New Zealand Possum Yarn!

I saw a sign once that life is too short to use cheap yarn. That doesn’t mean you can’t use bargain priced yarn, just not yarn that feels yucky or doesn’t drape nicely when the scarf, sweater or whatever you are making is complete. Yarn fascinates me. I’ve always been a tactile kind of person, so it stands to reason I like to feel my yarn before I by it. Different weights, different fibers and different processing can all make a difference in yarns. The feel of a nice alpaca or silk blend is heavenly. I’ve used bamboo sock yarn and wool that is soft, scratchy, smooth and lumpy.

Lately, I’ve gone for unusual yarns. At Stitches Midwest I bought some Bison yarn. It is hot pink and black – I imagine the bison would NOT be happy with his fur being turned into these colors, but I loved ’em. I also saw some possum yarn. I dragged my friend back to look at it then we must have gotten distracted by something else, because I ended up not buying it. I was picturing the ugly, rat tailed possums we have in Illinois. They are mean looking critters that have short hair. We actually were trying to figure out how they made a decent yarn out of these overgrown rats.

The next day my friend went back to Stitches, and I decided to text her to pick up that crazy yarn. By the time she got out of class, the vendor wasn’t there. Now I’m obsessed with this weird yarn. So, thanks to the internet, the world of wonky yarn is at my fingertips.

On the contrary – the New Zealand’s possums are actually kind of cute. But New Zealand doesn’t really think they are that cute anymore Apparently in 1837 they were released in the bush to establish a fur industry. There are two breeds, Australian, which have have “rich blue grey fur” and Tasmainian which have “red brown fur”. They have interbreed. Because they are marsupials, not rodents like the American possum, their fur is “hard wearing, silky and plush”.

Possums actively destroying New Zealand's native bush and birds

Unfortunately, they’ve overrun the place. by 1980, 91% of New Zealand was inhabited by them. The Australian possum is a marsupial and a very different species to the American possum, a rodent. The yarn comes from feral animals because it is against New Zealand’s environmental laws to breed or farm them.

Now I am totally obsessed with getting some of this yarn. The website tells us it is not only great yarn, but it is helping their fur industry because the more possums are over running the country and killing off the native species of animals and plants.

The website I found sells Supreme Possum Merino. It as 40% possum fur. The yarn was created from the from the “desire to see a world class quality product made from an ecology ravaging pest”. All Supreme Possum Merino yarn comes from feral animals because it is against New Zealand’s environmental laws to farm or commercially breed possums. The collection of possums is humane and according to Department of Conservation regulations.

The yarn is available in 4 ply, 8 ply and 12 ply. The only light color available is “natural”, but blues, greens, a really pretty burgundy and a darker pink was available. The price wasn’t bad – approx 10.80 US dollars. I don’t know about shipping, because I haven’t ordered any yet – but I’m gonna!

Check out the website, even if you don’t want to get some of the yarn. It just amazes me that yarn can be made out of a “ravaging pest” and be soft and warm.

It makes me wonder what other creatures make soft furry yarn. My stash has that wild bison yarn (I’m going to make some mittens for me, but maybe not until after the first of the year). I have a few balls of yak yarn I found online, don’t know what that will become. There is a wonderful hank of alpaca that I bought because it has the animal’s picture on it that it came from. Alpaca is common, but nice, and this one was cool since I almost feel like I knew the animal it came from.

Maybe the keepers at our local zoo will start collection of lion’s mane that litters their dens. I’d love to use some of the fur from the polar bears or the grizzlies that live there. I’ve seen tufts of fur in their dens, I wonder what they do with it? Do you think our founding mothers used these kinds of fur when spinning yarns? (of course I’m not talking about the lion fur, don’t be silly) If I find out answers to these burning questions, I’ll let you know.

 

(Thanks to http://www.merinopossum.co.nz/why_merino_possum.htm for all the info on the yarn and possum history in New Zealand – and the possum pic). All the zoo animal pics courtesy of my wonderful hubby.

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4 Comments

Filed under Knitting, New Zealand, possum yarn

4 responses to “New Zealand Possum Yarn!

  1. Good on you for checking out the possum yarn. The facts are true, and it really does benefit the native flora and fauna the more these pests are removed from our environment. Personally, I LOVE knitting with possum yarn. It is soft, extremely warm, doesn’t pill (the pills are the type that sit on top of the fibre and can be brushed off, leaving your garment looking pristine for years). It cables well, and looks good in other stitch patterns as well. I could go on but I’ll shut up now! Buy that yarn!!

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  2. I just heard about possum yarn the other day. I was having a hard time imagining how they got it off the possums or why they’d want to…lol. This clears everything up nicely. 😀

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  3. I will be spinning with lion mane, if I can get enough of it together. The local zoo owner has offered to get me any ‘fibers’ they can collect at the zoo. So far I received a bag of camel with the promise of more camel and yak later this year. Also all the alpaca, sheep and mohair from the spring shearing 🙂 He said they pick up bags and bags full of hair from almost every animal there and I could have anything I deemed spinable! I can’t wait! He laughed and said he had never see someone so excited about dirty tufts of animal hair before. lol

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