Knitting Up North Blog: Spinning Fiber into Gold
By: Jess Poskozim, Duluth News Tribune
Kintting and life along the shore of Lake Superior Click here to view previous posts or additional resources.
Spinning Fiber into Gold
Spinning Fiber into Gold, or How I Blew the Yarn Budget
50% Qiviut/50% Silk from Windy Valley Muskox
While we were in Alaska, I was on a mission to find qiviut - the insanely soft yarn made from the inner fiber of the muskox. Our first stop was the Large Animal Research Station at the University of Fairbanks. Check out that link, it has some good basic information about qiviut and muskox. All of the qivuit from the LARS is hand combed in the spring when the muskox shed the warm inner layer. While the gift shop was closed and we weren't able to get close to the animals, I did collect a little bit from the bushes around the research station.
I found qiviut at a few other places, mostly tiny amounts at gift shops. I hit the mother lode at a yarn store in Fairbanks. They had a huge variety of colors and blends to choose from. I dithered about it for two days, trying to justify bringing home any amount of this super fine, better than cashmere, yarn. By this time, my husband had made a joke out of my obsession, saying that I was going to spin the fiber into gold, it was that rare and that expensive.
Finally, I decided on a skein of a 50/50 blend in the natural gray color (1 oz of laceweight) to make into a smoke ring and 1 oz of fiber to spin later. I'm a little hesitant that my spinning skills are up to par with this fiber, but I figure it won't hurt to have it on hand later when I have more spinning under my belt and can do it justice. Apparently qiviut doesn't have much memory, so it tends to sag and droop in projects. The best projects for qiviut seem to be things like scarves, smoke rings and shawls. Right now I'm leaning towards an Ice Queen smoke ring, but I'm open to suggestions.
100% Qiviut Fiber
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