Friday, November 2, 2018

Holiday Countdown: Simplify Your Shopping

It's never too early to start planning your holiday shopping strategy to avoid overcrowded stores, long lines and last-minute stress. Wouldn't you love to have all of your holiday shopping locked down by the time December rolls around? Not only would that make more time for knitting or crocheting, it also means that you can truly enjoy the season however you like: spending time with friends or family, enjoying festive activities, or perhaps hibernating with a special project and warm cup of cocoa.

We've designed our website to make things as easy for you as possible this holiday season. Here are some of our favorite features, plus a few time-saving tips to make your holiday season extra jolly this year!

Make Your List & Check It Twice
If you plan to knit or crochet gifts this year, now is the time to take stock. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • Are there any recipients missing from your current list for handmade gifting? Don't forget about Secret Santa or white elephant gift exchanges - and you may wish to make something special for your knitting friends, or even your hairstylist or favorite barista. 
  • Do you have the right color and weight of yarn? Is there enough yardage to complete the project?
  • Do you need to buy the pattern, needles, or other notions to finish any of the projects on your list?
  • Is there anyone on your list who WON'T receive a handmade item from you? If so, what will you be gifting them instead? Make special note of anyone who will be gifted yarn or other craft-related items, this will come in handy in a minute!

Easy & Convenient
Shopping online can save a lot of time and money, and we like to make things easy by offering several fast, easy, secure and convenient payment options - in addition to all major credit cards, we also accept PayPal, AmazonPay, PayPal Credit and ApplePay.

There's no need to sweat the shipping, either: if you have a list of yarns and other supplies you'll need, you can take advantage of our free shipping offer for all orders above $125. Don't need to buy that much yarn? All US orders below $125 ship for only $5.

So, let's say you'll be making fingering weight hats for 5 people in your family, and that you have some knitting friends you'd like to gift a skein of yarn to as well. You could purchase 5 skeins of Himalayan Summit in each family member's favorite color, at which point you will qualify for free shipping, and then add on a few more skeins of yarn, Allure, or one of our yak enamel pins for your fiber friends, all while earning points with our loyalty program!

Join The Yak Pack
Earning points while you shop is easy when you join the Yak Pack (did we mention it's free?) - and you can redeem points to keep costs down, too. We can't think of a better way to make the most of your holiday budget!

Help Is Never Far Away
If you have questions, concerns, or just need a little advice, try our chat line! You can see when we are online or offline, and of course, we are always just a quick phone call or email away (click here to visit our contact us page).

You'll notice that many of our products have reviews from our customers, but did you know that you can also ask questions about each product? Just click on the questions tab to see what other users have asked, or post your own question for us to answer. You can also let us know how helpful each response is by giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down!

100% Satisfaction
Especially when it comes to hand-dyed yarns, it can be difficult to accurately represent every subtle nuance of a color, and also keep in mind that colors can vary by dye lot. While we do our best to accurately photograph each yarn color, your computer screen, operating system, and even the web browser you use can affect how colors are displayed when shopping online (interestingly enough, smartphones and tablets tend to display colors more accurately than laptops and desktop computers!).

With that in mind, we've designed our customer service policy to ensure your 100% satisfaction: return any unused product for a replacement or refund at any time, no questions asked. 

Project Kits Make Great Gifts
Each of our exclusive project kits include yarn, a printed copy of the pattern, and other goodies that are sure to delight knitters - and you'll love the price! Many of our kits offer special savings and other perks when you purchase the yarn and pattern together in one convenient kit.

Gift-Giving Made Easy
Still not sure what to get your favorite knitter? Here's where our wish list and gift certificate options come in handy - both make it super easy to treat the knitter in your life to their favorite luxury yarns and fibers without all the guesswork.

We'd love to hear your own time-saving tips in the comments - and don't forget to pin this post to save for later!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Color Story: New Hand-Dyed Palettes On Your Favorite Yarns for Fall

As the air turns crisp, it's time to start thinking about warm, cozy projects to knit, crochet, and perhaps even weave with your favorite yarns. We've added three exciting new hand-dyed color collections on two of our best-love yarn bases to our Indie Dyer Series for fall. Get ready to be inspired!

From L-R: Forest Grove, Grassland, Force of Nature & Prairie Vista.
Inspiration photo by AJ Schroetlin.
Liz Jarman from Colorful Eclectic created a four-color palette inspired by the shortgrass prairie. Dyed on our luxurious Gobi Fingering, a blend of 35% baby camel and 65% mulberry silk, the EXPANSE collection features three semisolid and one variegated colorways to mix and match. 

From L-R: Favorite Boots, Barley Sunset, Days End, Sunflower Field and Blue Jeans.
Inspiration photo by Dan Ballard.
Since Liz has such a way with color, we were delighted to request one more collection of coordinated colors from her dyepots. ON THE RANCH features a muted, autumnal palette inspired by a day in the field and dyed on our Himalayan Summit Yak/Merino fingering weight base. 

Our third color palette features wild colors inspired by wild places. SERIOUSLY, IT'S IN TASMANIA! features 6 colors hand-dyed on Himalayan Summit fingering yarn by MJ Yarns. With names like Wombat Flat, Prickly Bottom & Big Hippo, they're sure to put a smile on your face and add a dash of fun to your next project.

Knitting Pattern Ideas
What's great about fingering weight yarns is that there are so many fabulous patterns which use this versatile yarn, and quite often, substituting in your preferred fiber blend is a snap! Here are a few of our favorite patterns to try with our newest colors.

The All About That Brioche shawl by Lisa H. is knitted in two colors of our Gobi Fingering yarn (35/65 baby camel/silk blend) from the Valkyries collection.

The Fog, Smoke, and Smog shawl by Stella E. is knitted with three colors of our Himalayan Summit yarn (50/50 Tibetan Yak/superfine Merino) from ON THE RANCH.

We have many more patterns especially for fingering weight yarns available here on our website, too. We look forward to seeing what you make this fall - be sure to share with us on Instagram using the #bijoubasinranch hashtag!

Like this post? Pin it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Demystifying Yarn Weights & Suggested Gauge

Have you ever wondered how the suggested gauge or weight of a particular yarn is determined? We often get questions from knitters who are confused about the roles that both yarn weight and gauge play in their project. Today we will cover both of these topics in depth so that you have a better understanding of how yar

Yarn weight refers to the thickness or diameter of the yarn that you are using. Generally, yarn weight is measured in either yards per pound (ypp) or wraps per inch (wpi). One of these two measurements will define the weight of your yarn - usually classified as lace weight, fingering, sport, DK, worsted, aran or bulky.

If you are trying to determine the weight of a specific yarn, the easiest way to use a WPI tool. This handy gadget allows you to wrap your yarn around it in a 1 inch measurement, allowing you to count how many wraps fit into an inch.

Note: For an accurate wrap count, ’be sure not to wrap your yarn too tightly or loosely around the WPI tool. If you’re interested in learning the knitty gritty details, Craftsy has an excellent post on how to measure WPI.

Gauge is related to yarn weight, but is slightly different. Gauge is determined by a combination of what weight you’re using and what size needles you’re using and is ratio of stitches (or rows) per inch.

Here’s the key difference: yarn will always be a certain weight (thickness) no matter how you knit (or crochet) it, however you can use any yarn at practically any gauge.

For example, you can knit fingering weight yarn on US #0 or US #1 needles and get a dense gauge (8 stitches/inch) which is appropriate for sturdy socks. However, you can also knit that same fingering weight yarn on US #6 or US #8 needles to create a more open fabric, with fewer stitches per inch, for something like a lacy shawl.

So you can always determine the correct yarn weight by how many wraps per inch, but you can’t always guess a yarn weight from a given gauge.

Ready for a few more complications? Yarn ball bands often come with a suggested gauge. This means that for the average knitter, if you use that particular yarn with the recommended needle size, you should get approximately that gauge when you knit or crochet with it. From there, the Craft Yarn Council of America extrapolates this average gauge to a yarn weight.

However, knitting tension can vary widely: some knitters knit tightly and others more loosely, and a lot of factors can affect the resulting gauge. So even though certain yarns may have similar average gauges, they may not actually be the same weight OR you may get a different average gauge with any given yarn than is suggested. This is why using gauge to determine your yarn weight is more problematic and often incorrect.

Ok, let’s try and apply all of this information using a skein of our own Himalayan Summit yarn. As you can see on the ball band, we classify Himalayan Summit as a fingering weight yarn and suggest that it knits up at an average gauge of 6 stitches/inch on US #3-5 needles.

First, using that Craftsy tutorial, let’s check the weight. Based on our WPI tool, Himalayan Summit comes in at approximately 14 wraps per inch placing it within the range of fingering weight yarn.
Now let’s try knitting the yarn at a variety of gauges.

You can see that when we knit Himalayan Summit on small needles (US #0), we get more stitches per inch than the average gauge given and create a very dense fabric.

If we go up a few needle sizes (US #3) we get closer to the suggested gauge, which creates a more drapey fabric.

If we go up a few more needle sizes (US #6) we get fewer stitches per inch, which creates a fabric with lots more space, where you can see the room between stitches.

All of the above have been knit with the same fingering weight yarn but produce very different gauges!

We hope this has cleared up some of the confusion surrounding yarn weights and gauge. If you have further questions or would like to share your projects with us, please follow us at @bijoubasinranch or tag your photos with #bijoubasinranch.

Like this post? Pin it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How to Choose The Right Yarn & Project For Summer Knitting

The long, hot days of summer are here, but that doesn’t mean you have to put away your knitting! You are cordially invited to the BBR Summer Camp, where we always have a tasty beverage and plenty of time for knitting! Today we share some tips for choosing the right yarn and project for summer knits, along with our carefully curated Summer Camp knitting kit.

Let’s jump in!

Think Small
When it’s 90 degrees out, the last thing you want is a huge sweater or blanket project on your lap! Smaller, lightweight projects like socks, cowls and other accessories are great choices because they won’t cover your lap, plus they are easy to stash in your purse or knitting bag for little league games, poolside knitting, camping trips, or wherever the summer takes you.

Use Cool Yarn
Fibers such as cotton, hemp or bamboo are fabulous yarn choices for summertime knitting. This time of year, our breathable blend of yak and bamboo, Lhasa Wilderness, is a customer favorite. The natural antibacterial properties of bamboo are an added bonus for this yarn!

Thin Yarn, Big Needles
Lace and fingering weights of yarn are the name of the game this time of year - wouldn’t you much rather knit a fingering weight shawl than a big, bulky scarf?! Don't be afraid to use larger needles than is recommended on the yarn label - this will produce a looser gauge, which means your finished knit will be less dense and way more breathable! For example, Tibetan Dream is our signature fingering weight yarn, which blends pure Tibetan Yak down with just a bit of nylon to create a soft and durable yarn. When knitted at a looser gauge on larger needles (for example, US 6 or 7), it creates a wonderfully airy fabric, as opposed to the denser fabric that would be made when knit at a tighter gauge on smaller needles.
Each limited edition BBR Summer Camp Kit comes with everything you see here!

The Perfect Project: BBR Summer Camp Kit

We make it easy to pick the perfect yarn and pattern in our newest limited edition kit! The Lily of the Incas Shawl by Kristin Omdahl features bands of stockinette and reverse stockinette and ties which are knit into the shawlette as you go. The beautiful scalloped edge is surprisingly simple to create, as you’ll see in this tutorial video:

This gorgeous shawl pattern uses just 1 skein of Tibetan Dream yarn and is knit with US 6 needles to make an airy, lightweight fabric that will keep the chill off your shoulders on cool summer nights.

Each kit includes your choice of yarn colors, a print copy of the pattern, needles from Indian Lake Artisans, and so much more to make you a happy camper (including 1000 bonus Yak Pak points you can use towards a future purchase!).

Our specially-made drawstring pack is the perfect way to take your project on the go, and it wouldn’t be summer camp with a specially-made tee shirt! We also include a limited edition BBR Campfire mug, and if you need some ideas on what to put in it, you’ll find our favorite recipes for tasty beverages here.

We look forward to seeing all of our happy campers’ projects - be sure to share them with us here in our Ravelry group or over on Instagram using the #bijoubasinranch and #BBRsummercamp hashtags in your post!

Like this post? Pin it!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

How (& Why) to Block The Canyon Steps Cowl with Allure Fiber Wash

Meet our newest exclusive project kit, the Canyon Steps Cowl! This fun-to-knit pattern designed by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter features a series of triangular motifs which grow larger as you knit. Shown here in the Brynhildr (undyed) color of Gobi fingering, this cowl would also look fabulous in any of our hand-dyed semisolid and variegated colors from the Valkyrie color series.

Canyon Steps uses just 1 skein of Gobi, a luxurious blend of baby camel and mulberry silk from Bijou Basin Ranch. It begins with a wide rib edging followed by 3 sections using charted and written instructions, and finishes with a wide rib edging with a stretchy bind off. It's a great project for knitters of all skill levels - if you can knit and purl, you can make this cowl!

Like many projects, this design benefits from a good wet blocking; we recommend using Allure Fiber Wash to bring out the best in this specialty fiber blend, and you'll receive a FREE bottle of Allure in the fragrance of your choosing when you purchase the yarn and pattern together in this convenient kit. You'll also get free shipping and 3 custom, hand-made stitch markers from Purrfectly Catchy Designs!

Why do we specify a fiber wash for finishing your project? It's quite simple: luxury fibers such as camel, silk, cashmere, qiviut and yak have no naturally-occurring lanolin or wax on them before harvesting, yet many fiber washes contain lanolin, waxes or other animal oils which are left behind on your garment or yarn after washing. Allure was specially designed by our resident chemist and co-owner of Bijou Basin Ranch, Eileen Koop, to create a true no-rinse, no residue wash that is also biodegradable, pH neutral and free of bleach, phosphates, synthetic fragrance and dyes.

To put it simply, Allure is a natural, rinse-free wash that will let the original softness of these luxury fibers shine!

Once your Canyon Steps Cowl is off the needles, it might looks something like this:

Here's how to use Allure to put the perfect finishing touch on your project:

Supplies for blocking the Canyon Steps Cowl using Allure Fiber Wash.
  1. Gather Supplies: in addition to Allure, you will need a small basin or sink, a few fluffy towels, and some t-pins or Knit Blockers (a handy tool for creating straight edges quickly). A tape measure and foam mats are also handy, though not required. 
  2. Fill your basin or sink with tepid water and add 1-2 capfuls of Allure per gallon. 
  3. Gently add your cowl to the water, pressing it into the water slowly to make sure that it is totally submerged. Be careful not to agitate it. 
    Washing the Canyon Steps Cowl in Allure Fiber Wash.
  4. Allow to soak for 10-15 minutes. 
  5. Gently remove your cowl and gently squeeze to remove excess water, being careful not to wring or twist.
  6. Place cowl on a dry towel and roll up, applying gentle pressure to remove excess water. 
  7. Remove from towel and place on either foam blocking mats or another dry towel, and begin to shape your cowl to the dimensions specified in the pattern. 
    Using T-pins to create a flat, straight edge on the Canyon Steps Cowl.
  8. Use t-pins (shown above) or Knit Blockers (shown below) to create a straight edge at the top and bottom of the cowl; allow to air dry away from sunlight.
    This time-saving tool quickly creates a straight edge via the plastic combs with sharp pins.
And that's it! Once your cowl is dry, you can enjoy wearing it for years to come using these easy care steps. We hope you'll share your project with us on Instagram using the #bijoubasinranch hashtag. Happy knitting!

Like this post? Pin it!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Summer Patterns & Knitter Projects in Lhasa Wilderness Yarn

With warmer weather approaching, you may find yourself conflicted with the urge to knit vs. the very natural inclination to avoid anything that will make you feel warm (such as projects knit with wool yarn). Don't worry, there's no need to stash those needles away for the summer: try knitting a project with Lhasa Wilderness yarn, our breathable blend of 75% Tibetan Yak and 25% Bamboo!

You'll find this yarn to be surprisingly cool, and we have a multitude of semisolid and variegated hand-dyed colors to choose from in addition to natural brown and natural cream (click here to see all your options!). Each skein has a whopping 250 yards, so there are quite a lot of projects you can make with just a few skeins of yarn. Fun fact: Bamboo is naturally antibacterial - just one more reason to love this yarn!

We've rounded up some of our favorite designs and knitter projects to inspire your next knit with this fabulous yarn.

Pattern Ideas
Take a trip without leaving your house with the Islander Shawl by Irina Eberhardt. This asymmetrical shawl combines eyelet, stockinette and garter stitches to create your own version of paradise as you knit. Best of all, it's knit in one piece with no picked up stitches!

The name says it all: Summers Here! This striped sleeveless top from Allura Linda Designs is knit in the round from the bottom up, then separated at the armholes to work flat for each side. Mix and match your favorite colors of Lhasa Wilderness to create a summery top that is uniquely yours.

The Alora Cowl by Andi Javori is knit flat the long way, then seamed at the ends to create an oversize cowl that will look great with any outfit. This is a fun way to pair up our variegated and semisolid hand-dyed color options, or you can opt to make a version with both of our undyed color options, natural brown and natural cream.

Knitter Projects

Remember the saying "Good things happen in threes?" That's how we feel about this trio of cowls that Ravelery Lizonfood has knit with our Lhasa Wilderness yarn! If you want to learn more about the pattern and project, you can visit these project pages on Ravelry (we also recommend similar colors from our current palette):
  • The Cameron cowl by Veronica Parsons is featured above in the top image; we recommend knitting it in our new Lavender color way if you want to achieve a similar effect. 
  • The Charlotte Lace Cowl by Patricia Hart is shown above in the bottom right image; try it in Raspberry for a similarly electric effect.
  • The Polypodium Vulgare Cowl by Hunter Hammersen is shown above in the bottom left image; a similar color option would be Pistachio.

We have also spotted several recently-finished projects using our FREE Culebra Simple Shawlette knitting pattern! It's so fun to see which colors of Lhasa Wilderness each person chooses for their project. Clockwise from top left: Ipiatek's project in Natural Cream, Ribbity's project in Lohengrin, Catmujer's project in Culloden, and Minnebelle's project in Teal.

You can get your own copy of the Culebra Simple Shawlette by signing up for our newsletter here.

Be sure to share your projects with us on Instagram using the #bijoubasinranch hashtag. Happy knitting!

Like this post? Pin it!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Spring Shawls and Short Row Knitting Tutorial

Spring is here! Despite the fact that some of us are still digging out of snow, spring and summer are definitely on their way (we promise!). With those seasons comes mild weather and air conditioning. Each year we’re on a quest to find the perfect spring shawl to combat the chill.

Today we’re excited to talk about the Culebra Simple Shawlette, a free pattern designed by Marly Bird that calls for two skeins of our luxurious Lhasa Wilderness, our 75% Tibetan Yak/25% Bamboo sport weight yarn. Pick a bright springy color from our brand-new Reflections Color Collection or stick with a classic natural cream color that will go with everything!

L-R: Visionary, Enthusiast, Fantasy, Stargazer and Daydreamer, dyed exclusively for us by Colorful Eclectic

Culebra starts at the outer edge with a lace border and then the remainder of the shawl is “filled in” by knitting short rows back and forth. We have done a mini-sample today to illustrate the technique.

Shawls that start at the outer edge are a bit daunting to cast on, since you’re starting with the maximum number of stitches at the front end. We recommend using stitch markers to aid in casting on. Select a moderate section of stitches (we suggest 25) and place a stitch marker after each group of 25 stitches to aid in counting if you lose track. Once you begin your first row you can remove the stitch markers as you go, or move them to indicate pattern repeats.

In this case, you will begin with a lace pattern which is both charted and written for your ease. Again, we chose to knit a mini-sample so it won’t look exactly like yours but is just meant to give you a bit of an idea how the lace will look.

Once you have completed the lace section, it’s time to work on your short rows. If you haven’t knit short rows before, this technique is used to create sections of shaping in knitting. Short rows are rows where you only knit a subset of your stitches; that is, you don’t knit all of the stitches on your needle, but rather a short row. Short rows are used for a variety of applications: to add bust shaping to to garments, to add extra length at the back of a sweater, to create triangles or wedges in your knitting, and many more. Short rows can be knit with wraps and turns or double stitches to make the technique blend into your knitting. For Culebra, you will be knitting in garter stitch which will hide your wrapped stitches, so these will be fairly simple with not a lot of extra work.

Culebra instructs you to knit just a bit more than halfway across your finished lace section (the pattern specifies the stitch count, but obviously it a bit different in our sample) and then turn your work. Then you will knit back just a short section of stitches and then turn your work again. You have just created your first short row - the first layer at the bottom of your shawl. You can see that once you have knit these two rows with turns that your short row section stands out a bit, apart from the rest of your knitting.

Now you will fill in with the next short row. Knit back across your stitches until you come to the stitch where you turned your work last time. To close the slight gap you will knit that stitch together with the next stitch (k2tog). Then you will knit 3 additional stitches beyond that and turn your work again. Repeat the process on the wrong side of your work - knit to the stitch where you stopped on the last row, k2tog to close the gap, and knit 3 additional stitches before turning your work again. And that’s it!

You will continue in this manner, each additional row growing by a few more stitches until you run out of stitches to incorporate into the rows.

When you have run out of stitches to work, you will work one final knit row and then bind off. Your perfect spring shawl is complete!

Like this post? Pin it!