What do you call a 7-foot hairy beast weighing over 1500 pound?
This gentle giant’s official scientific name is "Bos Grunniens," or simply the yak. These beasts that roam the high Mongolian mountain ranges and the American bison of the Great Plains are closely related, and both are capable of withstanding frigid winter climates. The yaks in Mongolia have long, shaggy, course outer hair that covers their whole bodies, with the longest hair of the belly being called the “savga.”
But beneath this rough, shaggy coat lies the true source of their natural warmth: the soft, downy, cashmere-like fibers which protect them from cold and provide insulation. And from here, also, comes our ultra-warm yak wool clothing and accessories.
Mongolian yaks have been offering warmth and provision to humans for centuries, and we wanted to uncover more about both the majestic beasts and the culture behind the wool. Read on as we reveal the details that make this material so remarkable.
Yaks: An Integral Part of Mongolian History and Culture
Mongolian yaks are all domesticated and have long been an essential part of the nomadic lifestyle. Herders use yaks for transportation, drink their milk, eat their meat, use their dung for fuel, and, of course, harvest their wool to create clothing.
This harvesting usually occurs in summer when the yaks’ natural shedding process begins. The downy undercoat mentioned above is what is typically used to create materials, as it is combed, sorted, washed, spun and knitted or woven into exotic and extremely warm fabric and clothing. My hubby and I couldn’t resist snagging a few of these pieces for ourselves as we were in Mongolia working on the autumn/winter collection for Noos Shop!
But the yaks are only a small part of the making process. There are also inventive minds and craftsmen and women who plan and then create with the wool. Let’s get a behind-the-scenes look at some of these amazing individuals.
The People Behind the Making
Here we have Altaa, who is the creative mind and soul of our small knitting workshop, where all of the Noos Shop's yak wool and the majority of the cashmere pieces are made. She creates the patterns for our design pieces and custom orders.
Boloroo is our most skilled artisan. Here you see her carefully adjusting the needles on her hand-operated knitting loom.
Boloroo runs the loom that knits together the pieces for sweaters and other wearables. The process is so detailed that it takes almost an entire day to knit the parts for one sweater!
Once Boloroo has finished knitting the pieces, it’s Aruinaa (pictured here) who sews the sweater parts together. I personally consider this stage to be one of the most challenging, as it requires Aruinaa to meticulously connect all the sweater parts together, from collar to zipper – all by hand on a sewing machine.
And finally, there’s "Bobo" – our quality assurance provider. He checks each finished piece to ensure the quality, and he steam irons the products to make sure they look their absolute best. His bright smile at the end of the day is a thumbs-up for everyone at the workshop. The work truly requires skill, patience and finesse but the results are always worth it!
Here you see a luxurious bomber jacket – the results of our small knitting workshop's craftsmanship! You can purchase your very own yak’s wool bomber sweater at Straus for Men in Fargo, ND.
Want a custom piece? Come and visit us at Noos Shop, or just send us an email! We’d love to hear from you. Contact us today!