Qiviut (Inuktitut syllabics, ᕿᕕᐅᖅ; Inuinnaqtun, qiviuqcite book|last=Ohokak|first=G.|coauthors=M. Kadlun, B. Harnum|title=Inuinnaqtun-English Dictionary|publisher=Kitikmeot Heritage Society] ; sometimes spelled qiveut, and pronounced "kiv-ee-yut") is an Inuit word commonly used to indicate the wool of the muskox. The word was originally used to refer to the down feathers of birds as well as the inner wool of the muskox.cite web|url=http://www.livingdictionary.com/term/viewTerm.jsp?term=69827131079|title=Qiviuq|work=Asuilaak Living Dictionary|accessdate=2007-01-01] It is valued for its use as a fiber as, unlike sheep's wool, it does not shrink in water at any temperature. (However, this means that it also is not useful for felting.) It is most commonly used for hats and scarves, and is among the softest wools, though this softness comes with a price. A high quality "smoke ring" -- essentially a knitted scarf -- will cost about $175, but will last over 20 years with good care.

The muskox has a two-layered coat, and "qiviut" refers specifically to the soft underwool beneath the longer outer wool. The muskox sheds this layer of wool each spring. Qiviut is plucked from the coat of the muskox during the molt or gathered from objects the animals have brushed against; unlike sheep, the animals are not sheared. Much of the commercially available qiviut comes from Canada, and is obtained from the pelts of muskoxen after hunts. In Alaska, qiviut is obtained from farmed animals or gathered from the wild during the molt.

Qiviut is stronger and eight times warmer than sheep's wool, and softer than cashmere or vicuña wool. Wild muskoxen have qiviut fibers approximately 18 micrometres in diameter. Females and young animals have slightly finer wool. ["Fiber characteristics of qiviut and guard hair from wild muskoxen ("Ovibos moschatus"). Rowell et al. 2001, "Journal of Animal Science," 79:1670-1674]

Domestication of the musk ox was begun with the Musk Ox Project, headed by John J. Teal, Jr. Oomingmak, the Musk Ox Producers' Cooperative, was formed in the late 1960s by Native women on Nunivak Island, with the help of Dr. Teal and Mrs. L. Schell. It is a knitting cooperative that works with qiviut and is still in operation today, in Palmer, Alaska. The name of the cooperative comes from an Inuit word, "oomingmak", "the animal with skin like a beard."

Production and Processing

An adult muskox can produce four to seven pounds of qiviut a year. Qiviut is produced by the muskox's secondary hair follicles, which are not associated with sebaceous glands, and therefore is a much drier fiber than wool, having only about 7 percent oils. The hair follicle density is very high (approximately 42 per square millimeter) and qiviut is shed in a tightly synchronized spring molting period. The qiviut will loosen from the animal's skin and pull away slightly, creating a "spectacled" look around the eyes and becoming visible all over the body at the surface of the pelt. At this stage of the molt, the undercoat is a short but relatively uniform distance from the skin. This lends itself to combing the qiviut from the animal in a single large sheet. (If not combed, the qiviut will begin to fall out in clumps or be rubbed off by the animal, and may be plucked off the ground or bushes, but qiviut collected this way is of lower quality and requires more cleaning.)

At the Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station (LARS), a modified bison crush is used to gently but firmly hold the muskoxen in place, and the pelt combed out using a long-toothed comb or hair pick. After the fleece is removed, it is cleaned by hand, removing vegetation and other foreign matter, and then dehaired. Dehairing is the removal of intermediate hairs (greater than 30 micrometres in diameter). Dehairing is accomplished by carding as one would cashmere. Mechanical carding can cause breakage and weaken and roughen the qiviut. (Because the pelt is combed rather than shaved, there are very few guard hairs using this method. Pelts from hunted animals are shaved, so the dehairing process in this case is more laborious.) After dehairing, the qiviut may be cleaned again, if necessary.

The raw, cleaned qiviut is then spun into yarn and the yarn washed gently in warm water. The yarn may then be overdyed, but bleaching and dyeing can weaken the fiber and reduce its softness. ["The Muskox: wooly and warm in a northern fiber industry." Deirdre Helfferich. 2007, [http://www.uaf.edu/snras/afes/pubs/agro/Agro%2039-1.pdf "Agroborealis" 39:1] ]


* [http://www.uaf.edu/lars/ Large Animal Research Station]
* [http://www.hww.ca/hww2.asp?id=95 Muskox fact sheet]
* [http://www.muskoxfarm.org/ Musk Ox Farm] (domestication project)
* [http://www.qiviut.com Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers' Cooperative]
* [http://www.taiga.net/wmac/species/muskox/factsheet7_resource.html Taiga.net muskox fact sheet]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • qiviut — ☆ qiviut [kē′vē o͞ot΄, kē′vē ət ] n. [Esk] 1. the fine, soft, light brown inner layer of hair of the musk ox 2. yarn spun from this hair …   English World dictionary

  • Qiviut — Quiviut Als Quiviut oder Qiviut [ˈqiviut] wird die Unterwolle des Moschusochsen bezeichnet. Sie wird von der Inuit Kooperative „Oomingmak“ verarbeitet. Dort sind ca. 200 Personen mit der Verarbeitung beschäftigt. Die Wolle ist sehr hochwertig,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • qiviut — noun Etymology: Inuit Date: 1958 the wool of the undercoat of the musk ox …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • qiviut — /kee vee euht, ooht /, n. the soft, dense, light brown woolly undercoat of the musk ox, used in making fabrics. [1955 60; < Inuit] * * * …   Universalium

  • qiviut — noun /ˈkɪvɪət/ The underwool of the Arctic muskox, used as a fibre …   Wiktionary

  • qiviut — qi·vi·ut …   English syllables

  • qiviut — qiv•i•ut [[t]ˈki vi ət, ˌut[/t]] n. tex the soft, dense, light brown woolly undercoat of the musk ox, used in making fabrics • Etymology: 1955–60; < Inuit …   From formal English to slang

  • qiviut — The soft undercoat on a musk ox, often used in making coats …   Grandiloquent dictionary

  • qiviut — /ˈkɪvijət/ (say kiveeyuht) noun the fine inner wool of the musk ox, shed every summer and retrieved for use in luxury garments. {Inuit} …   Australian English dictionary

  • qiviut — ˈkēvēə̇t, vēˌüt noun ( s) Etymology: Eskimo : the wool of the undercoat of the musk ox …   Useful english dictionary

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