Bison Fibre and the Buffalo Wool Co.

Bison Fibre - natural and ready to spin.
Bison Fibre – natural and ready to spin.

This page has been in the wings for a while.  I have been waiting for the time to write this page and review bison fibre and yarns created with it –  and I have been too busy working with the yarn to write about the yarn!

Now is the time.  Just recently I read a blog posting by Arlene of Fibery Goodness on the colour brown and I really liked Arlenes’ introduction – it pretty much encapsulated how I used to feel about the colour brown.

If I am asked what my favorite color is, I used to answer “green”…now I would probably answer “pink”.  But, never has it occurred to me to answer “brown” nor has brown even come in as second, third or fourth place.  In fact, I have never known anyone to say their favorite color is brown.  Surely those folks exist, but I am not aware of them — although certainly someone reading this will claim brown as theirs.

Quote from Arlene Ciroula – Spin Artiste

My hank of Buffalo Gold.
My hank of Buffalo Gold.

About ten months ago an opportunity came my way – a chance to work with some really unique fibre – Buffalo Gold – bison fibre spun with a thread of real gold.  From that grew an amazing working relationship that has given me the opportunity to work with bison fibre in many guises.

As far as I can tell the only drawback to bison yarn is that it is brown – And is that really a drawback?  Not at all!

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About Bison fibre itself: paraphrased from the Buffalo Wool Co – About Bison Fibre page.

Its Soft… Bison down has a remarkable I-want-to-be-next-to-the-skin feel. This solid core smooth protein has a micron count of about 15, comparable to good cashmere.  There are no scales to cause prickle.

Its Warm… Have you ever seen a buffalo in the snow? The crimpy down creates thousands of tiny air pockets all insulating you as no other fiber.

Its Lightweight.  The fine down is light weight but durable.  It Lasts and Lasts and Lasts.  The yarns created with bison down fiber only gets softer with wear. Bison down yarns bloom a bit, creating this beautiful halo. Bison down is perfect for knitting an heirloom quality piece.  It was meant to be used.  Anything created with bison fiber can be machine washed (gentle cycle) and dried.  Machine washing encourages the blooming effect of this kind of fibre – don’t want to encourage bloom – handwash.

Bison down is also:

  • Hypo-Allergenic No known allergies to the fiber.
  • Water-wicking- Bison down has a moisture regain of about 30%, keeping you warm and comfortable even when wet.
  •  Easy Care- Because it isn’t hollow, nor does it have barbs like wool, it doesn’t shrink. Craft your project to size and it will stay that way.

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Heaven Lace weight combined with Strange twist created a beautiful and unique shawl.
Heaven Lace weight combined with Strange twist created a beautiful and unique shawl.

Bison fibre is brown.  Dark, rich and alive, but brown, not a colour I work with often as it is not an easy colour for me to wear.  I have stopped seeing brown as a drawback.  Bison fibre has changed my outlook on the colour brown.

Gorgeous Shot of Tamera wearing "All That Jazz" and the Knuckle Duster Mittens. This set was knit with Heaven Dk and Strange Twist,
Gorgeous Shot of Tamera wearing “All That Jazz” and the Knuckle Duster Mittens. This set was knit with Heaven Dk and Strange Twist,

Any yarn that comes in only one colour presents quite a challenge for the person/company trying to sell that yarn.  It would be difficult to get many knitters to try the yarn as it is a luxury fibre and is expensive.  The owners of the Buffalo Wool Company have found a few creative ways to overcome this minor problem.

  • Heaven – Create an absolutely beautiful laceweight yarn for hand-knitting.  This is not just my bias speaking – check out Clara Parkes Review!  The original name of Heaven was Buffalo Gold #11.
  • Heaven DK – Offer that yarn in a heavier weight.
  • Strange Twist of Fate and Fibre – Take a fibre of 50% bamboo and 50% silk, dyed it in beautiful colours, and then add then twist it with a strand of Heaven laceweight to create an incredible marled yarn.

    Earth
    Earth
  • Earth – Blend bison and nylon for a more versatile yarn, 90% bison fibre and 10% buffalo nylon, a 4-ply with a little nylon, carefully dyed, but limited colours.
  • Sexy – Create another laceweight yarn – 50% silk and 50% bison and then dye the yarn.  Wonderful deep glowing colour results from this blend.
  • Sexy – Specials – Offer up the bison/silk blend to companies that special in hand-dyed yarn and create special colourways.  Koigu and Lorna’s Laces have created some incredible colourways for this yarn.  I am working with the Annie Oakley colourway right now – a special western woman themes line of colours that the BWC is trying to establish.

Offer up a couple of  economy yarns – they are not economy in any way except that the bison fibre is not as big a part of the resulting yarns!

Cowgirl Bandana in two colours of Tracks.
Cowgirl Bandana in two colours of Tracks.
  • Tracks – 90% superwash merino and 10% bison.  strong, soft and hardwearing, easy to overdye and create a fabulous basic yarn for knitting anything including socks!
  • Buffalo Skies – 50% bison and 50% merino – a soft and squishy yarn, a classic aran or heavy worsted.
Some gorgeous Buffalo Skies. Soft, squishy and woolly!
Some gorgeous Buffalo Skies. Soft, squishy and woolly!

The yarns listed above are the standard yarns that the Buffalo Wool Co. carries every year.  They also create some specialty yarns that don’t last too long on the website.  Due to the BWC creative approach to their yarns, this last year has been the best year ever for them.  Their yarn has been purchased and shipped to over 18 countries around the world.

Yippie Ki Yi Yea - the winning design in the Buffalo Gold.
Yippie Ki Yi Yea – the winning design in the Buffalo Gold.

Buffalo Gold yarn was one of the special yarns that Ron and Theresa Miskin created last year.  Buffalo Gold was the Heaven lace weight fibre spun with a thread of real gold.  The gold thread a find from a mill that used to make military epaulettes and was originally created in Japan.  It is this type of creative thinking that has allowed the Buffalo Wool Co to be able to set their yarns apart from all of the other specialty yarns out there.

The Buffalo Wool Co. does not limit itself to yarns alone; you can find buffalo leather items, buttons, kits and many thing Buffalo related, all changing as their inventory shifts.  They are well worth a visit.

Yes my opinion is biased.  But it is one shared by many other experienced knitters and yarn enthusiasts.  Check out The Buffalo Wool Co. and if you get a chance try some of the yarn.  You will not be disappointed.