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Knitting with a Yak

August 12, 2012

Have you ever knit with Yak?  (And yes, I do mean the big hairy bison-like thing pictured here).

Last summer, Mike and I decided to take a trip to San Francisco.  It had been high on my list of places I wanted to visit for quite a while (despite growing up in Vancouver, I had never made it down) - and now that we were back living on the West Coast, it seemed a great time to go.  While there, we detoured up to Sonoma for a few days, to take in some of the wineries - and of course, some of the yarn stores!  At Sonoma Yarns, I discovered (among other things) some locally hand-spun yak yarn - it only came in 75 yard skeins, but it was so soft and smooshy, I couldn't pass it up!

Fast forward to a few weeks ago... while looking around at possible yarns for the store, I came across some undyed, dehaired Baby Yak Yarn.  Remembering how soft the skein I bought in Sonoma was (which still has yet to be knit into anything!), I couldn't not bring in this yarn.  Yesterday, after a week of staring at the small pile of skeins, I finally decided to start knitting with it.

The pattern I chose is the Juliet Scarf, a free download from Interweave Press' Knitting Daily TV show (you must sign up with Interweave to download the pattern).  Its a very straight-forward, 12-row lace pattern, with both written directions and a chart.  One skein of yarn makes the whole scarf, so it should make a great gift for someone - if I can convince myself to give it away, that is!

This is the softest, smooshiest yarn I have used in a long time.  The yarn is undyed, and therefore has not been heavily processed.  Yak fibre doesn't contain lanolin*, but as I'm knitting with it, it seems to be coating my fingers with some kind of natural oil (which is great, given how dry my hands are these days!).  The more I knit with it, the softer it seems to become!  I am loving this yarn so far - the only question is how to decide what I'm going to knit with it next!

I'll leave the scarf in the store, so next time you're in you can have a look.  Careful though, one squeeze of this scarf, and you may not be able to leave without taking the yarn home with you! :)


 * Lanolin is the natural oil found in sheep's wool, which helps keep it waterproof while still on the sheep.  Most commercial wools are stripped of their lanolin during the washing process, but you can occasionally find wools that still retain it.  Undyed wool yarns often retain more lanolin because they are less processed than dyed yarns.