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Yakety Yak!

Jan 2, 2012

    
The Yak: An unlikely source of beautiful yarn.
When I think yak, I think yuck. Honestly, the yak is not an animal that I'd picture myself thinking is cute and cuddly, like the alpaca or a little lamb. But after reading Carol Huebscher Rhoades' article about the yak in the Winter 2011 issue of Spin-Off magazine, and seeing the yarns that yak fur results in, I think I've changed my tune.

Here's an excerpt from Carol's article:

Yak
by Carol Huebscher Rhoades

If you happen to live in the Himalayan mountain region and need an all-around useful animal, the yak is ideal. Domesticated yaks are used for hauling and transportation and provide meat, milk, and a wide range of fibers for various end products.

Their horns, bones, hides, and dung are also used. The only drawback seems to be that they are not often in a cheerful mood (or so I've been told by a few Tibetans). Yaks were domesticated many thousands of years ago, and wild yaks are now endangered. Yaks are in the same genus, Bos, as cattle. Wild yaks, Bos mutus, are large (males weigh up to 2,200 pounds and can be 6½ to 7 feet tall at the shoulder). Bos grunniens, domesticated yaks, are smaller: males weight 750 to 1,300 pounds, and females average only 500 to 600 pounds.

Yaks produce fibers that range from very fine to very coarse. Outercoat fibers can measure from 4½ to over 15 inches long. They protect the animal from the elements and are spun for ropes, cords, and very durable rugs. Mixed in with the outer- and undercoats are intermediate fibers in a range of fibers in a range of diameters and lengths. These fibers are useful for sturdy clothing.

—from Spin-Off magazine

    
Reprinted with permission from A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker (Pittsville, Wisconsin: Schoolhouse Press, 1998), page 293.
One of the swatches that accompany Carol's article is the Lotus Pattern, a beautiful lace stitch, knitted with Bijou Basin's Bijou Spun. I've felt this yarn and it's super soft—and beautiful.

I thought you might like to try the Lotus lace pattern, so here it is:

The Lotus Pattern
The Lotus pattern is a multiple of 10 + 1 stitches. The author, Carol Rhoades, made the swatch that you see in the photo by casting on 35 sts for 3 repeats plus 2 garter edge sts at each side. (Note that edge sts are not included in the pattern.)

Rows 1-5:
Knit.
Row 6 (WS): P1, *yo, p3, sl 2, p1, p2sso, p3, yo, p1; rep from *.
Row 7: K2, *yo, k2, sl 2, k1, p2sso, k2, yo, k3; rep from *, end last repeat k2.
Row 8: P3, *yo, p1, sl 2, p1, p2sso, p1, yo, p5; rep from *, end last repeat p3.
Row 9: K4, *yo, sl 2, k1, p2sso, yo, k7; rep from *, end last repeat k4.
Row 10: P2, *k2, p3; rep from *, end last repeat p2.
Row 11: K1, *yo, ssk, p1, yo, sl 2, k1, p2sso, yo, p1, k2tog, yo, k1; rep from *.
Row 12: P3, *k1, p3, k1, p5; rep from *, end last repeat p3.
Row 13: K2, *yo, ssk, yo, sl 2, k1, p2sso, yo, k2tog, yo, k3; rep from *, end last repeat k2.
Row 14: P2, *k1, p5, k1, p3; rep from *, end last repeat p2.
Row 15: K2, *p1, k1, yo, sl 2, k1, p2sso, yo, k1, p1, k3; rep from *, end last repeat k2.
Row 16: Work as for Row 14.
Repeat Rows 1-16.

Get yourself some yak yarn if you can find it, and knit a Lotus Lace scarf or shawl—or any knitted accessory! It'll be so beautiful. And if you don't already subscribe to Spin-Off, give it a try!

Cheers,


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Comments

on Jan 30, 2012 1:56 PM

Yak is extremely cuddly and many companies that sell it are fair trade! I help out one sustainable yak yarn company based in China called Shokay and I can attest to yak down's cashmere qualities!

www.etsy.com/.../ShokayYarns

megannoel wrote
on Jan 23, 2012 5:34 PM

I finished mine! It's madtosh vintage in tern. 1 skein made a beautiful short scarf i will wear with a pin. (i was thinking for indoor wear it would look dressy. i am cold a lot!)

www.flickr.com/.../photostream

mtnknitwit wrote
on Jan 8, 2012 10:59 PM

Hi Kathleen,

Thanks for this amazing excerpt plus including the beautiful lace pattern. I am a new knitter but love challenges and this one looks like fun. I don't know anything about yak yarn so could you please tell me what size/weight  it is and what needles I need? Thank you, Lynn

tillyrobin wrote
on Jan 7, 2012 3:15 PM

I've ordered yak yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch online before and it always arrives quickly - not to mention it's gorgeous!  

www.shopatron.com/.../1211.0 (my personal favorite is the Lhasa Wilderness!)

JulieC@2 wrote
on Jan 7, 2012 8:32 AM

P2sso means Pass the 2 slipped stitches over the stitch you just knit or purled.

Mary Otavka wrote
on Jan 4, 2012 4:28 PM

On the Lotus stitch... I have a hard time understanding the instructions... I have never seen    P2sso... can you explain...????   Thank you,,,

Mary Otavka    (motavka@gmail.com.)

on Jan 3, 2012 3:14 PM

The info below should make things easier!

The Lotus pattern is a multiple of 10 + 1 stitches. The author, Carol Rhoades, made the swatch that you see in the photo by casting on 35 sts for 3 repeats plus 2 garter edge sts at each side. (Note that edge sts are not included in the pattern.)

Happy knitting,

Kathleen

theYakRanch wrote
on Jan 3, 2012 7:30 AM

Hey yak fiber fans, if you want to get your hands on some amazing yak fiber, check out www.IYAK.org for details on their yak fiber show in Denver. They are accepting entries in their Fiber Arts contest too.   You might also fin them cute.....

megannoel wrote
on Jan 3, 2012 1:29 AM

I had a hard time understanding the way this pattern was written.  I am not the most experienced lace knitter ever, so that may be it. I figured it out eventually.  Anyway I cast on 31 stitches for 3 repeats.  I am using madtosh vintage in Tern.

Pat Mac wrote
on Jan 2, 2012 6:06 PM

Thrilled to see that other readers had the same question regarding the beautiful "Lotus" pattern!  How many stitches required?

Great segment on "yaks"!

Pat

Zoe wrote
on Jan 2, 2012 12:10 PM

Simple math gotten from the directions on row 6 as to how many stitches are on the needle before you start row 6.

P1 = 1 stitch

P3 =  4 stitches

Sl 2 = 6 stitches

P1 = 7 stitches

P2sso = 9 stitches

P 3 = 12 stitches

P 1 = 13 stitches total to do one complete lotus pattern.  On these thirteen stitches you will do your yarn over increases and decreases.

tobykim wrote
on Jan 2, 2012 10:15 AM

How many stitches in a repeat, please? This looks like a pretty little pattern to try

SallyB@17 wrote
on Jan 2, 2012 9:44 AM

The local zoo has a yak.  He used to be part of the petting zoo.  He may not be pretty, but he was easily the softest animal I have ever touched.  Much fluffier than a sheep, llama, or alpaca.

on Jan 2, 2012 7:20 AM

how many stitches do you cast on for the Lotus Pattern?  Thanks..........