural solvents that many people find irritating to the skin. There are also several products which contain lanolin, a naturally occurring wax on sheep wool - but if you’re cleaning a fine piece of handwork that has no wool in it, why would you want to introduce lanolin to a fiber that has never had it to begin with? 

Allure is Eileen's solution to this problem: it is uniquely formulated to handle the cleaning challenges of these exotic fibers and the garments made from them. It also does double duty, as it can clean and soften non-luxury fibers, which means you just need one fiber wash to clean all of your projects! 

Choose between our Prairie Breeze or Woodland Mist scents for a spa-like experience, or opt for our Fragrance Free version, which we recommend for those with scent sensitivities, then follow these easy steps:

1. Gather your supplies. In addition to Allure, you'll need a few fluffy towels and a small basin (you could also opt to use a sink or bathtub, or place several handmade items into a top-loading washing machine if you are able to bypass the agitation cycle and use only the spin cycle). Other items that are nice to have, but not absolutely necessary: blocking mats and T-pins or wires.

2. Test for color fastness. If you are washing several projects, make sure that you have tested for color fastness. Dark colors and jewel tones are especially prone to running, although it can happen to any dyed fiber - better to be safe than sorry! Click here for tips on checking for color fastness.

3. Fill your basin with tepid water, and add 1-2 capfuls of Allure per gallon.

4. Add your items and submerge totally. Allow to soak for at least 10 minutes.

5. Remove and gently squeeze water out - do not twist or wring. Lay item flat on a dry towel, then roll the towel up to remove excess water.

6. Lay flat to dry. You may wish to use blocking wires or T-pins to secure the shape of your garment; T-pins can assist in securing features such as scallops, lace loops, or picot edges, while wires can make maintaining a straight edge quick and easy. When pinning out a project, start by outlining the main shape before you pin any of the details (such as scallops or picots).

7. Remember to Rotate. If you are blocking a project that has a three-dimensional shape (for instance, a hat or cowl), remember to "rotate" the hat so that it doesn't dry with two pronounced creases on either side! Essentially, this means that you will rearrange the hat so that the creases created when lying flat are not in the same place each time. How often you do this will depend on how quickly your piece dries, but a good rule of thumb is to repeat this process at least 2-3 times in the first 24-48 hours.

8. Wear and enjoy! 

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Substituting Yarn: The Wonder Woman Wrap in Shangri-La Yarn

The popularity of the Wonder Woman movie inspired one of this summer's most ubiquitous patterns: the Wonder Woman Wrap by Carrissa Browning, available for free on Ravelry. To create the Wonder Woman logo in shawl form, this clever design uses short row shaping rather than intarsia. We recently commissioned a sample for our booth, and it will make its debut this September 8-10 at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival.

The Wonder Woman Wrap, knit with our Shangri-La lace weight yarn.

The pattern is written for fingering weight yarn, but our Shangri-La yak & silk lace weight was just too perfect for this project: strength and beauty, just like Diana herself! 

When substituting any yarn into a pattern, it's important to make a gauge swatch first - in the case of this project, you will want to try a couple of different needle sizes to determine your overall gauge, and also to see which sort of fabric you produce with those sizes. Don't forget to wash your swatch in Allure, allowing it to dry before you measure your gauge.

The pattern is written for US 4 needles, so our sample knitter started there, getting 26 stitches in 4" of garter stitch, or 6.5 SPI (Stitches Per Inch, calculated by dividing the total number of stitches in your 4" swatch by 4 - this will come in handy later!).

The next gauge swatch was knit on US 3 needles, where our sample knitter got 23 stitches in 4" of garter stitch, or 5.75 SPI.

Here's where a bit of personal preference and just a little bit of math come into play: first, decide which swatch you like best. Do you prefer a closer knit fabric? Using larger needles with a lace weight yarn produces an airier fabric, so that needs to be taken into account when choosing your needle size for this project.

You may also calculate the finished wingspan of the shawl using the stitches per inch (SPI) from your gauge swatches to decide on what needle size to use. The pattern is written for two sizes using fingering weight yarn on US 4 needles, producing a finished wingspan of 60 inches for the smaller size and 86 inches for the larger size.

Here's how to calculate your finished shawl size based on your gauge swatch: take the final number of stitches for the top border before bind off (256 for the smaller size and 376 stitches for the larger size) and divide that by your SPI. Here are the finished sizes for both of our sample gauge swatches:

Small - 256 stsLarge - 376 sts
US 4 (6.5 SPI)39.3857.85
US 3 (5.75 SPI)44.5265.22

Based on the above chart, our sample knitter chose to use US 3 needles to make our sample shawl, and the resulting piece ended up being a little larger than projected based on the gauge swatch - after a good wet blocking in Allure, this shawl measured 76" inches wide!

Why the huge difference between the projected wingspan of 65.22 inches and the actual measurement of 76'? Quite simply, a smaller swatch won't behave the same way as your larger finished piece in the blocking process - there is a lot more weight to your shawl than the simple 4" square you knit for the swatch. Additionally, this shawl could be re-blocked to increase the height, which would bring the finished wingspan closer to what was projected. The blocking process allows for quite a bit of reshaping (hence, many patterns include "block to measurements" in their instructions).

But, as Stephanie Purl-McPhee says, swatching is still important to your process because it gives you a hint about what might happen in your knitting. In this case, it will help you make an educated guess on what needle size to use for your chosen yarn!

No yarn chicken here!

You needn't worry about running out of yarn if you were able to achieve a similar gauge to the above, because our sample used only 1 skein of each color (and our sample knitter had plenty left over, as you can see above!). Knitters desiring a denser fabric can try working with two strands of yarn held double; this will only require two skeins of Shangri-La per color.

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Shangri-La Wonder Woman Shawl
Finished Size: 76" wingspan, 13" height
Needles: US 3 Fixed Circular
Yarn: Shangri-La 50% Tibetan Yak/50% Mulberry Silk, 400 yards in 2 oz. -1 skein Ruby and 1 skein Gold (sample knitter had .8oz Ruby and .7oz Gold remaining).
Pattern: Knit Wonder Woman Wrap by Carissa Browning