Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Softest Of Soft~

Every spring the heavily fleeced muskox
must get rid of their extra fur so they don't over-heat.
As they pass through the willows and underbrush,
the branches act as combs
pulling out the loose, soft undercoat,
known as qiviut (kiv--ee--ut).

May 2012
The loose qiviut looks like fuzzy furballs on the branches and it is oh, so soft.
People walk across the tundra collecting it for spinning.
A friend of mine also cards muskox hides to collect the precious fur.
Since spinning is not her favorite hobby,
she sends it all to a spinner who works it into the weight she wants,
and returns the delicate yarn.

Qiviut is warm and doesn't felt.  
It is softer than any wool, doesn't itch, but is very fragile.
Traditionally qiviut was used to make beautiful lace knitted scarves, 
also called Smoke Rings,
 that could be 
pulled up over the head and nose if it was too cold outside.
The natural color of qiviut is various shades of brownish-grey.
Newer artists are now dyeing the yarn to add color variation,
but traditional knitters don't.

My friend is an adventurer--she even climbed Denali,
and retired teacher.
She uses natural and commercial dyes to change the color
of her yarns.  
Sometimes she mixes qiviut with other yarns such as wool for strength.

The hats below are mixed yarns,
but the sweater base is pure qiviut.  
It almost melts in your hands!

This is about an ounce of dyed qiviut.  

When I was at work on evening she brought me this beautiful 
baby hat.
It was so hard to stop petting the hat's softness!
Her son and The Flyer Son have been long-time friends
so she made it for me to take to Miss Sweetness.

It was perfect.....


  1. dear dexter days, ;) aka sharon,
    it's mary in wasilla. i LOVE quiviet. hope i spelled it right. it is so soft, softer than cashmere. we have the musk ox farm near us, and i always enjoy seeing those short but massive little animals. i met a lady who cared for them, they lived in her backyard in palmer. she helped to keep one alive. she said they have a real problem there with infections or sickness for the musk ox, because lots of visitors from farms down south walk on the designated pathways, but unfortunately their shoes have bacteria from the pigs and other farm animals. the musk ox have no resistance to those strange bacteria. :(
    i LOVE your blog!!!!!! you have such a beautiful eye for nature. :) you see things thru eyes of beauty.
    bye now!
    mary :)

  2. What gorgeous yarn. I especially love the picture of the sweet baby.

    I am visiting from Marlene's Stitchin' by the Lake blog. Nice to meet you.

    P.S. I lived in Anchorage as a child

  3. Hi!
    Marlene sent me over. Although I've never knitted with qiviut, I agree - it is the softest! The little hat and Miss Sweetness are both adorable. You live in a beautiful state and we enjoy spending time there. Glad I could visit!

  4. What an interesting post! The yarn made from the quviut is gorgeous and the picture of your grand daughter with the little hat on is just adorable!

  5. Loved reading this! And what gorgeous yarn...I had no idea that you could do this or that they shed like that. :) blessings, marlene

  6. qiviut is my fav yarn! i love that i can get it in my fav colors now. forty years ago, i couldn't get any yarn at all! you could only get the knitted pieces all ready made.

  7. Interesting post, Sharon and such a darling photo at the end!

  8. Visiting you from Marlene's get to know your neighbor. One of my favorite things about blogging is meeting people from all around the world and learning more about them and where they live. Reminds me of pen pals. I'll be following you.

  9. The hat is perfect for Miss Sweetness. That's a beautiful picture. I would never have guessed that yarn could be made from mush ox fur. Very cool.


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