During my trip to Indianapolis this summer, I met with the folks at Jacques Cartier, a luxury clothing producer who now works with first nation peoples from the Northwest Territories to spin wool from the Arctic Musk Ox. They had a beautiful booth with huge posters of this mysterious animal that survived the last ice age. They use the yarn in the clothes they produce for designers like Armani, and they sell a small amount of it as yarn for knitters and crocheters.

Earlier this summer, they sent me samples of the yarn to play with. The small balls they sent me retail for around $70 each, so it’s not likely to be something you’re going to make a sweater out of. And at first glance, in the ball, it doesn’t seem all that much softer than, say, baby alpaca. However, my swatches really show the yarn’s softness, and it’s pretty amazing. Supposedly 8-times warmer than wool. The Qiviuk company sells 100% qiviuk, and a blend of qiviuk, merino and silk.

Qiviuk aren’t shorn–they’re brushed, gently, by hand, once a year–the rest of the year, even those that are domesticated, just pretty much hang out and enjoy the arctic.

The folks at Jacques Cartier have their mill in Peru–speaking with the people at their booth, it’s apparent that they care a lot about the animals, the environment that the animals live in, and the First Nation people who work with the animals and the yarn. The yarn was even sent to me (from Peru, where it’s spun (!), in a recycled flour-sack, which was hand-stitched shut. Probably some of the coolest packaging I’ve gotten.

Oh, another thing–at the Fashion Show at TNNA, the designer from Jacques Cartier had some of the most beautiful designs there. I don’t see patterns listed in the materials I received from them, but I hope they do make them available.

I’d like to make a tiny lace something with the ball of 100% to really show it off, but I haven’t yet found a stitch pattern that speaks to me–any ideas?

I think I’ll have a contest… Send me your ideas for using 1 ball of qiviuk–I’ll pick one winner in crochet and one winner in knitting. Winners will receive a ball of either the 100% qiviuk or the merino/silk/qiviuk blend (prize chosen at random). You have until September 29th to send me your ideas, and you can send as many as you want to my e-mail address: aoh@ipsmedia.com… Feel free to include swatches, sketches, stitch patterns, pictures, descriptions, whatever you feel like. Can’t wait to see what you come up with! (and of course feel free to share this link.)

You probably want to know the yarn specs–I don’t have much for you–it’s 2-ply, fingering weight yarn ind 50-gram balls, but I don’t know the yardage… I’ve searched the web for that info and come up empty. I’ve e-mailed the company and I’ll post an update here as soon as I know..

Since the Qiviuk web site isn’t brimming with information here are a couple of sites about the animal in general:

A photojournal entry about a trip to a musk ox farm

ours does! Here’s a list of other places you might find it. This is the site of Donna Druchunas who wrote a whole book about Arctic Lace knitters–cool!

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Arctic Musk Ox — And a contest.