1. What is possum wool?

2. What the special qualities of Possum yarns?

3. How to care for hand knitted items from Zealana possum yarns?

4. Does possum yarn shed hair?

5. Which colors are used for coloring the yarns?

6. Will there be more colors?

7. Can I dye possum yarn?

8. Sheep in NZ and mulesing

9. Why are possums culled?

10. How come that the possum has been so destructive to the environment?

11. Why not just return the possums to Australia?

12. What do environment and animal welfare organisations say about using Possum fur? 

1. What is possum wool?

Possum wool is produced only in New Zealand. It is a natural fibre coming from the fur of the New Zealand Possum. It is mixed with Merino and other fibres as it is too soft and short to spin it on its own. Due to the cooler climate New Zealand possum developed a fur coat which is considerable thicker and more luxurious than the Australian ancestor. No animals are killed only to produce possum yarns. Every year, the New Zealand government spends around NZ$50 million culling this animal because they are a danger to the environment. Our fibre comes only from animals which had to be culled. Money made by selling possum fur is invested into programs to sustain the unique environment in New Zealand.

2. What are the special qualities of Possum yarns?

The fibres of Possum’s fur are hollow. There is only one other animal on the planet with an hollow fur fibre: the Polar Bear. Both animals need to control heat, but in contrarian environments. The Polar Bear uses its hollow fibre to keep the heat, the Australian possum uses it to defend from the heat. So possum fibre is very light, super soft and temperature resistant, which means you feel cool in warm weather and feel warm in cold. It dries quickly after becoming wet.  These attributes make possum garments suitable for all weather conditions. Possum yarns don’t pill and are especially anti-allergic because of their extremely fine hairs.

3. How to care for hand knitted items from Zealana possum yarn?

The Kia Ora yarns are machine washable. We suggest washing the garment on gentle machine cycle and low temperature, drying it laying flat and then when it is damp putting in the clothes drier for 10 minutes on gentle cycle. This really finishes the garment well and makes it fluffy.

With our Eco range we suggest hand wash and then the same procedure as above. The TUI yarn can be felted by washing in the machine at 60 degrees. It will shrink approximately 10% and the stitches will be still visible.

4. Does possum yarn shed hair?

Possum yarns tend to shed a little of the fiber, this is a problem that is found with most short fibre yarns. It tends to be more apparent prior to washing the product and we always suggest all Woolyarns possum garments are washed after knitting to let the fibers bloom, this also traps some of the fiber into the garment and stops a lot of the shedding.

5. Which colors are used for coloring the yarns?

For all our hand knitting yarns we use non-metalic dyes which are of the highest quality we can get, in fact many come from Germany. They are labeled eco friendly (Ökotex)due to their non-metal base. For most Machine washable yarns in dark shades we use reactive dyes which provide superior color and light fastness. For the Eco range we use what are termed acid dyed. These are very environmentally friendly and have great light fastness.

6. Will there be more colors?

We are constantly expanding our color range and will add them accordingly to our shade cards.

7. Can I dye possum yarn?

Yes we can offer yarns without color. You will have to order 10kg minimums and they come 1kg on cone.

8. Sheep in NZ and mulesing

Yarns produced by Woolyarns Ltd. uses fibre from the ZQUE program (ZQUE Fibre = ethical wool) ZQUE fibre combines natural performance wool with an accreditation program that ensures environmental, social and economic sustainability, animal welfare (non-mulesed) and traceability back to the source. In New Zealand, Merino sheep graze on pasture in "free range" conditions throughout the year. The free range style fo farming system suits both the high country environment (alpine and sub-alpine grassland) and the hardy merino breed.

In New Zealand, the Animal Welfare Act (1999) defines minimum standards that specify the obligations of people who own or are in charge of animals. It also defines best management practices for the provision of an animal’s physical health and needs. Zque Merino fibre is selected from properties that have never mulesed, or that have stopped mulesing sheep supplying Zque Merino fibre.

9. Why are possums culled?

The Possum is not native to New Zealand. It was introduced to the islands by a group of businessmen in the 19th century for building up a fur trade. They were not successful and released the animals into the countryside. As the possum has no natural enemies and a high birth rate we have over 60 million possums today. This animal is responsible for a major part in the extinction of many unique birds and plants and every night it eats its way through eggs, chicks and leaves and plants.

10. How come that the possum has been so destructive to the environment?

Before the Europeans settled on the islands, New Zealand had no mammals at all. The islands where home of the largest birdlife on earth. As these birds had no predators the majority nested on the ground and some of them, among them the Kiwi (now protected), cannot even fly. The possum as an eater of eggs and chicks and plants was introduced into this surroundings and this developed over the years into a natural catastrophe.

11. Why not just return the possums to Australia?

The sheer number of the population makes it quite impossible to return the animals to Australia. The possum is a night active animal and is not easy to get. Because of the colder climate the New Zealand Possum developed over the last 200 years into a more massive and muscular species than its Australian ancestor and would possibly endanger the native(and endangered) population in Australia.

12. What do environment and animal welfare organisations say about using Possum fur?

WWF NZ supports and encourages the development and sales of Possum based products. The WWF even leads and finances projects to limit the possum population. Sure everyone would prefer that the possum had never been introduced to New Zealand. But as we cannot put the wheel of history into reverse we have to do our best to defend the unique and diverse ecosystem of the island and so the possum is the one to go. Possum fur might be the only fur in the world which is endorsed by animal welfare organisations.