Stay In Fashion (and Warm) in Greenland with Qiviut, Muskox Wool

IMG_5129  Kangerlussuaq, 67*N, midday January 2015 (-25*C / -13*F)

How do you stay warm in the Greenland winter? If you’re a tourist, take a tip from the locals. And if you’re a local, you take a tip from the wildlife.

Locals know best

Just like you might follow where the locals go to find the best live music in town, you should note what Greenlanders wear to keep warm.

Of course there are the usual suspects walking around like Canada Goose jackets and Sorel snow boots, but Greenlanders also use a whole host of sustainable locally-sourced animal products as functional, fashionable clothing.

It makes perfect sense, right? These are the very materials that allow Greenland’s wildlife to brave the sub-zero temperatures and icy waters of their Arctic home, and Greenlanders are using their meat and bones for sustenance anyway.

In the north, polar bear fur is common, and sealskin is more and more the image of urban Greenlandic fashion, thanks to the Great Greenland fur house.

But have you heard of muskox wool?

Muskox wool – Greenland’s cashmere

Muskox wool, called qiviut in Greenlandic, is very popular in Greenland for accessories like hats, shawls, and wrist-warmers. It is so fine a material – incredibly warm and soft – and it can even be washed without fear of shrinking. It is the underfur of the muskox, a goat-like animal with thick gnarly horns and an even thicker long coat, that is made into decadent yarn and woven into exquisite pieces. Some of the finest baby clothes I’ve ever seen were made of qiviut.

The best part for tourists is that qiviut is 100% approved for export (unlike polar bear and seal products). Therefore, you can buy up all the qiviut accessories your heart desires. I bet you’ll be the warmest person on the street once you get home! You could also buy the yarn in spools and take it home to the knitter in your life.

Here are my favorite personal qiviut items – a hat handmade and purchased in Kangerlussuaq at the Niviarsiaq Uld shop, and wrist warmers handmade by my colleague’s teenage daughter in Nuuk.

DSCN1112 Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 4.25.06 PM

If you find yourself in Sisimiut one day admiring a woman’s beautifully-woven qiviut scarf, chances are you just might be taking a tip from the local who knows very best.

Read more on Greenland.com about Anita Høegh of Sisimiut – the woman who pioneered the muskox wool industry in Greenland and changed how Greenlanders do warm!

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3 thoughts on “Stay In Fashion (and Warm) in Greenland with Qiviut, Muskox Wool

    • Kate, thanks for the comment and for the readership!

      You were soooooo close to Greenland, when you were in Iceland! Just one more little flight and you would have been there. Next time 🙂

      I’ll definitely check your Iceland posts. I think I’ve spent a few weeks of my life in total in Reykjavik traveling between GL and USA, but I typically go to the same spots every time – I need new ideas!

      Take care,
      Sarah

  1. Pingback: Why a scarf is the best accessory in Greenland | Adventures of a Polarphile

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