I just came back from a little over a week spent in Alaska. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous state. Even in the most overcast and rainy days, there is a strange beauty that can’t be replicated anywhere else. I will probably blog more about the trip later.
On this trip I wanted to be able to touch and feel qiviut yarn. Just what is this qiviut, you ask, and why is it hard to find outside of Alaska?
It is the wool from the musk ox, an animal found in the high Arctic, especially in Canada and Greenland. The Alaskan population had been wiped out in the late 19th-early 20th century but has been recently re-introduced in the area.
Qivuit yarn is stronger and warmer than wool, softer than cashmere. Items knitted from qivuit, if taken care of properly, can last much longer than wool. It is, by far, my dream yarn to use.
Of course, that means it is insanely expensive. A scarf knitted from qiviut can easily cost $300. A skein of sock yarn, like the one I found below under lock and key in a glass case at the Alaska Wildlife Conversation Center, can cost around $120. That is enough to perhaps knit a pair of gloves or a pair of socks.
I manage to find a skein that was not under lock and key and was able to touch it. *Swoon* I would love to have it at home to knit with, but knowing me, at that price tag, it would be kept under lock and key in a fireproof safe.
- Wikipedia entry on Qiviut yarn.
- Wikipedia entry on Musk Ox.
- Musk Ox Farm outside Palmer, Alaska (unfortunately was not able to visit as they already transitioned out of tourism season hours).
- Oomingmak, a native co-op selling items knitted out of qiviut. They have a store on 6th & H in downtown Anchorage.
- Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where orphaned and injured native Alaskan animals are cared for. Also serves as an education initiative, and a must visit if you are in the Anchorage or Seward area.
Where to buy qiviut yarn outside of Alaska
- Wind Valley Musk Ox
- University of Alaska Fairbanks Large Animal Research Station
- Paradise Fibers
- Northern Threads
- Moco Qiviut