Get fuzzy
Saturday May 13th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

The answer to DebbieR’s question starts with, I had no idea that that cute little cabin that’s pictured in everything I ever saw having to do with the Oomingmak cooperative was actually smack dab in downtown Anchorage! We happened to drive past it after hours and I exclaimed and grabbed the phone and snapped its picture through the windshield (see yesterday’s post) from the passenger side.

Sam asked the next morning if I wanted to visit the place?

Heck yeah!

And so she and I went while Richard stayed home with the baby. It was just a quick little jaunt.

There was the back room in view, completely familiar to me from Donna Druchunas’s book and every article I’ve ever read about the place. There were hand knits on display and hat kits for sale and if I’d been really rich that baby-size handspun qiviut blanket that was just under $700 would have been Mathias’s. If only. Inexplicably I saw none of the traditional smoke rings they’re so famous for–cowls, as someone in the Lower 48 would call them, infinity scarves, in the finest, softest, warmest handspun lace.

I made great friends with my first surgeon eight years ago when she was trying to describe this beautiful little hand knit she’d bought from an Eskimo group while visiting Alaska and I’d asked, Was it qiviut? A smoke ring? She was astonished: “How did you know?!”

I’m a knitter! And I spin.

And I live in California. I knew, looking at their wares, that I in no way need the extreme warmth of the undercoat of the gentle musk ox. But my daughter, now! I told her I had long wanted to support the women who do that work, but online from afar and in the wrong climate I’d just never made that order.

But here we were. (And the prices were about what it would cost me to knit them myself, I said afterwards as we were going back to the car.)

She picked out a thick, wide intarsia headband knitted in two natural shades–two designs, actually, taking a minute to decide: “This one looks like poinsettias to me,” and almost got it but the other won out in the end. (The one I’d picked out as my favorite, and if I should have kept my mouth shut it’s too late now.)

I’m rather sorry I didn’t get its picture. Even better yet, on her.

They said if it ever needed repair to just bring the sales slip with it and they would do it.

I told her it was an early Happy Mother’s Day from me. I didn’t quite say out loud, you swaddle your baby in warmth and I’ll swaddle mine.

But I did want at least some little memento for me and they had these tiny bags of combed raw qiviut: $4 each and I got two.

Sam told me afterwards that one of her co-workers had a hat from Oomingmak but he cannot wear it indoors. It’s too hot.

I figure, in Alaska, that’s a good problem to have.

4 Comments so far
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I am so happy that you happened to see that cabin and actually get inside. What a treat for you and Sam to get to visit and support the women as well.

Comment by DebbieR 05.14.17 @ 6:10 am

it is one the few yarn souvenirs I have purchased over the years that I am not gifting or giving away. I am thinking it might just be perfect for Lappland this coming January…

Comment by Holly 05.14.17 @ 9:35 am

When someone ooohs and aaahs over my buffalo shawl, I tell them it is 4 times as warm as wool and that qiviut is eight times as warm as wool. I hope I am not lying.

Comment by Sharon Stanger 05.14.17 @ 2:43 pm

How wonderful that you got to visit “the shop”. That stuff is amazing. When my girlfriend went to visit her daughter who was working in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, I sent $100Cdn with her. I asked that if she happened to see some qiviut in her travels, would she please spend every penny to get as much as she could.

Bless her heart, she was able to get 2 little 25 gr balls of lace-weight, blended with a touch of mulberry silk. It’s the most beautiful sort of caramel colour and I just want to pet it.

I’m actually a little afraid to knit it up, I’m not sure that even Southern Ontario is “northern enough” to really need it. But someday, I think it will become a smoke ring.

Chris S in Canada

Comment by Chris S 05.14.17 @ 3:34 pm

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