« Darn! | Main | Hand Knitting Techniques »


  Blind fold me, and I'll tell qiviut from cashmere. I didn't think it possible, but I lost my innocence after Joanne generously sent me several yards of laceweight kiviut yarn left over from a finished project. Thank you, Joanne!

For those of you who haven't heard of it (is that really possible?), qiviut is the down fiber of the muskox, an arctic mammal with long curved horns that makes its home in Canada, Greenland and Alaska. Despite its name and looks — it rather makes you think of a paleolithic buffalo — it's genetically closer to goats than bovines. The down fiber that covers muskoxen's bellies is softer and warmer than cashmere. How's that for an endorsement?

Qiviut (a.k.a. qiviuk) is the white truffle of the fiber world and knitters and spinners have been known to go to great lengths to get their hands on a few precious ounces. A friend of mine (no names shall be named, to protect the innocent muscox) managed to spin and knit a whole frikkin' sweater from qiviut fiber harvested by a zoo keeper. I can only surmise the kind of favors that were exchanged in the process. I'm thinking of an old Guccini song that goes like this: Siamo qui che giochiamo alla merla, oilì oilà. For you non-Italians, think that scene in Victor Victoria where Julie Andrews is about to trade her virtue for a plate of meatballs. 'Nuff said. ;)

My qiviut goodness arrived in the mail last night and after dinner I started swatching with 2.75mm needles (US #2). First, I made a swatch with a simple lace pattern, then one in stockinette stitch. I probably should have gone one size up for the lace and one size down for the stockinette. Regardless, the results are exciting. This yarn is flufflier than Jade Sapphire 2-ply cashmere which, in turn, is fluffier than Habu 2-ply cashmere. After washing, it blooms even more and I tried to show the soft halo in the photo, but coudn't really show the swatches at their best. The halo is why I think I could have gone up one or more needle sizes for the lace swatch, since it sort of fills up the holes in the lace. I am amazed at how airy and light these swatches are. If only I could have taken better pictures. I took several, but between the color of the yarn and the lighting conditions, none of them turned out decent. You'll just have to trust me on this. This particular color is called Endless Twilight, but you can see the same yarn in many more colors on Joanne's website: JConklinDesigns. Keep in mind that the yarn is darker than the pictures on the website, at least this color.

I think this yarn would be a fantastic match for the large shawl on page 22 of Victorian Lace Today. For patterns that benefit from more stitch definition, I would go with a yarn with less bloom.

For now, I'll just dream of making this shawl. The pattern calls for 1280 yds and the qiviut ball is 218 yds/$70. But then, this is an especially large shawl and you could use the same pattern for a smaller item. And besides, you don't eat white truffles every day, do you?


Sort of makes you want to ask for gift certificates at one LYS in particular for the next 2-3 years worth of b-days, Christmas and anniversaries, doesn't it?

I'm so glad that you enjoyed the qiviut. :-)

I think the only way I feel comfortable spending that much on one project is winning the Lottery jackpot! LOL!

I recently splurged and bought two balls of that Qiviut, in that exact colorway. Still thinking about what it will become, but I've got several lace books to inspire me, including VLT and Arctic Lace. It's nice to see your swatches and hear your review. Very helpful. :-)