Introducing mYak - A fascinating fibre journey
Posted on May 10 2021
In this newsletter, I would like to introduce you to mYak (my-yak) and its yarns. I first came across this company when I was setting up 'The Knitter's Yarn' and I was visiting the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Personally, I love 'soft' natural fibres and when I came to the mYak stand the quality of the yarns stood out - as well as the very attractive Italian man (it may have been Andrea) who gave me some colour cards and information to take away and study.
Unfortunately, as I was just starting out, the initial costs were escalating and at that stage, I was unable to place an order for this beautiful yarn. Now, over three years later, I have a better idea of the direction I wish the business to take and the type of companies I wish to support. As crafters and fibre users we can direct our funds to support causes and communities whose livelihoods depend on these natural resources. It is a win-win situation: we purchase beautiful yarns and the communities receive income to support their traditional way of living. mYak is one such company which has a wonderful story revolving around two committed individuals dedicated to supporting the nomadic herdsmen and communities of the Tibetan Plateau.
Paola and Andrea are the faces behind mYak. They have been living and working with the nomadic herders for over twenty years during which time, they have learnt to appreciate the traditions of these people and through purchasing, spinning and selling the fibre from the Tibetan herds are hoping to fund and secure the future of a nomadic population which represents one of the most ancient in the world.
Andrea is a veterinarian who left Italy for Tibet to train local vets and, at the same time, learn about Tibetan traditional medicines.
Paola studied Chinese and spent many years living and travelling throughout China before arriving in Tibet. She has subsequently spent years working on the Tibetan Plateau with farmers, nomads, teachers and children attempting to improve their conditions through better healthcare, education, income generation and social entrepreneurship whilst, at the same time, striving to help preserve the Tibetan way of life and culture.
Through sharing the life and habits of the nomadic herders they came to love the land, people and animals. Stroking the yaks they discovered the softness of their undercoat and, over time, created a cooperative with local nomadic communities herding yak and Tibetan cashmere goats. A sustainable production chain was agreed which was fully respectful of the traditions of the Tibetan lands, people and its animals and they decided to handcraft the yarns in Italy, in Biellese area, a region known for its excellence in the sector.
This is mYak. Born in Tibet, crafted in Italy.
To read more about their story click here. Alternatively, 'Fruity Knitting' did a wonderful interview with Andrea and Paola on their podcast Episode 56.
When the yarn arrived from Italy I was keen to start knitting a project straight away and so I decided upon Isabell Kraemer's 'A girl's best friend' shawl pattern. Now I have to admit that I have only made a couple of shawls as I tend to love knitting sweaters. However, I am a big fan of Isabell Kraemer and I really enjoyed making this project for Alice who chose the colours. It was an easy TV knit but with enough interest to keep me engaged. In fact, I loved making it so much I am going to knit a smaller version for myself in a different colour way. For those of you who enjoy shawls and would like to have a go at designing your own, then I would recommend the latest book by Kate Atherley and Kim McBrien Evans 'Custom Shawls for the Curious and Creative Knitter'.
This is my finished shawl - I just have the tassels to add!
Here are some more pattern ideas from Ravelry using the wonderful mYak yarns to wet your enthusiasm:
Fallen Feathers Hat by Jill Zielinski knitted in mYak Tibetan Cloud
I hope you love the chosen patterns as much as I do and, if you have not knitted with mYak yarn before then you are in for a treat. Not only will you enjoy the making and wearing process, but you will have the added satisfaction of knowing that you have contributed towards the continuation of a unique fibre journey.
The following mYak yarns are now in stock: