Thursday, February 16, 2017

Master Color Series 2 : How to choose colors for your next project

Jonathan from MJ Yarns dyes many gorgeous colorways for us, from our shaded solid house colors in Lhasa Wilderness and Himalayan Trail to several stash-worthy limited edition yarn colors on several of our bases. He is also our official dyer for the ongoing Master Color Series, which is dyed on our luxurious 100% Mongolian Cashmere yarn, Xanadu. We've just released Series 2 - Winter, Begone and asked Jonathan to share some of his favorite color combinations from the palette as well as tips for choosing colors for any project you'd like to make.

Color Story

The Winter, Begone! palette from Master Color Series 2 is inspired by the greatest of winter warmers - a fine cocktail, for which each color get its name. Here is a quick introduction to the palette if you missed it:

Macbeth is a much stronger green reminiscent of the evergreens that hold the promise of life in the dark winter months. Like every color in this palette, I added just a little bit of earthiness to this green as a reminder that spring isn’t here just yet.

Absinthe is a gentle sage green with just a touch of cool earthiness. It is filled with all the vivacity of new leaves poking through the hard packed snow.

Beneath Broken Earth is a solid purple and the darkest of this group. The combination of a little red and orange for heat and some cool blue and grey make this purple rich and complex. It’s the perfect anchor to this series.

Maiden's Blush is a gentle red that captures the essence of the blooming crocus. It lives solidly in the warm side of the color wheel but just a bit of grey keeps it grounded.

Cosmo achieves the near impossible- a subtle yet rich and interesting pink. Like all the colors in this season's palette, Cosmo has just a touch of grey adding a level of sophistication and cool.

Blonde Ambition is the grey that brings this whole palette together. With just a dash of cool, it captures the essence of a freshly fallen snow with enough brightness to remind me that there is hope for warm days ahead.

Each of these stunning colors will stand alone for a gorgeous garment of any type - but if you want to blend them, there is tremendous opportunity for gorgeous gradients and fabulous color work.

Let's Talk Color! 

First, let's get a better understanding of how to approach working with multiple colors. Think of this as a short lesson in basic color theory as we cover some of the vocabulary for talking about color:

Hue: Hue is what we typically think of as color, and this palette has four: purple, red, green and grey (technically a shade of white, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll call it a hue in this conversation).

Tone/Shade: Overall, this palette has been shaded down from its purest hues - all 6 colors have some grey added, which means they’ll play well together when we get to actually combining different hues.

Value: Generally, we think of value as light or dark. This palette has four different value sets:

  • High value or dark color: Beneath Broken Earth; think of high value colors as good anchors.
  • Mid-value colors: Macbeth and Maiden's Blush. 
  • Light colors: Absinthe and Cosmo. These are essentially lighter versions of the mid-value colors just mentioned. 
  • Low or no value color: Blonde Ambition. These colors can act as frames to allow other colors to pop; they can also provide a gentle field of color that can be framed with darker colors.
TIP: When approaching any color palette, you can try sorting them according to value as we did in the example above to help choose which colors to mix and match! 

Color Relationship: When we place each of these colors on the color wheel, we see that we are dealing with complements or colors directly across from each other. Essentially, this palette boils down to red versus green with some purple standing next to the red and grey holding the whole thing together.

Color Combinations

Given the six colors we have to work with, here are some easy combinations to try:
L-R: Beneath Broken Earth, Maiden's Blush,
Cosmo & Blonde Ambition

  1. Temperature
    .
    • WARM: If we take all the warmer colors (including the slightly red-purple), we end up with Beneath Broken Earth, Maiden’s Blush and Cosmo. If we add the grey Blonde Ambition to the end, this creates a gorgeous gradient or could make for some interesting striping if done with alternating values: Beneath Broken Earth (dark), Cosmo (light), Maiden’s Blush(dark), Blonde Ambition(light).
    • COOL: We can do exactly the same thing on the cool side of the color wheel, again using Beneath Broken Earth as an anchor. The gradient palette would be: Beneath Broken Earth, Macbeth, Absinthe, Blonde Ambition. If you wish to work in alternating stripes, try: Beneath Broken Earth (dark), Absinthe (light), Macbeth (dark), Blond Ambition (light).
      L-R: Beneath Broken Earth, Macbeth, Absinthe & Blonde Ambition.
  2. Contrast. There are a few ways to create interesting contrasts within this palette: 
    • Temperature, revisited: A piece using all of the warm colors listed above with little pops of the cool Absinthe or Macbeth would make for a stunning garment. The same is true in reverse - try using all of the cool colors listed above with pops of Maiden’s Blush or Cosmo. Norwegian colorwork mittens or an Icelandic sweater with these color combinations would be fantastic!
    • Value: Try combining Beneath Broken Earth (dark) and Blonde Ambition (light) as your contrast colors. Imagine a Stephen West shawl made using Beneath the Earth as a frame along with one of the middle value colors and Blonde Ambition popping out of the whole thing!
      Top: Blonde Ambition.
      Bottom, L-R: Macbeth, Maiden's Blush, Absinthe & Cosmo.
There’s any number of ways that the colors from the Master Color Series 2: Winter, Begone! can be combined. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

One last note: when combining radically different colored yarns, it’s always wise to be very careful in the washing and blocking process. At MJ Yarns, we take extensive measures to ensure that every skein is perfect, that the dye is set and any excess dye is removed but sometimes even the best efforts leave a bit of dye behind.

When you block your project, it is safest to use cold water and add a splash of fabric softener. The softener has something in it that will keep excess dye suspended in the water instead of depositing on the yarn where you don’t want it.

Jonathan Berner started MJ Yarns to live in a yarnie world of beauty, truth and honesty. As a manager for a major shipping company, he learned exactly what he didn't want from a job. Finally, Jonathan decided to turn his knitting obsession in to a career. His dedication to artistic merit and business acumen from the corporate world make for some of the most incredible yarn around.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Winter Begone: Master Color Series 2

Our inspirational palette
Not sure you can make it through six more weeks of winter? Don't worry, cashmere makes it all better, and our 100% Mongolian Cashmere base Xanadu is a light fingering weight which is lightweight and soft, yet oh-so-warm - perfect for the weeks ahead.

Warm up with the latest installment of the Master Color Series, which we've just released in our online store. Series 2, Winter Begone, features 6 exclusive new colorways dyed for us by MJ Yarns on our Xanadu base! Each color in the set complements each other, making it easy to choose the perfect color for your next project...because no matter what you pick, they'll all look great together!

This is the time of year when we start to hope for winter's end - but until spring arrives, the warmth and comfort of a fine cocktail and even better yarn can get us through the long, cold days. So, this time around we decided to name all 6 colors in this series after cocktails (you'll find recipes for each colorway below & on our website)!


Shown above (from L-R): Macbeth, Absinthe, Blonde Ambition, Beneath Broken Earth, Maiden's Blush & Cosmo.


We also have a new project kit debuting this month: the Sand Layers Shawl can be knit with 2 or more colors from Series 2 of the Master Color Series. For our three-color version shown here, we used Blonde Ambition (Color A), Absinthe (Color B) & Macbeth (Color C) in the following order: ABCABC. When you swatch, you can play around with the color placement to see which looks best to you, especially if you would like to use 3 or more colors - the pattern includes instructions for color placement when knitting this shawl using 2 colors.

Each kit includes a print copy of the pattern, your choice of yarn colors, a BBR project bag, samples of Allure Fiber Wash, and a custom-made stitch marker from Purrfectly Catchy Designs, and is available for a special discount.

Click here to purchase the Sand Layers Shawl Kit!

Like this post? Pin this graphic to Pinterest to refer back to our yarn & cocktail pairings!







Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pattern Inspiration: Natural Wonders

As winter drags on, so does the need for soft & snuggly neckwear. We've noticed that many of our fans have recently used our undyed yarns to create gorgeous shawls, scarves, and cowls to keep winter's chill at bay. Here are a few of our favorite patterns and projects spotted recently on Ravelry to inspire your next project!


Raveler PurpleDogwood crocheted this lovely scarf using 2 skeins of Lhasa Wilderness in Natural Cream. Sometimes a simple stitch is all you need! 


Raveler G-Knits made this gorgeous version of Justyna Lorkowska's Big Jim Shawl using Natural Borwn, Natural Cream, and one mill-dyed color  (Moss Green) of 100% Yak Sport Weight. We love how the natural colors play with the dyed yarn to add a little "pop" to this project!


Raveler Kathlynn knit this simple shawlette using two skeins of Lhasa Wilderness in Natural Cream.  

Designer Meghan Jones has created two gorgeous shawls using our yarns; Ivory Spires (shown above) uses two skeins of Tibetan Dream in Natural Cream and Abbey Glade (shown below) is knit with 1 skein of Tibetan Dream in Natural Brown. Both patterns use a variety of techniques (cables, lace, beads, and twisted stitches) to create these stunning projects for adventurous knitters. 

What's on your needles or hook right now? We'd love to see your yak-tacular projects over in our Ravelry group. You can also share them with us on Instagram using the #bijoubasinranch hashtag!

Coming Soon: Master Color Series 2!


Our next installment in the Master Color Series will be arriving in our online store soon!
Master Color Series 1, "Winter is Coming," was such a hit that we've teamed up again with the folks at MJ Yarns to bring you another great palette of hand-dyed colors on our luxurious 100% Mongolian Cashmere Xanadu yarn base. 

See if you can guess the colors & theme based on this teaser image!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Winner + Yarny Resolutions

Congratulations to Instagram follower anitakennett, our winner for our Xanadu yarn & Everyday book giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered our contest by signing up for our newsletter and/or following us on social media. We look forward to sharing lots of yarny inspiration with you in 2017!

Yarny Resolutions

People pledge to improve their daily habits, learn a new skill, or avoid doing (or not doing) something specific during the start of each year. In the knitting world, we often hear of people going cold sheep - that is, pledging to not buy any yarn for as long as possible (think of it as a 'yarn diet,' if that helps).

Knitwear designer Louise Tilbrook recently wrote an interesting blog post about this very subject - and, ultimately, why she intends to Give Cold Sheep the Cold Shoulder this January. We'd be lying if we didn't say that hers is a philosophy we can embrace wholeheartedly...after all, we do make for a living!

So for any potential cold sheep-ers out there, we have a few alternative resolutions to propose:

  1. Take a "slow fashion" approach. This phenomenon is centered around designing, creating & buying garments for quality and longevity. Applied to knitting, this might look like evaluating the makeup of a skein of yarn (especially how it is spun and the fiber content) to determine the type of pattern is is best suited for. For example, yak fiber provides excellent stitch definition, so it would be well-suited to a design that features cables or textured stitch patterns. You can find more helpful information about choosing the right yarn for your project here.
  2. Focus on what brings you joy. Indulging in a little luxury yarn can go a long way. Sometimes, a pretty skein of yarn is the perfect pick-me-up for a dreary winter's day. It can also make the process of knitting delightful from start to finish, and then of course there's the finished project that you get to wear & enjoy for years to come! 
  3. Try a Yarn Smorgasboard. Trying new-to-you-fibers can be a fun way to make surprising discoveries and expand your fiber horizons! When someone walks into our booth at fiber shows, we often ask them if they've ever knit with yak yarn - for many people, it's the first time they've learned that yak fiber can be made into yarn! When people pick up a skein of our Bijou Bliss yarn, we are often asked what Cormo is (for anyone wondering, it's a specific breed of sheep!). And if qiviut, cashmere, or bamboo haven't entered your knitting vocabulary just yet....we'd love to help you change that for 2017! 

As for us, we've resolved to add more gorgeous colors to our lineup, starting with these 3 new colors of Lhasa Wilderness yarn dyed exclusively for us from MJ Yarns:
From L-R: Joseph, Purple Dragon & Cerulean Twilight.
Speaking of MJ Yarns, we'll be holding a pop-up yarn tasting event this weekend at their studio in Lafayette, CO - click here for details on Facebook & to RSVP. We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Treat Yourself: Cashmere Yoga Socks from Everyday

During the sometimes-hectic holiday season, it's important to take a few minutes to relax & recharge - for many of our fans, stealing a few moments to knit on a special project each day can do the trick. While an intricate lace or cabled project certainly has "wow" factor, sometimes a simple, soothing knit is more your speed at the end of a busy day. Jen Geigley's new book, Everyday, is chock-full of simple yet interesting patterns to keep your needles busy this winter.
Our luxurious Xanadu yarn was used to knit one of the patterns in the book, Equinox. Here's what the designer had to say about it:
Equinox is a pair of 100% Mongolian cashmere stirrup thigh-high yoga socks. These socks are seamless and worked in the round from the bottom up and exude pure style and luxury. Knit using 2 hanks of Bijou Basin Ranch Xanadu yarn in black, you'll be ready to cozy up in these stylish socks all winter long.

We can't think of a better project to cast on right now as winter's chill sets in, and we're going to give one of our lucky blog readers a chance to win 2 skeins of Xanadu yarn in their choice of in-stock colors (enough to knit the project) and a print copy of the book!

To enter, you'll need to sign up for our newsletter by entering your email address on this form OR using the widget below (if you are already a subscriber, just be sure to use the email address that is already subscribed to avoid receiving duplicate emails from us).

We'll randomly select one lucky winner to announce on January 12, 2017 here on our blog. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What's On Your Wish List?

On our previous blog post, we shared some quick gifts to knit for just about everyone on your list, but today's blog post is all about YOU! We're sure that many of your friends and family would like to treat you to something related to your hobby, but just don't know where to start. We've made it easy by taking some of our most popular patterns and offering them as kits which come complete with pattern, yarn and some fun extras, too - they're perfect for gifting!

Give your loved ones a not-so-subtle hint by sending them link to this blog post, pinning to a "Wish List" board on your Pinterest account, or using Amazon Wishlist (hint: you can add non-Amazon items with the browser plug-in! to make things oh-so-easy for Santa Yak this holiday season.


Beau/Belle Felted Wrap - This kit includes instructions to make both the knit and crochet version of this felted wrap! It's one of our best-sellers at fiber festivals, and you can view a free tutorial here on the Very Pink Knits YouTube Channel.


Little Bear Folded Poncho - Featuring our luxurious 50/50 yak & silk blend yarn, Shangri-La, you can't go wrong! This poncho is oh-so-easy to wear and flattering on everyone.


Molten Metal Cowl - This one-skein cowl is the perfect instant-gratification project to chase the winter blahs away! Choose from a variety of unique hand-dyed colorways in Lhasa Wilderness, our yak & bamboo blend yarn.

Torrey's Peak Vest - Perfect for layering, this vest pairs garter stitch with striking cabled details. Choose from natural or hand-dyed colors of our yak and merino blend yarn, Himalayan Trail, to create a stunning wardrobe piece.


Xanadu Snowflake Cowl - This colorwork project is knit with Xanadu, our 100% Mongolian Cashmere yarn. You won't believe how soft & warm it is around your neck!


We also have some fun new t-shirts to wear your love of yak (and all things fibery) with pride! Click here to see all of our options.

Don't forget, our biggest sale of the year is on now through Midnight MDT on December 24 - our entire website is up to 25% off and all US orders ship free!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gift Knitting Inspiration & Holiday Sale

The holiday countdown is in full swing, and we're celebrating with our biggest sale of the season! Now is the perfect time to stock up on luxury yarn & fiber, including our exclusive line of colors dyed by some of the best indie dyers around - the more you buy, the more you save, plus all US orders ship free!


There is still plenty of time to make a thoughtful gift for the knitworthy person on your list, so we have compiled some of our favorite new patterns & projects spotted on Ravelry using BBR yarns to share with you today! First off, we have a two stunning scarves for those speedy knitters out there:
Hexworth by Alasdair Post-Quinn uses two colors of Tibetan Dream sock yarn to create a luxurious & warm double knit fabric.
Stratocumulus by Emily Johannes is knit with two skeins of our 100% Yak Sport Weight yarn to create a lovely textured scarf.

If you need a quicker project, why not try a cowl?
The Cheria Cowl by Emily Walton uses two skeins of Himalayan Trail fingering, a scrumptious yak & merino blend available in hand-dyed and natural colors.
You may recall the Molten Metal Cowl by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter from our KAL earlier this year; participants enjoyed this quick knitting project that uses just one skein of our Lhasa Wilderness yarn - click here to see a variety of colorways knit up on Ravelry!

Hats are another excellent go-to for last-minute gifts. Here are a few fun projects we've spotted recently:
Raveler Lhasany knit the Tied Knots hat by Justyna Lorkowska with our 100% Yak Sport Weight yarn - those cables really "pop" in this yarn!
Released earlier this year, Emily Johannes combined two of our most luxurious yarns, Himalayan Trail and Xanadu, to create the Helix Hat.
Our friend Knitting Sarah knit the Weather the Weather Hat by Megan Williams using a skein of our limited edition yarn base, Big Bijou Bliss.

We've also seen some lovely mitten projects recently:
Raveler katejones982 knit a free pattern, Regn by Halldora J, with just 1 skein of Bijou Bliss (though it sounds like she could have used a second skein to avoid a little yarn chicken at the finish line!).
Raveler Stefaniegrrr knit this pair of Laura + Maddy mittens by Teresa Gregorio with just 1 skein of Big Bijou Bliss.

Last but not least, don't forget to add some Allure no-rinse fiber wash to your order! You can tuck a small bottle in with your gift to ensure that the recipient cares for it properly, and you'll definitely want to keep one for yourself, too!