The muskoxen may look like cows or bison, but they’re more related to goats. Native to Alaska, they have spread to the arctic regions of Canada and Greenland.

Qiviut

Description

A rare, lightweight, and soft underwool fiber that is one of the finest natural fibers.

Qiviut is the underneath wool fiber of the muskox, and is usually grayish-brown in color. For better quality, it can be spun into pure yarn or blended with merino, alpaca, cashmere, or silk. The price of qiviut fiber is high since its production volume is very limited.

Qiviut

Background

Story

Qiviut, meaning “muskox”, originated in North America and Greenland. It was overhunted and reintroduced to Alaska in 1935. Qiviut fiber was first spun by an economics teacher in Alaska during the 1930s

Manufacturing

Collecting raw qiviut is relatively easy as the muskox will naturally shed their soft downy underwool in summer. This often happens in April and May. Clumps of hair tend to fall off the body of the animals.

One way to collect qiviut from free-ranging muskox involves picking it from objects or bushes that the animal has rubbed against. This method, while cheap, is not very effective since exposure and other factors can reduce the fibers’ quality. The Inuit of Nunivak Island in Alaska collect this naturally shed wool and spin it by hand.

Qiviut
Qiviut

Expertises

Characteristic

  • Soft
  • Durable
  • 8 times warmer than wool
  • Drier than wool; contains about 7% oils
  • Hypoallergenic, does not irritate skin
  • Takes dye well
  • Does not shrink or felt
  • Odorless
  • Machine washable

Processing of Qiviut

Collecting raw qiviut is relatively easy as the muskox will naturally shed their soft downy underwool in summer. This often happens in April and May. Clumps of hair tend to fall off the body of the animals.

One way to collect qiviut from free-ranging muskox involves picking it from objects or bushes that the animal has rubbed against. This method, while cheap, is not very effective since exposure and other factors can reduce the fibers’ quality. The Inuit of Nunivak Island in Alaska collect this naturally shed wool and spin it by hand.

Animal Welfare

Extracting the Qiviut wool is by no means painful or unpleasant for the musk ox. It is neither sheared, nor does the animal have to be fixed in any way. Instead, the fine undercoat is combed out simply and gently. The loss of hair has no disadvantages for the musk ox.

Price of Qiviut

Qiviut is expensive. This is not surprising as it’s a rare fiber with unique qualities. Another reason is the elaborate processing of the fiber – once a year, this process is necessary to collect about 7 pounds of Qiviut wool per animal.

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