Qiviut Fiber Musk-Ox/Musk-Oxen wool

Qiviut, pronounced kiv-ee-ute, is one of the finest natural fibers obtainable. Qiviut is the downy-soft underside wool from the arctic musk ox – oomingmak – umimmak in Greenlandic.

Eight times warmer than wool and finer than cashmere, qiviut is hypoallergenic and will not shrink. Extremely rare, it is one of the most luxurious fibers you can choose for a garment. In contrast to wool, qiviut is soft, non-irritating to the skin, and is very durable. Qiviut garments are worn for years and can be hand washed with mild detergent. It does not shed, is odorless and retains warmth even when wet. It is an extremely warm, yet lightweight fiber that preserves heat in the winter, while also providing cool, breathable comfort in warmer weather.

Being so light, qiveut has a very elegant drape. If someone were to put a touch of qiveut fiber in your hand with your eyes closed, you would not feel the fiber touch your hand. Musk ox wool is proven to be the softest natural fiber in the world.

Musk ox yarn does not crimp or felt. It is easy to care for, can be washed with mild shampoo or wool detergent. It responds well to dyeing. Follow are the characteristics of Qiviut fibers:

  • Extremely rare
  • Unsurpassed warmth and softness
  • Light as air
  • Musk ox yarn is hypoallergenic
  • Will not shrink or shed
  • Odorless when wet
  • Retains heat when wet
  • Easily maintained

Every spring, muskoxen rapidly shed their qiviut in anticipation of warmer summer days. The downy wool is combed from the animals as it works its way through the long guard hairs. No shearing or clipping is necessary. Because shedding is fairly synchronous, large fleecy sheets of qiviut can be combed from the shoulder and flank areas of animals.

Qiviut has been described as “the cashmere of the north,” and is considered by experienced spinners to combine several of the best fiber properties, such as fineness, length, strength, and warmth. Qiviut lacks scales and crimps found in sheep wool, so it is very soft and non-irritating and it will not shrink or felt. These same qualities mean care must be taken when selecting a project using qiviut. 100% qiviut tends to sag; it will not retain its shape as well as sheep wool. It is better suited for scarves and shawls. Blending in a small amount of fine sheep wool, such as merino, will add “memory” to a hat or sweater and yet will retain the wonderful softness and warmth of qiviut. Qiviut also blends well with other fibers such as alpaca, cashmere, and silk.

Musk ox yarns are used for:

  • Shawls, sweaters, gloves, hats, scarves
  • Hats, gloves or mittens


The soft brownish underhair of the muskox is called qiviut. The qiviut of the muskox is perhaps the finest wool in the world. It is stronger than sheep’s wool and eight times warmer. It is finer and softer than cashmere. Qiviut is spun into wool and used to make warm woolen clothing, hats, scarves and mitts. It is very

Qiviut can be collected on the range of muskox during the spring and summer when the
muskox shed their coats. The wool becomes attached to bushes as the muskox walk by.
Inuit on Nunivak Island, in Alaska, collect the naturally shed wool clinging to bushes and
tundra plants, and spin it by hand.

Using large captive herds for qiviut production is under study. Muskox domestication projects have been tried in several places

Combing Quviut fiber from Musk Oxen

Resource Links

About qiviut, the down fiber of the musk-ox
Alaskan Qiviut Handknits
Large Animal Research Station – University of Alaska Fairbanks
Musk Ox Development Corporation
Oomingmak – Musk Ox Producers’ Co-operative
Qiviut — Wonder Wool from the Arctic
Qiviut (or Qiviuk) – Information for Knitters and Spinners
The Qiviut Fiber and Yarn
Village Spin Weave
Wild Fibers Magazine

The Muskox – a new northern farm animal

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