Muskox walking in the snow in winter.jpg

Qiviut

Pronunciation: (kee-vee-uht)

Qiviut (also spelled qiviuq) is an Inuktitut word referring the wool of the musk ox. Qiviut is the soft under wool that lies beneath the longer outer wool of the muskox. Unlike sheep's wool, it does not shrink in water at any temperature and is most typically used for hats and scarves.  It is among the softest wools and will last almost forever.

A full grown musk ox can produce four to seven pounds of qiviut a year. The musk ox sheds its under wool every spring. The fiber is collected during the molting season and is not sheared off like sheep's wool. Typically, it is combed off the animal as it just starts to loosen, in the early stages of the molt. This is considered to be the premium version of the fiber. Fibers picked up off the ground after the molt are considered secondary quality and require much more cleaning and processing to make them usable.

 

In some cases it is also harvested from musk ox that have been hunted. Regardless of the harvesting method, the processing of the raw fiber requires much manual labor and time which makes it extremely expensive and difficult to obtain in large quantities.

Natural qiviut is a soft grayish-brown color. But it takes dye well and is also available in many other colors.