The Musk Ox Farm and a Dreamy Qiviut Lace Headband
I had never heard of qiviut fiber until we started production on Knits Winter 2015. There's an article in the issue about The Musk Ox Farm of Palmer, Alaska, and reading about it opened up a whole new world for me (cue Aladdin and Jasmine going on a magic carpet ride inspired by amazing yarn). Qiviut is the down fiber that comes from musk ox down. Rather than shear the musk oxen, handlers comb out the qiviut fiber when the animals are shedding in the spring. Qiviut is eight times warmer than wool and one of the softest fibers on the planet. Get your hands on some of this stuff.
In addition to the qiviut yarn, I also fell in love with the musk ox itself. I've gushed about this before. It is a beautiful and magnificent creature, with admirable and interesting qualities. They were once close to extinction in North America, but fortunately their numbers are growing as a result of their protection by the Canadian government (they live in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Scandanavia, and Siberia).
The Musk Ox Farm, Palmer, Alaska
Lastly, the folks at The Musk Ox Farm are great people who care for these animals with utmost care and compassion. They are in the business of keeping the musk ox numbers up, and they run a program called "Friends of the Musk Ox" where they take donations to keep up the farm and in exchange provide membership perks (including musk ox adoption!). They sent us a skein of their 2-ply laceweight qiviut yarn to try out, and I would by lying if I said I wasn't a little afraid to mess with the perfectly soft skein to turn it into something wearable. It's just as fun having it to squeeze when you need a little encouragement.
I looked through a slough of Interweave patterns, and finally settled on the Qiviut Lace Headband from Knitting Traditions. This was designed by Donna Druchunas, who also happens to be the author of the article in Knits Winter. It's a lace pattern (my first) that only requires six repeats of a 28-row chart. It turned out pretty adorable, and the qiviut knit up into the softest thing ever!
|Qiviut Lace Headband and leftover yarn||Detail (I apologize for the not-awesome lighting)|
|On my noggin!||Oh, hello!|
I'm so excited about qiviut and musk oxen now, I'd love to go to The Musk Ox Farm myself to see these guys and the process up-close! If you haven't seen the article by Donna Druchunas in Knits Winter 2015, I highly recommend you get yourself a copy and dive into the world of qiviut with me!
Happy knitting and New Year to you!