I never realized all the uses for the Tibetan Yak and I have never seen one up close before. In March 2014, I was excited to get my chance of being on the Tibetan Plateau in Yunnan province of China and seeing the yaks up close. I was surprised that they were very calm and somewhat curious of me, maybe not as much as I was of them.
For centuries Tibetans have been using the coarser hair of the yaks to braid ropes and weave material for their nomad tents. Yak produce a fine down undercoat that keeps them warm in the subzero temperatures of the Tibetan Plateau. This warm, breathable fibre is gathered by Tibetan nomads as the animals shed their undercoat in the spring months. This luxurious down fibre is hand-spun by drop spindles into beautifully soft yarn and then hand-knit in lovely garments by Tibetan rural women, who are skilled artisans using their traditional skills of spinning and knitting. The Rocking Yak employs these Tibetan women and is bringing economic value to their skills of rearing yak and spinning wool. Yak down is hypoallergenic and does not itch like sheep wool or other coarser fibres. Many of the colours are hand-dyed with natural dyes.