A skein of Lux yarn
Lux knit up in a lace pattern
click each image to enlarge

Yarn Profile: Buffalo Gold Lux #12

First Impressions
What do you knit for someone truly special? If you can, you save your pennies and splurge on a glorious yarn, taking your time to knit an equally glorious gift from it. You try to find a yarn that, even in its natural state, whispers sweet nothings into the ears of its wearer.

Lux #12 is a strong new contender in this category of capital-s Special yarns. Its fibers tell a story, its colors tell another story, and its purchase tells a third story, all of which add a nice bundle of meaning to any handknitted item you might make from the yarn itself.

Let's start with the fibers. Lux #12 is an artful mix of opposites—of fire and frost, earthy and ethereal. It begins with a base of 45% bison down, a short, delicate, extremely insulating fiber whose characteristics are similar to those of qiviut or vicuna. Then 20% cashmere is added. Cashmere is similar in softness to bison, but it tends to have a little more body to it—which helps stabilize the bison down.

If we stopped here, we'd have a fine and extremely lightweight yarn with a light brown color and a gentle matte halo throughout. But instead, Buffalo Gold decided to experiment with contrast by adding 20% silk—a far longer, straighter, stronger, and more lustrous fiber. In addition to the silk, Buffalo Gold also added 15% Tencel, a manufactured fiber made from the regenerated cellulose from tree pulp. It has the same strength, fiber length, and lustrous qualities of silk. These four fibers work well together, complementing one another's qualities without overpowering or detracting.

You could enjoy the yarn in its natural un-dyed off-brown shade, or you could choose from the six solid-dyed, jewel-toned colors currently available. And if you want the colors and the purchase to tell a story, Buffalo Gold has also just introduced a limited-edition Conservation Colorway series of five variegated yarns that have been expertly hand-dyed by Lorna's Laces. The yarns carry names of places where buffalo roamed—Yellowstone, Black Hill, Red River, Flat Lake, and Wichita Mountain—and a portion of the proceeds go toward Heifer International. I used Flat Lake, from the Conservation Colorway series, for this review.

Knitting Up
Lux #12 is a well-balanced two-ply laceweight yarn whose steady spin and even twist remind me of Jagger Spun Zephyr. I encountered no knots while winding my hank into a ball, and the yarn stayed put once the ball was off the winder.

As with most lace yarns, my hands required a little time to establish the right grip and a steady tension. While Lux #12 was a little slippery on my needles, the crimpy bison and cashmere fibers did give the yarn far more grip than a pure silk or Tencel yarn would've offered. The yarn soon found its pace on my Addi Lace needles as I swatched Anne Hanson's Elm Row pattern—which can be completed with one skein of Lux #12.

While my working yarn occasionally came a little untwisted (likely because of the way I hold my yarn), it never snagged or misbehaved on the needles.

Blocking / Washing
My richly dyed swatch released only a faint hint of color in its warm soapy wash. After several squeezes, the swatch was fully saturated and the fibers began to relax.

A blocked swatch
My swatch took its blocking without any complaints, drying quickly and producing a beautiful sheet of cohesive knitted fabric. While there was some blooming in the wash, the lustrous silk and Tencel still dominated the fabric.

By default, this yarn already falls in what I'd consider the "delicate" category. It's made primarily of fine, delicate fibers, the majority of which are very short; and it is spun at a fine gauge with only two plies for strength.

Translation: This is not a yarn for football jerseys or any kind of garment that would see a lot of wear and tear. Its halo and drape make it ideal for shawls, scarves, and wraps. And its two-ply formation is ideal for adding nuance to open lace stitches.

From a touch perspective, this yarn scores 9.1 on the soft-o-meter. It's not as jaw-droppingly luxurious as qiviut, but it's far from average, too. Very rarely I encountered a stray guard hair that was quite obvious and easy to remove without disturbing the other fibers. Otherwise, the fabric is comfortable and suitably soft for any next-to-skin wear.

Lux #12 is a glorious addition to the lace yarn market. In direct sunlight, the silk and Tencel positively glow—but even then, the faint cashmere and bison halo give your fabric a distinct come-hither look. The more complex your lace project, the more likely you'll want to use one of the solid-colored options so that the stitch patterning is not lost.

At $52 per 330-yard solid-colored hank and $61 per Conservation Colorways hank, Lux #12 is one of the more expensive yarns on the market. A full-blown lace shawl will require anywhere from 850 to 1200 yards, which translates to anywhere from $156 to $244. (But what a project it'd be.)

There are, however, plenty of patterns for smaller lace projects that would require only one skein and still produce stunningly memorable results. It's a great option for those moments when you care enough (and can afford) to send the very best.

 Reader comments