Tell me about knitting with possum fur yarn
November 2, 2021 7:43 PM   Subscribe

In a different Ask, someone here recommended possum-fur yarn as a super soft material for knitting accessories. I'm intrigued-- but where (US) can I acquire this? And does anyone know if it really lives up to the hype?

I've seen a few scattered listings for mostly merino wool yarn with a smattering of possum fur, but the descriptions make it sound like higher-possum varieties are just incredibly soft and warm (I often find merino to be scratchy). So I guess my preference would be for purer varieties, if possible.

Side recs for other incredibly soft and warm natural yarns are also very welcome! Thanks!
posted by Bardolph to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I had never heard of this until a trip to New Zealand, where I learned that invasive possums are a big pest problem there and that they use their fur as wool. A quick google makes it seem like New Zealanders sell possum yarn on places like Etsy. Not sure if there are any other sources, but maybe NZ/Australia is a place to start?

I did spontaneously buy a partially possum fur beanie hat in a gift shop in New Zealand because it was freezing that day and it is absolutely my favorite hat that I own. It’s soft and adorable and held up well for a few years, would buy possum fur clothing again.
posted by caitcadieux at 7:58 PM on November 2, 2021

Response by poster: Sorry, not threadsitting, but for folks commenting on the softness of the yarn, is there any chance of describing just what texture we're talking about? Minky-level? marabou? chenille? rabbit fur? Or more like one of the nicer lambswools, where it's still at least a little scratchy?
posted by Bardolph at 8:05 PM on November 2, 2021

Possum by itself does not spin well, so I don't think you're going to find more than about 30% possum.
posted by inexorably_forward at 8:12 PM on November 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

I had a wonderful pair of possum-merino socks I got in NZ (that I wore out). Brushtail possums are pretty short-haired animals so there's no getting around mixing with sheep wool. There's a certain, uh, hairiness to it that takes a bit of getting used to, but as for warm—amazing.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:13 PM on November 2, 2021

I've knit with Zealana Air a few times and it's absolutely wonderful, not scratchy in the least (but obviously pretty $$). Zealana makes a few different possum-blend yarns, I've touched a few in a shop and they were all very nice.

is there any chance of describing just what texture we're talking about?
It's closer to camel -- not fuzzy or crimped like wool, it's a smooth fibre.

(You might already know this, but I've only heard of using New Zealand possum fibre for knitting, not American opossum fibre)
posted by third word on a random page at 8:44 PM on November 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have possum/merino fingerless gloves.
The fabric of the gloves feels fluffy, it’s more weightless than it looks and not dense at all, like cashmere. It has a fuzzier halo like mohair but it’s way less itchy and prone to shedding. There were way more little mohair-y bits when it was new a year ago. Running my hand over the surface it’s very soft but if I press it to my arm and rub back and forth I can feel tougher fibres that are kind of itchy. They can get surprisingly wet before I can even tell, it’s bizarre and I love it.
posted by delezzo at 9:05 PM on November 2, 2021

I bought possum wool that was 30% at least and it was absolutely delightful to knit with. It made beautiful socks and a short scarf. Very comfortable and I wish it was more easily available. Possums are considered invading pests in NZ so it's encouraged to harvest (they are not shorn like sheep but killed and then the fur collected).
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:11 PM on November 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

This reminded me I have a few skeins a friend brought me back from New Zealand, I just pulled them out and felt them for you. They are 60% merino and 40% brushtail possum according to the label. They are softer and less scratchy then straight wool, but not as soft as a skein of dralon microfiber I also have in my yarn box. While soft the texture of the fibers takes away a bit from the enjoyable tactileness.
posted by lepus at 10:50 PM on November 2, 2021

It’s very soft and warm and fluffy and light, but can have a kind of hairy, slightly scratchy halo to it too. If you are finding merino itchy, I am pretty sure you’ll find possum even itchier. Source: have knit a sweater and a hat from possum/merino wool and own a commercially knit sweater and socks in a similar blend. It comes from devastatingly cute NZ possums. If I were looking for the softest warmest stuff I’d go for cashmere or angora blends over possum, personally.
posted by music for skeletons at 11:14 PM on November 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Definitely at the high end of the spending spectrum but Qiviut (the inner wool of musk ox) is the most beautiful and soft fibre I have ever worked with, or worn. There are various North American suppliers.

The second softest, and just as amazing, was a Merino/Baby Camel yarn from Dye for Yarn.
posted by Megami at 5:05 AM on November 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

I would still check on it to be sure, but you may be very pleased with alpaca yarn. That can be very light and lofty and warm and soft.

And, fortunately, alpaca is accessible enough that you could make a field trip to a yarn store and they would have alpaca yarn there for you to touch and see if it passes the test. (Don't worry about whether that's weird, either - yarn stores are full of knitters wandering around and petting all the various balls of yarn for sale like they were kittens. ...Or croutons.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:14 PM on November 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

I agree with the suggestion for alpaca. Possum is indeed very soft and warm, but you can feel the hairs occasionally, and you will probably find it scratchy. Alpaca is like knitting a cloud. I've spun and knit a cowl with 100% alpaca and I can wear it right up to my neck with zero itchiness or scratchiness; I wouldn't do that with possum blends.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:06 AM on November 4, 2021

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