The Rocking Yak Blog

Interview with Carrie Beachey

Carrie Beachey has been working behind the scenes of The Rocking Yak since the beginning. She describes her involvement in the company in an interview for her local news station.

Read her interview with Fox 28 News.

 

 

Yak Milk Soap (by Amdo Craft)

A yak’s wool, down, milk, meat, hide and dung are all valuable resources to a Tibetan family.  For this reason a yak is one of the family's most prized possessions.  Yak milk is superior to other milks.  It’s high fat content and richness in protein, vitamin A and calcium offer many nutritional benefits to a person living at 13,000 ft but it also lends to making a great moisture rich bar of soap.  Yak milk soap is very different from the commercial bars of soap purchased in supermarkets.  These soaps contain harsh chemicals which can irritate and dry out the skin.  Amdo Craft's Yak Milk Soap is made in small batches with saponified yak tallow, rapeseed oil and yak milk.  After a long harsh winter, the high content of moisturizing ingredients and great fragrances make Yak Milk Soap a nourishing treat to the skin.

Yak Milk Soap is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin and is 100% natural.

 

Fire in Shangri-la

“Old Town” in Shangri-la on 2013/02/03

“Old Town” during the fire on 2014/01/11

The Tibetan town of “Shangri-la” is the place that The Rocking Yak calls home.  This town had a devastating fire in its “Old Town”.  Most of this ancient district burned to the ground.  The buildings here were made out of wood.  The narrow cobblestone streets made it impossible for the fire engines to reach the fire.  Because of this, local residents lined up to pass buckets of water in an effort to combat the flames.

More than 2,600 people have been displaced.  The fire destroyed about 242 houses while another 43 homes were demolished to prevent the fire from spreading.  Among these houses, were homes that were built over 100 years ago, later having the first floors converted into shops and restaurants.  Many residents and merchants lost everything they owned.

The history of “Old Town” goes back 1,300 years being an important stop on the South Silk Road.  The city of Shangri-la relies heavily on the income made from tourists who come to visit “Old Town”.  The effects of this fire will impact all of us for some time.

During this time, our hearts go out to all who were effected by this devastating fire.

Blaze in ancient town in China's Shangri-la

 

Indigo

Indigo is an ancient natural dye that ranks among the oldest dyes to be used for textile dyeing and printing.  Egyptian mummies from as far back as 2500 BC have been found covered in indigo dyed hemp cloth.  A cuneiform tablet dating back to the 7th century BC was discovered in Mesopotamia giving a recipe for the dyeing of wool, saying “… lapis-colored wool (uqnatu) is produced by repeated immersion and airing of the cloth”.  This indigo was most likely imported from India, for it is believed that India is the oldest supplier of the blue dye.  It was a luxury item used by the Romans in painting, and in medicinal & cosmetic purposes.

Indigo remained a rare commodity throughout the Middle Ages, until a direct trade route was discovered by the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama in the late 1400s.  This caused the European use of indigo to increase significantly.  Eventually, indigo plantations could be found in many tropical regions around the world.  By the late 1800s, 19,000 tons of indigo was being produced from plant sources every year.  A few years later a synthetic indigo was invented and by 2007 17,000 tons of synthetic indigo was being produced worldwide.  Most of this dye was used in the production of denim for blue jeans.

While most of the indigo used today is synthetic, we at The Rocking Yak, use an all natural dye made from the indigo plants farmed in the region.  The plants are harvested and left in large wooden barrels to ferment.

Once the dye stuff is ready, it is placed into another large barrel & made into a dye bath.

We use the traditional method of our region to hand dip our yarn.  The dye bath actually looks green in color.  As the yarn is brought out of the bath and begins to oxidize, it turns into the blue that we all love.

Dyeing our yarn in this way is a LOT of work, but if you ask us, it is worth all the effort that goes into each small batch of dyed yarn.  It is our desire to do what we can to honor & preserve the culture & traditions of the villagers we work with.

 

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