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Bijou Basin Blog

Yak Knitting Pins Are Here!
New for spring, we have some fun new pins to show your love of all things yak. The BBR Yak Knitting Pin will look great on your lapel or project bag, and it's the first in our series of custom made enamel pins available in our store.
These pins will be making their debut in the Bijou Basin Ranch booth at the DFW Fiber Fest this coming weekend, too - come say hello & check them out!
We're giving away a Yak Knitting 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 enter your subscribed email to unlock bonus entries if you wish!)

We will randomly select our winners to announce in our newsletter and social media channels next Thursday, April 13. Good luck!
Click here to enter our BBR Yak Knitting Pin giveaway.
Be sure to share photos of your BBR Yak Knitting pin with us on social media using the #BijouBasinRanch hashtag in your post!

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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!

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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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.

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

New Tutorial & Molten Metal KAL Recap
Staci Perry of VeryPink.com recently shared a tutorial featuring our Beau Felted Wrap kit; this is one of our most popular patterns at nearly every show we attend, and it includes instructions to make both a knitted and crocheted version!

Staci will take you through the steps to make this project from start to finish, including the felting process! If you have never tried felting a project on purpose and are apprehensive to give it a try, we recommend checking out this free video:

Discounted project kits are still available here in our online store - you'll get both versions of the pattern, 7 skeins of yarn (in your choice of natural and hand-dyed Himalayan Trail), BBR project bag, and an Allure sampler pack! 

We'd love to see your finished Beau & Belle wraps, so be sure to share them with us here on Ravelry!

Speaking of Ravelry, our Molten Metal KAL recently drew to a close in our Ravelry group, and we have lots of fabulous FO's to share! Here are just a few of the beautiful projects knit by our group members:

Clockwise from top left: sandy4cats' cowl in Very Berry, clemons3781's cowl in ___, tango42's cowl in Treasure, laurens's cowl in Deep Teal, and sneate's cowl in Coastal Breeze.

Even though the KAL has ended and the prizes have been awarded, we still have discounted project kits available if you would like to knit one for yourself - it also makes a great gift for the holidays! Click here to choose your color of Lhasa Wilderness yarn from a variety of semi-solid and variegated hand-dyed colors.

Make Room for Something Big
Our first collection of limited edition colors on our limited edition Big Bijou Bliss base did so well that we scared up some more skeins for the folks at MJ Yarns to dye! We took the Big Bijou Bliss II colors to Rhinebeck earlier this month, and will have some skeins in our booth at SAFF this Halloween weekend -  you can also order BBBII here in our online store

One of our blogger friends, Knitting Sarah, shared a hat project knit with Big Bijou Bliss, and we loved it so much, we asked her to write another guest post to share her thoughts on working with this very special yarn. We hope you enjoy her post below, and be sure to check out her blog at knittingsarah.com

Big Bijou Bliss II, from L-R: PTX, Peacock, Fire Dragon, Mystery & Joseph II.

When I think of Bijou Basin Ranch, I automatically recall the first skeins of Bijou Bliss I purchased. The incomparable softness of the sport weight 50/50 yak/cormo blend captured my knitter’s heart and imagination at first touch. The mitts I knit with them are so warm & cozy that I literally look forward to wearing them every day. This fall my mind was blown once again when I discovered that the amazing folks at Bijou Basin Ranch had taken this classic blend and beefed it up for a limited edition worsted weight yarn. I knew I had to get my hands on this new yarn as soon as possible.

Big Bijou Bliss is made with that same Bijou Bliss 50/50 yak/cormo blend, but adds a bit more twist. It’s just enough twist, too – enough to allow for the creation of an excellent quality, durable worsted weight, but not so much as to detract from the unparalleled softness that we know and love in the Bijou Bliss family. In your hands, quite frankly, it is a treat. The added twist makes all the allure of this yarn slightly more understated than its sport weight counterpart, but that signature hand and warmth are there. Trust me, they’re there. And it packs a wallop of decadence while you’re knitting (and when you get to wear it, too). It’s such a joy to knit, in fact, that once I started knitting with it, I couldn’t put it down!

I chose to knit a hat with my special skein of Big Bijou Bliss and it’s fair to say that I was directly influenced by the beautiful hand-dyed colors available in this blend. MJ Yarns is the skillful dyer behind the limited edition Big Bijou Bliss colorways and I’ll be honest – I think they’re all equally gorgeous. With a lot of help from friends, I settled on the Lakeside colorway, but really regardless of your preferences there is a colorway for everyone in this lot. As I got down to the business of searching patterns, I found one called the Weather the Weather Hat by Megan Williams of Stockinette Zombies. The wavy lines reminded me of the endless series of waves that make their way toward the shore when you’re sitting… you guessed it, lakeside. And a project was born.

As I mentioned, once I started this project I barely put my needles down to sleep. The knitting was just that good. I knew before I was finished with the ribbing that it was going to be phenomenal. The way the colors were distributed across the yarn, the way the Big Bijou Bliss so elegantly displayed the stitches – it was one of those projects that just made me feel like I’d hit the jackpot. It was the kind of project you don’t want to finish because it would be you’d have to stop knitting it, but at the same time you can’t stop yourself from hurdling toward the end of it. I literally knit up this hat in less than twenty-four hours. Seriously, it was just that good.

A few days later, I had my Big Bijou Bliss Weather the Weather hat in my pack on the trail with my family. I’d brought it to snap some photos of it and shortly after I’d done just that it started to drizzle. Where I live in Wisconsin, in late September a light drizzle can chill you down to the bone pretty quickly. I grabbed my new hat and – you guessed it – I weathered the weather, Big Bijou Bliss style. I was as cozy as they come and finished out our hike with a smile on my face, thankful for the big beautiful yak & cormo fibers -not to mention the crew at Bijou Basin Ranch that made them into yarn -- that kept me warm.

Sarah Chy is a Wisconsin-based knitter, spinner, writer, and small-scale family adventurer. You can keep up with her latest crafty projects and family hijinks on her blog, knittingsarah.com.

Master Color Series 1: Winter is Coming

We're pleased to reveal our newest palette of exclusive colorways dyed for us by MJ Yarns! Each set in our Master Color Series will contain colors which complement each other, making it easy to choose the perfect colors for your next project...because no matter what you pick, they'll all look great together!

We've chosen our luxurious 100% Mongolian Cashmere base Xanadu, a light fingering weight which is perfect for stripes, colorwork, or to use all on its own. You can mix and match within our hand-dyed palette or add in colors from our existing mill dyed colors found here if you dare. However, for today's blog post, we'll be focusing on this palette of 6 new colors, which we've titled Winter is Coming as a nod to the popular show from which each gets their name and inspiration.

Shown above, from L-R: Winterfell, Sunspear, Dragonstone, Mereen, Dreadfort and Westeros.

It can sometimes be difficult to see how a collection of colors plays well when paired up in different combinations, so we've created some sample palettes to give you an idea of color combinations you can try for your next project.

From Top to Bottom: Westeros, Sunspear, Dreadfort and Dragonstone. In this palette, it becomes apparent that the last two colors are quite similar in value and tone (Dreadfort and Dragonstone), and don't have as much contrast as the first three colors (Westeros, Sunspear and Dreadfort). For some patterns, this could be a very desirable effect - for instance, those which were designed for gradient and skeins of yarn with long color repeats.

Here is this same palette, with the colors in a slightly different order:

From Top to Bottom: Westeros, Dragonstone, Sunspear and Dreadfort.
Notice how changing the order of the colors creates a more balanced contrast between the four colors!

We're excited to also re-launch the Xanadu Snowflake Cowl kit for the season - the perfect way to prepare for wintry weather, if you ask us (plus, you receive a discount when you buy the yarn and pattern together!).

This colorwork cowl is knit in the round and then seamed together to create a super-warm double knit accessory using two colors of our Xanadu yarn. Below, we share some possible ways to pair up colors from the Master Series:

L-R: Dreadfort, Westeros and Sunspear. 
For a super-wintry motif, opt for Dreadfort and Westeros; or, pair up the warm neutral of Sunspear with the icy tones of Westeros to make a higher contrast project. 

From Left to Right: Winterfell, Mereen & Sunspear. 
You could pair Mereen with either of these neutral colors to produce a striking contrast. 

From L-R: Westeros, Dragonstone & Winterfell. 
Again, you could pair Dragonstone with either of these colors to create your cowl.

Series 1 of the Master Color Series will be available in our booth at Rhinebeck this weekend, and of course, we have them for sale here in our online store. While you're visiting us online, be sure to check out all of newest colorways added to our Indie Dyers series from MJ Yarns and Miss Babs

Of Pigskin & Paco-Vicuna
For us, fall means the final push of fiber festivals: our next stops are Oregon Flock & Fiber 9/23-9/25 and the Taos Wool Festival 9/30-10/2. We’ll have all of our new Indie Dyer colorways, which have never been seen before at either show - be sure to stop by to check them out if you’re attending! 

Fall also means supporting other great fiber related events such as trunk shows and KALs. If you missed our last blog post, click here to find out about the KAL we’re hosting in our Ravelry group for a new pattern, the Molten Metal Cowl

Discounted project kits are available for the Molten Metal Cowl!
We’re also sponsoring the Pigskin Party KAL, which just kicked off earlier this month and lasts for
the duration of the NFL football season (September 8, 2016 through February 6, 2017). You don't need to be a sports fan to join in the fun, and knitters, crocheters, weavers and spinners are all welcome. Click here to learn more about this KAL.

Here's the fun part: we've got some special deals cooked up just for participants!! Now through the Superbowl (2/5/2017), enjoy 15% off your yarn and fiber purchases at bijoubasinranch.com - just enter pigskinparty16 at checkout.

You can earn points for the KAL by making your project using NFL team colors, and we've got a special deal on Broncos-inspired colors in our Lhasa Wilderness and Himalayan Trail yarn bases, just to make things easy for you!

Last but not least, we’ve added our luxurious Paco-Vicuna yarn and fiber to our online store! Previously available only in our booth at fiber festivals, these exquisite fibers can now be found here in our shop - and yes, your purchase will earn points, provided you have signed up of course (and if you haven't, what are you waiting for?!).

Trust us: you haven’t experienced true luxury till you’ve tried Paco-vicuña. Paco-vicuña are a cross between alpacas and vicuñas and have existed for some time in small quantities in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina, with very few currently in the United States. Paco-Vicuñas have super-fine fiber like the wild vicuña, but with somewhat longer and denser fleece like the alpaca. We’ve just added Paco-vicuña yarn and fiber to our online store. We work with a Colorado farm called Jefferson Farms to source the highest quality fleece and fiber! Choose from several natural colors in Grades 0 and 1 here in our online store.

We hope you’ll share your fall projects made with our yarn & fibers with us on your social media channel of choice - be sure to use the #bijoubasinranch hashtag in your post so that we can see what you’re making!

Molten Metal KAL + Upcoming Events

Fall is just around the corner, and now is a great time to get ready by starting a new project with one of our luxurious yarns. We're hosting a KAL here in our Ravelry group for the Molten Metal Cowl by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter now through October 31, and there are some great prizes up for grabs! 

This new pattern uses just 1 skein of Lhasa Wilderness yarn and was designed especially for the variegated colorways in our Indie Dyer Series (though it would also look great in any semi-solid hand dyed colors, too!). The Molten Metal Cowl pattern will keep you interested as you knit, and the result is a beautiful cowl with excellent stitch definition, lovely drape, and unparalleled softness. 

We are offering a discounted project kit here on our website which includes a skein of Lhasa Wilderness in your choice of colors, plus a print copy of the pattern; should you want to knit this pattern with a different yarn from our online store, we also offer individual copies for purchase here

These kits will also be available at any of our upcoming shows, such as this weekend's Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival in Jefferson, WI! 

Big Bijou Bliss in Joseph
Speaking of shows, we'll have lots of exciting stuff making their debut in our booth this fall, such as Big Bijou Bliss, our limited edition worsted weight version of our popular Bijou Bliss sport weight yarn. We'll also have all of the latest hand-dyed colorways to join our Indie Dyer Series for you to squish and squeeze to your heart's content, starting with our house and limited edition colors from MJ Yarns on Lhasa Wilderness, Himalayan Trail, and Big Bijou Bliss, plus new hand dyed colors from Lost City Knits on Shangri-La, new gradient and ombre colors from ModeKnit Yarns on Tibetan Dream sock yarn, and the latest creations from Lattes & Llamas on Lhasa Wilderness. 

Vibrant new colors from ModeKnit Yarn
Also new for our fall show circuit will be samples knit with these new colors which we'll have on display in our booth. If you see something you fall in love with, you're in luck - you can get the pattern free with yarn purchase. Shown below is the Atwood Shawl knit up in one of our new ModeKnit Yarn colors, and there will be more samples awaiting you in our booth!

Here Be Dragons....and Rewards!
First, we have a restock alert: our Big Bijou Bliss in Purple Dragon flew off the shelves (pun intended) - but we found a way to source more! Get yours while supplies last here in our online store. If you're just now finding our blog, be sure to check out our previous post featuring these limited edition colorways which are dyed especially for us by MJ Yarns, found here.
Have you ever wished you could get rewarded for buying yarn? If so, you're in luck! We've just unveiled the BBR Rewards program for our most loyal lovers of luxury yarn. If that last sentence describes you, then click here to join - it's FREE and you can start earning points right way! Each online purchase will earn you 5 points for every $1 spend, so they'll add up quickly and can be redeemed for valuable rewards. 

New Indie-Dyed Colors & a Coupon Code!
August is here, and we're kicking this month off with lots and lots of new hand-dyed colorways from Lost City Knits, Lattes & Llamas, and Mode Knit Yarns. They're the latest to join our ever-growing collection of colors made just for us, and they're all available here in our online store 24/7.

The folks at ModeKnit Yarns have come up with 12 limited edition gradient and flow colorways in our Tibetan Dream yak/nylon fingering weight yarn! Choose from a variety of hues ranging from subtle to oh-so-bright:

These ombre-style gradients feature subtle, gradual shifts of color fading from dark to light. 

Each color gradually & gracefully shifts from black to a vibrant hue, creating long color changes as you knit or crochet.

These eye-popping colorways feature a number of gradual color changes in each skein as you knit or crochet.

But that's not all! Lost City Knits has added 2 new hand-dyed colorways to their custom color collection in Shangri-La, our luxurious yak & silk laceweight yarn: 

Lattes & Llamas has added 3 shaded solids to their custom collection in Lhasa Wilderness yarn - perfect for stripes and colorwork projects:

If it's been a while since you've visited our website, stop on by to see what's new. Hint: you'll definitely want to check out our Indie Dyer section for limited-edition, can't-find-anywhere-else colorways!

Last but not least, since we won't be attending Stitches Midwest, please enjoy this special discount when you shop our online store this weekend - just enter NASMW at checkout to save 15% off your entire yarn purchase today through Midnight MST 8/7/16.

New Colors from MJ Yarns!
When we announced our new house colors last month, we hinted that more was yet to come. This month, we are pleased to unveil 5 gorgeous new limited edition colorways from MJ yarns which are available on our popular Tibetan Dream sock yarn base, as well as an exciting option we're calling Big Bijou Bliss.
Big Bijou Bliss in Joseph
Big Bijou Bliss (or BBB for short) is a worsted-weight version of our well-loved Bijou Bliss sport weight yarn, and both are a soft and springy blend of 50% Tibetan yak and 50% Cormo wool. Each skein has 160 yards, which is perfect for lots of small projects such as hats, fingerless gloves and more.
Big Bijou Bliss in Cerulean Twilight
BBB is a limited run yarn base, which means that once it's gone, it's really, truly gone! We think that these gorgeous variegated colors are the perfect way to get ready for fall (it'll be here before you know it).
Big Bijou Bliss in Mice and Men
The Bowline hat pattern from Tin Can Knits is a great one-skein BBB project that you can knit for the entire family: it's sized for baby through Adult L, and the unisex stitch pattern looks good on everyone!
Tibetan Dream in Lakeside
Sock yarn lovers, take note: we also have these new hand-dyed colors available in our yak and nylon blend, Tibetan Dream. One skein is all it takes for a variety of projects, from socks to beautiful shawls and wraps. If you've been thinking about casting on for the Spindrift Shawl or Pebble Beach Shawl, both by Helen Stewart, any of these new colors would be the perfect choice!
Tibetan Dream in Purple Dragon
Of course, the Purple Dragon colorway has us thinking about Game of Thrones, and there are a lot of great GOT-inspired patterns on Ravelry that would be a great matchup for Tibetan Dream in this color, such as: Mother of Dragons by Laura Smoot, Winter is Coming by Sally Cameron, and Lord Varys by Jill Bickers. We'll make it easy for you, click here to view more GOT-inspired patterns for fingering weight yarn over on Ravelry!

Whatever color & yarn you choose, we hope you'll share your project with us here in our Ravelry group or over on Instagram using the #bijoubasinranch hashtag. Happy knitting & crocheting!

Made in the USA: Behind the Scenes at BBR
L-R: Eileen Koop, Donna Vessey
(host of Hittin' the Road) & Carl Koop.
Here at Bijou Basin Ranch, we are a family-owned ranch that raises fully registered Tibetan yaks that have wonderfully glossy coats and produce a high quality fiber. If you haven’t knit with yak yarn (or a yak blend) before, you are missing out! Tibetan yak fiber is warmer than wool and has a softness similar to cashmere, making it ideal for lightweight garments and accessories.  As yak fiber takes time to develop, we work with other ranchers in the western states and abroad in Mongolia to supplement the fiber needed to produce our extensive range of high-quality yarns.
Processing and Dyeing
Since our big focus is raising happy yaks (happy yaks produce better fiber!) we also work with a variety of US-based mills and independent American dyers to turn this precious fiber into the kind of yarn that you can’t wait to work with in colors which range from vibrant to subtle in both solids or variegated. For us, it just made sense to work with dyers who were already at the top of their game and doing amazing things, kind of like a party with some very talented friends. Here are some of the indie dyers you'll find in our online store:

  • Miss Babs, based in Tennessee
  • MJ Yarns, based in Colorado
  • Lattes & Llamas, based in Pennsylvania
  • ModeKnit Yarns, based in Minnesota
  • Lost City Knits, based in Oklahoma
Of course, we think that the perfect way to care for your gorgeous knits in our yarn is with Allure Fiber Wash, which is made right here in the USA. This all-natural, biodegradable no-rinse wash is perfect for your special handwash-only treasures. After all, you spent so much time making something beautiful, it makes sense to keep it looking its best!
ModeKnit Gradient Yarn & Allure Fiber Wash
Show me the Yaks!
I bet you don’t think ‘cute!’ when you think of yaks, but they are actually quite cute. We were recently interviewed for a PBS show called Hittin' the Road (click here to watch the episode!) which recently aired - you can check out the interview with Carl & Eileen Koop (aka, the "family owned" part of the business) at the 3-minute mark in the video linked above. It's worth clicking over for the immediate joy of seeing our yaks frolicking in a field - who knew yaks were so bouncy!? Well, we did, but people don't usually believe us...now we have video proof!
And for some very short clips of seeing the yaks in the field being a bit less bouncy but every bit as cute, this three-part series of videos from Interweave is required viewing:

If you haven’t had a chance to touch a skein of yak yarn before, we hope to see you at one of the many yarn shows we are attending this year. We'll also be sharing some new hand-dyed colorways with you later this month, so stay tuned for more updates!

Getting to Know You: Bijou Bliss

Welcome to our new tutorial series from guest blogger Knitting Sarah! Sarah is a popular blogger based in Wisconsin, and she will be sharing her knitting know-how with you in this ongoing series. This is her second such post; click here if you missed her inaugural post about swatch knitting.
Bijou Bliss, a 50/50 yak/cormo blend, is the very first yak yarn I bought. Like many, I actually made my first purchase with very little idea of what I would knit with it – it was just so warm and soft that I simply had to try it. I grabbed two natural brown skeins and promptly brought them home.
We all buy yarn like this sometimes and it’s these types of purchases that can make finding a suitable pattern an interesting challenge. It’s one thing to purchase yarn for a pattern, but it’s a whole other situation when you buy the yarn with no plan in mind. So what do you do when you make this sort of purchase?
One of the first things I did with my Bijou Bliss was hop online to see what other have said about the yarn. In the case of Bijou Bliss, I discovered this in Bijou Basin Ranch’s product description:
“Designers rave about working with this yarn - stitch patterns really “pop”!”
Realizing no one knows this yarn better than those that create it, I can trust that if they’re telling me this yarn does marvelous things with stitch patterns, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to seek out some patterns with interesting texture & stitch patterning.
Armed with this insight, it was time to knit a swatch. If you’re truly starting from scratch, you can find needle size recommendations on the ball band of your yarn and start your swatch there. It can be as simple as knitting a 4”x4” square of stockinette or, if you think you might want to knit in the round, you can whip up a little cuff in the round. If you’re having fun and want to explore further, you can also grab your nearest stitch dictionary and play with stitch patterns – really there’s nothing stopping you! Knitting & washing a swatch or swatches lets you get a feel how the yarn knits up as well as allows you to garner important information like gauge, how the yarn changes with washing, and its stitch definition. It’s a window into discovering what makes a yarn really shine. Once you’ve got a basic working knowledge of your yarn, you’re ready to find the perfect pattern.
After swatching with Bijou Bliss I could see the beautiful stitch definition and I knew that this yarn blooms just enough to make it super cozy & soft. In every project, when I start to formulate what kind of pattern to look for, I always take what I’ve learned from my swatch & the recommendations I’ve read and I imagine what type of project would make the most of the yarn at hand. That’s the key to incredible knitting projects after all, finding a marriage of yarn & pattern that showcases what makes the yarn special. In my mind, I was thinking my ideal Bijou Bliss project would incorporate the key aspects that make this yarn unique – its warmth and softness, the slightly rustic appearance of the natural brown, & its stitch definition.
There are many ways to start a seeking out a pattern and one of my favorite places to begin with a new-to-me yarn is a general search for the weight of yarn and yardage just to see all my options. From there, I can start narrowing the field based on the options I’m find. In the back of my mind I’d be hoping to find some fingerless mitts with a pretty motif for my Bijou Bliss, so when I came across the Ashbury Mitts in my search I was pretty sure I had exactly what I was looking for. The Ashbury Mitts were actually created with Bijou Basin Ranch’s Lhasa Wilderness in mind, but I had a hunch that it would work equally well with Bijou Bliss.
I started knitting and my hunch was confirmed. The combination of texture set into these relaxed mitts played right into the hand of this yarn. It’s no coincidence, of course, that this pattern worked well. After all, the Ashbury Mitts met the criteria of my search exactly – lots of texture & stitch patterning to showcase the exquisite stitch definition and something that would play-up its warm & cozy nature. The Bijou Bliss gives this pattern a more rustic flavor than its original version, but that’s exactly what I was hoping. The mitts turned knit up beautifully.
What began as an impulse purchase of some gorgeous yarn, ended up leading me down the enjoyable, educational, and rewarding path of getting to know a new-to-me yarn. It’s takes time to really get to know a yarn, but it’s so worth the time investment. The journey of knitting my Ashbury Mitts has also got me thinking about more ways I can use the incredibly lovely Bijou Bliss. Yes indeed, I see a bright future and a lot more texture in my future with this wonderful yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch.

Sarah Chy is a Wisconsin-based knitter, spinner, writer, and small-scale family adventurer. You can keep up with her latest crafty projects and family hijinks on her blog, knittingsarah.com.

New Hand-Dyed Color Palette Reveal
This has been hard to keep under wraps for these past few months, but at long last we can reveal our brand-new palette of standard "house colors" for our popular Lhasa Wilderness and Himalayan Trail bases! Hand-dyed for us by a local Colorado Dyer, MJ Yarns, these semisolid colors are dyed especially to create colors with depth and character. The dye techniques employed may take a little longer, but that effort is well worth it for our customers who will find they don't need to work from two different skeins to avoid color pooling!

In addition to these standard colors, MJ Yarns will also be producing a set of Limited Edition colors on various blends for us, too. We'll keep you posted here on the blog, but we also recommend following us on your social media channel of choice (Facebook, Ravelry, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest) and subscribing to our newsletter for up-to-the-minute breaking news.

Without further ado, meet our new colors! First up, we have Himalayan Trail, our fingering weight blend of 75% Tibetan Yak and 25% Merino:
Top, L-R: Burgundy, Deep Teal, Charcoal.
Middle, L-R: Lavender, Blueberry, Azure, Olive.
Bottom, L-R: Scarlet, Soft Pink, Carrot, Sunshine, Pistachio.
Next, we have Lhasa Wilderness, an all-season sport weight blend of 75% Tibetan Yak and 25% Bamboo:
Top, L-R: Olive, Charcoal, Deep Teal.
Middle, L-R: Pistachio, Azure, Blueberry, Burgundy.
Bottom, L-R: Scarlet, Soft Pink, Carrot, Sunshine, Lavender.
Not sure how to care for yak yarn? Don't worry, we've got you covered - just hand wash with Allure Fiber Wash and dry flat. If you need a visual, check out our new Yak Care T-Shirt; it really doesn't get any easier than this!
We've also added another new t-shirt to our store: declare your love of all things Yak with our Straight Outta Elbert design:

All of the above is available now in our online store, and we'll also have our new yarn colors & t-shirts at the Estes Park Wool Market this weekend. If you planning to attend, be sure to drop by to say hello and see what's new!

3 Reasons Why A Poncho Should Be Your Next Project (Really!)
For those of you who are starting to experience warmer weather, the question of what to knit or crochet can be a little more difficult; it's hard to feel motivated to knit a sweater when you know that it will be months until you can wear it! There are lots of great small projects to make when the temperature rises, but today we want to share 3 reasons why a poncho should be your next project (really!):

1. Ponchos are great for changing seasons. The transition between winter and summer is rarely smooth - one day, you're wearing shorts and flip-flops, then next you are reaching for wool socks and a coat! A poncho is an easy way to layer up and be prepared for those crazy fluctuations of temperature. Yak, qiviut and silk fibers are a particularly good choice, because they are lightweight while still being warm & insulating.

2. Ponchos are easy to wear. Think of them as a shawl that is simply easier to style - just throw is on and you're out the door! We've heard many crafters comment that they love to knit or crochet shawls, but find them difficult to wear. A poncho is a great way to sidestep the issue while still getting that lovely shawl-wearing effect.

3. There's a poncho pattern for every skill level. Whether you're just starting out, or you've been knitting for years, there is a pattern to suit your preference and skill level. Newbies may prefer a simple construction such as knitting a large rectangle which is then seamed into a poncho; intermediate and experienced knitters may opt to try more adventurous techniques or stitch patterns to add an element of excitement to their project.

One of our favorite patterns is the Little Bear Poncho by Marly Bird, knit in Shangri-La 50/50 yak/silk lace weight yarn - click here to purchase pattern PDF or here to purchase discounted project kit.
If you're a fan of knitting with fingering weight yarns such as Himalayan Trail or Tibetan Dream, Carina Spencer's Winterberry Hood is a fun poncho to knit which also includes a functional hood.
Andrea Mowry's Yoga Shawl would be another lovely project to knit with either of these yarns substituted in - it's constructed exactly like a shawl (for all those die-hard shawl knitters out there!), but  can be worn as a poncho when both ends are buttoned together. How clever!

(Be sure to also check out Andrea's recent review of our Bijou Bliss yarn and Allure fiber wash, found here on her blog.)

Our Lhasa Wilderness yarn is a great go-to for warmer months; the yak/bamboo blend is great for year-round wear, but the breathability of bamboo is especially handy in the summertime. Monika Sirna's Amethyst Iris poncho would be a great project to knit with Lhasa Wilderness, and it comes in a range of sizes from child to adult.
We look forward to seeing your poncho projects over in the Bijou Basin Ranch Fan Club on Ravelry!

#MemeAYak Winner & May Updates
Wow! We were really impressed with the creativity of our fans for our recent #MemeAYak contest. From the pool of entries, we saw many clever and amusing entries, and since many folks were inspired to submit multiple memes, we thought it was only fair to enter each person's name into a a hat to draw for our prize winner. Congratulations to Raveler PamMaher, who says she was stuck in an airport and discovered our contest. We're glad we could provide a little entertainment to make the time pass a little faster (we hope!) - here is one of her funny entries:
We'll get in touch with Pam via Ravelry to arrange for the delivery of the prize, a skein of our Tibetan Dream sock yarn in the winner's choice of in-stock colors. Congratulations Pam, and many thanks to everyone who shared their entries with us on Ravelry, Facebook, and Instagram.
This Saturday & Sunday, we'll be at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival (MDSW for short) in Tent N4. We're pretty excited to return to West Friendship with all of your favorite yak & luxury yarns, including colors from our new Indie Dyer series - and don't forget the Allure! Be sure to also ask about our show specials on Paco-Vicuna yarn and roving in all natural colors, too.
If you can't make it to the show, don't forget that our online store is open 24/7. You can also click here to see our full schedule of events for 2016. See you soon!

Contest: Meme a Yak!
Greetings from the Ranch! If you are just finding us, Bijou Basin Ranch is a family-owned ranch located in Elbert, CO. We raise registered, full-blooded Tibetan yaks that have superior glossy coats which are harvested annually; we also supplement the fiber we harvest from our yaks by purchasing quality yak fiber from other yak ranchers across the country and abroad. Our herd has plenty of personality to go along with their fabulous fiber; many of our fans are already familiar with some our yaks: Napoleon, Yogan, Ruby, and Knit & Purl, just to name a few.

This spring, we'd like to invite our fans to create their own yak-tastic memes using some of our more memorable photos. How do you meme a yak, you ask? It's simple! This website allows you to upload any photo, and then enter your caption, which it will add to the photo in the "official" meme font (for anyone wondering, that would be Impact).

We'll randomly choose a winner from the pool of entries to announce on Monday, May 2, 2016 to win a skein of Tibetan Dream Sock Yarn in the winner's choice of select in-stock colorways!
Good luck!  

Here's how to enter our contest in 3 easy steps: 

1. Choose your yak. Right-click on any photo below to save the image to be used in your meme; the name of the yak is in the caption for each photo.
Cheyenne & Baby Cakes (left to right)

2. Create your meme. Visit this website to generate your meme: https://imgflip.com/memegenerator. You will need to upload the photo and then think of a clever caption!

3. Share your meme. Once your meme is created, you can share it on Instagram using the #bijoubasinranch and #memeayak hashtags, or here in our Ravelry group to be entered in our contest. 

Have fun & good luck!

Getting to Know You: The Power of the Swatch
Welcome to our new tutorial series from guest blogger Knitting Sarah! Sarah is a popular blogger based in Wisconsin, and she will be sharing her knitting know-how with you in this ongoing series. Enjoy!

From our very first stitches, we hear the word ‘swatch’ a lot. At first, the idea seems a little like torture. You’ve just learned to knit and instead of getting started on a fantastic new project, you’re told you need to knit a – let’s be honest – boring square of fabric first. Sometimes it takes all the discipline you can muster to force yourself to knit that swatch. There are some important reasons why we swatch, wash, and block our swatches, though – here are a few.

Achieving Gauge
The most common reason you hear for swatching is to ‘get gauge’. Simply put, gauge is a standard for measuring. As handcrafters, we all have our own touch with how we hold our yarn and needles. This means while you might knit a given yarn with a US 6 needle and get 16 sts and 26 rows over 4 inches, I might use the same needles and yarn and get 18 stitches and 28 rows over 4 inches. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but when it comes to getting a sweater or a pair of socks to fit it can have a huge impact. When you’re working an existing pattern, matching the recommended gauge insures that your finished project will turn out the correct size. 

Intricate cables in Lhasa Wilderness yarn.
Beyond Gauge
Understanding gauge is the most common argument for creating swatches, but it isn’t the only reason they’re helpful. Swatching with yarn is a lot like holding auditions. It allow you to get an idea for how a stitch pattern looks knit up in a certain yarn. Yarns are unique – some really pop with cables and some just lose them, some lend themselves to intricate lace and some don’t hold that openwork – the list goes on and on. Whether you are a designer developing a new pattern or a knitter who is browsing existing patterns, swatching can be an enlightening process that helps you really make the most of any yarn.

Swatching & Your Hands
There’s no doubt that there are a lot of technical reasons to make swatches, but what about the more subtle tactile elements? Beyond gauge, beyond finding the perfect pattern, swatching lets you get a feel for a yarn in your hands. Think of it like stretching before you go for a run – creating a swatch lets your mind and hands warm up to the feel of a yarn. If you knit a 4x4 inch square (or larger) before you set off on a new project, not only do you have all the technical gauge & stitch pattern questions answered you’ve now taught your hands how that yarn behaves. With this confidence and increased comfort level, you’re less likely to need to make multiple starts at your project and more likely to create a project that is consistent from start to finish.
Don't be afraid to try a few different stitch patterns in your swatch (shown here in Himalayan Trail yarn).
Blocking Matters
Let’s say you’ve made it through the process of knitting a swatch. You’ve hit the recommend gauge and you have a solid feel for the yarn in your hands. You’re done and can cast-on your project, right? Not quite! Most patterns offer the recommended gauge for a swatch that has been blocked. For some patterns this means a quick steam block, for others it refers to a full wet block for your swatch – really it comes down to the designer’s method so read your pattern carefully. Why does this matter though? Let me tell you -- if you thought different yarns felt different in your hands when you knit them, just wait until you see how they react when they’re washed! Different fibers, even different breeds, will wash up in their own unique way and don’t even get me started on fiber blends! One might bloom where another might contract, one may have excellent memory while another might just kind of relax. This can fundamentally affect gauge and how a stitch pattern looks in a finished project. The only way to know for sure that you’ve got a true handle on your yarn is to take this last step with your swatch: wash it, block it, and let it dry. Only then can you accurately measure your gauge and make a final assessment of the stitch pattern.
Tip: the bathroom sink is the perfect size for blocking your swatch in Allure.
The Swatch is Done, Now What?
Congratulations! You’ve knit your swatch, washed & blocked it, and you’re knitting away on your project. It looks phenomenal and you’re over the moon that you took the time to work your swatch. But now you have this swatch lying around – is it just trash? What do you do with it? You have options! You certainly can frog it and keep it if you think you might be tight on yardage for your project. You could take good notes on your needle size and what type of yarn it is and store it for future reference. It’s easy enough to pin it up on your inspiration board or maybe tuck it in a binder. You could even start a scrappy blanket and add your swatches to it as you finish with them. Really, there are loads of possibilities for giving your swatches a second life.

It may seem unnecessary, but swatching is an integral step in successful knitting. Once you accept the importance of creating swatches, you’ll really be able to take your knitting to the next level and get the most out of every skein.

Sarah Chy is a Wisconsin-based knitter, spinner, writer, and small-scale family adventurer. You can keep up with her latest crafty projects and family hijinks on her blog, knittingsarah.com.