May not the edges turn up,
May this felt be as strong as the dark-brown
spotted forehead of the wild yak.
Translation of a traditional Tibetan felting songFelting is an ancient craft that has been an integral part of nomadic cultures for centuries. Traditionally, among the nomads of Tibet, women would work together to felt wool sheared from their families’ sheep to make into clothing, mats, boots and tents. Although Tibetan nomads have always felted sheep’s wool, yak down (or khullu) was considered too short a fibre to effectively felt. However, by integrating traditional felting techniques from northern Europe into the process, Norlha developed the world’s first high-quality yak khullu felt at Norlha Atelier on the Tibetan Plateau.
Norlha now employs twenty felt makers – most of whom are women from nomad families – to create immensely soft yak khullu felt using a zero-waste process that combines innovation with timeless know-how.Norlha’s khullu felt bed covers are smooth to the touch, with a comforting weight and density that make them perfect during the cold months. Both naturally insulating and incredibly hardy, Norlha’s yak felt can last for generations – giving warmth and protection decade after decade.
The felt bed cover collection for autumn and winter 2023 is inspired by the dramatic transformations of the Tibetan Plateau as the seasons change from winter to spring to summer. In the depths of winter, the plateau is bare and brown beneath a cold, milky-white sky. As the landscape gradually shifts into spring, the hills turn a pale green, and new life begins to emerge – yak calves are born, and newborn lambs take their first steps. In a few short months, the plateau becomes an intense emerald green, and flowers bloom in vivid pinks, purples, reds and yellows . Summer is a brief but vibrant time of year on the plateau, when locals spend their days outside, celebrating the warmer months with picnics, singing and dancing. The spectrum of colours in this collection mirrors the arc of the plateau’s seasons – borrowing tones from Tibetan native flowers, the pastures in the summer and the hills at the end of the winter, just before the promise of another spring.Introducing Menlha Tso, Norlha’s Master Felt Maker
Menlha Tso (སྨན་བླ་འཚོ།) was always known as one of the best felt makers in Ritoma Village. She began working at Norlha in 2010, and when Norlha began producing felted items, Menlha became the atelier’s master felt maker. Menlha often says that her eyes are in her touch, which she believes is the secret to felting. Menlha is the mother of two daughters and grandmother to four grandchildren. Her daughter Palmo Kyi also works at Norlha Atelier.Watch Norlha artisans create felted khullu fabric at Norlha atelier.