Saving New Zealand one Possum blend at a time!

Young Brushtail Possum Photo: Brisbane City Council

The common brushtail possum from New Zealand, is an invasive species introduced to in the 1850, and activity  damages New Zealand’s ecology. There is a population of over 30 million and are the number 1 noxious animal, they over populate and actively deteriorate their environment. Possums are omnivores whose survival stands in direct competition for food with the native animals. As they eat and destroy habitat they lower the survival rate of unique native animals. Possums also eat the eggs of many native bird. Possum eat kiwi eggs as well as the young.

Saving the Kiwi

New Zealand Kiwi

Possum are a direct threat to the kiwi population, and are actively hunted by conservationist in hopes to prevent the destruction of the birds. Ecological groups attempting to maintain the kiwi actively work with the government to protect the kiwi. Further government involvement is due to the diseases possums carry. They are detrimental to the economy of the New Zealand as they are an infection vector of bovine tuberculosis that destroys cattle populations.

There are campaigns to save the kiwi by using possum fibers as a type of “eco-fur” and the National Possum Control Agencies for the government of New Zealand help to support and fund the capture of possums. Most possum fiber is sold with a percentage of the income going to conservation agencies for kiwis.

Kiwi Warning Photo: Reinhard Dietrich

The Fiber

Brushtail Possum Photo: Adam J.W.C

Possum are a pelt animal with fiber plucked off of the pelts of the animal or sometimes sheared from the pelts. Their fiber is most often blended with cashmere or merino.

Possum have two different fiber types, undercoats and guard hairs, generally only the undercoat is blended. Possum colors are varied, with lighter colors near white to silver, some light gold, and tones in “black” a brownish color with red overtones. The undercoat is generally a lighter color than the guard hairs. Possum doesn’t have most of the qualities of other animal fibers, the hairs don’t felt therefore blends generally don’t felt. The tips of the hair taper to nearly nothing at the end, there is little to cause itchiness in the fibers.

The fiber is a work able length and soft, but most often it is blended with other fibers as spinning them straight is nearly impossible. The fibers are 1-1.5 inches long giving it a workable staple. The hairs are a hollow fiber, which creates a super warm light yarns.

New Zealand Merino Cashmere Possum Blend

Possum blends with other fibers but tends to form a halo effect for the yarn, and the fiber doesn’t pill over time the way that other hairs can. Blends are generally only 20% possum with other fibers such as wool or yak being the majority fiber of blends or yarns.

 

We carry the New Zealand Merino Cashmere Possum Blend Roving, and it is so soft! The 70% merino gives the fiber loft and elasticity, while the 15% cashmere adds extra softness, and the 15% possum hair extra warmth without weight. The merino is soft white, with flecks of colors mixed in by the colored hairs from the cashmere and possum. The batts are loose, lofty and downy carded but not combed. The fiber will be super warm and soft, and should be spun fine allowing for fulling. It will be a super warm yarn that can be knitted into light lacy knitting.

The first washing will finish the yarn and give it a completed look.

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