Saturday, August 10, 2013

Qiviut Haul

This summer we took a trip to my husband's home town of Nome, Alaska. 

While there, I got to see the prehistoric musk ox that roam wild over the tundra.

Luckily for me, it was the time of year that they begin shedding their downy undercoat.

Called qiviut, it is eight times warmer than wool and softer than cashmere. 

We spent an afternoon, braving the mosquitoes, collecting it from the willows.

My mother-in-law brought me to visit a local woman who is an expert spinner and knitter of qiviut. She sends hers to a mill to be processed into roving and also spun into wool yarn. These skeins were so squishy soft. They were about 80% qiviut, 20% wool.

She taught me how to spin with a drop spindle and was kind enough to give me one.

When I got home, I washed the qiviut by adding a little soap to some very hot water and squishing it around. I rinsed and repeated a couple of times. A lot of dirt came out of this stuff, as you can probably imagine. Another great thing about this fiber is that it doesn't felt, no matter how hot the water. 

Hand spinning with a drop spindle does take practice, but I'm determined to learn. 

I doubt I'll attempt to spin all the qiviut I collected this summer with this spindle. 

(Santa mentioned something about a spinning wheel for Christmas.) 


  1. Man, Joanna, this looks so cool! What determination and hard work which will bring so many blessings!