Qiviut peace a chance
Friday January 15th 2010, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

(The new bag in the background: tomorrow’s post.)

At Purlescence last night, people were swooning–moaning, quite honestly–over this skein.   One person shopping the store whom I didn’t know, oblivious to the conversation in the group, stepped close enough to get pounced on: Here, I told her, feel this!

Her expression went from, yeah, okay, I’ll humor you, whoever you are, lady, to *big eyes* and “WOWWW!!!” and her glance sweeping the room, her expression exclaiming, where do I FIND this?!

Maybe six or seven years ago, I was at Stitches West, talking to a woman who was selling qiviut fiber combed from her herd of Alaskan musk oxen.  She and her husband had devised a holding chute to keep each animal still (and, I imagine, from goring them) while they combed out the undercoat it was ready to shed across the tundra.  They would then pick out the guard hairs by hand to avoid damaging that precious fiber.

Small wonder, then, that her little one-ounce ziploc bags cost $30.

But then she had me touch it.

Qiviut was then the softest, finest legally available and humanely collected animal fiber on the planet.   And given where the animals live, very, very warm.  The musk ox had only recently been taken off the endangered list, and hers was, if memory serves, the first non-Inuit-owned private herd on the continent.

There was a moment of surprised delight last year when my first surgeon mentioned she’d bought a qiviut smoke ring in Alaska on a trip and I asked her, At the Oomingmak cooperative?

How did you know?!

My surgeon owned and treasured Eskimo-handknit lace qiviut, of all things.  I knew I was in good hands.

Back to the scene at Stitches.  The woman had a big black plastic garbage bag full of the stuff, ready to weigh out to order, and I laughed and asked her, just out of curiosity, how much the whole thing would cost.  She eyed me with a grin and shot back, “With or without the divorce lawyer?” (Ouch!) “About six thousand dollars.”

So.  I bought one ounce–a year later, at the next Stitches, after having thought about it long enough. I was going to spin it, I was going to ply it with mere cashmere to get twice the yardage, oh, I had plans.

And then I actually tried to spin it.  It was almost like dryer lint.  It needed to be spun very fine, which one would want to do anyway, but I have almost no feeling in my fingertips and the job would be purely visual.  Pass the microscope.  And that gets old and very difficult very fast.

It sat in the closet. I know, I know.

I finally, talking to my friend Rachel one day, told her that it was criminal to have qiviut, of all things, going to waste and that since she liked to spin finely anyway, I was giving it to her. She was under firm orders not to give it back. This was for her.

Yeah well. Do your friends like to be ordered around? Neither do mine.

And so it was that I got a text message yesterday incoming: “Will you be at knitting?”

I still have yet to manually enter most of my contacts into my new phone; I had no idea who was asking. So I typed back, simply, “Yes.”  Kind of a no-brainer: it’s Knit Night? I go!

I walked in, sat down, and Sandi casually tossed a bag on my lap as she walked by.  ?!??!!  Yes.  And the message sent with it was, You’ll know whom to knit this for.

I instantly did. Oh, I did. I told them, I’ll have to think more about it and pray about it, but–

–And you know, I did all that, too, but, I knew immediately and that was that.  I can’t tell Rachel how grateful I am for her gift of those 186 yards.  It’s for someone whom I’ve needed to knit something for for several months, someone going through worse than ever I did all of last year, someone I would give anything to make her family’s sudden severe burden easier, if only somehow I could.

Someone for whom I’ve gone through my stash again and again and again, looking for just THE right thing, and somehow nothing felt good enough. I couldn’t figure out why.  Now I know.

Maybe, the fact that a total stranger did all that work spinning it for the sake of goodwill towards whomever the right person might be, added in with my own goodwill knowing whom it cries out to be knitted for, maybe, it might ease her burden. Maybe just a little.

A little basic human warmth and kindness.

A little bit of fluff.  But it can go a long way.

17 Comments so far
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Wow what a beautiful story of loving kindness you are such a sweet person.
I had heard people mention Quivet but didn’t know anything about it till now.
I cannot wait to hear the end of the story I know your friend will treasure the knitted gift from you.Hugs Darcy

Comment by Darcy 01.15.10 @ 10:52 pm

DH and I got to pet some quivit in Missouri. We were visiting Whirlwind Ranch, where they raise Alpaca. The owner had the quivit for comparison…but yes,it was wonderful to at least get to touch it. Even DH, my Patron of the Arts, was impressed.

Comment by Barbara-Kay 01.15.10 @ 10:59 pm

Yes, sometimes the love and caring of a group – strangers and others – is very powerful medicine.

Comment by Margo Lynn 01.16.10 @ 5:28 am

The text was actually from Jasmin, who was doing stealth work upon my request. I don’t think I have your number!

Don’t forget I have more of my own if you need it.

Comment by (formerly) no-blog-rachel 01.16.10 @ 7:39 am

Happy tears :-}
A great way to start the day.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 01.16.10 @ 7:41 am

I’ve never had the priviledge of petting, fondling quiviet.

Your knitting group sounds like a wonderful group of knitters.

Comment by Joansie 01.16.10 @ 8:28 am

“A little bit of fluff. But it can go a long way”

I like that. It is one to remember.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 01.16.10 @ 8:37 am


(the book arrived yesterday — thank you so much — I wrote about it in today’s post)

Comment by Bev 01.16.10 @ 9:05 am

Ah, forget Hallmark. Show your love with Qiviut.

Comment by LynnM 01.16.10 @ 11:27 am

What’s that line? Something about random acts of kindness, I believe. You and your knitting friends certainly live up to that!

Humor –

A backward poet writes inverse.

In a democracy it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism it’s your count that votes.

Comment by Don Meyer 01.16.10 @ 12:16 pm

It certainly can. And it sounds like this is going to exactly the right place, however circuitous the route.

Comment by Jocelyn 01.16.10 @ 2:42 pm

I love how your knitting circle “gets” you. 🙂

Comment by karin maag-tanchak 01.16.10 @ 3:58 pm

Yes, not only does your knitting circle get you, but you all pass it on, exponentially expanding the good as you go. Womankind is truly made up of two appropriate words.

Comment by Madeline 01.16.10 @ 5:41 pm

Thank you, dear Alison, for your last two blog entries. It helps.

Comment by Karen 01.16.10 @ 6:08 pm

Quivet is a dream fiber, and how incredibly special that your friend is as gracious as you are… that loving kindness will certainly ooze out around the recipient.

Comment by Channon 01.17.10 @ 6:40 am

For me, the sacred is found in connections of love, and Rachel has extended that web even further for your friend.

Blessed be.

Comment by twinsetellen 01.17.10 @ 6:42 am

Again, yarn speaks, you listen and love and care get knitted…

Round and round it goes – with more than one hand at the wheel, still going in a caring direction.

Sending a prayer of stength and peace for your friend, for what it’s worth.

Comment by Suzanne in Mtl 01.18.10 @ 6:51 am

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