On Labor Day, Lee and I went to visit the Large Animal Research Station (called LARS) at UAF. There, they do research on Caribou, Reindeer, and Musk Ox. All amazing creatures and the tour/lecture they give about the animals was very informative and interesting. But my true interest is in the fleece shed each spring by the musk ox. This fleece, called qiviut (kiv-ee-ut), is one of the warmest fibers in nature. The Musk Ox grows a 7 – 8 inch thick undercoat of qiviut to survive the arctic winters (Fairbanks is too hot for the Musk Ox!). Then in the spring, it begins to shed this undercoat. It is combed off or collected and spun into heavenly lace-weight yarn.
Qiviut is light, fine, unbelievably soft and warm, and one of the most expensive yarns out there. At Inua Wool Shoppe in Fairbanks, a one ounce ball of qiviut is $90. You can buy a two ounce skein for the bargain price of $150. But at LARS, they also collect qiviut each spring and spin it in to yarn. A one ounce skein of 100% qiviut goes for the true bargain price of $60. For the last few days I have been trying to figure out how I can raise my own Musk Ox for qiviut. Doesn’t seem to be a viable option. And I can’t afford the spun yarn. So here’s my new plan. LARS also sells un-spun fleece for $25 an ounce. Once I get good at spinning, I can buy the fleece and add to the thrill of working with this fiber by spinning it first, and then knitting with it. And for those of you who have been thinking, “Gee, I wonder what I’m going to get Kate for Christmas?,” I have just the thing! Large Animal Research Station Qiviut