Looking for a luxurious, soft yarn?
Yak fibers might be the perfect choice for you. I explore what yak yarn is, and ways to use it for knitting.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Yak Yarn?
- What Do You Use It For?
- Common Blends Using This Fiber
- Where To Find It
- Interesting Facts
What Is Yak Yarn?
Yak yarn is an animal fiber sold at expensive prices.
This fiber isn’t popular because it’s expensive and hard to get, however, it’s warm, hypoallergenic, soft, and insulating.
It’s also moisture-wicking and has antimicrobial properties.
They’re luxurious and great for winter projects.
It’s only available in its natural colors.
Where It Comes From
Yak yarn is a luxury fiber made of the downy, soft undercoat hair (aka down fiber) of domesticated yaks (Bos grunniens).
It’s a short staple fiber, so this bovine yarn is often blended with wool or other fibers for a softer, warmer yarn.
These animals are also known as the Tartary ox, the grunting ox or hairy cattle.
Where Do Yak Live?
They live in the Himalayas, concentrated around the Tibetan Plateau, but they’re also found in Mongolia, Bhutan, and parts of India.
They’re raised and cared for by nomadic herders.
They live at altitudes of 9,800+ feet and have a double coat of hair.
The outer coat (used for sturdy blankets/ropes) is long and coarse, while the inner layer is downy and soft.
They can survive -40° Fahrenheit!(1)
Research shows yaks were already domesticated by 8 BCE by the nomadic Qiang people!(2)
People also use yaks for their milk, meat, and hides.
The nomadic people of Central Asia only raise domesticated yaks, not the wild yaks (Bos mutus).
Types Of Yak Fiber
These two are the ones you might find available commercially.
- Adult Yak Wool – It’s great for making rugs, blankets, and other sturdy items
- Baby Yak Wool – It’s the softest yak fiber. Wool from baby yaks are often used in luxury projects like shawls and sweaters
How It’s Made Into Yarn
Making yak yarn is done by hand. With the heat of summer, they shed their undercoat.
How Is Yak Wool Harvested?
A few weeks before shearing, the herders comb the yak to harvest the down. This is a time-consuming process.
An adult yak produces, on average, between 300 – 700 grams of down yearly.
The fibers are cleaned and spun into yarn.
How To Wash Yak Yarn
Here are the care instructions for yak fibers.
- Gently hand wash in cool water with a mild detergent
- Lay flat to dry out of direct sunlight
- Avoid hot water, harsh chemicals, and wringing the fabric
Always check the yarn label for instructions specific to the yarn you’re using.
Does It Shrink When Washed?
No, it doesn’t, because it’s a non-shrinking knitting yarn.
How To Soften Yak Yarn
Washing it after you’ve finished knitting always helps!
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What Do You Use It For?
Wondering whether you should use it to make a project? Here’s why this fiber is used to make yarn.
This luxurious yarn is often used for projects and things like
- A sweater
- Baby items
Common Blends Using This Fiber
Here is a list of common blends using this yarn, and why they’re created.
- Cashmere (from cashmere goats) – This blend creates a soft, warm yarn. It’s often used for sweaters, hats, and other winter accessories
- Silk – It adds strength and luster to the yarn. It’s often used for shawls and other delicate items
- Sheep Wool – It adds warmth and durability to the yarn. It’s often used for winter sweaters and hats
Where To Find It
Here’s where to find this yarn.
- Online brand shops
Because it’s a rare fiber, it’s difficult to find.
Here are brands or manufacturers of yak yarns to try.
What’s The Price Like?
The price varies depending on the quality, but it’s expensive.
Want to know some fascinating tidbits about this material? Impress your friends with these.
- Yak down has been used for clothing and insulation for centuries in the Himalayan region.
- There are two types of yak – the domestic yak (Bos grunniens) and the wild yak (Bos mutus).
- The domesticated yak is about the size of a cow, while the wild yak is larger
- The domesticated yak is the only one used for fiber
- Yak down is hollow, which makes it a great insulator
- It’s also water-resistant, making it ideal for wet climates
Is Yak Yarn Safe For Babies?
Yes, it’s safe for babies because it’s a natural fiber. It’s soft and won’t irritate their skin.
Is Yak Yarn Ethical & Eco-Friendly?
The animals aren’t harmed. It’s a biodegradable fiber and a renewable resource.
Their hooves are gentle on the ground, and they graze in a way that doesn’t rip the plants.
What Can I Make With Leftover Yak Yarn?
You can make anything you want! Hats, gloves, and more.
Is Yak Yarn Itchy?
No, it’s not itchy because it’s a soft fiber.
Is Yak Yarn Good For Clothes?
Yes, it’s good for clothes because it’s a durable fiber. It lasts a long time.
Is Yak Yarn Good For Winter?
Yes, it’s good for winter because it’s a warm fiber. It keeps you cozy.
Is Yak Yarn Good For Summer?
No, it’s not good for summer because it’s too warm.
Do Yak Yarns Pill?
No, they don’t pill.
Can You Dye Yak Yarns?
Yes, you can.
Is Yak Yarn Soft?
Yes, it’s a super soft fiber!
Does Yak Yarn Felt?
Yes, it does.
Does Yak Wool Smell?
No, it’s odorless!
Is Yak Wool Warmer Than Alpaca?
Yes, it is!
Yak Wool Vs Merino
It depends on what you’re looking for. Yak wool is warmer, but merino wool is less expensive and more widely available.
Happy crocheting or knitting! Hope you enjoyed this article. Do you have questions? Please leave them below!
- Qiu, Qiang, Guojie Zhang, Tao Ma, Wubin Qian, Junyi Wang, Zhiqiang Ye, Changchang Cao et al. “The yak genome and adaptation to life at high altitude.” Nature genetics 44, no. 8 (2012): 946-949.
- Long, R. J., L. M. Ding, Z. H. Shang, and X. H. Guo. “The yak grazing system on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau and its status.” The Rangeland Journal 30, no. 2 (2008): 241-246.