The Reywa Fibers team is a community of friends and colleagues who have been working together in Tibetan communities in China since 2004. Our background is in community development, running projects focused on education and environmental preservation. Although we came to this land because of our work, we quickly made deep and lasting friendships with many local people and their families. Through the years, our Tibetan friends have introduced us to many wonderful things…to glories of the highland wildflowers, the amazing properties of dung to heat a house in the winter, the nutty goodness of fresh roasted barley and – of course – the wonders of their favorite animal, the yak.
A couple of years ago we started thinking about the potential of these “fields on hoof.” In the regions in which we work, many nomad families struggle desperately to make ends meet. The grasslands are deteriorating, meaning yaks are not able to produce as much milk as in the past. Costs of living are increasing, the cost of education for children is increasing…as is the need for kids to get a good education! Many families have a hard time bringing it all together to live healthy, secure lives. We can help kids go to school, begin projects to help protect the grasslands themselves for the future…these things are great, and will make a big difference in the long run. But many families need an injection of cash now in order to stay afloat. There must be something more we can do.
And so the idea began to form. Anyone who has ever dug their fingers into the furry back of a baby yak will tell you that there is some amazingly soft stuff in there. (Okay, maybe we’re only ones who have done that…so let us tell you, it’s SOFT!) And anyone who’s even seen a photo of a big burly yak standing knee deep in snow knows it’s got to be warm. Now we have to confess that our Tibetan friends do not, in fact, traditionally gather the down of their animals and spin it into fabulous yarns for knitting all kinds of luxurious garments and accessories. But we knew there had to be some serious potential in that amazing shaggy coat.
And indeed, after just a little bit of research, we were converts: Yak down yarn is fantastic. It is incredibly warm, incredibly soft, and its production and sale makes an incredible difference in the lives of the nomads who herd the yaks. And so we began to dream and to plan. And to build. Reywa is a work in progress, but we are pretty sure that as more and more people give yak down a try in their favorite knitting projects, as they revel in the unbeatable warmth and incredible softness, they are going to love it…and we are going to grow. So watch for us in your local yarn store…we’ll be there soon!