Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Weaving with Hand-Dyed Yarns

We've spotted some gorgeous projects woven with our yarns in recent years; one of our all-time favorites is the Outlandish Tartan Scarf in Lhasa Wilderness, which is an excellent yarn choice for weaving due to the strength of the bamboo fiber in this yak and bamboo blend.

While the Tartan scarf example linked above is stunning, newer weavers may find it a bit daunting - but don't worry! Beautiful results can be achieved with more basic techniques such as plain weave, just by varying the yarns used for the warp and weft. The warp is simply the yarns that are held under tension on your looms - think of them as the foundation upon which you'll build your project. The weft refers to the yarns you use to pass through the warp.

Weaving has special challenges that can strain a short stapled fiber such as yak, bison, cashmere or qiviut - but it doesn't mean that you can't weave with it! As warp yarn is subjected to a lot of tension, it's important to use a yarn that blends yak with a longer stapled fiber such as silk, bamboo, nylon, etc. When it comes to weft, your menu of options widens to just about anything your heart desires!

On the whole, yak is a very durable fiber that holds up well for all fiber arts; yak yarn and weaving can actually work quite well together! Shangri-La (yak/silk), Lhasa Wilderness (yak/bamboo) and Tibetan Dream (Yak, nylon) are all excellent yarn choices which have been very popular in weaving circles for quite some time.

While there are many ways you can experiment with hand-dyed colors in your weaving project, here are a few ideas to get you started!

Example #1: Semi-Solid Warp & Weft
In the sample swatch pictured at left, we've used Laoghaire for both the warp and weft.  

Example #2: Variegated Warp & Semi-Solid Weft
In the sample swatch pictured at left, we've used Coastal Breeze for the warp and a semi-solid for the weft (we recommend trying Deep Teal or Azure).

Example #3: Variegated Warp & Weft
In the sample swatch pictured at left, we've used Joseph for both the warp and weft.

Example #4: Semi-Solid Warp & Variegated Weft
In the sample swatch pictured at left, we've used Laoghaire for the warp and a variegated color way for the weft.

Bijou Basin Ranch will be attending the Intermountain Weavers Conference in Durango, CO this July 27-30, 2017, and we're excited to share more weaving inspiration & tips with you between now and then!

Friday, March 10, 2017

3 Tips for Working With Multiple Colors of Yarn

On our last blog post, Jonathan of MJ Yarns shared several ways to combine colors from our Master Color Series 2 Palette, Winter Begone! Today, we'll share some of our favorite tips for working with multiple colors of yarn within the context of any project.

1. Swatch it out.
Since you're knitting a swatch anyway, why not experiment with color placement as you knit? When determining the color order for the Sand Layers Shawl kit, our sample knitter experimented with color placement while swatching:


There's no need to make multiple swatches - unless you want to, of course!

2. Does it pass the B&W photo test? 
While we always recommend swatching before starting a project to ensure that you have the correct gauge, here is a shortcut to determining whether or not the colors you've chosen have enough contrast - without knitting a single stitch!

First, arrange your skeins in the order they will be used & snap a photo (you can also wrap strands of yarn around a knitting needle or bobbin as we've done here, if you prefer).


Next, convert it to Black & White (your phone or photo editing app may call this Grayscale).


Some color combinations have less contrast once the hue is removed, which means that as the eye views the colors in the context of a finished project, they may become muted instead of contrasting crisply. In the example above, the blue and purple color are difficult to distinguish, but the addition of the yellow-green yarn between both the blue and purple color produces a crisp contrast.

3. Manage yarn for color dominance.
Did you know that how you hold your yarns can affect how the colors appear in the finished project? Ysolda Teague shared this case study demonstrating how holding a working strand of yarn either above or below the contrasting color (or colors) or yarn affected the overall appearance of each color in a Fair Isle project.

This also holds true for stranded color work, as we saw in one of our favorite project kits, the Xanadu Snowflake Cowl by Julie Crawford. Here, the stranded snowflake motif "popped" by holding the Main Color (Mocha) over the Contrast Color (Natural White).


We hope you find these tips helpful when approaching your next color work project. Please share your projects using our Master Color Series yarns (or any other Bijou Spun yarns!) with us on Instagram using the #bijoubasinranch hashtag!

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