Twisted Tundra: Spinning Qiviut, the Arctic Fiber
Qiviut is the inner hair of the musk ox, a giant ungulate native to the arctic regions of Canada and Alaska. Musk ox were wiped out in Alaska in the late 19th century, but were reintroduced in the 1930s. As the population of wild and domesticated oxen grew, so did the practice of spinning and knitting their amazing qiviut, which is one of the softest and warmest fibers in the world. At roughly 12-16 microns, qiviut is softer and lighter than cashmere and is one of the most sought-after fibers in the world. In this unique immersive experience, students are invited to join qiviut artist Cole Harmon for a week-long course on the harvesting, processing, spinning and final production of a qiviut garment.
Participants will start with a prepared musk ox hide and harvest their own qiviut. After preparing the qiviut for spinning participants will be given an overview of qiviut spinning styles and techniques, after which individuals may choose to dye their finished yarn before knitting. While the course will focus on plain lace knitting, elements of Estonian, Finnish and Hebridian lace knitting may also be incorporated. The end goal of the course is to have every person leave with a project (and a pattern of their own design) on their needles.
Note: students should be intermediate spinners and knitters. Participants must have firm control over their wheel and its functions, be able to keep track of their whorl ratios, have experience with short forward and tension led long draw, and be able to both spin and ply to grist. If individuals wish to practice on a fiber before the course to tune up their wheel, cashmere/B. mori silk (70-30) is a reasonable facsimile for practice spinning.
The materials fee includes six ounces of qiviut, most of which will be spun, but some can be finished at home. If students are interested in weaving with the spun qiviut rather than knitting, please note this at registration. Cole is a highly accomplished artist and teacher, and is bursting with stories of his northern lifestyle and passion for craft. This promises to be an unforgettable week.