Yearn Worthy Yarn: Bijou Basin Ranch

yak yarn For those of you who have been following Yearn Worthy Yarn, you know that yarn is made from many different fibers and it’s not just sheep that get sheared (see: alpaca and musk ox, yup musk ox.) But did you know that yak are good for their fleece as well? Me neither!

I happened upon Bijou Basin Ranch at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and couldn’t believe my eyes. Here was yarn made from yak fiber!

Yak fiber is combed from the yak once spring rolls around and they start to shed their warm winter coats. The fiber is downy and super soft and a yak can produce between 1 and 2 pounds of down per year. The fiber is then cleaned, washed and carded so it is ready for the spinning wheel. The result is very similar to that of qiviut, in that it is soft like cashmere and warm like wool.

Yak yarn is a great fiber in that it retains heat in the cold but will breath when it is warmer out. It is an odorless fiber and can be easily hand washed with a mild detergent. Great for knitting up a warm sweater or shawl.

Bijou Basin Ranch, a small family owned and operated yak ranch in Colorado, offers quality yak fiber products. They sell a wide range of yak fiber yarn, including super fine to worsted weight, in all natural colors. They also offer roving and down for spinners.

With so many interesting, unique and sustainable fibers out there, I think the sheep are starting to get jealous.

Image credit: Bijou Basin Ranch

Written by Kelly Rand

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting.

Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.

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