Possums were introduced into New Zealand (from Tasmania) by fur traders in the late 19th century, the non-native brushtail possum population has reached staggering proportions largely due to the lack of natural predators that would otherwise maintain an ecological balance. The consequences of their rapidly increasing numbers are many, including damaging impacts on New Zealand’s native flora and fauna. The Brushtail Possum is New Zealand’s biggest ecological threat.
A New Zealand knitting company Snowy Peak Ltd, pioneered the use of Brushtail Possum fibre blended with wool in 1992 and following deep research, launched Merinomink™ on the market in 1996. We are lucky to stock the Merinomink and Untouched World brands, which are part of the Snowy Peak Ltd family.
For the hand knitter we have Supreme Possum and now Zealana yarnds.
But why choose possum and wool fibres.
The Brushtail Possum fibre has two rare qualities
- No scales so the fibre itself resists pilling, there is no friction you see! Possum and wool garments stay looking new for ages. The more possum fibre in the blend the more the garments resist pilling!
- A hollow structure so the fibre has a very high warmth to weight ratio, air is trapped both within the fibre and in the fabric when blended with high crimp, fine Merino (just like insulation) so that is why possum and wool garments are so warm yet not bulky. For its weight, Merino wool blended with Brushtail Possum fibre is twice as warm as any other wool blend in the world
- In comparison to cashmere, wool and angora, possum fibre is the lightest yet remains the best insulator.
As well by using or wearing possum yarn you are doing your bit to erradicate the possum. The use of Brushtail Possum fibre in New Zealand benefits the environment by contributing to a reduction in the use of broadcast poisons; and to the effort to protect the New Zealand native forest and birds.
Brushtail Possums occupy 95% of New Zealand, with an estimated total of nearly 60 million eating their way through thousands of tonnes of native vegetation each night, they also eat the eggs and chicks of our native species. They are legally classified as pests. Much of the control of possums has been through broadcast toxic chemicals which New Zealand wants to reduce or eliminate.
We need to do something similar regarding the cane toad in Australia.