Some people might think of beautiful flowers from far off lands, or animals that brighten zoos and aquariums. Me, I think of fiber and the yarns I can make with them.
This week I finished spinning an exotic fiber called Qiviut. It’s the downy undercoat of a musk ox. This ancient animals (around at the same time as mastodons) roam the cold arctic climates. Their long shaggy outer coat protects them from the elements, but the incredibly soft springy fiber of their undercoat is a fabulous insulator for them. And us, too.
I was lucky enough to purchase 1 ounce of this precious fiber while in Skagway, Alaska last September. It is a joy to spin. So I wanted to really savor the experience. I used a beautiful spindle made of bloodwood (an exotic wood in itself).
The result is a very fine (threadlike) 2-ply yarn totaling 137 yards.
The second exotic fiber I was able to get was 3 ounces of cashmere from goats bred in the Himalayan mountains in Ladakh, India. No, I didn’t get to travel there, but bought it from a woman who has a wonderful magazine called “Wild Fibers“. It is the National Geographic of fiber magazines. She founded a center in Ladakh to help the women there make a living from their luscious fiber animals.
I also spun this on my bloodwood spindle and was able to make 366 yards.
Although I usually am conscious of the distance fibers have to travel to reach me, or the amount of processing done be to them, having these opportunities are pure joy.