Possum tales: The Tui flies


You’ll recall from previous posts that I’m knitting the Clasica Coat from Interweave Knits’ Fall 2009 issue with Zealana Tui.  I’ve now completed the back, and I’m super happy with it:

Zealana’s Tui is a simply divine yarn! I love the slightly nubbly look that the thick/thin texture of the yarn is giving my project. It suits the pattern well. I love how lofty and squishy the yarn is, without being overly puffy or shapeless. I love its super softness.  I love how warm it’s keeping my lap as I knit – hehe, once it’s done, I will never be cold again!  With the possum fur acting as a wonderful wind barrier, I shall be fortified against the cold Southerly winds and as cosy as a ‘bug in a rug’!

As mentioned in Zealana’s introduction to this yarn, the Tui is one of New Zealand’s native birds.  Seen from afar, it looks like it has dark feathers, and a white wattle at the throat.  But up close, those dark feathers have stunning shades of green and purple adorning the neck area.  You can see hints of the colour in the photo I took of a Tui in the Zealandia sanctuary:


So the Tui yarn, at first sight, not overly unusual, once knitted, displays hidden wonders and qualities.

I do though, have an anxious feeling that Someone Else in the family is going to love it too… and that this coat will become requisitioned for use by that Someone Else…

So drooling aside, here are a few technical notes on Zealana Tui:


The ball band for Tui is confusing, mentioning a 5.5mm needle, and a tension of 20 stitches per 10cm. Anyone who is versed in gauge, or tension, will immediately think “eh????” How does one get 20 stitches to 10cm on 5.5mm needles, using a chunky yarn? It’s not possible. That’s a DK/light worsted weight tension, using 4mm needles!

If anything, the ball band should probably read 14 sts x 20 rows to 10cm on 5.5 – 6.5mm needles. It is very definitely a chunky weight yarn, or in NZ terms, about a 12 ply. A good reference point for these yarns is the US distributor, The Yarn Sisters, who have provided helpful, accurate information on all the Zealana yarns.

Ball band errors aside, I love this yarn so much that I’m having naughty thoughts of acquiring some more for a warm, soft hat. The last few days have finally brought some proper winter weather to these parts, and my yearnings for a warm hat have returned with a vengeance. A lovely, extravagant, cabled scarf in Tui would also be very nice!   If you have a copy of the Spring/Summer issue of Knitsimple, there’s a pattern for a men’s cabled vest in it. 

Oh Tui! How I do love it!


Although this yarn looks like a single spun, it’s actually a 2 ply.

When knitting my coat, I have to be careful not to accidentally put my needle through the middle of the yarn, splitting it. But that’s a minor problem.

The textured panel section of the Clasica coat has a pattern repeat where you have to knit three stitches together through the back loop – as you’d suspect with fat yarn and big needles, this is not an easy ‘move’ to accomplish. If you put too much strain on the yarn, it will break (happened once during swatching).

I solved the issue by using a cable needle to do the K3 togs, passing the finished stitch back on to the right hand needle. It’s a very pointy, slim needle that easily slides into the three loops and pulls the yarn through, so there’s now no stress on the strand, and all is well.

Giving my knitted swatch a vigorous rub against my jeans, pilling did occur. However, they are the tiny little pills that sit on top of the fluff of the possum, and easily picked off. Like most softly spun yarns, I suspect after an initial ‘shed’ the yarn will stop pilling and continue to look gorgeous for a long time to come!

I’m really enjoying this yarn’s slipperiness – the stitches fairly fly off the needles, so the knitting is going at turbo speed!  New knitters might want to be aware of this fact though, and be prepared for a bit of initial adjustment to get used to the yarn’s performance.

Tui: 15% possum, 70% merino, 15% cashmere, 100g ball, 12 ply, knits as chunky. 111 metres, 9 wraps per inch.

And finally, a big Thank You to my readers! I’m delighted at all the feedback on your experiences knitting with possum yarns. It’s great to get some dialogue going. Keep the comments coming!  🙂

Next up: Kiwi and Rimu

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