The Felt Vest is made from seamless, raw-felted yak wool in natural grey and white khullu. Hand-felted and moulded at Norlha Atelier using a zero-waste process, this piece demonstrates remarkable craftsmanship and skill. With seamless pockets and a high neck, the vest’s lighter yak wool forms a cross-shaped design which traces the circumference of the body.
YAK HAIR — RAW MATERIAL
In late spring, baby yaks begin shedding their downy underlayer of khullu which is gently combed to minimise loss of the fibre to the herby grasslands. Additional hand-gathering is done on the plains as the animals moult during feeding.
After washing thoroughly in purified water, the raw khullu is carded. This is a mechanical process where the fibre is fed onto large rollers set with thousands of wire pins to align the hairs and make it into a consistent “web” of fibres that can be worked into a cloth.
SHAPING / LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
Women begin arranging the khullu fibres in accordance with the felt design on a large, flat table to a 160cm x 200cm specification, to allow for shrinkage during production.
The fibre is dampened with water and soap, which acts as a binding agent, matting the fibres together. The artisans then begin rolling and flattening out the fibre with their hands to form the vest over the next seven hours.
Once dried, the vest is labelled and any remaining imperfections are picked out by Gombo Kyi’s hands during final quality control checks.
This 100% yak khullu vest is specially produced at the Norlha Atelier. “We don’t apply chemicals to make our pieces excessively soft,” says Norlha founder Kim Yeshi. “It’s all about what you can achieve with natural hand-applied processes. When you touch or wear the fabric, people say you can feel a little part of the plateau on you. There’s an honesty to it.”
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