• 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!

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  • 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!

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  • 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!

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  • 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!



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  • All About The Brioche: Tips for Mastering Brioche Knitting

    This month, we are delighted to announce the return of Gobi, our fingering weight 35% baby camel/65% mulberry silk yarn. Available in 8 hand-dyed  colors from our new Valkyrie Master Color Series, each one is inspired by the powerful and strong mythic warrior daughters of Odin known as The Valkyries. These shieldmaidens ride the over the fields of battle and select the bravest and best warriors and them to the great hall of Valhala in the land of Asgaard. The durable and strong fibers in Gobi are the perfect base for these gorgeous colors, ensuring a warm, wearable garment with wonderful color retention.


    For  upcoming fiber festivals, we're offering a free copy of  Lisa Hannes’ All About That Brioche shawl pattern with the purchase of 2 skeins of Gobi yarn. This pattern is perfect for beginners, including short sections of 2-color brioche, along with longer garter color blocks. If you won’t be attending shows this year, you can easily make your own kit by selecting two contrasting colors of Gobi (a multi-color and a solid would be lovely) and purchasing the pattern. Our sample shown below is knit with 1 skein each of Brynhldr & Eir:

    We're selling out of colors fast but will be restocking as soon as we are able! 

    Brioche 101
    If you’re new to brioche, let us give you a short introduction and some tips and tricks to master this technique! First let’s talk about what brioche actually is: brioche is a knitting technique that creates a lofty, reversible, ribbed fabric. This is accomplished by slipping stitches and creating yarnovers that are knit together with stitches in the following rows. In many patterns, brioche is knit using two colors of yarn, although you can knit 1-color brioche as well.

    For the purposes of our discussion today, we’re going to show you 2-color brioche knitted flat using standard terminology found in most patterns. Brioche has its own language so we’re going to define a few abbreviations and terms here.

    Sl1yo stands for slip 1, yarnover, and it is a stitch you’ll be using on every row. What you will do when you see Sl1yo is slip the next stitch from your left needle to your right needle, while simultaneously wrapping the yarn around your needle from front to back. This slipped stitch and its corresponding yarnover will be treated as 1 stitch in the subsequent row.

    Brk stands for brioche knit, and you’ll sometimes hear it referred to as the “bark stitch.” When you see a brk stitch, you will be knitting the next stitch together with its corresponding yarnover that was created on the previous row.

    Brp stands for brioche purl, and you’ll sometimes hear it referred to as the “burp stitch.” When you see a brp stitch, you will be purling the next stitch together with its corresponding yarnover that was created on the previous row.

    Here's the slightly tricky thing to understand about 2-color brioche when knitting flat: to create a reversible fabric, each row is actually knit twice: once with one color, and once with the second color. So for each 2 rows of knitting, you are actually knitting 4 rows!

    Essentially, each side of your piece will have a color that is dominant on it. If we’re talking about Color A a light color, and Color B a dark color, let’s say that the Right Side of your work will have Color A as the dominant color and the Wrong Side of your work will have Color B as the dominant color.

    Practice Makes Perfect
    On each Right Side row, you will first knit and slip stitches across in Color A. Then, without turning your work, you will slide the stitches back to the beginning of the row you just worked and you will purl and slip stitches across in Color B. You have now completed the first, Color A dominant side of your brioche.


    On each Wrong Side row, you will first purl and slip stitches across the row with your Color A. Then, without turning your work, you will slide the stitches back to the beginning of the row you just worked and you will knit and slip stitches across with your Color B. You have now completed the second, Color B dominant side of your brioche.


     Now that we have defined the terms, and talked about the order in which the rows are knit, we hope you’ll begin to understand what the following rows signify:

    Row 1 (RS/Color A): *Sl1yo, brk; repeat from * to end.
    Row 2 (RS/Color B): *Brp, sl1yo; repeat from * to end.

    Row 3 (WS/Color A): *Brp, sl1yo; repeat from * to end.
    Row 4 (WS/Color B): *Slyo, brk; repeat from * to end.

    Let's practice by making a small swatch with 2 colors of yarn and either circular or DPN needles. Start by casting on for an even number of stitches (for our sample used below, we cast on 36 stitches).

    You will begin by working 2 setup rows to prepare for the pattern stitch:

    Setup Row 1: With Color A, *sl1yo, k1, repeat from * to end of row,

    Now, without without turning your work, slide the stitches back to the beginning of the row you just worked and work as follows:

    Setup Row 2: With Color B, *brp, sl1yo, repeat from * to end of row,

    You are now ready to turn your work to work both Wrong Side Rows (Rows 3 & 4). From here, continue working Rows 1-4 for the remainder of your swatch.

    If you forget which row you are about to work, let your stitches guide you! The yarnover will tell you which color you should be working with (hint: it's the opposite color - so, if your yarnover is Color A, that means you should be working with Color B) and also whether or not you should be working a brk or brp row (if the yarnover is paired with a knit stitch, you will work a brk, and if the yarnover is paired with a purl stitch, you will work a brp row). And, as noted above, you will be able to easily see whether you are working the Right Side or Wrong Side of the fabric by checking which color in dominant.


    You may see patterns written slightly differently, or using slightly different abbreviations, but these are the basic stitches that make up all brioche patterns. In the case of  Lisa Hannes’ All About That Brioche shawl, some simple shaping is added to the end of the rows, but the remainder of the pattern is very similar to what we have noted above.

    If you’re looking for a free pattern on Ravelry to practice your brioche, we recommend Emma Galati’s Brioche for Beginners cowl. Emma uses slightly different abbreviations than we have here, but her pattern is a simple 2-color brioche cowl designed for beginners.

    You can find more information about brioche knitting on Nancy Marchant’s wonderful site Brioche Stitch. For a few tips and tricks about brioche, there’s also this post from Ann Shayne of Mason Dixon Knitting.

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  • Bracken Pillows Kit: Techniques & Tips for Knitting Cables & I-Cord

    We are delighted to announce another kit we have just launched, the Bracken Pillows Kit by designer Therese Chynoweth. This kit features 3 skeins of Himalayan Trail yarn in your choice of colors, a copy of the Bracken Pillow pattern, and 3 stitch markers from Purrfectly Catchy Designs. These pillows are timeless, yet contemporary and will add just the right touch of elegance and luxury to your home.



    The pattern includes instructions for how to knit and assemble both pillows pictured and enough yarn to knit the pillow of your choosing, and today we’ll talk a little about about the techniques used in the pattern and share some tips and tricks for managing them.

    Cables
    The square pillow pattern features a beautiful cable panel across the center. If you haven’t worked cables before, this is a fairly simple pattern to start with. Cables are created by adjusting the order in which you knit your stitches. In the simplest terms, when you create a cable, you will be pulling a few stitches off the needle and holding them aside (either to the front or back of your work) and then knitting the next few stitches. Then you will go back and knit the stitches you have pulled aside. This essentially twists the stitches together to form your cable.

    When you are first learning cables, the easiest way to practice is by using a cable needle. You can find these at your local yarn store or favorite online retailer quite inexpensively; there are a few different styles, but a cable needle is essentially a short double pointed needle. Some cable needles have a slightly bent shape to help keep your stitches from slipping off the needle until you are ready to use them. If you don’t have a cable needle handy, you can always use a spare double pointed needle (DPN) in its place.


    For this pattern, you will be working 3 by 3 cables, which means that your cable section will be 6 stitches wide. When you come to the place for a cable in your work, you will take the next three stitches (stitches 1, 2 and 3) and put them on your cable needle or DPN:


    You will hold these stitches to the front or back of your work as directed by the pattern, then knit the next three stitches on the left-hand needle as normal (stitches 4, 5 and 6). Finally, you will go back and knit the 3 stitches on your cable needle (stitches 1, 2 and 3):


    Congratulations, you have successfully knit a cable!

    For those who have knit cables in the past and wish to try something a little easier and more efficient, you could try cabling without a cable needle. In this technique, rather than pulling the stitches aside on a cable needle, you’ll be removing stitches from the needle and pinching them together with your fingers. It sounds scary, but it’s really quite easy for smaller cables. For a great tutorial on how to cable without a cable needle, check out this Interweave post by Sandi Wiseheart.

    I-Cord

    The rectangular pillow in this kit features a mini-lattice pattern, as well as some artfully placed I-cords for visual interest. In this pattern, the I-cords are created by picking up stitches at the cast on edges and then knitting those stitches into I-cords of a certain length. Then the I-cords you create are twisted, then tacked down and secured.

    Which begs the question, what is an I-cord? An I-cord is a knitted tube created by knitting the stitches in the round using DPNs. This is done by knitting a row of stitches on your DPN, then sliding the stitches to the right-hand end of the needle, bringing your yarn around back, and then knitting them again. Bringing the yarn around the back of your work will join the edges of your work together creating a hollow tube, or an I-cord. For a nice photo tutorial on how to knit an I-cord, check out this Purl Soho post.

    If you're new to this technique, try picking up your stitches and knitting your I-cord on one of your gauge swatches first! Begin by picking up 3 stitches from your cast on edge with the right side of the fabric facing you:

    Turn your work so that you are ready to knit the increase row from the I-cord instructions with the wrong side of the fabric facing you:


    Turn your work for the last time so that you can continue knitting the I-cord for the specified length:


    It's that simple!

    We look forward to seeing your finished Bracken Pillows - please share them with us on Instagram by tagging them with #bijoubasinranch and follow us at @bijoubasinranch where we post customer projects, new products and other fun ideas.

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  • A Most Addictive Slipped Stitch Hat Pattern Kit: Make it Your Own

    Recently, we were delighted to launch kits with a lovely hat pattern designed by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter using our Himalayan Trail Yarn. The A Most Addictive Slipped Stitch Hat Kit features a ribbed brim which can be worked in either one or two colors, and then a slipped stitch pattern that is worked in two colors.  While we love a good pattern, sometimes we know you want to make a knitting project uniquely yours. What follows are a few ideas on how you might make a few changes to the pattern to make your own one-of-a-kind finished object.

    More Art for Your Start

    Want to make your hat a little different? The pattern is written for a standard K2/P2 brim in a single color or a corrugated rib in two colors. For those who want level up just a bit more, add a Latvian braid at the bottom or top of your ribbing section (this Latvian Braid tutorial may help you there). You could also add a fun pom-pom using your leftover yarn, or top things off with a fluffy faux-fur pom if you so choose!

    Trim Your BrimDo you like to knit your hats so they fit snugly? Try going down a needle size to make the ribbed brim a snugger fit. Want extra warmth? Try a folded brim. You can simply knit the brim twice as long and fold it, or you can do a hemmed brim to start. Add a touch of elegance and warmth, not to mention “ooooo” factor, and knit the inside brim in one of our lusciouslace weight bases

    Customize Your Size

    As written, the pattern yields a hat approximately 8.5 inches/21.25 cm tall. Do you prefer a slouchier hat? Add extra repeats and inches to get where you want to be. Like your hats snug? Omit a few repeats before the crown decreases to make a snug, more beanie-like hat.

    Choose Your Hues

    Pick two muted colors for an elegant piece, two bright colors for a more fun statement, or go crazy and pick a variegated colorway and complement it with a solid that makes it pop!  

    Check out all of our colorways of Himalayan Trail Yarn.
    Fashion Your Passion
    Are you looking for something other than a hat? Turn this great pattern into a cozy cowl! If you want your cowl a bit wider than the hat, cast on extra stitches in multiples of 6 and knit as tall as you want, omitting crown instructions - simply finish with your chosen ribbing before binding off!

    Want to make one of those crazy messy bun hats? Knit the crown decreases through Decrease Round 5 or 6 and then bind off your stitches, leaving a hole at the top with finished edges for your messy bun or ponytail.

    Or, take the colorwork chart and mash it up with your favorite mitten or fingerless mitt pattern!
    You can mix and match any of these suggestions to create a project that is uniquely yours - click here to get your A Most Addictive Slipped Stitch Hat Kit. Please share your projects with us on Instagram by tagging them with #bijoubasinranch and follow us at @bijoubasinranch where we post customer projects, new products and other fun ideas.

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  • Knitter Projects: 3 Inspiring Shawls & Holiday Update

    Christmas is just around the corner, and this is a great time of year to treat yourself to an exciting new project in luxurious yarn because our holiday sale runs through Midnight MDT 12/23/17 (more on that in a bit!).

    Today, we share 3 amazing shawl projects that we've spotted on Ravelry using our yarns. We're so happy that each Raveler was willing to share their beautiful FO's with us and hope they inspire you to start your own!

    Luvmypip chose 3 colors of Himalayan Summit from our Autumn Spices palette to knit this stunner! Just one skein each of Cinnamon, Curry, and Oregano was enough to knit the Fog Smoke and Fog shawl pattern by Stella Egidi.

    We love how Bi0chemcrazy transformed the popular Citron shawl by Hilary Smith Callis by substituting our Tibetan Dream sock yarn in a gradient colorway dyed for us by Modeknit Yarn. The pattern originally calls for lace weight yarn and appears in the Winter 2009 issue of Knitty.
    Ull2tova used our yak and bamboo yarn, Lhasa Wilderness, to make the Knitter's DNA shawl by Martina Behm. The pattern is actually written for fingering weight yarn, but we're guessing that this sport weight version is every bit as delightful as the lighter weight original!
    We have a few holiday updates to share with you this week: first, we added an extremely limited edition holiday color to our shop - so limited, in fact, that we had have already sold out of Yuletide! Don't worry, if you missed out, we'll be creating another winter-inspired limited edition colorway to release in the new year. We recommend following us on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated on shop news. We have also restocked many colors of Himalayan Summit and added skeins of Natural Cream to our online shop - perfect for mixing and matching with all of our hand dyed options

    Our holiday sale is in its final week, and we have a gift for YOU this time around! In addition to free shipping on all US orders, we'll also be including free project kits (shown above) with qualifying orders. Now is a great time to stock up on yarn for the new year - click here for more details about this week's special offer!

  • 2017 Holiday Gift Guide from Bijou Basin Ranch

    The holidays are just around the corner, and most people are starting their holiday shopping (or will be quite soon!). Perhaps you need to drop some hints to loved ones, or have been searching in vain for the perfect gift to give a fiber friend. Either way, we have you covered: our gift guide is full of great ideas to give and get this holiday season!

    Yarn, Yarn, Yarn!
    Any knitter or crocheter would be delighted with yarn, especially if it's hand dyed or made with luxury fibers such as silk, cashmere, or yak. Non-crafters may find this range of choices intimidating, however. The key is to keep it simple: for example, email a subtle reminder that they can never go wrong with cashmere yarn (our 100% Mongolian cashmere yarn Xanadu is to die for), or drop a few hints about your favorite yarn dyers from the Indie Dyer Series (have you seen the gorgeous speckles from ModeKnit Yarns?!).

    For that extra special someone, we have just one word: Qiviut. Enough said.
    Xanadu cashmere yarn & Sand Layers Shawl

    Keep it Clean
    Question: what goes great with yarn, but is also a wonderful gift all on its own? If you answered Allure Fiber Wash, you are correct! Allure is an affordable add-on to include with the gift of yarn, and we also suggest including it with your handmade presents to ensure proper care - no one wants a felting mishap! If you're having a hard time choosing from our 3 scents, consider giving our sampler pack a try.

    Put a Pin In It
    Yarn lovers will be delighted by one of our two enamel pin designs, the Knitting Yak or Baby Got Yak. They make great guild gifts on their own, or pair them up with a BBR Project Bag!


    Suit Them to a T
    BBR Apparel is the perfect way to share your love of yarn with the world. Click here to choose from several fun t-shirt designs!


    Santa Yak is Coming To Your Inbox
    If you subscribe to our newsletter, get ready - Santa Yak will be delivering you some fabulous deals this holiday season, beginning Thanksgiving weekend! While we will be sharing these deals on our social media channels, our subscribers will be eligible for additional savings, so click here to sign up today!

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  • Autumn Inspiration: New Yarn, New Colors, & A New Project Kit!

    When the air turns crisp, it's time to dive headfirst into creating warm and snuggly accessories and garments. Yak fiber is always an excellent choice because it's as warm and soft as cashmere - plus, it's hypoallergenic. Our newest yarn base, Himalayan Summit, is a luxurious 50/50 blend of Tibetan Yak and Superfine Merino in a fingering weight, and we have so many great colors to choose from for your next project.

    The Autumn Spices palette is inspired by the exotic flavors of the season, and we'll be debuting a new addition to this collection at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival This weekend! Here is a sneak peek - can you guess the name?


    This mystery color joins our palette of 7 semi-solid and 2 variegated colorways, all of which are perfect for mixing and matching, or for use on their own:

    Top Row Above, L-R: Pumpkin Spice, Poppy Seed, Cajun Spice, Cinnamon.
    Bottom Row Above, L-R: Oregano, Curry, Turmeric, Juniper Berry, and Barberry.

    If you prefer something a little more colorful, try one of these vibrant colorways from Modeknit Yarns:
    Above, L-R: Crab Nebula, Old Fashion Villain, and Dragonfly Inn.

    The best part about introducing a new yarn to our lineup is finding the perfect patterns to let them shine. We're pleased to debut this exclusive new cowl design from Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter:


    The Eyelet of the Tiger Cowl is a lacy cowl that uses the entire skein as you knit a succession of stitch patterns. It would look just as lovely in a semi-solid color as it does shown here in Old Fashion Villain! Each kit includes a skein of Himalayan Summit in the color of your choice, a print copy of the pattern, a BBR Project bag, and a 3-pack of custom made stitch markers from Purrfectly Catchy Designs.


    Individual copies of this pattern are also available here; be sure to add this project to your Ravelry notebook or queue.

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  • Refresh Your Knits for Fall With Allure: Free Handwashing Tutorial

    After being safely packed away for the season, it's time to start bringing out your handmade garments and accessories from storage. Even if you washed them prior to stowing away, chances are that your hand-knit or -crocheted items could use a little freshening up. They may be a bit rumpled or wrinkled, but it's easy to make them look just like new with a quick hand wash!


    Our own Eileen Koop is a household product chemist by trade, and was formerly the head of R&D for the company that produced Oxi-Clean. Drawing on these many years of experience, she created Allure Fine Fiber Wash, a no-rinse, no-residue soap that is tailor-made for exotic fibers such as yak, silk, cashmere, musk ox, paco-vicuña, and more. 

    Many of the wool washes you are accustomed to contain harsh chemicals to strip away dirt and make fiber brittle, and others contain natural solvents that many people find irritating to the skin. There are also several products which contain lanolin, a naturally occurring wax on sheep wool - but if you’re cleaning a fine piece of handwork that has no wool in it, why would you want to introduce lanolin to a fiber that has never had it to begin with? 

    Allure is Eileen's solution to this problem: it is uniquely formulated to handle the cleaning challenges of these exotic fibers and the garments made from them. It also does double duty, as it can clean and soften non-luxury fibers, which means you just need one fiber wash to clean all of your projects! 

    Choose between our Prairie Breeze or Woodland Mist scents for a spa-like experience, or opt for our Fragrance Free version, which we recommend for those with scent sensitivities, then follow these easy steps:

    1. Gather your supplies. In addition to Allure, you'll need a few fluffy towels and a small basin (you could also opt to use a sink or bathtub, or place several handmade items into a top-loading washing machine if you are able to bypass the agitation cycle and use only the spin cycle). Other items that are nice to have, but not absolutely necessary: blocking mats and T-pins or wires.

    2. Test for color fastness. If you are washing several projects, make sure that you have tested for color fastness. Dark colors and jewel tones are especially prone to running, although it can happen to any dyed fiber - better to be safe than sorry! Click here for tips on checking for color fastness.

    3. Fill your basin with tepid water, and add 1-2 capfuls of Allure per gallon.

    4. Add your items and submerge totally. Allow to soak for at least 10 minutes.

    5. Remove and gently squeeze water out - do not twist or wring. Lay item flat on a dry towel, then roll the towel up to remove excess water.

    6. Lay flat to dry. You may wish to use blocking wires or T-pins to secure the shape of your garment; T-pins can assist in securing features such as scallops, lace loops, or picot edges, while wires can make maintaining a straight edge quick and easy. When pinning out a project, start by outlining the main shape before you pin any of the details (such as scallops or picots).

    7. Remember to Rotate. If you are blocking a project that has a three-dimensional shape (for instance, a hat or cowl), remember to "rotate" the hat so that it doesn't dry with two pronounced creases on either side! Essentially, this means that you will rearrange the hat so that the creases created when lying flat are not in the same place each time. How often you do this will depend on how quickly your piece dries, but a good rule of thumb is to repeat this process at least 2-3 times in the first 24-48 hours.

    8. Wear and enjoy! 

    We hope you found this tutorial helpful - if you liked this post, pin it!


  • Substituting Yarn: The Wonder Woman Wrap in Shangri-La Yarn

    The popularity of the Wonder Woman movie inspired one of this summer's most ubiquitous patterns: the Wonder Woman Wrap by Carrissa Browning, available for free on Ravelry. To create the Wonder Woman logo in shawl form, this clever design uses short row shaping rather than intarsia. We recently commissioned a sample for our booth, and it will make its debut this September 8-10 at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival.

    The Wonder Woman Wrap, knit with our Shangri-La lace weight yarn.

    The pattern is written for fingering weight yarn, but our Shangri-La yak & silk lace weight was just too perfect for this project: strength and beauty, just like Diana herself! 

    When substituting any yarn into a pattern, it's important to make a gauge swatch first - in the case of this project, you will want to try a couple of different needle sizes to determine your overall gauge, and also to see which sort of fabric you produce with those sizes. Don't forget to wash your swatch in Allure, allowing it to dry before you measure your gauge.



    The pattern is written for US 4 needles, so our sample knitter started there, getting 26 stitches in 4" of garter stitch, or 6.5 SPI (Stitches Per Inch, calculated by dividing the total number of stitches in your 4" swatch by 4 - this will come in handy later!).

    The next gauge swatch was knit on US 3 needles, where our sample knitter got 23 stitches in 4" of garter stitch, or 5.75 SPI.

    Here's where a bit of personal preference and just a little bit of math come into play: first, decide which swatch you like best. Do you prefer a closer knit fabric? Using larger needles with a lace weight yarn produces an airier fabric, so that needs to be taken into account when choosing your needle size for this project.


    You may also calculate the finished wingspan of the shawl using the stitches per inch (SPI) from your gauge swatches to decide on what needle size to use. The pattern is written for two sizes using fingering weight yarn on US 4 needles, producing a finished wingspan of 60 inches for the smaller size and 86 inches for the larger size.

    Here's how to calculate your finished shawl size based on your gauge swatch: take the final number of stitches for the top border before bind off (256 for the smaller size and 376 stitches for the larger size) and divide that by your SPI. Here are the finished sizes for both of our sample gauge swatches:

    Small - 256 stsLarge - 376 sts
    US 4 (6.5 SPI)39.3857.85
    US 3 (5.75 SPI)44.5265.22

    Based on the above chart, our sample knitter chose to use US 3 needles to make our sample shawl, and the resulting piece ended up being a little larger than projected based on the gauge swatch - after a good wet blocking in Allure, this shawl measured 76" inches wide!

    Why the huge difference between the projected wingspan of 65.22 inches and the actual measurement of 76'? Quite simply, a smaller swatch won't behave the same way as your larger finished piece in the blocking process - there is a lot more weight to your shawl than the simple 4" square you knit for the swatch. Additionally, this shawl could be re-blocked to increase the height, which would bring the finished wingspan closer to what was projected. The blocking process allows for quite a bit of reshaping (hence, many patterns include "block to measurements" in their instructions).

    But, as Stephanie Purl-McPhee says, swatching is still important to your process because it gives you a hint about what might happen in your knitting. In this case, it will help you make an educated guess on what needle size to use for your chosen yarn!

    No yarn chicken here!

    You needn't worry about running out of yarn if you were able to achieve a similar gauge to the above, because our sample used only 1 skein of each color (and our sample knitter had plenty left over, as you can see above!). Knitters desiring a denser fabric can try working with two strands of yarn held double; this will only require two skeins of Shangri-La per color.

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    Shangri-La Wonder Woman Shawl
    Finished Size: 76" wingspan, 13" height
    Needles: US 3 Fixed Circular
    Yarn: Shangri-La 50% Tibetan Yak/50% Mulberry Silk, 400 yards in 2 oz. -1 skein Ruby and 1 skein Gold (sample knitter had .8oz Ruby and .7oz Gold remaining).
    Pattern: Knit Wonder Woman Wrap by Carissa Browning




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

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

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

    Tension Matters

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

    Fiber Considerations

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

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

    Plain Weave in Joseph, woven by Handmade by Stefanie

    Thoughts on Yardage

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

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


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

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  • Win a new Baby Got Yak pin!

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


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

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


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

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  • Knitspiration: Light & Lovely Warm-Weather Projects

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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  • 6 Tips for Making an Adorable Knitted Teddy Bear

    July 10 is Teddy Bear Picnic Day, and what better way to celebrate than with an adorable toy bear? For our newest project kit, we've chosen our super-soft yak and merino blend yarn to create a snuggly friend using a quick & easy knit pattern by Frankie Brown.

    Each kit includes a pattern, 1 skein of Himalayan Trail yarn in Natural Brown, poly-fil stuffing, and a small amount of black yarn to embroider the features - click here to get yours!

    At the request of the designer, Bijou Basin Ranch will be making a donation to her favorite charity, the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, for the use of her pattern.

    Here are some tips to make knitting and assembling your bear even easier:

    1. Knit arms and legs in the round on double pointed needles (DPNs). Although the pattern is written for each piece to be knit flat and then seamed, you can save some time by casting on the called-for number of stitches for the arms and legs and working stockinette stitch in the round as indicated. The decrease instructions will still work perfectly fine, provided you remember to knit instead of purling in between decrease rounds. When you cut the yarn, you can thread through the remaining stitches and fasten off - no seaming required!

    Note: Body and ears should still be worked flat as stated in the pattern.

    2. Leave long yarn tails at the start and finish of each piece as you knit. These can be used to seam and attach pieces as you assemble the bear, which means that you'll have fewer ends to deal with in come finishing time.


    3. Wash each piece before assembly. This will allow the yarn to fluff up a bit and fix any funky stitches or lumps and bumps that may have happened while knitting. We recommend hand washing with Allure and gently laying each piece on a dry towel and rolling it up to gently remove excess water.

    4. Master Invisible Seaming. The pattern includes instructions and photos to help you seam your bear, but you can also check out this YouTube tutorial to demonstrate the technique. Below, we've used a contrasting color of yarn to show how the back of our sample bear was seamed by picking up the "ladders" of each edge stitch to create an invisible seam.


    Pick up each "ladder and pull yarn through...
    Zig zag back and forth...
    Pull seaming yarn gently & voila! You have an invisible seam!
    5. Experiment with placement. Attaching the ears, arms and legs will take a little bit of patience to make sure they are exactly where you want them. Try working in pairs and attaching them only partially to make sure that you like the placement before seaming the rest of the way and hiding your ends.
    These ears are partially attached and
    can be easily repositioned if desired.
    6. Weaving in ends vs. hiding ends. Unlike other projects, yarn ends can be "hidden" by using your darning needle to pull the end indie and then poking it back through the right side of the fabric, then pulling the end slightly taut (away from the toy) and trimming it closely to the fabric. When you let go, that last little bit of yarn will disappear into the toy and be secured by the fiberfill stuffing.

    You'll have a beary special friend to spend your summer with in no time flat! Click here to get your BBR teddy bear project kit, and don't forget to share your finished bears with us here in our Ravelry group.

    Bonus: Share your finished bear with us on Instagram using #bijoubasinranchbear in your post and we'll send you a coupon code for 20% off your next order!

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  • 3 Tips for New Weavers

    We've enlisted blogger and new weaver Stefaniegrr of Handmade by Stefanie to work on a special project to display in our booth at the Intermountain Weavers Conference in Durango, CO this July 27-30, 2017. Today, she gives an overview on weaving for beginners and some of her tips for successfully completing this project.

    Handweaving is having a moment, and it seems like many of my fellow yarn lovers are dipping their toes into this craft. Instagram is filled with beautiful handwoven projects, and there are also some great new books and magazines full of interesting projects to make, even on little looms. Weaving is fast and fun, but best of all, it eats up stash so you can make room for more yarn!

    IMG_3022

    Most of us probably think of those large, complicated-looking floor looms when the word "weaving" comes up. I admit, that's what first sprang to mind for me, too. However, there are many types of looms available for today's weaver: pin looms, rigid heddle looms, floor looms, jack looms, lap looms & tapestry looms, just to name a few. A pin loom or a rigid heddle loom are fairly affordable and easy to use, so they are great "starter" options for new weavers.

    After using a pin loom here and there, I finally took the plunge and ordered a rigid heddle loom at the start of the year - learning how to weave was one of my New Year's resolutions for 2017, so I am very new to the craft. While I can't profess to be an expert just yet, I have picked up some tips worth sharing with my fellow newbie weavers.

    1. Weave a sample! Similar to swatching when knitting or crocheting, this is an important step to ensure that your finished project is the correct dimensions. If you are working with a new yarn, this is a great way to get to know it in the context of a weaving project - in this case, the slippery nature of Lhasa Wilderness (a yak and bamboo blend) required a small adjustment when weaving, since it doesn't have as much "grab" as a wool yarn does.

    Sample weaving also allowed me to practice making neat selvedges (edges), which can be challenging for new weavers (and even experienced ones!). When you look at my sample swatch, you can see the point where I finally got the hang of working with the Lhasa Wilderness yarn - suddenly, the selvedges look much nicer!

    Eureka

    2. Don't fear the math. Figuring out how much warp and weft yarn looks harder than it is, and it's easy to be intimidated by the math involved in starting a new project. Here's a quick walkthrough of how I calculated my yardage for this project:

    Start by deciding what you want your finished length and width to be.

    Finished Width of Project: 8 inches
    Finished Project Length: 68 inches (not including fringe)

    Once you set these targets, the rest is easy!

    First, to determine the total width of your project on the loom - the finished piece will draw in (also known as shrinkage) once you begin weaving, so the width of your warp will be wider than your finished project width. You can either consult your swatch to figure out the percent of shrinkage, or use the standard 10% if you are ok with an element of surprise in your finished piece.

    Total Width on Loom: 9 inches

    Next, you'll need to account for both shrinkage and loom waste when calculating your warp length. For rigid heddle looms, it seems like adding 10% for shrinkage and 18" for loom waste is pretty standard, but this may differ depending on what type of loom you have or your own personal preference. I used these standard numbers to determine my warp length:

    Warp Length: 93 inches, or 2.58 yards (click here for a free inches to yards conversion calculator)

    The above number is for just one length of warp from end to end, so you'll need to do one last bit of math to figure out your total warp length. Grab a tape measure and count how many slots and holes are in 9" to determine your number of warp ends. In this case, that number was 90 (45 slots and 45 holes);.

    You'll multiply the number of warp ends (90) by the length of your warp (2.58 yards) to get your total warp length.

    Total Warp Length:  90 x 2.58 yards = 232 yards

    Your weft will require approximately 2/3 as much as your warp, but I like to make sure I have a little extra yardage just in case. Either way, two skeins of Lhasa Wilderness yarn (shown here in Joseph) is more than enough to weave this scarf.

    IMG_3663

    3. Finishing Hacks That Save Time. I think for a lot of crafters, the finishing steps can be real bugaboos - ask any knitter and most will agree that they dislike weaving in the ends on a multicolor project! The complexity of your project will play a role in how much finishing you'll need to do, but there are a few basic steps that most weaving projects require such as securing the warp ends, weaving in weft ends and, of course, blocking!

    The first step to finishing is to remove the header, which is the yarn you weave at the start and finish to separate the warp (at the start) and secure your woven fabric. Below, the dark purple yarn is the header yarn:

    Removing the header is a lot of like carefully frogging a knitted or crocheted project - you just go slowly and unravel row by row to avoid unfortunate mishaps. I made sure to do this on a flat surface so I could also use gentle pressure from my left hand to secure the woven fabric while unraveling the last few rows of the header. 

    Once the header is removed, it's time to tie your fringe. Here's where keeping notes comes in handy - if you know that you have 90 warp ends, you can easily determine how many ends to tie together to make equal fringe knots (in this case, you could use 5 ends per knot for a total of 18 knots). 


    I recently invested in a rotary cutter for trimming my fringe, and wow - is it efficient! You'll need a metal edge to guide your rotary blade, along with a cutting mat  (in a pinch, I have used a cutting board from my kitchen and it's worked beautifully). Simply measure how long you want your fringe to be, place your metal edge parallel to the edge of your weaving, and roll your rotary cutter along to make perfect fringe! 

    Finally, you can use a blunt-tip tapestry needle to weave in any ends of yarn (unless you've "hidden" them as you went along); I prefer to wash my finished piece before I trim the yarn ends down so that they can settle into the fabric and are less likely to pop back out. Hand washing in Allure Fiber Wash is a great way to care for your woven scarf, since it doesn't require rinsing, plus is smells great! 

    Keep these tips handy by sharing on Pinterest - pin the graphic below!

  • Thank Heaven It's Summer: Master Color Series 3

    Sunny days and warm weather doesn't have to mean a vacation from knitting or crocheting. We've created a new palette of refreshing colors inspired by the colors of summer: think cool, fruity treats like sherbet, Italian ice, sorbet, or ice cream!

    These scrumptious colors are our latest installment in the BBR Master Color Series, dyed exclusively for us by MJ Yarns. For this season's palette, we chose Lhasa Wilderness, our sport weight blend of yak and bamboo: shimmery, light, and oh-so-soft, it's the perfect choice for warm-weather projects.
    The breathable bamboo fibers are also naturally anti-bacterial, and they're blended to perfection with our soft, hypo-allergenic yak fiber in this popular yarn base. With generous yardage (250 yards per skein!), you can easily make a lacy shawl or a textured stitch cowl with just 1 skein.
    Beat the summer heat with our new project kit, the Chevron Tank. Shown here in Pineapple, Orange and Strawberry, this on-trend top will keep you cool while looking cool. There are so many possibilities for mixing and matching with this fun project - you could even pair our newest Master Color Series palette with some of our other hand-dyed colors if you dare.

    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 Chevron Tank Kit.

    Like this post? Pin & save this color inspiration on Pinterest!

  • Charted v. Uncharted Territory

    I’ll admit that Glenna’s Cowl by Marly Bird looks a bit intimidating from the pattern photos. I thought it would take a long time to knit, but by the time I was halfway through the first repeat I was seriously hooked and the project was flying off my needles. Paired with the gorgeous stitch definition of Himalayan Trail, it wound up being a wonderful treat at the end of a few hectic days. I swear this yarn was made for cables! The rhythm of this pattern was just a delight and before I knew it, I was taking extra time with each row on the chart just to make the knit last a little longer.



    I said the word chart, did you panic? Have no fear! Glenna’s Cowl provides both written and charted instructions. I realize there are few techniques in knitting as polarizing as charts. Knitters either love them or they can’t stand them. In fact, I’ve never met a knitter who was on the fence about charts. So what is it about charts that evoke such different reactions in knitters?
    Ironically, what makes a chart useful is also what makes it challenging for some: it’s a visual tool. A chart contains the exact same instructions as a written pattern, but instead of stitch abbreviations they use symbols. If you haven’t used charts before, of course, those symbols look like hieroglyphics. They can be confusing and intimidating. Some knitters just look at a chart and say, “No way.” I’m just the opposite. I look at complex knitting patterns written out with a sea of abbreviations and commas and I’ve forgotten where I am before I’ve even started.

    As I mentioned above, Glenna’s Cowl includes both written and charted instructions making it very accessible whatever your disposition regarding charts. It also makes this pattern a great opportunity to learn to read charts with a safety net. Because both sets of instructions are identical, you can use them together to check your work as you go or maybe switch back and forth if you need a break.
    If you’re interested in giving charts a try, the best place to start is with the basics. The most important thing to keep in mind is because the chart is a visual representation of your knitting, the chart will always be read exactly as you knit as if you are looking at one side. Don’t overthink it! Here are a few basic rules for chart reading to give you a jump start.
    1. Start reading a knitting chart at the bottom right hand corner.
    2. Charts are read from bottom to top.
    3. When knitting flat, read right side rows from right to left & wrong side rows from left to right. When knitting in the round, you will read the chart from right to left for all rounds.
    4. The row numbers are located on the side of the chart from which you should begin the row.
    5. If you’re knitting flat, there will be RS & a WS rows of the pattern, so the symbols may represent different things depending on which side of the work you are on (i.e. a blank square may mean a K stitch on the RS, but a P stitch on the WS) – check your legend for details.



    Keep in mind is charts & their symbols are just a part of the knitting language. We recognize a red octagon as a stop sign whether the word is printed on it or not. Given time, we get used to reading and using charted knitting symbols, too. Oftentimes I will focus the first 5-10 rows or rounds on familiarizing myself with the symbols. Then I’ll slowly widen my scope to see how the individual symbols work together to create the whole pattern. Before I know it, I’m referencing the legend less & less and the knitting gets easier & easier.
    For some projects I’m able to memorize the symbols before long, but with others I refer to the legend throughout. Either is absolutely acceptable depending on the knitter, pattern, and circumstances. I know a lot of knitters who will go so far as to color code the cables and twists within a chart to further simplify identification. I highly recommend the use of highlighter tape to keep your place on the chart. These little extra tips can streamline the chart reading process and help demystify the charted symbols.
    When it comes to charted vs uncharted instructions, we certainly are each allowed our own personal preference. Designers, Like Mary Bird, who include both I go back to again and again. Whether you only have eyes for written instructions, you’re a charted knitting fan, or maybe you’re just curious about knitting with charts, Glenna’s Cowl is an excellent opportunity for you to create a stunning cowl with one of my favorite yarns 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.

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  • 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!

    Like this post? Pin it!


  • 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!