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 Zealana Eco Possum Yarn

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Clara Posted - 01/29/2009 : 05:51:53 AM
The animal fiber world can be divided into two categories: those harvested from living animals, and those harvested from the skins, pelts, or hides of dead ones. Even though those animals aren't killed for their fibers, the fact remains that the fibers were taken from the animal after it ceased to be... rest of review

I've already started getting some interesting email comments to this week's review of Zealana Eco Possum yarn from folks who aren't registered in the Forums. They gave me permission to share their comments with the group:

You will probably get lots of emails about possums. They were imported from Australia where they have a natural niche in the environment. Their fur is lovely and soft and the animals are extremely cute which I suppose wouldn't help in marketing their fur. You can see those that visit my front porch.

And from another reader:

I just want to reassure all knitters who may have qualms about using 'possum - they are a noxious pest here in NZ. Not only are they responsible for the spread of bovine tuberculosis amongst NZ's dairy herds which also infects those who care for the cows, they also are responsible for stripping the new growth of some of our unique threatened flora.

About the best thing that can be said about the 'possum - apart from the remark that the only good 'possum is a dead one - is that its fur, when combined with some of NZ's beautiful fine merino yarn makes a beautifully soft and warm knitting yarn. One problem is that it does not "wear" well spun on its own but in combination with merino it is gorgeous.

What do you think? Anyone else try Possum fibers yet?

Clara
Your friendly Knitter's Review publisher
20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
stripedmelonhead Posted - 12/05/2012 : 11:25:52 PM
i have to say i have never considered this yarn to be eco.
the fiber's being available is the unfortunate by-product of a necessary cull to save tress, invertebrates, birds and to eradicate bovine tb. until they can up with a way to blend the fiber it was pretty much wasted. My ethical dilemma with the death of possums stopped when i found out they are "cease pools of bovine tb"

The Zealana yarn i say is my fav is heron, worsted weight in bottle green and raisin. The single ply is thick and thin and has been said give a nice rustic look. The colours are exceptional with a dark soft halo that comes up in the colorways I've used. Hats and neck warmers in heron where my gifts to friends last Christmas. Happy to say they where well received. Had my hands on one of the hats the other day and it just gets softer and softer and another property of possum to resist piling is true. The hat looked as good as new.

Kauri is the latest of the possum yarns i have used. It is plied blend of 60% NZ Merino, 30% Possum and 10% Silk. The silk being added for strength. The dark halo is a great charm of this plump and soft wortsed weight yarn. This yarn is apparently machine washable.

Info about that possum - common brushtail possum come in four colour variations silver grey, black, brown and gold. There is a great video on Zealana's website that shows great big bales of the fur.




cyn Posted - 01/15/2011 : 7:51:14 PM
Possum yarn is WONDERFUL, I love Cherry Tree Hill's, it's spun w/ the down only and the yarn has a fine halo....yarn is like regular sock yarn, but it's amazingly warm. I've recently bought some Possum Supreme....it's 40/50/10 possum, merino, silk. Also soft, it really blossums and doesn't have the elasicity that CTH's does. They have informed me they can't get it any more due to the exotic import laws, so it's discontinued. :O(

Looks like they didn't waste any hair, it also has corser hair w/ white tips (the undyed color, I bought the green, red, navy, natural, and rose)I love this stuff too.

I'm enjoying "playing possum" lately, <grin> Cyn
vviolet Posted - 02/01/2009 : 3:41:38 PM
I think possums are cute, but I didn't realize that they were disease spreaders, and could be such a big problem. As far as knitting with possum fur, it kinda gives me the willies.

You can do anything if you know how.--vviolet
Amarula Posted - 01/31/2009 : 2:05:15 PM
Thanks very much for the review, Clara, I'm definitely tempted to try this. I was in New Zealand in 2004, and looked all over for local yarn with very little success (I was on a cycle trip in the South Island, so was mostly looking in small towns). However, I splurged and bought myself a great black sweater made of a blend of merino and possum, which I love!! The only "downside" is that I can't wear it as often as I'd like - it's too warm!! Here in NY, I wear it with the lightest silk Tshirt underneath, and save it for very cold days.. (Today is 27F, with the windchill making it feel about 15F, so it works great!)
AusTexSusan Posted - 01/31/2009 : 08:10:25 AM
I bought a boatload of merino/possum yarn when we were in NZ a few years ago. It stayed in my stash until last April, when I finally decided to make the Bristow Sweater http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter05/PATTbristow.html.

It's lovely and very warm. However, it does pill quite a bit -- mine is not the yarn Clara reviewed.
SDKnitter Posted - 01/30/2009 : 7:38:58 PM
Great review and additional info in posts from others. I bought a couple of skeins of this yarn on a trip to NZ in 2006 and it's been marinating ever since. Now I'm anxious to find something interesting to do with it and remember the joy of feeling its softness in my hands.

Hope to go back to NZ some day - a lovely and varied country with delightful people to visit.

Mary

Stop lights that are set for 30 mph are also set for 60 :-)
Lanea Posted - 01/30/2009 : 08:36:46 AM
I'm another person who doesn't have a problem with harvesting fiber from an invasive animal that needs to be removed from an environment. As long as the animals are slaughtered humanely, I think it's just fine. Actually, I think it's wrong to waste any part of an animal we slaughter--using the fur is ethically required as far as I'm concerned.

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JulieB Posted - 01/29/2009 : 10:22:20 PM
I've got some house socks I made from a possum/merino blend. They're wonderful and soft and cozy and I'd happily knit with the blend again.

Possums are a protected species in Australia (their native country), but I'd be happy to do away with the ones that live in my roof and eat my vegetable garden. They've adapted extremely well to urban life and really are a pest.

Julie.

My blog: http://www.julie.stuffworld.info/
2Cheesy Posted - 01/29/2009 : 6:30:47 PM
Hello from YarnSisters, and thanks for reviewing Zealana! We've loved this yarn for three years but just became their distributor in April 2008. They make many beautiful yarns, but the possum is their specialty, having pioneered the idea 17 years ago when a woman in the company won the National Wool Contest with her hand-spun possum yarn. I was actually writing to say it does felt, but not easily. I had to wash my tea cozy in very hot water to get it to shrink, but it's beautiful!
minh Posted - 01/29/2009 : 6:05:07 PM
I bought merino/possum yarn while in NZ, I haven't knitted with it yet but it is amazingly soft.
I've been wearing a merino/possum hat since snow came to New England this winter and let me say that this is the warmest hat I've ever had!! It is soft and hasn't pilled one bit.
Dracaena Posted - 01/29/2009 : 5:29:17 PM
I am a handspinner/knitter, and some time ago spun a blend of possum and polwarth fleece (both from New Zealand) to make Nancy Bush's "Ene's Scarf" (as published in Scarf Style by Pam Allen. To see pictures of possum, sheep, and scarf, go to http://www.foresthousefiber.com/, click on the Gallery, then Ene's Scarf under the Accessories to wear. On one hand, this made a yarn that was too "fluffy" for lace, but on the other hand, it is a nice, utilitarian, warm small shawl. Great to keep neck and shoulders warm.

Ruth B. Burnham
Forest House Fiberworks
Shirley Goodwin Posted - 01/29/2009 : 1:25:33 PM
I am also a New Zealand knitter and can confirm what has been already said - possums are noxious pests in this country and no-one here is concerned about their fur being used; and possum merino wool is a delightful warm yarn. Although there is a slight halo, it's really not that noticeable, and the yarn is pleasant to work with. I'm knitting a jersey with Touch Yarn's hand -dyed possum merino and it'll be great for winter.
jinniver Posted - 01/29/2009 : 12:52:38 PM
I wouldn't have any qualms with knitting with possum yarn from NZ. I don't like the idea of animals being kept and killed solely for their hide/fur, but if it's a byproduct of another function (like providing meat) that's fine with me--and in this case, it's a byproduct of trying to protect the ecosystem of a country. Based on the review, I think I'd stick with darker colors--browns and grays, for example--to minimize the impact of any color difference between the merino and the possum.

ETA: Now that I've taken the poll and read the answer options, I have to add this story...

I was buying groceries several weeks ago, and realized the cashier was staring at my chest. Before I could say something to him about it, he asked, "What does 'A Daily Dose of Fiber' mean?" and indicated my shirt. I was wearing my Ravelry "Daily Dose of Fiber" shirt with the drawings of a sheep, bunny, etc. So I started to explain about yarn fiber, but saw I was losing him, so I just said it was a knitting t-shirt that showed animals we get yarn from.

That's when he picked up the knitting magazine I was getting, held it up to point at the cover picture, and said disapprovingly, "You mean you're going to kill those animals to make this?"

So yes, some people do think that all animal fibers come from animals that have been killed!

Jen (jinniver on Ravelry)
My blog: The Sarah Winchester of Fiber Arts
MindyO Posted - 01/29/2009 : 12:26:07 PM
I have no qualms about using fur from dead things, I'm not even againts wearing leather or real furs. I owned a pet chinchilla once and don't think I could bear the thought of making him into a coat, but other things don't bother me. Especially in a situation like this where you know they are a pest. Although after looking at possum pics, I kind of want the whole animal, not just the fur.

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Luann Posted - 01/29/2009 : 11:35:48 AM
Took a wonderful trip to NZ's South Island in 2004 (was it that long ago? Jeez!) and I brought back a bag of merino/possum aran weight yarn. Mr. Luann actually picked it out, thinking it would make a nice fisherman-type sweater for himself. It's been marinating in the stash ever since. The possum is ridiculously soft, though.

Luann


Knit and let knit!
Now with baby musk ox!:
http://www.luannocracy.blogspot.com
kbnature Posted - 01/29/2009 : 11:01:25 AM
Kiora from NZ. I knit with possum/merino yarns quite a bit, and really like the light warmth. You should check out Touch Yarn's hand dyed possum merino, which I use for socks. It comes in great colorways.

No one should have any qualms about the animal rights issue--these are serious pests that destroy native forest and baby birds, they are a blight on our landscape and don't belong here. The Dept. of Conservation drops aerial poison to try to kill them (controversial, but gives you some idea of the extent of the problem), and most farmers shoot or trap them on their properties. It's good someone came up with a positive use for them!

kbnature
churchlady Posted - 01/29/2009 : 10:43:51 AM
I'm eager to try some yarn for a pair of mittens or a little scarf/collar thing. I believe 'possums eat eggs and chicks of the endangered kiwi and kakapo (flightless parrot) when they can find them.
NancyNo2@aol.com Posted - 01/29/2009 : 10:40:57 AM
Way too hairy for me! Was so looking forward to buying yarn when I was in New Zealand last year. They were really pushing the possum. Couldn't do it.
VictoiseC Posted - 01/29/2009 : 10:25:52 AM
Couldn't help but jump to this link: it's very interesting and goes along with all your facts...

http://www.kcc.org.nz/pests/possum.asp



V.i.c.t.o.i.s.e.
2totangle Posted - 01/29/2009 : 10:04:12 AM
I've been wondering about possum fur since seeing it used in Ann Budd's Eyelet Grand Plan Top Down Capelet in Wrap Style. The halo looks very nice in the Wrap Style photos. It hadn't occurred to me that the animals were dead or that they were pests, so I appreciate your review and sharing of emails, Clara.

Suzanne

A few pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/2totangle/

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