Alaskan Qiviut Handknits
Since 1969

Toll-free: 1-888-360-9665

Alaska: 907-272-9225

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About Our Fiber & Yarn

Qiviut Fiber (click to enlarge)

We do not sell the fiber, patterns, or the yarn used by our members.

We have a limited quantity of BULKY QIVIUT yarn which we are making available in a Cap Kit.
» Shop Cap Kits

Qiviut, this strange word pronounced ki - vee - ute, means down or underwool in the Eskimo language. In English it means specifically the soft greyish-brown underwool of the rare Arctic animals, the musk ox.

The Co-Op purchases the large majority of our fiber from our members, their friends and family, as well as fiber from other hand combed sources as they become available. Alaskan Native people will walk around in the spring time and collect qiviut off the bushes and tundra where the musk ox has shed. Another source of qiviut if from a subsistence hunt where they hunt the musk ox for food, then comb the fiber from the hide and sell it to us as part of their effort to utilize every part of the animal they have hunted, carrying on the traditions of their lifestyle.

Qiviut is actually so grease-free and clean to work with that it could literally be hand spun off a willing musk ox's back (if you could get one to stand still!). For the Co-Operative hand spinning did not prove practical due to the equipment needed, time involved and quantity of yarn needed. The Co-Op must collect a minimum of 600 to 1,000 lbs as required by a speciality cashmere company, before we can ship the fiber. The fiber is then scoured in a four bowl system using a mild detergent, and ready for dehairing after it has dried. Dehairing is a special procedure that untangles and separates all the fibers. The fine down is caught, while the courser hairs, dust and 5th debris are spun out.

Oomingmak Scarves (click to enlarge)
"A finished garment is so wonderfully warm, soft and lightweight that the wearer is barely conscious of having it on."

The dehaired fiber is then sent to a spinning mill where it is blended with oils to lubricate and open the fibers for carding. Card settings are similar to those used in processing cashmere. After carding the rovings are spun on spinning frames. There is a speciality cashmere company in the east that we contract with for these services, since they have the knowledge and connections to get the work done for us at the highest quality and the best prices. It can take more than a year before the yarn is returned from the souring, dehairing and spinning process, so the Co-Op has to plan well ahead to ensure that we have enough yarn available for our members to knit.

Qiviut closely resembles cashmere in its hand, luster and microscopic appearance. It has few and smooth scales, and consequently can withstand temperature shock and agitation without shrinking or felting. A finished garment is so wonderfully warm, soft and lightweight that the wearer is barely conscious of having it on. The naturally soft color is complementary to nearly every skin tone, while the soft feel can be appreciated by people of all ages, from babies to senior citizens.

Generally it takes several years before enough fiber is collected to send to processing, so we only have enough yarn to satisfy our members.

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