Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yakety Yak, Mr. Frak

In less than two weeks I will be celebrating my 2nd blogaversary! I started this blog about six months after I started knitting, as a way of documenting and sharing my newest adventure with family and friends in far away places. No, wait, I was the one that was far away, still living in Jerusalem. I had hoped that they would share in my new passion and celebrate my accomplishments with me. Instead I found a new world of fellow knitters. The tone of the blog has changed. I have found it a place to not only share my knitting but to work on my writing and discipline myself with a"daily" dose. (I'm still working on that last one.) I have a pretty consistent readership and some of you are frequent commentors, which makes me very happy. I still get a little giddy when I am notified of a new comment. Thank you, of all you who read my words, look at my photos, and give me encouragement. Even Messrs. Frik and Frak.

If you read the comments you can't help but notice Frak's frequent attempts at helpful hints. Most of which I ignore with a laugh. But he has done his due diligence, Googling knitting terms and quizzing me on them. Forever asking me about White Yak. So this time I heeded his words and decided to investigate. What is so amazing about White Yak and is it worth investing in?

My go to site for such questions? Clara Parkes' Knitter's Review. Clara has profiles for two types of Yak: Super Yak by Karabella, a 50/50 Yak Merino blend. And Shokay 100% Yak down.

First, what is so special about Yak? Apparently it is extremely warm and soft. Yaks have a soft underbelly growth, much like cashmere, to keep them warm through harsh, Tibetan winters. But it is also a short, delicate fiber. It seems for any durability it is best blended with a longer, stronger yarn. Here's what I learned from Clara (I suggest you read the full reviews, the background on Shokay is quite interesting):

Shokay, the company, aims to work with local Tibetan yak herders, exclusively sourcing their fiber, and help these poverty stricken people earn a steady income. Shokay the yarn may be very soft and luxuriant but it appears to pill like crazy. With it's $32 price tag per hank we're talking about $300 or more for a sweater that will pill as soon as you breathe on it. No thanks, I'm still recovering from the Malabrigo incident. Clara recommends "invest[ing] in one skein and use it for a simple high-visibility, low-wear item that lets me tell the yarn's story wherever I go—for example a ribbed hat or pair of fingerless mitts." Hmmm, wasn't I just saying that about another yarn?

The second yarn reviewed (actually the first, chronologically speaking,) is Super Yak. The Super Yak is 50% merino giving the luxury fiber more strength and durability. Even with tugging, Clara's swatch bounced back. While there is some pilling, it seems to hide better in the yarn's fuzzy surface. Super Yak comes in natural colors and at $20 a hank it is less expensive than Shokay but still a luxury item.

I think Frik and Frak should buy me a hank or two of each so I can do my own testing. I think a hat and mittens would be delicious in these yarns. What do you think?

In the meantime, I'm thinking perhaps I'll celebrate my blogaversarry with a little comments contest? I'll have to rummage through my stash to come up with the perfect incentive. More details tomorrow.

1 comment:

Lupie said...

I have a friend who bought a few hanks of yak. She is yet to make a project with it. I can't wait to see how it knits up.