The yak is a domesticated, long-haired bovine found throughout the Himalayan region of South Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia. While most yak are domesticated, there are also small, wild yak populations.
Yak are among the largest of the bovidae. They have long, shaggy hair to insulate them from the cold. Wild yaks can be brown or black and domesticated ones can also be white.
Yak produce two different types of hair. The first is the outer wool which is longer, coarser and stronger hair. This outer wool grows over the entire animal, the longest and strongest of this outer wool is found on the animals tail and skirt. The second hair produced is the short, fine, soft under wool, or down hair, which is produced by the animals during the winter and is a very efficient insulator. Yak living in cold climates will produce from one to two pounds of down, annually. The down is shed in the spring and is harvested by a combing process similar to the Arctic muskox. Processing the soft, inner down is a very manual and labor intensive process.
Yarn made from yak down is one of the most luxurious fibers available. It is warmer than sheep wool and as soft as cashmere. It is an extremely durable and lightweight fiber that preserves heat in the winter yet breathes for comfort in warmer weather.
Yak yarn is completely odorless, does not shed and maintains warmth even when wet. The yarn is non-allergenic and is a good choice for those who are allergic to other types of wool.