May the 4th be with you!
Tuesday May 04th 2010, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift

I guessed, looking at my brown fluffball, that I had enough qiviut left for perhaps five more repeats.

I somehow got eleven out of it (with very few inches to spare).  That little ounce just went on and on and on.  Yay!

Meantime, the darkest red amaryllis, my favorite, opened its first blossom today. I’ll never see its second beyond the bud stage:  I took a deep breath, cut the stalk, and walked it at dusk down the street to a neighbor whose 90-year-old husband is ailing and who needed that.  I didn’t want to inflict the plant on her–not one more thing needing taking care of. Just a flower, smaller and daintier than amaryllises normally are due to last year’s necessary neglect. A survivor.

Which meant that a normal bud vase would do the job–it wouldn’t tower and topple over. It’s all good.

It was gorgeous and she could watch the process of the living blossom for herself as the second opens.

Meantime, after taking this photo, I rinsed the qiviut scarf and laid it out to dry.  No blocking wires for it. I didn’t even manipulate a yarnover up between stitches when I found I’d missed one–I frogged it gently back down to that point and did it over, wanting no tension against those fibers.  Go gentle gentle gentle on this stuff.

Michelle lace pattern from Wrapped in ComfortWhich brings me to my question tonight: my daughter does not care for the undyed musk ox color.  I have read that dyeing qiviut damages the fibers, and after all that hand combing of the animal in a specially designed, enclosed holding pen, the hand de-hairing, then all that hand-spinning, all that hand-knitting, all that was done on the part of three different women along its way to get this thing to come to be in its exquisitely glorious softness like nothing I have ever knitted before or probably ever will again, the last thing I want to do is take away from that softness.

I also happen to want the recipient to like it.  Color is so much of the experience of wearing something.  I’ve never met her. I can only guess what she’ll think of it.

I could, theoretically, simply dunk it in water with dye stirred in and it would take up the dye. However, without any simmering heat, it wouldn’t be dyefast–can you imagine her wearing, say, a white cashmere sweater and getting caught in the rain or even, for goodness sake, sneezing! and having dye run permanently down that sweater from her scarf?  Or on her winter coat?  So you see that if I dye it, I have to go through the whole process no matter what it might do to that qiviut.

Grayish brown it is, then.

16 Comments so far
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Don’t forget though, that dyed qiviut is available. Windy Valley Musk Ox (, where I got mine (at Stitches, several years ago) has lots of colors. I say, go ahead and overdye it!

Comment by Kathy in San Jose 05.04.10 @ 11:44 pm

What a generous thought and caring gesture that was to give your favorite flower to this woman!

Another proof that was comes around, goes around, huh?

Comment by Suzanne in Montreal 05.05.10 @ 5:12 am

I think it is a lovely neutral, sure to go with just about anything! It also has enough brown-grey in it that I could wear it next to my face, and I’m very pale…

What a beautiful blossom and bud! Flowers really do make the world a better place.

Comment by Channon 05.05.10 @ 5:45 am

It’s not a method I’ve tried, but I’ve read about sun dying. Put your item and your desired dye into a gallon glass container and set out in the sun until the item has absorbed the dye. Then wash and rinse as needed.

It seems a very gentle method.

Comment by Robbyn 05.05.10 @ 6:22 am

it’s beautiful! such a soft delicate pattern for the soft yarn


Comment by Bev 05.05.10 @ 6:51 am

May I raise my hand on the side of leaving it the natural color? Grayish brown is a lovely neutral, and would look awesome with fall and winter colors.

Comment by Patricia Day 05.05.10 @ 8:39 am

Mom got some qiviat and dyed it purple. I’ve now had it for several years, and it’s still lovely and soft.

Comment by Serena 05.05.10 @ 8:43 am

Once again you leave me speechless! I was trying, without success, to remember a phrase that was something about passing on good deeds to others. Nope, retrieval system not working.

So … On to the funnier stuff –

The man was in the store to buy some insecticide. “Is this good for beetles?” he asked the clerk.
“No, it kills ‘em.”

One of the guys at the warehouse called the general manager to tell him that he wouldn’t be in that day. “I’m having my autopsy,” he said, “but with any luck I’ll be in tomorrow.”

Comment by Don Meyer 05.05.10 @ 9:30 am

Well, you got my curiosity going. I can’t find anything in “Arctic Lace” about dying qiviut, so I decided to google “quiviut dying” and found this: which reads in part, “Its cloud-like softness makes it the softest and most expensive fiber in the world. In addition, it doesn’t shrink, shed, or felt when washed, even when boiled for dying, and in its natural form is hypoallergenic.”
So if you really want to change the color, I’d say go ahead. (Your daughter might even actually like it if she wore if for a bit!) If it were me, I’d leave it as is, and if the recipient doesn’t care for it (knowing the story of how it came to be), offer to trade her for another fiber in her favorite color.
Carol in MA

Comment by Carol Telsey 05.05.10 @ 10:06 am

I would trust your original instincts, It was meant for her, thus the color is perfect as it is.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 05.05.10 @ 2:42 pm

You are such a thoughtful person. It shines through in all the things you do. The flower itself is beautiful and your neighbour got a precious gift in seeing the bud unfurl.

Comment by Henya 05.05.10 @ 3:44 pm


The scarf is really beautiful. I have coveted quiviut for a while and fondled it at shows, but have not felt extravagant enough to buy any yet.

I also prowled Google to see about dying quiviut. I’ve seen comments that it gets softer with washing, that it takes dye well and that it lasts a long time, but they were from sources that are not necessarily authoritative.

However, the website for the Oomingmak
Musk Ox Producers’ Co-operative, which represents the native knitters in Alaska, uses a commercial mill that usually handles cashmere to clean, separate, card and spin the fiber. My assumption is that if the fiber can be processed commercially, it should be able to handle a little dye. The description of their process is here: (It’s a fascinating site.)


Comment by Linda 05.05.10 @ 6:08 pm

Sometimes when decisions are hard it means either choice is a good one. (I prefer the natural, but that is just one opinion.)

Comment by twinsetellen 05.05.10 @ 7:11 pm

You’re just on fire with the titles….

Comment by Lene 05.05.10 @ 8:42 pm

I’m sure it will be lovely whatever you decide but, a friend made me a bookmark out of the tiny bit she had left and…I love it’s natural color. I have to vote on the side of leaving it natural… Although I have no qualms about natural fibers being “unnatural” colors, I think musk ox look best in their own gray/brown. 🙂 And, as scary as it must be to collect the fiber…it seems more honoring to both the animal and the brave souls who collect it to leave it natural….in my unimportant but, somewhat biased opinion. 🙂 Please let us know what you decide – I’m sure we’re all behind you whatever you decide to do – it’s a wonderful thing you’re doing – what an incredible gift!
And the flower – gorgeous! (In it’s own natural color too… 🙂 Nature just so often knows what it’s doing – don’t you think? 🙂
Best wishes,

Comment by Abby 05.05.10 @ 9:56 pm

Neutral is fine. I’m sure the softness will make this scarf a winner just like it is. Very beautiful!

Comment by Monica 05.06.10 @ 12:45 am

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