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Qiviut
Muskox Husbandry

 

 

Order Form      Products      Preparing qiviut for spinning     Contact Us

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has limited quantities of qiviut, or muskox wool, for sale. This rare and extraordinary fiber is available either for spinning or as yarn.

Qiviut  (pronounced kiv-ee-ut)  is the Inuit word for the extremely fine underwool of the muskox, prized for its softness and warmth. Each year, muskoxen grow a dense layer of qiviut underneath their outer coat of dark brown guard hair. Their winter coats are unparalleled in insulative value, and keep the animals warm and comfortable when the temperature drops below –50 degrees F.

Each spring, muskoxen rapidly shed their qiviut layer in anticipation of warmer summer days. At the R.G. White Large Animal Research Station (LARS), this downy wool is combed from the animals as it works its way through the long guard hairs. No shearing or clipping is necessary. Because shedding is fairly synchronous, large fleecy sheets of qiviut can be combed from the shoulder and flank areas of animals.

Qiviut has been described as “the cashmere of the north,” and is considered by experienced spinners to combine several of the best fiber properties, such as fineness, length, strength and warmth. Qiviut lacks scales and crimp found in sheep wool, so it is very soft and non-irritating and it will not shrink or felt. These same qualities means that care must be taken when selecting a project with the yarn. 100% qiviut tends to sag; it will not retain its shape as well as sheep wool. It is better suited for scarves and shawls. Blending-in a small amount of another fine wool, such as merino, will add “memory” to a hat or sweater and yet will retain the wonderful softness and warmth of qiviut. Qiviut also blends well with other fibers like alpaca, cashmere and silk.

LARS is pleased to offer limited quantities of this high-quality unprocessed wool for private sale. If you would like to enjoy the luxury of qiviut without spinning it, we also offer lace-weight and fingering yarns. Try it for yourself and see why qiviut is a favorite of northern spinners and knitters!

Qiviut is also sometimes referred to as "qiviuk", "qiveut", "qiviuq", "kiviuk" or "qiviute".

Our Products

  • Raw Qiviut
    Our highest quality, unprocessed muskox down. Combed from the sides and shoulder areas, this fiber has very little vegetable matter and minimal guard hair. This is an opportunity for the hand-spinner to obtain some of the rarest and finest fiber in the world.

Price:  $25 per ounce          $280 per pound

  • Qiviut Yarn
    100% qiviut. Two-ply lace-weight. Approximately 302 yards per ounce. Natural, mocha color. A wonderful yarn for lace-knit scarves and shawls.

Price:  $60 per one-ounce skein

  • Qiviut Blend Yarn
    70% qiviut, 10% silk, 10% superfine merino wool, 10% baby alpaca wool. Two-ply, fingering weight. Approximately 185 yards per ounce. Hand painted. The yarn combines the lightness and warmth of qiviut with the luster and strength of silk, the elasticity of wool, and the softness of alpaca. Available in two multicolor dyes:

    • "Midnight Dreams"  Fuchsia, blue, green, gray

    • "Autumn Colors"  Rust, gold, green, brown

Price:  $50 per one-ounce skein

NOTE:  To be contacted by email when products become available, or if you have any questions, call or send us an email. Tell us what product you're interested in.

 

Click here for a printable, mail-in order form

Requires Adobe Reader


To contact us
E-mail     qiviut@uaf.edu
Phone     (907) 474-7945


 

Fiber preparation for spinning:

To de-hair the fiber before spinning, grasp a handful of fiber and pull out the long, coarse guard hairs.

Next, remove the intermediate fibers, those that are fine, but straighter than the underlying qiviut. The more intermediate fibers removed, the softer your spun yarn will be. The intermediate fibers can be saved and blended with other fibers or spun alone for a somewhat heavier, fuzzier yarn.

Any dandruff on the base of the fiber can be carefully snipped off with small, curved scissors. Carding is not required, however, if you choose to card the fiber, cotton cards are recommended. Care should be taken or the fiber will pill. Qiviut yarn will not felt like wool, but should be washed gently in warm water.

 

Last updated 06/16/2006

 

Institute of Arctic Biology                      University of Alaska Fairbanks                           Contact web coordinator