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.)