What’s so great about Musk Ox?

I know it’s wonderful, and the price shows it, but can someone explain why?

Amber is in Alaska right now and sent me a text that a tiny skein costs $69.00. I’m not sure how tiny tiny actually is, in weight or yardage, but I cannot think of one skein of anything that has cost me $69.00

Here is a photo for you of musk ox on the snowy tundra, in case you haven’t seen one before.

And here’s a whole group of ’em.

musk ox

I did find this description of the fiber on the website of Windy Valley Muskox, based in Palmer, Alaska, who, incidentally, Amber, will be representing at Stitches East in Baltimore this November (6-9)!

Eight times warmer than wool and finer than cashmere, qiviut is hypoallergenic and will not shrink. Extremely rare, it is one of the most luxurious fibers you can choose for a garment. In contrast to wool, qiviut is soft, non-irritating to the skin, and is very durable. Qiviut garments are worn for years and can be hand washed in mild detergent. It does not shed, is odorless and retains warmth even when wet. It is an extremely warm, yet lightweight fiber that preserves heat in the winter, while also providing cool, breathable comfort in warmer weather.

Well, sure, OK, but at $90/oz or 218 yards, I don’t think I can afford even a scarf to ward off the cold and wet while still breathing. Hmmm.

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7 thoughts on “What’s so great about Musk Ox?

  1. Hi Heather! So… I actually just got back from a trip to the Canadian Arctic, where I found a few stuffed musk ox but no qiviut, and I think the high price is as much due to rarity as it is quality. Basically, musk ox do not live where people live, and people do not live where musk ox live. The few communities that are far enough north often don’t have the capabilities to process and spin the fiber. Also, I’m not sure if you can walk up to a musk ox and gather its down as it sheds, or if you have to gather it off the ground after the fact. (I actually asked an Inuit woman about this, but her english wasn’t great so I’m not sure what she said.)

    So the price of qiviut is so high not because it’s the most amazing fiber ever (although I’ve heard that it is), but because there just isn’t a lot of it, and there probably never will be — musk ox only have fur/hair like they do to help survive winters that are downright brutal for humans. Even being up there in the summer was pretty cold! Anyway this got kind of long, I hope that it helps. 🙂

  2. Damn. $90/oz is too rich for my blood, no matter what it feels or performs like! I am, however, insanely jealous of the Alaska trip.

  3. And here is the proof! Don’t be fooled by the tag that says 36. I would have gotten ONE for 36… that must be a blend. I can tell you though- this stuff is heaven and so warm. I must buy this book- I went to another place that sold them knitted up into cowls (called smoke rings), hats and earwarmers… probably worth the $200 in labor. Heaven.

  4. I bought a 25 g skein for $25 on sale once. Surprisingly, it made a decent sized lace scarf. I gave it to my grandma. (I hope to inherit it back, but hopefully not anytime soon.) It was mostly really nice and soft, but it also had guard hairs that were wirey. 😦

  5. It is a luxury that I can’t really afford but hey ho sometimes a little luxury does the soul a power of good. I have purchased a blend of qiviut/merino and am knitting it up into a smoke ring for myself and as I go around country fairs demonstrating spinning, knitting and dyeing, it is surprising how many people are fascinated by the softness and do not believe me when I tell them that it is the most expensive, rare and softest fibre that money can buy. I will be putting a picture of a musk ox and newly spun 100% qiviut with a small knitted garment (smoke ring) on show in my “Tudor” tent next summer.

    Thank you Musk Ox.

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