Saturday, April 14, 2012

Possum Fibers

No, I haven't found the button for the hat and hence, I can't extend the other end of the band until I do because I don't know how big to make the button hole. What's a girl to do? I know, start two more knitting projects of course, socks and a scarf. I know, they don't go together but it's what strikes my fancy. Besides, I've found out that I need more knitting projects going on at the same time. It always works out that one project is at a stage that requires too much concentration for the distractions of traveling. Then again maybe it is just me that has to have it fairly quiet and calm to figure things out. Knitting is definitely not my first language. Come to think of it, not sure what is because nothing seems to come easily to me.

We'll talk more about the two new projects later but for now, let me fill you in on a few facts about this unusual yarn I used to make this cable band hat. The yarn is made of 75% merino wool, 15% alpaca, 10% possum. No, I didn't spell possum incorrectly as you from down under well know. This is not our North American species of opossum with the skinny inny tail but a bushy tail, very distant, cousin. This umpteenth cousin on the genealogical chart lives in Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania.

The possum that is made into yarn comes soley from New Zealand. In Australia the possum is native and has a plethora of predators to keep the population under control. Not a native of New Zealand, when it was introducedto New Zealand in 1837 problems arrose. You guessed it. They began to destroy the country's vegetation, wildlife, and spread disease through the agriculture, especially the dairy herds.

Now impossible to eradicate, they control these bushy tail pests by lowering their numbers and wisely do not waste them by using their fur in yarns. The yarn companies in turn contribute a share of their profits back into environments projects. A win win situation for a big problem.
Because possum fibers tend to be stiff and difficult to spin, you aren't likely to see 100 percent possum yarn. Opossum down is similar in quality to mink and is around 25-35 millimetres (1 -1.5) inches in length. The underfur is light in color, the guard hairs are dark and tend to stand out from the spun yarn. Since the fiber length is only 1 to 1 1/2 inches, it has to be blended with a companionable fiber that is also short such as merino wool. Possum fiber is smooth and doesn't pill. This furry fiber  is also hollow making it warmer than wool in the winter and cooler in the summer. 
 Other characteristic are:
  • Feels like cashmere...
  • Is hard wearing...
  • Is light weight...
  • Breathes...
  • Has an angora 'glow' or halo to it...

  • Yarns have no more than 20 to 40% possum. I'd guess in part to the fact this fiber has no crimp or bounce. It also does not take dye well. And if you are thinking of a felting project, possum doesn't felt. Not a bad thing depending on what you have in mind for the yarn. I think possum would be great in socks since it isn't irritating, is extremely warm, and smooth. Hm... I may have to look into that.


    1. Holly-I have to second your love for this new yarn! I have been using Zealana yarns now for over a year and I have to say, I love the unbeatable warmth (well, maybe qiviut is equal in warmth-but pricey!!), loft (LOFT!), and sensual comfort of this possum blend! The hollow fiber of the possum(similar to the polar bear) is so warm! What a wonderful way to make use of an invasive pest! Golly gee-I sound like an ad, but I truly do love this yarn!

    2. I'm so... glad to hear that because I'm tempted to go and buy some for another project. Fooy on the fact I don't need any more yarn.

    3. Hi Holly , wow I like the new blog, Gerry looks like a real handy old bloke. Love the bags your making.
      Have a wonderful spring