there are some benefits to living in alaska, not the least of which is knitting nearly year round :) and the infamous dividend.
one such benefit came when my mother-in-law katie, found advertised in the local newspaper raw qiviut.
qiviut is the hair of the musk ox. katie bought 1 lb off of a graduate student who, while studying birds on the tundra, picked it up off of the ground where it landed when the oxen molted. apparently, there was a herd that hung out on the tundra where he did his research.
katie took it to the weaving/spinning shop in town and was told that we needed to remove the lightweight and heavyweight guard hairs and so she got to work.
lightweight guard hairs – picture showing the different colors here. these can be mixed with merino. the current plan is a pair of mittens.
heavyweight guard hairs – here’s a picture with a bit of down we plan to go back and rescue. we are unaware of anything you can do with these.
katie bought the book arctic lace and did a bit of research on her own. she found out that qiviut can be processed by someone else, but you need 600 lbs of it!! if you know anything about the price of qiviut, you might know that most people could never afford this much and frankly, i’ve no idea who has this much to begin with. the soft, downy coat is even too fragile to be carded by hand, and so she sorts it.
so – it’s slow going, but she is enjoying the work. the goal is lace and so today we ordered her a featherweight spindle to practice spinning lace weight with some merino. supposedly qiviut is 8 times warmer than wool and will be perfect for smoke rings and the such. you may remember how much katie likes smoke rings from my intro to this pattern. i love that there are fibers warm enough that holey knitting is even super warm. a bulky qiviut would be near unwearable.
there are more pictures in my photostream and i would highly recommend clicking the little button above the photos that says all sizes to get the idea. personally, i just want to climb into the bag of down.
here’s a good article telling you a lot more about it as a knitting fiber, if you’re interested.