Bison. One of the things I have found most interesting about knitting is all the different fibers from which yarn is made. When I first started knitting I was told to buy the best yarn I could afford and stay away from Acrylic yarns.
Acrylic fiber has been in production in the United States since 1950 when DuPont introduced Orlon. Acrylic is a synthetic fiber that has a chemical base of 85 to 90 percent vinyl cyanide. The remaining percentage determines the unique characteristics of the particular brand of fiber. Now, acrylic fiber is produced all over the world, and is used in clothing manufacturing as well as for craft yarn.
My first yarns were mostly cotton so I could practice my tension (how tight or loose I knit) and stitches (knit and purl). I soon found myself in lovely shops that had a lot of different yarns that I knew nothing about. Looking back at my knitting and yarn history on Ravelry I can see how I’ve grown and matured as a knitter.
For those who don’t know about Ravelry:
Ravelry is a free social networking website, beta-launched in May 2007. It functions as an organizational tool for a variety of fiber arts including knitting, crocheting, spinning, and weaving. Members share projects, ideas, and their collection of yarn, fiber, and tools via various components. As of February 29, 2012, Ravelry had over 2 million members worldwide.
Now about Bison yarn. Bison (American Buffalo) down is an extremely soft, comfortable product much like cashmere. It is strong, soft and very insulating and therefore warm – warmer than wool. Any item you choose to make out of this yarn will not pill – an added feature. Bison yarn needs no dying – we create the yarn using its rich, natural, chocolate-brown color. http://www.sbfarmsinc.com/yarn.html
I first saw this as fiber about two years ago at the knitters convention known as Stitches
here in Santa Clara, CA. There were one or two vendors selling it. Now I wondered, how do you get a bison to stand still so you can shear it like you do a sheep or an alpaca? I was too embarrassed to ask. Last year I did ask. The Bison naturally shed during certain times of the year. You really only want the undercoat of their hair. Hand gathering tufts shed onto trees and bushes in the spring is one way to get it. Often the ranchers place structures for the bison to rub against in the fields so the farmers can easily locate the loose hair. I think this is what makes it so EXPENSIVE. It is very labor intensive and doesn’t seem to yield much fiber. I also read
that there is a plant in Oklahoma that sheers the bison and separates the coarse hair from the down. Most of the yarn I have seen at yarn shows and conventions are hand gathered, cleaned, carded and spun by small indie yarn purveyors.
The cost of bison yarn averages about $50 for 2 ounces of about 250 yards of 2 ply lace weight yarn. I am not a lace knitter so I won’t be having this yarn in my stash anytime soon.
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