September 2005

Possum Yarn

This month we talk about possums, cute little creatures in Australia, but pests in New Zealand. It should also be noted that the bush tail possums of Australia are a completely different species from the Opossums of North America. Before we talk about the yarn made of its fur, let's talk a little about the species itself.

Possums are marsupials; they carry their young in their pouch just like Kangaroos. Possums like to eat new growth on trees which will not allow trees to grow. Since trees in Australia have spines and poisonous leaves, possums cannot harm them. But in New Zealand, trees do not have the same natural barriers and are vulnerable to possums, that by eating the leaves, are destroying the natural habitat of New Zealand's native bird, the Kiwi.

In 1837, at the height of the fur trade, possums were introduced to New Zealand from Australia. Nobody anticipated the damage they may cause in their new habitat as there were no natural predators for them in their new home. There are now 70 million possums in New Zealand (about 20 possums per person). They have become an environmental hazard that should be dealt with, in the most humane way possible. To protect New Zealand's native trees, and animals, the New Zealand government and environmental groups are trying to get rid of possums to save their country.

As we all know, New Zealand produces one of the best Merino wool yarns in the world. The producers found out that the possum fur is 7% warmer than wool and is anti-static. So they have created a new blend of yarn which is a combination of Merino wool with possum fur. It is reported that the resulting soft yarn, which feels like cashmere, is light weight and perfect for sweaters, jackets and scarves. The yarn does not pill or shed and can be easily dyed in vibrant colors. It has the same halo as angora. It is warm in winter and cool in summer.

I have not tried this yarn, yet. However, considering all the above wonderful qualities, cannot wait to try it myself. A quick search on the internet produces numerous sources for possum yarn. See for yourself what is being offered. Maybe you will decide to treat yourself with a new fiber.

For more information about the environmental destruction happening in New Zealand check out: "http://www.kcc.org.nz/pests/possum.asp".

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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