Native Alaskan Qiviut: What is it and why is it so expensive?
Qiviut is the inner wool coat of the Musk Ox, an Ice Age relic living mostly north of the arctic circle in North America and Greenland. And it is one of the most expensive natural fibers for fabrics In the world. It’s incredibly warm, soft and rare.
What is Qiviut?
The muskox has a two-layered coat, and qiviut is the soft underwool beneath the longer outer wool. The muskox naturally sheds this layer of wool each spring. Qiviut is plucked from the coat of the muskox or gathered from bushes, etc., they have brushed against; unlike sheep, the animals are not sheared.
Wool vs. Qiviut
Qiviut is stronger and warmer than wool and softer than cashmere. Unlike wool, it does not shrink in water at any temperature.
It is most commonly used for hats and scarves, and is among the softest as well as warmest wools. It is very expensive.
Oomingmak Musk Ox Cooperative
Oomingmak is a Native Alaskan women-owned cooperative that collects and makes handmade Qiviut products from remote coastal villages of Alaska .
Each village has a signature pattern derived from traditional aspects of village life and the Eskimo culture; they may come from an ancient artifact or a beadwork design
Musk Ox Farm
Qiviut is not cheap, but so worth it
My daughter lives in Chicago and my son in Toronto. So I bought both Qiviut hats as well as one for me and the wife when we visit them. All in all, spent over a $1,000 on qiviut items made either from the Oomingmak coop or from the Musk Ox farm in Palmer.
By far I spent more on this than any other “souvenir” I bought in Alaska, including a custom made ulu knife with caribou antler handle for myself!