What makes Yak and Camel fibers and especially these fibers used for Nomadnoos yarns so special and eco-friendly?
Yak fiber, a high-quality fiber is as soft as cashmere, much warmer than merino wool, breathable and odor-resistant. A little bit of history; yaks probably existed already 2 million years ago! They spread from the Himalaya and the Tibetan highlands towards Asia including Mongolia. Being wild animals, they were domesticated 10.000 years ago.
Yaks have high adaptability to extreme climate conditions; they live the whole year up to an altitude of 45.00 meters. Besides wool fibers, they also provide milk, meat, and leather to the Nomadic herders. There are approximately 165.00 herding households spread throughout the country of Mongolia, a country as big as western Europe. Each family has different sizes of herds, depending on the location and the needs of each family. Mongolian rangeland belongs to the government, but herders have the right to herd on it. Due to different factors, the state of the rangeland is in a more and more desertification state. One of these factors is the over-grazing of the cashmere goat.Due to the high demand for the textile industry, the number of goats increased incredibly in the country. Goats are not only eating the grass but also the roots which negatively affect the land.
Herders are very much aware of the desertification and eager to work on a solution that will help them to keep their nomadic lifestyle for the next decades.
With the support of the Greengold project, a project funded by the Swiss Agency for development and cooperation, a tool was developed where local governments on a regular base control the state of the rangeland. They calculate how many animals can be herded on each part of the rangeland. Local governments together with herders, try to find a solution. Nomadic herders are traveling 4 times a year, and change per season the place where they herd their animals. To help the herders to increase their livelihood, the Greengold project supported the herder corporation to understand in a better way the value of yak and camel fiber.
They researched how to manage a more qualitative combing, how to separate the best quality and last but not least they helped them to skip the “middlemen” and organized direct contact with processing factories.
Herders are combing their yaks in spring. This is the time when this precious undercoat of the yak flies away naturally. It is not an easy task to comb the animal and it takes a while.
To avoiding stressing the animal, a fence is built where the animal stands while being combed.
Per animal, the herders can harvest approximately 700 grams to 1kg of down fiber. This precious fiber is called “Khullu”.
Yaks between 1 and 3 years do have the highest quality fiber. Once the fiber is combed, it is stocked in local warehouses, waiting for the truck to pick it up and transport it to Ulaan Bator the mains city of Mongolia.
There the precious fiber is washed and carded. After this process, 30%, of minor quality, is either used for felting or used for other products on the local market. Only the leftover premium fiber is used for quality yarn.
For Nomadnoos we use this soft and beautiful premium fiber to handspun our 100% High mountain yak yarn.
In that way, Yaks provide a lifeline to the heritage and culture, from the yak herders to the artisans who spin our beautiful yarns.
Written by Coty Jeronimus