Give a hoot – Qiviut

alaska2018It’s pronounced kiv – ee – oot like give a hoot, and it is softer. lighter and warmer than cashmere.  This fiber comes from the under hair of 600-900 lb musk ox which are gently combed every day during the summer.  How would you like that job?

We visited friends in Alaska last week, and I was pretty excited to find out that there was a musk ox farm nearby.  I was also excited to see that they have mountains in their backyard (see photo above), but that’s another story.  See, the last time we were in Alaska we saw musk ox, but were not able to do a tour because tourist season had not started yet.  Instead I contented myself with buying some of the precious qiviut fiber and yarn.  Eight years later, I’ve been too afraid to knit or spin this amazing fiber because it’s “too good,” for just any pattern and my somewhat amateur spinning skills.

But really?  It’s just knitting.  I can do that.

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This is what $300 qiviut looks like!

Ok, maybe I won’t buy $300 qiviut to knit with…. after all I can handspin my own, thank you very much. But I did buy a 2 oz skein of qiviut/cashmere/alpaca with generous yardage.

Now the tricky part is determining a pattern to knit.

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Traditional qiviut patterns

Traditionally, the native people knit lace patterns specific to their area.  The book, Arctic Lace, talks about this more in depth.  Honestly, I do not know much more than this, so I would encourage you to read Arctic Lace and look into it on your own if you’re interested.  This display at the musk ox farm was really interesting to me.  I’m fairly confident that I could chart the lace patterns on this display, especially the one from the Seward area as that was one of the areas we visited on our trip.  I also found this Alaskan Moose scarf which, though not traditional, cracks me up.  So the question of the day is, what do I knit?  I have 2 skeins of qiviut from my 2 trips.  One a natural color, one a forest green…. both have generous yardage.

 

We visited this musk ox farm in Palmer, AK.  And just because I know some people will be wondering, the musk ox are only raised for their fiber.  They live until a ripe old age and are not used for meat.

Hello 2018

I did a little experiment this fall.  I wrote down in my planner every project I was working on or planned to work on.  I wrote the start date, end date, if the ends were woven in, and if I photographed it.

I have finished 17 projects since September!  That’s not bad.  Not bad at all considering I feel like I have very little knitting time.  Rarely do I look back at my projects in quite this way.  Until I stopped to count the projects, I had no idea how many I had finished in the last four very busy months.

So often we focus on what hasn’t been done.  When I see this page, I struggle to see the completed lines; instead I see the holes.  But when you break it down into it’s component parts, it feels like accomplishment.

What I’m Knitting

Currently I’m working on a pair of Smooth Operator Socks out of Desert Vista Dyeworks Lords a Leaping colorway.  (that’s the featured image up above).  I’ll warn you that DVD’s website is very tempting…. it’s tough to not purchase a lot of really fun self-striping yarn when I visit the site.  This sock is my take along knitting.   It sits in my bag and I work on it at lunches, at the movies, and whenever I need knitting that I don’t have to look at while knitting.

The Cindersmoke mittens I am knitting for class are almost done.  I’ve set the second mitten aside so that I can work through the top of the mitten and the thumb with the class. 

I‘m also knitting a Snug baby jacket out of Claudia Hand Painted worsted.  I’m considering teaching this as a class.  It’s a simple enough design but it has some interesting construction that makes it great for beginning knitters or those who have more experience and want to try a new technique or two.

 

What I’m Not Knitting

I am not knitting the Find Your Fade in turquoise that you see in the Best Nine photo above.  I really need to rip it back, but ripping out mohair is not a fun experience.  Currently it is sitting in a bag in the drawers next to our sofa – I’m hoping that by putting it in timeout it will have time to think about what it has done and how it really wants to behave.

I also have a BLT shawl that I was working on for a class I taught that has been set aside.  I really like this pattern and the yarn is to die for, but I had more pressing knitting that needed to be finished on a timeline.

 

Loose Ends

Speaking of classes, I’m taking the yarn classes to the pub this month.  I’ll be teaching the Grain Shawl from Tin Can Knits at Hoops Brewery in Canal Park on January 23 and 30 at 6pm.  I’d love it if you could join us.  You do need to go to Yarn Harbor to sign up for the class.  I hope to see you there!

 

A Sweater Place

It struck me the other day when someone asked me what I liked most to knit, that I was in a sweater place.  Most of what has been on my needles the last few months has been sweaters.

There’s been this little guy.  It’s the Zip Up Cardigan by Hannah Fetig.   I have to admit, I was a little intimidated by the zipper.  I almost outsourced this to a tailor shop, but I was determined to try to sew the zipper in myself.  I signed up for a class at Stitches Midwest on putting in zippers.  It was much easier than I had expected.  The only hitch came when the sweet lady next to me at class informed me that I had purchased a non-separating zipper!  Darn!  I ended up having to purchase a new zipper from Zipperstop.com Once that arrived I was able to pull out my class directions and “zip” right through it.  I would definitely make this pattern (with the zipper) again.

 

Then, I made these two sweaters.  They are the Anthropology Inspired Capelet made with Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande.  I made these for the girls to wear at my little sister’s wedding at the end of October.  Not to be content with following the pattern as written, I lengthened the arms and made each sweater longer than the original.  I really wanted these sweaters to be cozy on a cold fall day and I wanted them to have a bit longer of a life than just the one day.

I remember a day when I thought making a child size sweater was so neat because I, “couldn’t possibly knit something as big and involved as an adult size sweater!”  Child size sweaters just went so fast.  Now that my girls are in adult sizes (mostly), their sweaters still seem to move pretty quickly off the needles.  Plus, I can steal their sweaters and hand knit socks!  It’s a beautiful thing and I think I might have to savor it while it lasts, because I’m pretty sure my girls are going to take after their Daddy in height.

 

Last but not least is this little cutie.  It’s the Clayoquot Cardigan by Tin Can Knits.  This is knit in the round and steeked.  While I’ve steeked before, this was my first time using a crochet reinforcement.  I will definitely be doing this again as I really liked the way it worked to hold everything in place and I liked the way the crocheted line made a nice edging on the inside of the cardigan.  I also think that all of the Tin Can Knits patterns are well written.  I always learn something new from them and very often they make me stretch my knitting skills.

So, basically, I’m in a sweater place.  I’ve got several more started or in the line up.  After all, how many scarves do I really need?