I’m Marie from Underground Crafter and I love trying out new yarns. Whether I find them in the local yarn shop, while browsing online, or when visiting a one of the many fiber festivals around the country, getting to play with yarn is one of the best things about being a designer. If you love playing with yarn, too, you’ve probably come across some yarns that you aren’t sure how to use. Today, we’ll be exploring yak yarn, and I’ll even share a free crochet pattern to give you a chance to try it out yourself!
Where does yak yarn come from?
Yak yarn, as the name suggests, comes from yaks! Yaks are large, ruminant mammals that are part of the same biological family as bison, buffalo, sheep, goats, and domestic cattle.
What makes yak yarn special?
Yaks live primarily in the Himalayas, where even the plateau is elevated more than 13,000 feet (3,962 m) above sea level. As a result, their multilayered coats are built to withstand frigid weather and other hardships related to living at high altitudes. The outercoat is often used to make durable ropes, but the undercoat can be spun into yarn. Fibers made from the undercoat are also very strong. Because the different layers are difficult to separate, yak yarn has only recently become available commercially. Yak down is available in a variety of natural colors including blacks, grays, browns, and whites. Yak yarn accepts both bleaching and dyeing, so it can be made available in many different colors, but it is still most commonly found in natural browns.
Yak yarn is very soft and keeps you very warm. It has some elasticity, so it doesn’t stretch as much as alpaca yarn but it doesn’t perfectly match wool’s ability to keep its shape.
Since some types of yak are endangered subspecies, the layers of of down are difficult to separate, and there are few domestic breeding options, yak yarn is more costly than other natural fibers. As a result, you may wish to try it out on a small, cold weather accessory before moving on to a larger project.
Crochet Pattern by Underground Crafter
- Adult: 22.75” (58 cm) circumference, 7.5” (19 cm) from brim to crown.
- SHOKAY Shambala (100% yak, 3.5 oz/100 g/164 yds/150 m) – 1 skein in EM Emerald, or approximately 164 yds (150 m) in any medium weight yarn.
- US Size I-9 (5.5 mm) crochet hook or any size needed to obtain gauge.
- Stitch marker or scrap yarn.
- Yarn needle.
- Through Rnd 4 in pattern = 4” (10 cm) diameter. For best fit, always check your gauge.
Abbreviations Used in This Pattern
- ch – chain
- cl – cluster – (Yo, insert hook in st, yo and draw up a loop, yo and draw through 2 loops) twice, yo and draw through all 3 loops on hook.
- ea – each
- hdc – half double crochet
- rep – repeat
- Rnd(s) – Round(s)
- sc – single crochet
- sl st – slip stitch
- sp – space
- st(s) – stitch(es)
- yo – yarn over
- * Rep after asterisks as indicated.
- Ch 2 at beginning of Rnd 1 does not count as a stitch.
- Hat is crocheted in the round in spirals without joining. Move marker up at the end of each Rnd to mark last st.
- Beginning at crown, ch 4, sk 3 ch, sl st in first ch to join into ring.
- Rnd 1: Ch 2, 8 hdc in ring, place marker in last st. (8 sts)
- Rnd 2: (Cl, ch 1, cl) in ea st around. (16 cl + 8 ch-1 sp)
- Rnd 3: Sc in ea st and ch-1 sp around. (24 sts)
- Rnd 4: *Cl in next 2 sts, 2 cl in next st; rep from * around. (32 sts)
- Rnd 5: *2 sc in next st, sc in next 3 sts; rep from * around. (40 sts)
- Rnd 6: *Cl in next 4 sts, 2 cl in next st; rep from * around. (48 sts)
- Rnd 7: *2 sc in next st, sc in next 5 sts; rep from * around. (56 sts)
- Rnd 8: *Cl in next 6 sts, 2 cl in next st; rep from * around. (64 sts)
- Rnd 9: Sc in ea st around.
- Rnd 10: Rep Rnd 9.
- Rnd 11: Cl in ea st around.
- Rep Rnds 9-11 until hat measures approximately 7” (18 cm) from crown.
- Rep Rnd 9 three times, fasten off.
- With yarn needle, weave in yarn tails.
If you enjoyed learning about yak yarn, read my interview with Paola from mYak, a company that produces a sustainable yak yarn in cooperation with Tibetan herders.
For more great free crochet hat patterns, check out our favorite board on Pinterest.