Friday, August 28, 2015

From the Source Friday: Bijou Basin Ranch

Today is From the Source Friday! Show your appreciation to dedicated fiber farmers as they teach you all about where your yarn comes from. Today's featured farm is Bijou Basin Ranch and their lovely yaks, along with the luxury yarns that they make with the fiber. Did you know that yarn could come from yaks? Yak fiber has many of the same qualities as wool from sheep but with antimicrobial properties and added warmth.

Life on the Farm
"Established in 2005, Bijou Basin Ranch is a small family owned and operated yak ranch situated on the open plains of the Colorado outback. We are located about 65 miles southeast of Denver, Colorado, just outside of the small town of Elbert. Considered to be easy keepers, yak require no special fencing or feed. A yak only eats about one-third 1/3 the amount of hay or grass that a commercial cow eats, allowing three yaks to graze on the same pasture as a single beef cow. 

Typically, yak produce two different types of hair. The first is the outer "guard hair" which is the longer, coarser, and stronger hair. While guard hair grows over the entire animal, the longest and strongest guard hair is found on the animals tail and skirt. The second hair produced is the short, fine, soft undercoat or "down hair" which is produced by the animals during the winter and is an incredible insulator. Yak living in cold climates will produce from one to two pounds of down annually. The down is shed in the spring and is harvested by combing.

Because of its strength and coarse nature, the guard hairs are typically carded and then spun worsted. Using multiple plies the guard hairs are then braided into ropes, halters, and belts or weaved into very durable rugs and bags. The down, with a diameter of 14-16 microns, is very soft and is comparable to cashmere or camel in softness and quality. Once separated from the guard hairs the down is processed into clouds and rovings and spun into yarn for the exotic fiber market."

Have a look! 

Aren't those yaks just so cute? They have such peaceful looks on their faces. The owners of the ranch and fiber shop are very friendly as well :) If you want to learn more about Bijou Basin Ranch and purchase some of their fiber (they have many other fibers, too!), you can find them on their website, Facebook, Ravelry, YouTube, and blog. Interweave even collaborated with them to make a fun video series! So cool.

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