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




Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Yes, You Can Weave With Yak! 3 Tips for Weaving with Luxury Yarns

Working with yak and other luxury yarns is a must for any handweaver's bucket list, but some weavers might be nervous about working with these precious fibers. The weaving process involves a considerable amount of tension and friction, and if your yarn isn't up to those challenges, your beautiful project can quickly become a disaster.

Here are 3 tips to help you weave with confidence using your favorite yak and other luxury yarns!

Tension Matters

Especially for luxury fibers, minimizing friction is the name of the game when planning your weaving project. A rigid heddle loom has only one point of friction since the heddle is also the reed, whereas a harness loom has separate heddles and a reed, which creates two points of friction. Additionally, a rigid heddle isn't tensioned as high, so fibers that would normally snap on a harness loom stand a better chance.

Fiber Considerations

Short-stapled luxury fibers such as yak or cashmere are wonderful to use as weft yarns, but for a warp yarn, you'll want to have another strong fiber such as silk, nylon, or bamboo blended in. Our two sample scarves which will be on display this weekend at the Intermountain Weavers Conference were woven with two of our yarns which fit this bill perfectly:

2/2 Houndstooth in Mice and Men and Charcoal, woven by Jonathan at MJ Yarns

Plain Weave in Joseph, woven by Handmade by Stefanie

Thoughts on Yardage

For any weaving project, there will be loom waste (the yarn that is unweavable at the beginning and end of a project). It's unavoidable! While the amount of unweavable yarn depends on the type and model of loom you have as well as your method for tying on the warp, a rigid heddle typically has lest waste than a harness loom. If you're looking to maximize all of that precious yarn, a rigid heddle is an excellent choice!

If you are wondering how much yarn you'll need to complete a specific project, there are some excellent tips from the Handweavers Guild of America to help you calculate the amount of yarn you'll need, found here. We also have some tips for beginning weavers found here in our blog archive!


We're pretty excited to attend our first-ever Intermountain Weavers Conference this weekend (July 27-30) in Durango, CO! We are going to bring the yarns best suited for weaving: Tibetan Dream, Lhasa Wilderness, & Shangri-La (you're going to LOVE this 50/50 blend of yak and silk!); we'll have skeins in every color in these blends along with select colors (and possibly some other exciting blends) on cones. See you there!

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Win a new Baby Got Yak pin!

If you like yak yarn and you cannot lie, our newest enamel pin is just for you! Baby Got Yak is the second pin in our ongoing series of custom-made, exclusive pins. Pin it to your lapel, backpack or project bag to declare your love for all things yak to the world!


We're also giving away a Baby Got Yak enamel pin to 5 lucky newsletter subscribers - click here to enter! (Hint: If you already get our emails, you are automatically entered in our drawing BUT you can also enter your subscribed email to unlock bonus entries if you wish!)

Click here to enter our Baby Got Yak pin giveaway.
We will randomly select our winners to announce in our newsletter and social media channels on Monday, July 31. Good luck!


Be sure to share photos of your BBR Baby Got Yak pin with us on social media using the #BijouBasinRanch hashtag in your post!

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Knitspiration: Light & Lovely Warm-Weather Projects

Lightweight, breathable yarns are the key to knitting through the summer months, and our yak/bamboo blend Lhasa Wilderness is a customer favorite when the temperature rises.

What makes this yarn such a great choice for warm weather? The addition of bamboo not only adds strength to the yarn, but breathability, too, thanks to microscopic holes in the cell structure of bamboo fibers which provide rapid absorption and evaporation of moisture.

Bamboo is also naturally antibacterial, a property that is sustained even after washing (in The Knitter's Book Of Yarn by Clara Parkes, bamboo fiber is said to retain its antibacterial properties through 50 washes of a garment).

When we were developing our summer palette for the Master Color Series, it seemed only natural to use Lhasa Wilderness as the base. Series 3 - Summer's Here features 6 bright & refreshing colors for summer, and we've created two must-make project kits for sophisticated sleeveless tops to keep you cool all season long:


Our newest kit is the Summers Here Striped Tank, a figure-flattering sleeveless top that's knit seamlessly in the round from the bottom up. Our sample is shown in Raspberry, Pineapple and Lime - click here to get your discounted kit!


The BBR Chevron Tank is knit in the round from the bottom up, shown here in Pineapple, Orange and Strawberry - discounted kits are available here!

Rainy days and air conditioning sometimes call for a knitted cowl to ward off unexpected summer chills. Here are a two lovely new designs from Andi Javori which use 1-2 skeins of Lhasa Wilderness yarn:


The Alora Cowl pairs a semi-solid (shown here in Blueberry) with a variegated color way (shown here in Joseph) to create a pretty oversized accessory. 


The Eton Cowl (shown here in Soft Pink) features textured stitches accented with glass beads; if you've been wanting to try knitting with beads, this is a great beginner project! 

We'd love to see what's on your needles this summer, be sure to share with us here in our Ravelry group or on Instagram using #bijoubasinranch in your post. Happy knitting!

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