Archive for January, 2009

2009 Weave of the week #4: Qiviut
January 26, 2009

Cashmere/qiviut "Mesa" scarf ... and friends

Cashmere/qiviut "Mesa" scarf

Since Monday starts the Chinese Year of the Ox, I thought that I’d feature a group of my scarf designs that use musk ox  yarn –“qiviut”.

“Qiviut” is the Inuit word for the downy, insulating undercoat of the North American musk ox — a cloven-hoofed ruminant that’s actually more closely related to goats and sheep than to “oxen”. Whatever they are, qiviut is warmer than wool and finer than cashmere. It is one of the rarest and most precious natural luxury fibers in the world.

My Canadian qiviut cost approximately $35/oz (not a typ0). Very few musk oxen are raised in the harsh Arctic climate, and the yarn production process is labor intensive — which explains the rarity, and the high price of the yarn. Each spring musk oxen shed their coats in large tufts. These tufts have to be gathered by hand and the fine fiber carefully separated from the coarse guardhairs before it can be spun into yarn.

Since the qiviut was only available undyed (brown), I expanded the color range by using cashmere warps with all-qiviut wefts. That also helped bring down the cost of the scarves, since cashmere “only” cost around $6/oz.

I only have three of the luxurious, warm, supersoft scarves left (shown above and on my Gallery page), and they can be purchased at the $200 wholesale price. For information please use the contact form.

(And not even the stuffed toy musk oxen pictured here were harmed in the making of the scarves.)

2009 Weave of the week #3: “Shooting Star”
January 18, 2009

"Shooting Star" - both sides

"Shooting Star" designed by Mark Pollack

This week of Barack Obama’s historic presidential inauguration seems like a great time to feature American design, so here is “Shooting Star,” a drapery fabric from the archives of Pollack and Associates.

“Shooting Star” was designed by Mark Pollack, the design director of Pollack and Associates, a NYC-based company that creates sophisticated fabrics for the high-end residential and commercial markets. Mark and I are long-time professional acquaintances, and I admire his work.

“Shooting Star” is a sheer cotton and gold lurex clipped brocade fabric,  woven by a mill in Switzerland. It has 1-1/2″-long clipped warp floats on one side. The fabric’s two sides are different, that you can see from the folded-over fabric shown above. Mark says that “Shooting Star” was inspired by the capabilities and limitations of the clipping machine itself. His design process is well described on the company’s website, “[it] starts with one particular element, not necessarily the pattern — and interesting novelty yarn, a special finishing technique or a complex weave structure …”

You can read more about Mark (he studied weaving at the Rhode Island School of Design and worked as associate design director at Jack Lenor Larsen, Inc.) and see more of his fabrics at

2009 Weave of the week #2: Museum mat
January 11, 2009

Museum mat

Museum mat

I call this small (10″x10″), cheery textile just “museum mat” because I don’t have anything more specific to call it.  I was surprised when I saw it, very out of context, in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum’s first show in the  Carnegie Mansion in 1976.  I recently asked the museum’s experts for help identifying it, but they were unable to find it among the Cooper-Hewitt’s, uh, more than 30,000 (!) textiles.

“Museum mat” is handwoven of commercial matte cotton yarn in a supplementary-warp design. With its bright colors, border details, and neat white zig-zag machine stitching around the edges, it is similar to two other mats in my collection, even though the weaves, designs, and dimensions are different. So maybe they were all done in a weaving class or a guild, or taken from the same magazine — but I’m only guessing  (see detail views of all three on my Gallery page).

I would love to know more about them, and about many of my other unidentified textiles, but that probably won’t happen until someone invents a way for us to  google images. In the meantime, if my mats look familiar to you, please share. Thanks.