Yak fiber is extremely fine and soft making it the perfect sustainable cashmere alternative. Yak wool comes from traditionally sustainable pastoralist communities in Inner Mongolia. The wool is among the most precious wool in the world. It is as delicate and soft as cashmere, keeps you warmer than sheep’s wool, regulates moisture, is breathable and even allergy-friendly. The reason for all these properties is the extreme thickness and multi-layered nature of the wool fibres.
In the 1800s, there were numerous yaks in Tibet, but after 1900 they were hunted almost to extinction. They are also considered a vulnerable species because of interbreeding with domestic cattle. It has made a welcome addition to a marketplace that is growing weary of cashmere.
Yak produce two different types of hair. The first is the outer wool which is longer, coarser and stronger hair. This outer wool grows over the entire animal, the longest and strongest of this outer wool is found on the animals tail and skirt. The second hair produced is the short, fine, soft under wool, or down hair, which is produced by the animals during the winter and is a very efficient insulator.
- Shiny, more lustrous than wool
- Retains warmth, and is 10-15% warmer than wool
Features of Yak Fiber
Yak fibre is extremely fine and soft making it the perfect sustainable cashmere alternative. Its smoothness is due to the fact that every animal’s hair has a different surface texture, and yak down coat under a microscope looks scally. These scales fit tightly against the surface of the hair shaft, which makes it feel very smooth and consequently soft. It also makes it more difficult to spin into yarn, but this problem is offset by its high commercial value. Another reason for yak being so soft is its crimp.
Yak wool comes in three natural colors: light milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and the rare platinum grey. From year to year and batch to batch, these colors will change slightly as they are really just a blend of the shades closest to the target color. For example, if you have a yak that is white, its wool will end up in the platinum grey group.
What is it used for?
Before the increase in demand for yak down, it wasn’t harvested or used to create extra income for herders. Nowadays, with the rise in popularity, herders brush their yaks to procure as much of the down fiber as possible to create luxury goods from knitting and crocheting yarn, accessories, and high fashion items. After brushing, the fiber is hand sorted for color and quality.
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