Yak down is a fairly new fiber to the western knitting market but has been used for thousands of years by the nomadic peoples in the heart of Asia.
|Photo from Reywa Fibers|
Yak produce two fibers, a soft downy undercoat and a long, course outer coat. The yak outer coat is much like the hair of a horses tail, shorter on the body and growing into a long "skirt" on the lower parts of the bodies. This hair is used for weaving things like belts and rope.
|From International Yak Association|
In researching for this post I found several website with tons of interesting information. The most comprehensive is a publication by the Food & Agriculture Organization of the U.N., The Yak Second Edition. Pretty much anything you want to know about yak can be found in this paper.
Another interesting site is The International Yak Association. After reading this one I'm all for finding some pasture land and raising yak! Having raised fiber animals in the past the yak looks perfect for a low input, sustainable, niche farm!
|Bijou Basin Photo|
Our newest yak yarn is 100% yak from a fairly new company Reywa Fibers. Please go read the 'About' section on their website, it's very exciting what they are doing. It is another small, family operated business. The income from the sales of their products is reinvested directly into the Tibetan communities that raise the animals, providing education and environmental preservation to the nomadic peoples that raise the yak. Their first yarn is called Embrace. This yarn is also right between a sport & dk weight. I wish I could adequately describe how this yarn feels! Think soft like baby alpaca but smooth like cool butter. This is the perfect yarn for next to the skin! Think cowls, turtleneck sweaters, camisoles, and luxury mitts. You simply must touch this yarn!!!!
The third yak yarn we carry is Tibetan Cloud Fingering by Lotus Yarns. It is also 100% yak. The name is a bit deceptive as I would call this a 2 ply lace weight rather than fingering. The colors are lovely, it's wonderful for knitting light and lofty lace shawls.
I think a project made from one of these exotic yarns would make a fantastic holiday gift for someone special! I'm off to start planning mine!
Please send any comments or questions to askTerry (at) jimmybeanswool (dot) com.