A while back, my friend Donna Druchunas invited me to be part of her blog tour. This isn't because I contributed to her forthcoming book (information below) or even because I'm an expert on lace. Instead, it's because we both share a joy in common. We love to explore fiber arts topics when we travel. Even better, we like writing about it so others can experience all this vicariously, from home.
This qiviut story starts at least 10 years ago. (qiviut comes from musk oxen, it's very very warm and soft.) See photos, shot by my professor, for what a musk ox is! While I was in graduate school, I had an email "penpal" friendship with a spinner in Alabama. This kind spinner Ellen decided I must experience qiviut. She filled up a plastic baggie with a sample, sent it to me in the mail, and gave me a fabulous gift. That qiviut was a spinning experience! I plied it with tussah silk. I knit it into a scarf for my brother-in-law, who was single at the time.
He declared it a "chick magnet" scarf. He was right and is now happily married. I asked his wife recently, and she said-absolutely--a seriously seductive scarf!
About five years ago, my professor went to a summertime biology conference in Fairbanks, Alaska. At first, he wanted me to come with him. Then we looked at the high season airfare and other costs. (outrageously expensive!) I explained that while I could skip Fairbanks, what I really wanted was to visit the Large Animal Research Station, where the university biologists studied musk oxen.
My professor promised me a vicarious trip. He shot these photos so I could "see" the musk oxen in action. He described it to me in detail when he got home. He also purchased me an entire pound of the fiber.
I was so stunned by this gift (it's very expensive stuff) that at first, I didn't know what to do. Then, I got a grip and sent it out to be dehaired by machine. After that, I sold a couple of the ounces, and this helped cover this enormous purchase. The professor pointed out that compared to paying for my flights to Alaska, the qiviut was a trinket. This is a very rare and precious fiber. I had a hard time seeing it as a trinket. :)
Today, the qiviut awaits me--but sometimes waiting is the right thing. When Donna's book Arctic Lace came out, I had the pleasure of reviewing it. When I met the professor's new department chair here in Manitoba, she mentioned knitting a qiviut tuque (hat) for her husband as the ultimate in warm luxury. The ideas I have now are as exciting as dreaming of adventure or fiber arts travel.
This blog tour post is to celebrate a few of Donna's special upcoming events (information below) but it's also to celebrate Donna's big wedding anniversary and her trip to Hawaii. She's currently having a tropical adventure right about now!
To celebrate, I'm giving away a signed copy of Fiber Gathering! I want to encourage some more vicarious travel. If you'd like to win a copy of the book, please leave a comment, and I'll do a random drawing on Sunday, January 24th. Make sure I have a way to contact you via your blog, email address, or some kind of smoke signal if you'd like to win!
Here's information about Donna's new book:
Successful Lace Knitting by Donna Druchunas will be released in May on the Musk Ox & Glaciers Knitting Cruise, where Donna will be teaching along with Lucy Neatby. The audio book edition of Arctic Lace will also be published at the same time, so cruise participants will be among the first to have a chance to see (and hear!) these two new releases.
To enter to win 2 balls of laceweight qiviut yarn, sign up for the cruise mailing list here:
Finally, if you don't need a signed copy of Fiber Gathering, but just want to say hello, that's good, too. Please say hey in the comments and remind me (no book please) not to enter you into the drawing! Thanks!