I saw a sweater over the weekend that I think would be the ultimate in hand-knits. It was actually a two-piece garment -- a very plain, almost boxy sweater (although that description takes away from its elegance), with another piece worn over it. I don't know how to describe the second piece, but all I can say is that it looked sort of like a combination shawl and cabled cowl that draped over the shoulders. It was knit of fine qiviut -- softer than cashmere -- in the natural color. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I asked if there was a pattern available. It was, after all, being sold by yarn merchants and usually, the sample sweaters are there because there are patterns that feature the yarns being sold.
I was totally bummed to find out that there is no pattern available. If I were a reasonable woman, I would have been relieved to find that out. Why? Because to purchase enough of the precious qiviut yarn to replicate the sweater would probably have cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 or $600, maybe more -- it runs about $90 per ounce (and that yields about 220 yards or so). Math makes me ill -- you'll have to figure it out for yourself if you want accuracy. I know I would have had to settle for a more affordable alternative fiber, but it was truly beautiful.
In case you're curious, qiviut is taken from the muskox's downy undercoat. (See more at www.qiviut.com ). Those creatures inhabit places like the northern tundra of Canada, Alaska and Greenland. Not a whole lot of those babies around! The muskox coat and hooves keep them warm in the cold arctic weather which can reach –70ºF. The qiviut yarn knits up so soft you can barely feel it, and it is said to be eight times warmer than wool. That must be really, really warm. If I were an Alaskan Inuit, I'd be making me some qiviut nighties, for sure! Even if I had to track those creatures down to get my hands on some of the coat they shed once a year.
Speaking of luxury fibers, I ran across an advertisement for what is touted to be a Luxury Yarn, described thusly: "... this unique Wool & Stainless Steel yarn creates unique pieces that keep their shape. Strong, yet lacy, it’s great for ethereal wraps or beautiful original jewelry. Combine it with other yarns to add texture and strength to sweaters and accessories ... "
What?!? Stainless steel? Tell me why. Why? WHY would anyone want to incorporate steel into wool yarn?!? Wool is a warm, soft, forgiving fiber. So how's 'bout we ruin all its inherent qualities by adding some cold, hard steel? Doesn't THAT sound comfy? I thought the blurb about adding nettles was the craziest thing I'd ever heard, but this really takes the cake! For about twenty bucks I could get enough to make a pair of socks. They might last longer than my woollies, but hoo-boy, I'll bet they'd be enough to freeze yer tootsies right off. (Have you ever worn steel-toed shoes in the winter? Might just as well put your feet in a block of ice!)