About the product and the production process

The production

Before the industrial revolution, people produced from nature most of what they needed, thanks to the incredible intrinsic qualities of the materials we were surrounded by.

Although industrial machines are no-doubt extremely powerful, effective and inspiring, together with the emerging of modern market, they helped people to forget that we have the ability to make things we need by our own hands, from their original materials, and just how amazing these materials can be.

By regaining the knowledge of the nature of materials and the laws of the world, as well as the skills to work with them, we would see the world as a more inviting environment, waiting for our more active involvement.

The material: fine yak wool (“khu-le”)

Yaks are perhaps the single most important existence on the plateau that can sustain the survival of the Tibetan nomads.

The coarse yak wool, spun into black yarns, woven into long sheets of durable clothes or braided into ropes, has always been the material used by the Northern nomads to make their tents.

However, under a layer of such long, coarse and tough fiber, lies another layer of delicate hair with an almost opposite quality, short and very fine, one of the finest in the animal world. The nomads call it “khu-le”, which provides an exceptionally high degree of insulation for these magnificent beasts to survive in the plateau winter.

Generally speaking, every yak except the newborn calf will grow its new “khu-le” in the fall so that it can protect the yak through the winter, and then shed naturally before summer. Moreover, the finest “khu-le” comes only from around the neck of a two-year-old yak, which yields no more than a couple of hundred grams from each animal, making the fine “khu-le” even rarer

It is lightweight, breathable and provides extremely efficient insulation. It is extremely fine and doesn’t cause allergy or itching even to the soft skin of babies. The un-dyed natural yak wool reflects a dim glow that differs from the shiny silk, and gives it a low profile but somewhat elegant appearance. Even though its name is still widely unknown to the world, some have acknowledged that the fine yak “khu-le” is as precious as the famous cashmere.

Felt making

It is well-established that woven cloth requires side-to-side weaving (weft) across tensioned vertical threads (warp). In other words, you need to first have these threads in place to make the cloth.

However, the more esoteric technique of felting detours from traditional cloth weaving. It instead utilizes a more microscopic characteristic of animal fiber: the interlocking of wool scales.

With the aid of heat and moisture, the scales on the fibers open up. When soapy fluid and pressure is added, the individual fibers slide closer to each other, causing the opened scales to interlock with scales on other fibers. The longer the pressure is applied, the more complicated the interlocking becomes, and the final felt gets denser and smaller in size. This complex of bonded fibers makes felting an irreversible process. And it is this mess of fibers that makes the beauty of felt, the unwoven cloth, or micro-woven cloth, a true interpretation of “an entirety made up by millions of individuals”.

Just as the intrinsic quality of animal wool gives us the irreversible process of felting, it also gives us the unique memory quality of felt. You can shape the felt into any shape while it is still not completely dry, and the interlocking fibers will remember this and tend to stay in that shape when the felt is fully dried. This is how you can make felt into a more complicated tree-dimensional, self-supported shapes rather than just flat surfaces, almost like a soft sculpture.

Yarn spinning

Individual wool fibers seem to have the tendency to pull other fibers together when spinning: even the short fiber of fine yak wool can be spun into a beautiful continuity of yarn.

Vortex is everywhere. (Like water in a flushing toilet,) yarn spinning is another very common movement in our everyday life that utilizes this amazing universal law, (which mimics one of the most essential movements of the universe itself. )Through constant spinning, the fluffy, loose individual fibers of wool get drawn into a dense singular point that rebirths a beautiful continuity of yarn that possesses a completely different quality from the original material.

The spinning speed, the feeding of material and the force between the thumb and index finger of the spinner produce a variety of yarns. Before I finished typing this sentence, a spinner has already turned many loose fibers into beautiful yarns, which solely depended upon her intangible experience and well-balanced two hands and eye coordination.

Leather stitching

Such a repetitive gesture of piercing and pulling, composing an elegant twisting dance of two threads that takes place in the narrow, dark space of diamond-shaped holes. The stitcher who performs this repetitive movement can fall into a meditative state that simplifies and beautifies the stitcher’s own personal life.

But for some mysterious reason, maybe the stitcher loses their concentration, and the dance of the two threads might fail, and you’ll see such ups-and-downs of a stitcher’s life in the final result.