Yarn Review: Canon Hand Dyes Bruce Yak Sock

Our favorite indie dyers seem to be constantly on the prowl for new and exciting yarns to wow and inspire us. Issue #1 featured maker Canon Hand Dyes reached out and asked if we’d like to review her newest base, Bruce Yak Sock. As you’d expect from the name, this sock yarn features yak fiber, a delightful addition that promises added warmth in finished socks and accessories.

Yak is a super-soft, luxury fiber that boasts many of the beloved qualities of other fibers. Yaks have a triple-layer coat. The longest and medium-length fibers are used for utility materials, and are often retained by the nomadic herd families that raise the yaks for use in tents, blankets, rugs and ropes. The softest yak down is used in textiles, and is often compared to cashmere -- this is the type most often used in yarns that contain yak fiber.

I expected that with 70% superwash merino, 20% yak, and 10% nylon, the effect of the yak on the yarn’s overall hand and feel would be minimal. In the skein, this is certainly true -- the yak goes almost unnoticed unless you fuzz up the outer fibers of the yarn with a little friction. Once you do this, you’ll begin to see the halo rise from the fiber: tiny curly hairs that guarantee a little added warmth for chilly toes!

This base from Canon Hand Dyes is just a bit overspun, which makes for both a durable and stretchy sock yarn. Both skeins we were sent were self-striping, meaning that the yarn knits up into even stripes as you go along. This is an incredibly time-intensive dyeing process, so most dyers will use it to showcase intense color variations. I love that Amy takes the time to apply this technique to colors that are subtly different from each other as well -- the skein I test knit is all shades of rich, velvety wine-red. In the cake, it was almost impossible to tell that it would stripe at all.

While knitting, I didn’t notice any shedding of the yak fibers, but I did notice a halo begin to develop slowly in the areas already worked. This could be coaxed further by rubbing my thumb across the fabric, and I suspect that when washed, it will become more apparent. Perfect for simple ribbed or stockinette socks, but probably not what you’d want when knitting intricate lace motifs, as the halo might hide a bit of your work. The stripes do a lovely job of adding interest and add to the ‘potato chip’ factor while working: you’ll keep telling yourself ‘just one more stripe,’ as you work along.

I won’t know how this sock wears long-term until I get it off the needles and onto my foot, but I’m guessing that the yak will add little durability. It’s a fine fiber, and should be treated as such! Despite the yarn being superwash merino, I’ll likely hand-wash these socks since they feature such a special fiber. I want to retain as much yak goodness as possible for many years to come.

Hannah ThiessenComment