Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Processing and spinning Qiviut

 Qiviut is the warm, soft undercoat of the musk ox. It keeps the musk ox warm in its native habitat of the arctic regions in places such as Canada, Greenland, Sweden, Siberia, Norway, and Alaska. It is a rare fiber and expensive.
I recently purchased 1 ounce of raw qiviut fiber from the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Large Animal Research Station. You can watch how they comb the shed qiviut from their musk oxen here.
Below is the one ounce of raw qiviut that I bought:
The long hairs have to be pulled out by hand. They are soft, but stiffer and not as fine as the qiviut undercoat. What you want is just the wonderful, soft undercoat. Below is the same one ounce, now a bit lighter, after it's been dehaired:

I kept the hairs that I took out of the qiviut, carded them and spun them up. I got about 24 yards of yarn. It's very soft to the hand, but prickly up against the neck. Here it is with the unspun qiviut:

Below, I'm holding a segment of the unspun, dehaired qiviut fiber. I spun it right from these segments of the dehaired blanket without washing, carding or combing:

It spun up wonderfully, here is the singles on a bobbin:

And here is the two-ply yarn:

It is a wonderfully soft and light yarn with no prickles. I got approximately 84 yards, and, after washing, it weighed in at approximately 0.7 ounces. It reminds me very much of the paco-vicuna I've spun; it's got the same heavenly softness and cloud-like weight. And the same high price-tag. I used to think that qiviut was very much the same as yak, but it's not. Yak is also very soft and warm, but it's not as fine and cloud-like as qiviut. Yak is a lot more dense, but still a very nice, soft fiber, and a lot less expensive than qiviut.

I really like the qiviut, I only wish I could afford enough to make something like a sweater - we all can dream, can't we?


The Knitting Kat said...

Your spinning looks absolutely beautiful! Way to go!

ICQB said...

Hi Knitting Kat!

Thank you! And your knitting looks absolutely beautiful! Good luck with all of your swimming1

Randy said...

I bought 4 oz of qiviut in Palmer this summer. I'm now trying to find out more about carding it. What cards did you use? My sister has some 72 teeth per in cards, but I'm thinking a might need finer ones.

ICQB said...

Hi Randy!

I didn't card my fiber. After de-hairing it, I spun it just like it was. It spun really well that way, but my fiber came in it's own batt, so to speak, just like in the video link. So after the de-hairing it was ready to spin without futher prep. I'm not sure what type of cards would work best, but my guess would be finer would be better. Good luck with your qiviut!