Hi I'd like to introduce myself and the work i am doing. I have been in working in mongolia since August 2010, i am working with the organisation VSO helping to improve the textile industry in Mongolia, focusing on the cashmere, yak and camel hair products. I am based at a factory in Ulaanbaatar called Mongol Textile and they specialise in yak hair products, mainly woven blankets, throws, shawls etc.
Since i have been in Mongolia i have been introduced to Yak Hair weaving, i came here expecting to focus my attention on the cashmere products but it has not turned out that way, mainly due to the increasing price of raw cashmere and therefore lack of it, the increase in deforestation and its wide-spread avaiability on the International market. What was once an exclusive luxury fibre has now become commercial and sometimes untrustworthy.
We recently showed our collection at a tradeshow in Beijing called Cashmere World, we were the only company there showing Yak Hair products and we received a great deal of interest from the Western market for our yak throws and the yarn. This we were told was because cashmere had lost its exclusivity in the luxury market and that a new fibre was being sort out and that it seemed to be yak.
There is a mis-conception that yak would be scratchy and coarse but this is just how the name is interpreted, it is infact extremely soft, not as soft as cashmere but it is much warmer, it does not bobble in the same way as cashmere, it has a longer life and also yaks do not cause deforesation as they do not eat the root of the grass.
Yaks live in the high Khangai mountains of Mongolia and their down is combed, not sheared in the Springtime, this hair is bought direct from Nomadic herders and then washed and de-haired at the factories in Ulaanbaatar. It is then carded and spun into yarn. Then the weaving takes place followed by the napping and finishing process. All of these processes from Yak to final product take place in Mongolia and it is completely natural.
Yak comes in 4 natural colours chocolate brown, mid brown, light grey and creamy white. The whole process is ethical and my job here is to try and improve the income of the Herders as well as improve the skills of the designers in the factory so their products can reach an international market.