Sustainability story in a snuggly strand

Cotton / Possum / Wool

Performa Kiwi Fingering by Zealana

Controversial maybe, but beautiful definitely. The addition of fur to this yarn gives it an exquisite drape with a subtle softness while maintaining some structure. The unique use of possum in combination with cotton and merino is interesting to try. The possum fibre is fur, not wool, and the strand itself is hollow, filling with air when worn makes it 55% warmer than merino and 35% warmer than cashmere. For me the drape is its key feature. I wanted to make a shrug for work that would finish off my outfits with a polished, creative style. Zealana Kiwi delivered.

At first, I was hesitant to buy this yarn due to the fur content. However, I researched it and then felt comfortable. You will need to make up your own mind so here is some information to help. Non-native brushtail possums were introduced by fur traders into New Zealand in the 1900’s. Since then they have bred unchallenged by other predators to the point of becoming a huge environmental problem. Brushtail possums eat 21 metric tonnes of forest in New Zealand every 24 hours taking habitat away from native species. This use of brushtail possum fur is helping to responsibly reduce this problem. If you’re interested, Zealana have a lot of information about how they are helping sustain New Zealand wildlife.

When knitting

DSC02839 2Zealana Kiwi is pleasant on the needles, it glides and knits up quickly. Although listed as fingering weight on the label, I think it is a little heavier and have substituted it for 8 ply when making the ‘Linen Shawl Crocodile by Jen Giezen‘ photographed here. I wanted the stitches to be loose as I live in Australia and lighter is definitely better in our climate. The strand can occasionally split when knitting, so I recommend a sharp pointed tip needle to manage this. The addition of possum creates the slightest halo around the strand when you look closely, it is subtle and lovely. The colours are all pastels and there isn’t black in the range, which was something I was initially seeking for another garment. Instead I chose Granite, which has a deep charcoal tone. The balls are only 40 grams, so keep this in mind when ordering because this is smaller than usual.

When blocking

I found the fabric grew a needle size when steam blocked so a gauge square is key. The ribbed sections grew the most. Steam blocking my shrug was enough for the stitches to relax and fall into place.

When washing

Zealana describe this yarn as part of their Performa Series designed for creating super resilient garments that need to go the extra mile. I have worn my shrug many times without piling or stretching. I haven’t needed to wash it a lot, but have done so on a gentle machine wash in a laundry bag and the lace work has stayed in great condition. It is suitable for a cool iron and garments need to be dried lying flat.

When wearing

The possum adds extra warmth to this fingering weight yarn. The strand feels more substantial than its weight suggests. It is smooth on the skin and can be worn without irritation. It is suitable for Autumn and Spring garments or lighter winter jumpers. It is also a great choice for a beret.

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Conclusion

This is a great yarn to choose for extra warmth in a light strand with good stitch definition. The two garments I’ve made with Zealana Kiwi have been perfect for work, giving me more polish than the rustic fibres I’m often drawn to. I am keen to try some of the other Zealana blends in the future because they have such a unique range.

Weight 4 ply – fingering weight
Length 124 metres / 135 yards
Unit Weight 40 grams / 1.41 ounces
Gauge 27 stitches per 10 cm / 4 inches
Needle 3.25mm / US 3
Composition and Origin 40% fine NZ merino, 30% brushtail possum, 30% organic cotton
Recommended handling Machine washable on a gentle program, cool iron, dry flat
Colour 19 colours with a pastel palate
Supplier Zealana
Project Ideas Reverse psychology by Mindy Ross
Rustling leaves beret by Alana Dakos
Linen shawl crocodile by Jen Giezen
Source of review yarn Purchased by me during a trip to Auckland
Average Retail Price $10 NZD currency