Qiviut Yarn

has anyone worked in Qiviut before? I have been reading about it and I'm thinking of getting some and trying it out - maybe a hat for my bald skull! - anyone who has any ideas for yarn sources that they have tried please let me know - I don't mind ordering online, but with the guidance of the experts on this site, maybe I'll get a yarn and pattern together that is manageable!

I know it's expensive - so I don't have a problem with spending - I prefer, however, to talk with you about it first if I can't see the yarn firsthand.

Thanks for any help you can offer!



MMario's picture

oddly enough - despite all the claims that qiviut is the most luxurious fiber - -- I've seen a number of complaints lately that when the person actually felt skeins at shows they found it to be less soft then other fibers. I can think of a number of reasons for this.

a) I've seen some references to shearing of musk ox. Sheared down is not going to spin to the same softness as plucked, combed or shed down.

b) the guard hairs are notoriously hard to remove - and with more qiviut hitting the market it is possible there is less precaution about removing all the guard hairs.

c) how the yarn is spun can effect the softness.

so I would say unless you have had a chance to feel the yarn/fiber yourself; or from the same yarn line of the same company, then caveat emptor

and, of course, there is:

d) - it could be a "Fox and the grapes" reaction.

MMario - I don't live in the 21st Century - but I sometimes play a character who does.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Tallguy's picture

Qiviut is a very soft and fine down. You are right-- it is better if it is plucked than shorn, but sometimes those musk ox don't stand for much touching and pulling by a human!

The fibre is quite short and without crimp, so to make a yarn that holds together, it must be spun quite tightly. This also makes the yarn harder. It is very very warm, and very expensive. For these reasons, it is often better blended with some wool. This also allows it to be spun with more softness and show off the special qualities of qiviut. It is incredibly light, so you will get more yards for the weight as yarn, especially in a blend.

A hat would be quite wonderful! Now, you should also know that it does not have the elasticity of wool, and you will find it won't hold its shape well. You would do well to choose a pattern with a lot of ribbing, or cables, or twisted stitches, which would cause it to pull back when stretched. Blending with a fine crimped wool would help in this aspect. Because it is so warm, many find that they can't wear any item for long. Hence, blending with wool. Qiviut can be dyed in many colours the same way wool can, so you might consider that as well.

If you can find a shop with some qiviut yarn, it would be best to touch and feel and find out whether you really want a hat made out of that. It's not as easy to do when buying online.

wackowally's picture

Guard hair is always a problem with down fibers. Mechanically dehaired qiviut may have broken pieces of guard hair in it which may give it a soft handle (how it feels to your hands) but still be a little scratchy when next to your skin.

When it comes to qiviut be aware that there are non profit co-ops that benefit the native alaskans and there are for profit companies that don't.

Down fibers also need alot of twist to keep them together since they're usually pretty short and that can take away from the softness. Alot of commercial cashmere yarn is underspun so it feels softer but because of that is really prone to pilling.

Finer fiber usually wants to be twisted into a finer yarn so unless you can find a 6 or 8 ply worsted weight yarn you might want to look for sport or fingering weight yarns.

Now of course is the time to admit that I have never handled qiviut, but I have spun and knitted with camel down and cashmere so I'm treating it like it's a similar fiber.

There's the Oomingmak Knitter's Co op but it seems that right now, all they're selling is a cap kit which has 2oz of bulky yarn for $80

The University of Alaska Fairbanks sells Qiviut yarn from their own colony of muskoxen. According to the site the down is brushed which means longer fibers and less guard hairs.

After typing all that out I just stumbled onto this blog entry that does a better job than I do of explaining it:

ronhuber's picture

I agree with Mario. I don't find it that luxurious nor soft. My niece, who thinks everything people are raving about is wonderful, wanted a hat made from it and it is now a big blob of useless nothing after a year as it does not hold its shape. When I was knitting it I had visions that it would end up like my alpaca vest that is now down to my knees. Maybe it was my bad vibes that did it. I think people have been using wool since the beginning of time for some reason.

YarnGuy716's picture

I saw and felt some qiviut while I was at the Kitchener Knitter's Fair in September. There was a vendor which carried it along with camel down and mostly Polwarth wool. They did have a sample vest knit from qiviut, which had to cost a fortune to make. I do remember thinking that it could not possibly held up over time as it just seemed too soft and flimsy.

The women from that vendor did tell me they recommended using blends for anything other than scarves. I bought 2 hanks of camel down for a scarf and they recommended a basket-weave or reversible cable as workable solutions to using it. I went with the reversible cables.

They do have a web site Rovings Canada