General blather · Knitting Traditions

Where Quiviut Comes From

If you are interested in exotic fibers at all, you may be familiar with quiviut. It is one of the rarer and more expensive yarns available to hand knitters.  Quiviut is from the undercoat of the musk oxen.

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Musk ox are native to the Arctic, and can be found in a number of countries, including Canada and Norway.  Musk ox coats have long guard hairs and undercoats.  They shed the undercoat, which is incredibly soft and fluffy, in spring and summer. They roam wild in a lot of places, but in Alaska we also have the Musk Ox Farm.   The farm gently combs the undercoat from their herd and then send it for processing elsewhere.  In some areas of Alaska where they roam wild, like Nome, people gather the shed fiber from weeds and trees and other places where it is shed, then sell the fiber or spin it themselves.

The Musk Ox farm’s mission is to domesticate musk ox, which they finance through donations, tourist visits and quiviut sales. They sell both yarn and hand-knitted items in their shop. We visited today, partly because yarn, but also because there are some new musk ox babies to see!  And they are cute as buttons – here’s one now…

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You can get yarn from the shop, which is also available online.  They sell it in one and two ounce skeins, both plain and dyed.  It looks like this…

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And to close, here are some quiviut facts from the Musk Ox Farm literature:

  • Quiviut is 8 x warmer than sheep’s wool by weight
  • at 12 microns in diameter, quiviut is one of nature’s finest fibers
  • Quiviut has no barbs or scales, which means no itchy feeling, shrinking, or felting
  • Quiviut is a hypo-allergenic fiber
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