Julie has found a deliciously soft new yarn that is part of an environmental movement protecting New Zealand forests. It does this by offering a valuable use for Brushtail Possum fiber. Since its introduction to New Zealand by fur traders in the late 19th century, the non-native brushtail possum population exploded. In the mid 1980's there were an estimated 16-20 possum for every human in New Zealand. This is primarily because of the lack of natural predators that would normally maintain an ecological balance. In neighboring Australia, where natural predators abound, brushtail possum populations are so low that it has been designated a protected species.In 24 hours it is estimated that the brushtail possum population consumes 21,000 metric tons of vegetation in New Zealand forests. Zealana is committed to the responsible management of the brushtail possum in New Zealand, and when you choose their luxury yarns, you are choosing to be a part of their sustainability story.Choosing to work with these yarns is not difficult. Possum fiber has wonderful characteristics that make it very appealing. Due to the hollow nature of the fiber, it has exceptional thermal properties. It is estimated to be 55% warmer than 100% merino wool and 35% warmer than 100% cashmere.It naturally resists felting, and when blended with super washed fiber, it is machine washable. The 50 gram skeins of DK weight Zealana Performa Rimu (shown above) contain 140 yards of 60% fine New Zealand Merino and 40% brushtail Possum. Pattern ideas on Ravelry number in the hundreds for this yarn. Can you imagine a more luxurious choice for a tiny hand knit sweater for a baby? The Gramps Cardigan designed by Kate Oates is a great example. These beautiful skeins are Zealana's lace weight Air. These 25 gram skeins contain 191 yds of a 40% cashmere, 40% brushtail possum down, and 20% mulberry silk blend. It has been specially designed to be as soft as cashmere, and resist the pilling typical of yarns of such buttery softness. This will ensure that your luxurious hand knits will have a long life, making it a terrific choice for heirloom projects or gifts.We love the selection of pattern ideas that can be found on Ravelry for this lace yarn. The Light as AIR fingerless gloves designed by Nathalie O'Shea look as though they would make ideal holiday gifts.We hope that you can visit us soon and get a chance to feel the wonderful softness of these skeins. They are irresistable. And when you are helping to save the beautiful New Zealand ecosystem by knitting with this yarn, why not indulge?