Spinning Fiber into Gold, or How I Blew the Yarn Budget
50% Qiviut/50% Silk from Windy Valley Muskox
While we were in Alaska, I was on a mission to find qiviut – the insanely soft yarn made from the inner fiber of the muskox. Our first stop was the Large Animal Research Station at the University of Fairbanks. Check out that link, it has some good basic information about qiviut and muskox. All of the qivuit from the LARS is handcombed in the spring when the muskox shed the warm inner layer. While the gift shop was closed and we weren’t able to get close to the animals, I did collect a little bit from the bushes around the research station.
I found qiviut at a few other places, mostly tiny amounts at gift shops. I hit the mother lode at a yarn store in Fairbanks. They had a huge variety of colors and blends to choose from. I dithered about it for two days, trying to justify bringing home any amount of this super fine, better than cashmere, yarn. By this time, my husband had made a joke out of my obsession, saying that I was going to spin the fiber into gold, it was that rare and that expensive.
Finally, I decided on a skein of a 50/50 blend in the natural grey color (1 oz of laceweight) to make into a smoke ring and 1 oz of fiber to spin later. I’m a little hesitant that my spinning skills are up to par with this fiber, but I figure it won’t hurt to have it on hand later when I have more spinning under my belt and can do it justice. Apparently qiviut doesn’t have much memory, so it tends to sag and droop in projects. The best projects for qiviut seem to be things like scarves, smoke rings and shawls. Right now I’m leaning towards an Ice Queen smoke ring, but I’m open to suggestions.
100% Qiviut Fiber
I have a secret….
Please make sure you are not sharing this with anyone else.
Really, it’s a yarn secret and you really do not want to read further.
It has to do with a really good price on really good yarn.
Lots of yarn.
And I want to keep it all to myself.
Fabric Works in Superior has 1500 yds of natural, undyed white, 100% merino Aran weight yarn for $55.
I’ll let you think about that for a minute because I think it’s pretty darn unbelieveable. If it were broken up into 200 yd hanks it would be $7.33 per hank. That’s a sweater’s worth of yarn for $55.
Have I mentioned I want it all for myself?
I bet the owner would ship where ever you would need it shipped to. (if you asked real nice and paid for shipping, she’s nice that way)
I really wish I hadn’t blown my yarn budget for the month. I’d better call her right now and ask her to set aside some. Hopefully I can make enough on my crazy garage sale this weekend to pay for it.
We’re back from Alaska and I’m finally readjusting to Central Standard Time. The photo above is from a hike we did to Angel Rocks. I think it’s part of the Denali National Park system, which is somewhat misleading since Denali is so far away. I really was happier on the hike than I look in this photo. I think at this point in the hike I was having trouble keeping up with my husband’s long legs and my anemia was starting to really show. I recovered after a wonderful meal, a soak in the Chena Hot Springs and a long nap.
Since you’re here for the knitting, let’s get on to it! This is the Secrety Squirrel knitting that I’ve been doing. All were gifts for the newest member of the family we stayed with in Alaska.
Leaf Cardigan from Knit Lace & Leaves from Leisure Arts
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy in Beach Fog. It took just under one skein.
Modifications: Hmm… I don’t know that I made any. I reinforced the button holes so that the flower shaped buttons wouldn’t pull it all out of whack.
Mairead #2225 from Figheadh Yarnworks a.k.a. Cabled Baby Sleep Sack
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepard Worsted in Chagrin. This took exactly 2 skeins, so you might want to buy a 3rd just to be on the safe side. I had less than 2.5 feet left when I finished everything up.
Modifications: Instead of doing the eyelet collar and threading a lace through it, I did a regular button band and added a cute little ladybug button.
Stay On Baby Booties
Yarn: Shi Bui Sock in Orchid
This is a pattern I’ve done so many times I can knit it without thinking or looking at the pattern anymore. When I realized I was almost done with the Baby Sleep Sack and I didn’t have anything else I really wanted to work on, I ran to the yarn store to pick up sock yarn for these.
I realized as we gave the new parents these knitted gifts, that absolutely nothing matches. Huh. Didn’t really even think of that when I was picking out all the yarn. Oh well, not even an Alaskan baby needs to wear all three of these together during the summer.
Please enjoy the Northern Lights (Borealis Martini at the Chena Hot Springs) as I adjust to life back in Central Standard Time.
I’ll have lots of knitting and fibery goodness when I am finished making bell bottoms for my daughter’s school concert and black bottom banana cake for the family. There’s no rest for the weary!
As I get ready for my next flight, I keep thinking back on my last flight, actually my last few flights. Now, I’ve never really considered myself a sinister looking person. I think I look like a slightly harried mom of two young children. I probably epitomize "Minnesota Nice."
Yet for some reason, when I get on an airplane and bring out my knitting needles, I scare people. It seems like whoever I am sitting by feels the need to ask me if it’s safe for me to bring "those things" on the plane. Then they always ask, "are you sure?" Almost always it is finally followed up with, "you know you can buy socks in the store for about $1?"
My answers are Yes. Yes. and Yes.
I usually explain that the size 1 needle that I am making the sock on is thinner than the lead of the pencil they are using to do Suduko with. If I were going to threaten someone with a knitting needle (and I have no intention of doing that) it wouldn’t be with a 4" long size 1 needle. I follow it up with a very official sounding comment about TSA allowing knitting needles on all domestic flights. What I haven’t said yet, but that I am extremely tempted to say, is that you my dear neighbor, are much safer having me sitting next to you with my knitting than without. Knitting keeps me sane.
So help me out, what would you tell the nosy person sitting next to me?