Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Zealand Possum

I finally finished spinning some fiber that I had purchased from someones de-stashing sale early last year. It was 65%Merino/30% New Zealand Possum/5% Nylon. When I first began spinning, a woman in the guild was spinning some unusual looking fiber. When I asked what she was spinning, she said New Zealand Possum and Merino wool. It was so soft and she was spinning it so fine, of course being a new spinner I knew an exotic fiber would have to wait until I had more experience. Flash forward a few years, I had finally got to the point I thought I could handle spinning possum. So when I saw this for sale I just had to have it, but once it arrived in the mail it was not the possum I remembered seeing or feeling. This stuff was harsh feeling and had all of these noils/small white lumps in it. Who ever thought it was a good idea to put nylon in the mix really messed it up in my opinion. I had to constantly stop to pick the little lumps out of the fiber. I finally got so tired of messing with it that I didn't finish spinning all of the fiber. I wanted it gone so I removed the single onto a ball and quickly plied it then washed it and left it to dry. After it dried it suddenly transformed into ....ooh! aw! it was soft, it has a halo, it's not stiff, it's really nice stuff...... I still hate the little lumps of nylon. You can see the two little wisps of possum fur in the bottom of the photo, they are about a inch long. I had picked the small bits of nylon out of this piece of fiber so you won't see any there. You can definitely see the little lumps of nylon in the spun yarn. Now what did I do with the rest of that fiber, I think I may have to go spin the rest of it up........hmm!?
I thought I should add a little info about New Zealand Possum fiber here. It is a hollow core fiber, which makes it light and warm to wear. According to sources I found it is a smooth fiber which combined with other natural fibers will produce a yarn which does not pill and is hard wearing. The light possum fiber stands out to give a fluffy look to the finished garment. New Zealand Possum down, is similar in quality to mink and is around 1 to 1.5 inches in length. The underfur is light in color, the guard hairs are dark and tend to stick out from the spun yarn. It is suggested that it be spun fine and quite firm rather then bulky.
The Australian Bush Tail Possum was introduced into New Zealand in the 1800's, is about the size of a large domestic cat. It does not have any natural predators, and has multiplied so profusely that in some places the Forest devastation is critical. The possums ignore old leaves and eats the best new growth. In some areas it has destroyed whole trees. They compete with native birds for food such as insects and berries. It has also been known to disturb nesting birds, eating their chicks and eggs. In the past few years it has been found right in the heart of many cities.
Due to the difficulty of getting the possums out of the bush and the work involved in plucking the small amount of fur from each possum it can be expensive compared to other fibers. Therefore blending it with wool has made it more affordable and expanded its use in the fiber market.


  1. BJ,
    great new blog and I love the shawl !


  2. Thanks for all the interesting info about possum!!!

    I was reading about possum being made into yarn on Dust Bunnies Under My Loom recently - so it was great to learn more about the fiber itself.

    Is that a floor loom I see next to you in your profile picture???

    Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!!


  3. @Life Looms Large: Yes, I have a 8 harness Loomcraft floor loom. I have used all 8 harnesses once, but I have them when I need them.LOL! I began with a tri-loom and decided I needed a floor loom.
    Thanks for the welcome......

  4. Love the write up you did on the possum fiber and what you did with it. Its really not great blended with nylon of all things! Its is awesome fiber and we sell it in its raw unblended form for spinner and such to play with. I have blended it with merino and have had great results.My friend carded it with alpaca and got a lovely yarn.... drop by and see what we offer..we have even had beautiful red possum fiber and smoky black - but its a rare find. Enjoyed your post