We are a co-operative of knitters that work with Qiviut (pronounced KIV-EE-UTE), the winter coat of the Musk Ox. It is 8 times warmer than wool, one of the finest naturally occurring fibers, has no barbs or lanolin like wool, and does not shrink in any temperature of water. We gather most of our fiber from the wild herds these days, and only get a small amount from the 2 captive herds in Alaska. We have our yarn spun at a cashmere mill, because it is such a fine fiber they are the only places really set up to handle a fine fiber. The yarn is then freely distributed to the members lively in remote villages mostly on the western coast of Alaska. They hand knit the garments at their own pace, there are no quotas or time limits for their knitting. They will either mail them to the headquarters here in downtown Anchorage or drop them off while they are in town. We will mail them their check the next day or make it available for them to pick up in town.
At the end of the year, we sit down and divide up the revenue the co-op has made over the course of the year, and the members are paid a dividend based on a percentage of what they knit for that year. So the knitter who turns in 100 pieces is going to get more money than the knitter that turns in 2.
The co-operative provides an opportunity for the Alaska Native people living in remote villages a source of steady income, where jobs are few, and largely seasonal. The goal is to supplement their income with knitting allowing them to stay in the village and still have access to income.