IS #84: Yak Attack

Some time ago, the generous people at Bijou Basin Ranch sent me two gorgeous skeins of their Bijou Spun Himalayan Trail  light sport weight yarn to review as part of a promotion of their new colorways inspired by the Outlander series.

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Bijou Spun Himalayan Trail. Click for website.

The lovely 50 g skeins (colorways Skye and Murtagh) each contain 200 yards of organic 75% yak, 25% superfine Merino 2-ply yarn. They have sat wound and ready to knit for literally months, patiently waiting for me to have the time to devote to designing something with them. I played around with some two color stitch patterns, but just could not make up my mind about what exactly I wanted to create. Mitts or hat? Cowl or scarf? A combined 400 yards is enough to make something lovely, but since I was working with an unfamiliar yarn (and more importantly, an unfamiliar fiber) I was wracked with indecision.
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Swatching evidence.

I’ve since begun re-reading the Outlander series. (I started it once a long time ago and was put off by all the rape threats and the weirdly anti-feminist and homophobic undercurrents in it. However, I guess I’ve been desensitized by the first 50 Shades of Gray book (no, I have not read the rest) because it didn’t bother me as much this time around and now I’m hooked, despite the rape-iness. But I digress.) As I’ve been reading the books, I’ve been thinking about the lovely yarn and exploring some knitwear ideas with greater urgency. Here are some patterns that I think would be smashing in this yarn.

Doodle Mittens:

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Photo copyright Suann Wentworth. Click for pattern page.

These Doodle Mittens, design by Suann Wentworth, have been in my queue for some time. While traditional colorwork is gorgeous, I really love the modern, fanciful design on these mittens. (Seriously, I’m a total sucker for swirls.) The mittens are designed for about 300 yards of sport weight yarn, which would be perfect for 2 skeins of Himalayan Trail in contrasting colorways. I really love these, but since I already have a pair of perfectly serviceable mittens, I decided against knitting these despite my love of the design.

Prickly Thistle Mittens:

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Photo copyright IgnorantBliss. Click for pattern page.

I know I just said that I decided against mittens, and I did, but I couldn’t resist sharing this gorgeous colorwork pair designed by SpillyJane anyway. Mostly because they’re pretty, but also because they are thematically appropriate (what with the Outlander series being based in Scotland and all). Yay, thistles!
Calinda:
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Photo copyright Faye Schiano. Click for pattern page.

I think that this cowl, designed by Barbara Gregory, is just absolutely gorgeous. It’s knit with fingering weight yarn in the round and alternates plain stockinette sections of each color with some elegant colorwork patterning where the sections meet. It’s actually part of a set with matching mittens, so I’m not sure how much of the 400 yards needed for the pattern is used for the cowl alone. However, the plain sections could be shortened a bit if yardage runs low with just two skeins of Himalayan Trail. A sleek cowl like this would be an excellent use of the soft, fuzzy lightness of the yarn.

Mrs. Jekyll & Little Hyde:

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Photo copyright LaMaisonRililie. Click for pattern page.

There is no shortage of two-color, fingering weight slouch hats on Ravelry, but this design by La Maison Rililie is unique and quite striking. It is a reversible hat, with both sides sharing the same brim and then separating so that one side shows a sporty, two-color stripe while the other shows a pretty lace with the contrast color peeking through. I love it and in fact, had been kicking around an idea for something very similar in cowl form. The only hiccup is that the hat is written for a light fingering/laceweight yarn so I’m not sure how well the thicker sportweight yak/merino will work in the pattern size-wise without some adjustments.

Dual Cable Hat:

Photo copyright MarlyBird. Click for pattern page.

This hat was designed by Marly Bird specifically for the Bijou Basin Ranch Himalayan Trail yarn. Isn’t that brim so cool? I’m tempted to knit this one just to figure out how it was done! I suspect it’s one of those stitch patterns that looks incredibly complex but is deceptively simple. Either way, it’s gorgeous, and I’m sure it’s lovely and warm in the yak/merino yarn. There are, of course, a whole slew of patterns designed specifically with the Himalayan Trail yarn in mind, including a few Outlander-themed pattern kits. My favorite kit patterns is the Forever Linked hat and cuffs set designed by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter, for which you’d need two skeins of the same colorway in order to knit both pieces. After all this searching, the perfect pattern utilizing two different colorways seemed destined to elude me, until I had a lightbulb moment.

Ecclefechan Mitts:

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Photo copyright Kate Davies Designs. Click for pattern page.

Is there any designer whose work fits the bill better than Kate Davies when one needs a colorwork pattern for yarn inspired by a historical fiction novel based in Scotland? (The appropriate answer is ‘not bloody likely’.) Kate’s blog makes me homesick for the Highlands (which I’ve never visited) nearly every day and her designs are steeped in historical research and Scottish inspiration. Colorwork is her forte, and according to her notes, the pattern for these mitts was inspired by the dense colorwork gloves traditionally knitted in Dentdale and the Scottish Borders. In other words, these beauties are perfect. They’re designed for fingering weight yarn but I intend to swatch with the thicker sportweight and see how things work out! And of course, a full review will follow.

Have you read the Outlander series, tried a Bijou Basin Ranch yarn, or felt homesick for foreign lands you’ve never visited? Do you have a favorite project for 400 yards of two different colors, or a favorite Scottish knit? What are you feeling inspired by lately? Leave a link in the comments and let us know!

IS

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17 thoughts on “IS #84: Yak Attack

  1. Both hats are fantastic and that cowl is gorgeous…..I read the first book a couple months ago (I had it forever, but decided to read it before watching the show) and I was meh…just didn’t capture me…I watch the show…mainly for the cinematography….as it is absolutely gorgeous….the story is okay, but will say Sam Heughan is nice to look at…I did a report on Scotland in the fifth grade and have wanted to go ever since…..will be close this summer…..

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    • There’s something about it that’s just fascinating! I haven’t watched the show yet but will do my best to find a way to do so soon (don’t have cable tv). I liked the book much better the second time around.

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  2. Man Alicia, these are stunning. I went to Scotland for a study abroad about four years ago (really, that long ago?) I didn’t have a chance to research Scottish yarns and knits as I would have liked, but seeing all these inspiring designs makes me wish I was back there (with more money for yarn!)

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  4. All beautiful patterns! I have to say the Prickly Thistle Mitts are by far my favorite, though.

    I’m a little baffled why the Outlander series seems to have exploded in popularity and/or visibility in the fiber world in the last year or so. Can anyone explain?

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    • I think it’s become suddenly popular due to the show on Starz. It just started last year, I think, and knitters tend to have a weakness for period pieces (Jane Austen, Downton Abbey). I guess it’s the costumes?

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  5. Such gorgeous, gorgeous yarn!! I think I’d head for the cowl territory with that – such softness must be felt around the neck!! Also would be worried that the yak down may not be robust enough to not stretch in a hat, or wear through too quickly in mitts (although being colourwork, that would make them doubly durable).

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