Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Waiting for Rain and Light Gale

As I was typing this header, it occurred to me that both my recent Finished Objects are about the weather. Isn’t that funny!

Here are Light Gale and Waiting for Rain.

A bit about both:

Light Gale

I used The Wool Company’s Utiku Merino Possum in the Mink colourway.

As noted in my last post about this pattern, I certainly did not need 1,400 yards noted in the pattern.  Knitted in the smaller size, I used 362 gm, which is the equivalent of 795 metres, or 869 yards. (That’s 3.6 balls of the merino possum yarn in case you are wondering.)

The pattern itself could have included a schematic.  I find them very useful so I can adjust sizing easily if necessary.  I also like charts, and find written instructions difficult for pattern repeats, so I charted out my own, and that made it much easier to work out the stitch pattern quickly.

I did not do a tubular cast on or cast off. Instead, I used a long tail cast on, and cast off using my own half-stretchy bind-off method.

Alicia used a stockinette style decrease, which contrasts against the purl background of the body.  I chose not to do that, and reversed the shaping instructions (P2tog and P2togtbl) so that the shaping was invisible.

I did not put on a button, but just sewed a join into the two sides.

The rest of the pattern was knit as instructed.

I love possum yarn.  See the soft, fluid drape of the fabric, and the warm, snuggly halo that develops after blocking.  Besides pure wool, it is my next favourite medium to work in. It does not pill, it is surprisingly hard wearing, and it stays looking beautiful for years and years. (Note that recycled possum yarns can be less hard-wearing.)

IMG_2429 (1024x1024)

Waiting for Rain

This is such a sweet pattern. I used Anna Gratton’s silk/mohair/wool mix which she has unfortunately since discontinued.  It gives a beautiful organic texture to knitting.

Anna Gratton silk/mohair/wool

I wanted my Waiting for Rain to be organic looking, and I was pleased that the yarn I chose has definitely given the desired effect.

I did not change anything about the pattern.

The only thing I would say is that I am not 100% happy with my bind off and the edging.  It is a tiny bit tight for my liking, not enough to be a real issue, but just enough to make me think “hmm.”  I did use the lace bind off recommended by Sylvia, but as I have noted before, my bind off is always very tight for some reason, so I may have to look into a further adaptation of this method to work for me.

There is a lot of knitting news to talk about this week, so I think I will break this week’s postings into two.  Watch out for another one from me tomorrow about future projects!

I’m going to be examining three swatches. And trying to decide which one to use for this.

Have a happy and great weekend!

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The art of appreciation

I want to start this post by acknowledging your very kind thoughts and wishes and support of the Fire Flowers socks.  It has been very encouraging.  Thank you very much!  It means a lot to me to know that my designs are liked.

Today, I thought I’d talk about a wee situation I have been having stern talks with myself about.

Me1:  “Being saddled to a desk has got to be one of the most effective ways to generate impulse buying.  Up pops an email from a favourite yarn retailer, you see a very pretty yarn looking at you/in a moment of needing some mental relief, one decides to visit a favourite indie dyer, and… oh look!  Such pretty colours!!….and before you know it, out comes the credit card and…”

Me2:  Stop!! Stop!!  This where one needs to look away!!  Close the browser!! Put away the credit card!

Me1:  [Sigh].  “I am feeling virtuous because I did just that, and have saved myself from buying yarn that I do not need.  I have so much yarn now that I really must knit some down before I make any more purchases!  I think it would be an insult to the yarn producer to keep buying and just not make anything from it.  Especially because I love to support independent yarn producers and New Zealand yarn manufacturers of quality yarns.  And support means using and enjoying as much as buying!  This does not stop me from dreaming about more yarn, and coveting more yarn that I see online, but no!  I must be firm, and do more knitting from the stash!”

On this vein, I have been very good and agreed with myself that rather than wanting more yarn, how about using what I already have? Yarn that has already been obtained from coveted suppliers??

Finishing some WIPs would be a good place to start.  I persevered with knitting Imagine When.  Garter stitch is not one of my favourite stitches.  But look, now I have a pretty new shawl to wear!

Imagine When shawl

Such a beautiful colourway!  It is Amazonas from Wollmeise, a beautiful gift from a good friend.

A cute boy decided to do a bit of photo bombing…

Imagine When 2

I haven’t done a great job of following the pattern exactly.  I found that my brain is definitely attuned to reading charts, and following this written pattern was supremely difficult. Too much has been going on and my concentration levels have been focused elsewhere.  Looking at where I deviated from the pattern, I see that it was at the time that I moved house.  It has turned out basically the same, and that will be fine as it is still wearable, and is still in line with the essential parts of the pattern.  No one can tell at all where it is different unless you hold up the project against the pattern picture and compare closely.  But that is not going to happen!  Hehe.  Doesn’t it feel fantastic to get a project off the needles!

Now I am free to focus on The Falls of Rauros.  This is Claire Ellen’s February sock, and it’s another one of her master pieces!  My initial reaction was to choose a blue yarn for this sock, but then I thought about the colour of a waterfall, and it is generally a silver colour.  Like this:

Waterfall

I love the Lord of the Rings references in Claire’s socks.  Living in the land of the Lord of the Rings scenery makes it so easy for me.  😀  So I chose a classic colourway from Knitsch – Silver Lining – for this sock.  Pics will come when there is something to show.

Also, I am going to make a very concerted effort to finish Robin as soon as I can.  It is rumpled from sitting in its project bag, and lacks just a small bit for the hem and sleeves.  I can feel that Autumn is just around the corner, and it would be nice to have a new piece of knitwear to wear this season, especially in Zealana Kiwi!

Robin

Next off the block, I will finish the Leighlinbridge Aran.  As you can see, it is another beautiful possum yarn from The Wool Company.  People tell me it will be cold here in winter.   I do remember seeing much colder night temperatures for the Wairarapa on my weather forecast screen when I lived in Wellington, so I will believe it, despite the fact that the concept of cold seems a distant memory at present.

Leighlinbridge Aran

Such beautiful yarns.  It’s an insult not to finish the project right?

 


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I see stripes

I’ve been trying very hard to be good and finish up projects before I start new ones.  It has been especially hard on the sock front, but reminding myself of the reward of that satisfying feeling of getting a few projects off the needles seems to be helping!

Finished and in-progress things from the last few days, which funnily enough, seem to be mostly stripy!

The young boy's sweater

Why is it that when you want people to look nice for the camera, they do the exact opposite?  Someone was quite put out at being asked to pose… but at least you can see the finished result (I can’t be bothered blocking it so it’s a little rumpled looking – matches the boy, I think).  As mentioned in a previous post, this is a sweater of collaboration between the young boy and me.  He chose the colours and the general concept, and I worked out how to knit it!

I knitted the body stripes in reverse stocking stitch to give the sweater a bit more texture.  I felt the stripes looked too flat otherwise, and it’s a nice echo of the garter stitch welt and cuff.  I kept the sleeve stripes stocking stitch though – they would have looked too much like flotation devices otherwise!

The sweater was knitted in the round up to the armholes, then I divided for the armholes, and knitted the front and back separately.  I added some short rows to the back as the young man has broad shoulders, but a bad habit of slumping, and that always produces an unattractive look with the back of the sweater riding up.  I think the short rows have done a good job of keeping the back hem line straight.

The sleeves were picked up after I joined the shoulders, and knitted in the round down to the cuff.   Finally, I added a couple of rows of garter stitch to the neckline.

I was reminded why I am not so fond of knitting stripes when I got to the sleeves.

Jog

That jog is oh-so-annoying!  I couldn’t be bothered to rip back on this one, as he’ll probably have outgrown the sweater by next winter, so I’m not too worried about making it perfect.  The colour change is on the inside of the arm, and no one is going to see.  However, with the next sleeve, I decided to review my notes on jogless stripes (this and this tutorial from TECHKnitting are very helpful).

The result is much better.  I suspect that once I get around to blocking the sweater, the stripes will even out even more.

jogless stripe

Unfortunately, the next design that the young man wants me to knit for him involves an entirely striped sweater… it’s enough to make the heart quail.  Ah well, nothing like a challenge!!

The sweater is knitted in The Wool Company 100% Corriedale – a very good workhorse yarn.

Then there are the socks:

Imp socks

The Imp’s socks in self-striping yarn from Stray Cat Socks in the Momentum colourway.  Very pretty, and happily perfectly identical.  I hope she fits them, or they might have to get sent back to me for ‘renovations’.

Of course, one cannot knit a pair of socks for one sister without the other getting a pair too.

Regia self-striping yarn

These are knitted in a Regia Jazz self-striping colourway (6451).

And finally, an almost pair that isn’t stripy:

Crenate socks

The alpaca/merino/nylon sock yarn in the Embers colourway from Doe Arnot.  Very cosy, and looking nice in Crenate.

I am looking forward to this weekend.  Lucky me!  I have a knitting date with the lovely Alice of Bleating Art Yarn! (And if you haven’t already noticed, an update of gorgeous new colourful yarn has recently been put up…)

I also want to say thank you to all you very amazing people who bought my Latticework Cowl pattern.  I really appreciate your support of my endeavours!  🙂

Wishing you a lovely weekend.

 


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Little ones

I have forgotten how little they come.  This little jacket started off life two sizes larger… I was convinced my 18 month old nephew must be that size by now!  Halfway up the back, a sneaking suspicion overtook me that I might have misjudged the size I needed to knit.  A quick call to my sister confirmed the fact.  Rip, rip!

N1087 kid jacket

Small knits are super fast to knit.  So small, soooo cuuuuute!!

It still needs a zip, but essentially, it’s done.

This is a Naturally NZ Yarns pattern by the number N1087.  I’ve knitted it in The Wool Company’s natural mid-brown 100% New Zealand Corriedale yarn, a DK weight yarn. I needed just over 200g to knit the smallest size (to fit a 2yr old).

The pattern is a goodie – you get instructions for all of 8 ply (DK), 10 ply (worsted) and 14 ply (chunky) weights, and the instructions come for both jacket and a sweater in sizing ranging from 2 yrs – 52″ chest adult!  Fantastic!

 

 


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Looking for possum yarn?

I often get emails from knitters about to visit New Zealand, looking for advice on where to find New Zealand yarn.  I love getting those emails!  Keep them coming!  It’s such a buzz to get a follow up email from the knitter after she has visited this country, thanking me for enhancing her S.E.X.  (Stash Enhancement eXpedition).  It’s quite a giggle to hear about groaning husbands and bulging suitcases.  😀  It makes writing this blog even more worthwhile.  Thank you!

Lately the trend has been enquiries about possum yarn.  The latest email (thanks Martina!) prompted me to think that it might be useful to try to do a summation of what’s out there in terms of this unique fibre and my experiences of knitting with the yarn, including pictures of projects I have completed in these yarns, which I hope may be helpful as an indicator of how it knits up.

On where to get possum yarn.

Most yarn stores in New Zealand stock some form of possum yarn these days.  My yarn tour posts about the North Island and the South Island give some details on where to find these yarns.  This is not an exhaustive list.  There is also an excellent forum on Ravelry (New Zealand Yarn Shops Group) that contains more information.   The yarn brands I mention below also have stockists listed on their websites – have a look for a yarn store closest to where you will be travelling!

A little bit of history.

Once upon a time, quite a few years ago, there were about two brands out there that sold possum yarn.  They were basic mixes of 30% possum, 70% merino wool.  The yarn was usually spun three ply, it came as a DK weight, and it was very nice and very warm, but there wasn’t much to differentiate the brands.  Also, the yarn was often a little stiff – you had to wash it quite a few times before it fluffed up.  And even then, it wasn’t quite the “same” as the merino possum garments in stores.

Here’s an example of one of these yarns.  It’s actually made of recycled possum (manufacturing waste, pre-consumer).  I wasn’t so sure about it when I first got it, but after having used the cowl I knitted in it a lot, I really like it.  It has a denser quality to most possum yarns, and produces a different fabric texture that is at once squishy but has substance.  I would like to see if I can find more of this brand, but I haven’t seen it for several years:

The 'older generation' possum

I believe Supreme was one of the first brands to create a “different” possum yarn:  a four ply spin, merino/silk/possum blend that initially came in two weights – labelled 4 ply (fingering) and DK (although it’s actually a worsted weight).  A third, 12 ply weight has since been added.  It made the yarn feel and look exactly like the possum garments you bought in the shop!  Lofty, so fluffy, so soft!

Then Woolyarns (major New Zealand mill) decided to launch its own brand, Zealana featuring a wide range of possum yarns, and variety was born!

Zealana’s launch and active presence in the US and in Europe definitely enhanced the global awareness of possum yarn.  I believe this has also encouraged other yarn brands to launch their own possum yarn lines.  There is quite a bit of variety out there now, although I would say that Zealana leads the pack in terms of the huge range of possum yarns and weights that they produce.

I’m pleased to see that possum yarns have now entered mainstream knitting choices, and is increasingly less of the oddity yarn that it once used to be.

It is interesting to note that although the fibre has been proven to be many times warmer than pure wool, possum yarns are not suffocatingly warm.  Despite working with this yarn on a hot summer day, the natural properties of the possum yarn kept it cool in my lap.  I kid you not!  Possum yarn is even more “cool in summer, warm in winter” than pure wool!

As of the time of writing this post, I am aware of the following readily available New Zealand yarn brands that include possum in their range (in alphabetical order):

I have not listed indie dyers who include possum yarn in their ranges mainly because this post is about yarn you can find in yarn stores (most indie dyers still sell online or at market events only).

Finally, a note about possum content:  I understand that it is not possible to get 100% possum yarn. The fibres are too short to spin on their own.  Any retailer who tries to sell you a 100% possum yarn is likely to be misled.  Currently, the highest ratio of possum yarn is 40%.  Any more than that, and the strength of the yarn is severely compromised.

And now to the yarns!

I struggled a bit with how to define all the different yarns out their in a concise manner, but I think by weight will be most sensible.

Laceweight

This is Zealana Air.

Zealana Air

Air has a beautiful, gentle haze and is extremely soft – a blend of “dehaired” possum (40%), cashmere (40%) and silk (20%).  It’s pure luxury to feel and knit with.

Air, knitted

Have a look at my recent review if you’d like to know more.  It’s available in yarn stores that stock Zealana – website for stockists.

A completely different experience is Zealana Kiwi.

Zealana Kiwi Laceweight

Its more like a wool/cotton blend in feel and in the way it knits up.  It’s a heavy lace weight (40% merino, 30% cotton, 30% possum – 199m per 50g ball).  It’s amazing that despite the 30% possum content, you can barely see the possum yarn, except that it makes its presence known in the form of a silky softness in the final knitted product and the fact that the yarn is very warm for its weight.

The laceweight by Skeinz I have not tried.  It is  55% merino, 15% alpaca, 10% possum and 20% nylon.  As I am not fond of nylon in yarn, I will not be trying this product personally.  However, the factory shop is well worth visiting if you are up in Napier.  It’s extra bag territory.  Be warned! 😉

Fingering (4 ply)

Zealana Rimu – Rimu is a traditional blend of 40% possum, 60% merino.  There are two weights for this yarn – fingering and DK.  The fingering comes in a 40g ball, with 153m per ball.  I have not yet knitted with this weight as it has not been fully stocked at my local yarn store.

Zealana Kiwi fingering has the same properties as the laceweight Kiwi, but just heavier.  I actually use it as a light DK weight.  124m per 40g ball.

Zealana Kiwi - Fingering

You might remember the Autumnal Cardigan that I knitted in this yarn.

Autumnal Cardigan in Zealana Kiwi

Here’s also the Woven Checks Gansey I knitted for my mother about four years ago, that still looks as good as new:

woven checks gansey

You can see that Kiwi is not at all fluffy.

Zealana Kauri is a beautiful blend of 30% possum, 60% merino and 10% silk.  153m per 40g ball.  It’s a lofty yarn, with a beautiful lustre and drape.  Perfect for shawls and hats.

Look at the shimmer of Kauri in the sunlight:

Kauri

Supreme 4 ply:  40% possum, 50% merino and 10% silk, I have yet to knit a garment in this weight.

Waikiwi – the jury is still out on this yarn for me.  It’s a New Zealand sock yarn that contains 55% NZ Merino, 20% Nylon, 15% Alpaca, 10% Possum.  It should be lovely.  The available colours are gorgeous.  I’ve got a couple of balls in my stash.  Every so often I pull them out and think I should knit them into socks.  But the noticeable squeak of the nylon under my fingers makes me put them straight back in the bag… Others love this yarn.  It’s an entirely personal experience.  You can find Waikiwi in most yarn stores around the country.  It’s a brand by Naturally.

John Q Earth Ware Sock – This is one example of a recycled possum yarn that is readily available (85% recycled possum merino blends, 15% nylon).  John Q is Knit World‘s house brand.  I have a couple of balls but have not knitted with it yet.  It feels good, despite having 15% nylon in it.  I like its gently heathered tones.  I definitely have socks in mind for this yarn.

John Q Earth Wear sock yarn
Sport

Touch Yarns (in most yarn stores around the country – stockist list here) does a possum blend (60% merino, 30% possum, 10% nylon).  At approx 420m per 100g, it’s more like a sport weight yarn.  It works well for socks as there is nylon in it for durability (without being obviously ‘nylon’).  I’ve only ever knitted the grey that you see in the picture below – this link shows you what’s available – there’s a nice range of colours in both solid and hand-dyed.  My yarn made a pair of fine fingerless gloves that look great and wear beautifully.  The only mystery to me is the price – the website price is reasonable.  The price I have seen it for in stores is not.  I will try to order some directly if I can, the next time I want to buy this yarn.

Touch Yarns possum

DK

Zealana Rimu.   128m/50g ball.  40% possum, 60% merino.  It is similar to other standard possum yarns.  It comes in a delightfully wide range of colours.  Highly recommended.

Zealana Rimu

In Auckland, there is a shop called Mohair Craft which stocks a possum merino cashmere blend.  This is it:Merino possum cashmere blend

Very light, very soft, a DK weight.  I designed my Quilted cowl in this yarn.  It’s one of the lighter possum-content yarns at 20% possum, 20% cashmere and 60% merino.  You can see its haze and softness against a pure wool cardigan.  It is less fluffy than most possum yarns, and the cashmere has added even more softness and lightness to the yarn.  It’s delightful!

Quilted

Travellers who drive through the North Island will inevitably end up on SH1.  This will take them through the Central Plateau, home to one of my favourite yarn meccas – The Wool Company, based on the side of the highway, in Utiku about 5 minutes drive from Taihape.

The Wool Co.Inside, you will a modern and comfortable store filled with a vast assortment of wool and possum merino garments.  But for me, the knitter, I am drawn like a moth to a flame towards the walls of yarn…

The Wool Company, Possum Merino

The Wool Company, Possum Merino

The Wool Company stocks 4 ply 100% merino, 8 ply 100% Corriedale wool and possum merino.   (A short note in case you are a regular reader and confused:  the pure wool used to be Perendale, but it seems there was a recent switch to Corriedale instead).

The possum merino yarn is my “go to” for everyday DK/light worsted knitting because it’s one of the more economical possum yarns out there, and it performs very well.  It’s the traditional blend of 30% possum, 70% merino.  It is also remarkably durable (unless you’re going to do something abusive to it like knit boot socks).  Here’s the Striped Cardigan (pattern by Debbie Bliss) that I knit last year for my niece using this possum merino yarn:

Striped Cardigan

As well as a vast assortment of mittens and hats.  I won’t show them all to you here.

cabled fingerless gloves

Self-designed fingerless gloves

And the Drape Front Sweater:Drape-front sweater

I have also seen a possum yarn from Shepherd in yarn stores.  I have to say that I do not recommend this yarn because it is very expensive for what it is.  It is only 15% possum, and yet priced like one of the higher content yarns.  I do not support the pricing model on this one.

If you are after a bulk amount of “naked” possum (ie natural colour), then this deal by Skeinz is worth looking at.  Again, this is a 15% possum content, and if I remember what I have seen of it, it is not as soft and snuggly as the higher content possum yarns that you have seen above.  However, if you want high stitch definition, and only just a small amount of possum presence, this might be the yarn for you.

Worsted

Zealana Heron and Kauri.  Ooooh, so soft.

Kauri – see the description under ‘Fingering’ for Kauri, only this is a 10ply/heavy worsted weight.  It’s extremely soft, quite fluffy and really lovely to work with.  86m/50g ball.

Kauri worstedThis is Kauri worsted knitted (Francis Revisited):

Kauri Francis revisited

Zealana Heron is a 2 ply spin that looks like a single spun.  Lovely heathered shades, very lofty yarn.  It’s 20% possum, 80% merino which means that despite its lofty spin, it still has the strength of wool to make it great for anything:  sweaters or jackets, hats, cowls, or mittens!  The best thing in my opinion is that because of the possum content, it is pill resistant!  I traditionally shy away from single-spun type wool because it rubs after a while, and creates unsightly pills that are very difficult to separate from the garment without harming the fabric.  This yarn does not do that.

Heron

I knitted my daughter the Garter-Stitch Boyfriend Cardi in Heron:

Heron knitted
Other things in Heron:

My Steampunk mittens.

Steampunk

The Evelyn cowl.

Evelyn cowl

Also in this category of worsted weight, I would add Supreme, despite its 8 ply label.

Supreme Possum Merino

Supreme has silk in it too (40% possum, 50% merino and 10% silk).  It has the same fluff as Kauri worsted.  The difference between the two is that Supreme is a lighter weight than Kauri – more like a true worsted.  Supreme is spun 4 ply, which has given the yarn more spring and bounce and lightness than Kauri, which is a 3 ply, and a slightly heavier yarn.

Supreme is stocked in a lot of yarn stores.  There is a stockist list on their website.

The Market Jacket in Supreme:

Market jacket done

Naturally NZ used to manufacture a worsted weight called Karamea.  It is no longer listed on their website, so I assume it is now discontinued?

Chunky

Zealana Tui.  This is a 12/14 ply weight.  It is like Heron in its spin – a two ply that looks like a single spun (so it’s nicely balanced), but Tui has also been designed to have a slightly handspun look with gently thick/thin yarn.  There is a lovely halo around this yarn, but it’s not what you would call fluffy.  I LOVE working with it.  111m per 100g ball.

Zealana Tui

Again, because of the possum content, you do not get nasty rubbed pills with this yarn.  The tiny fluffy balls that sometimes appear sit on top of the possum fibres in areas of heavy friction are very easily brushed off without any harm to the fabric.

You might remember the Clasica Coat I knitted a couple of years ago:

My Clasica Coat!

It still looks as gorgeous as the day I finished it.  I hope we get some decent winter weather this year so I can wear it!!

Supreme also makes a 12 ply weight – see their website for colours and detail.  It is  an amazing 100m/50g ball – great meterage!  I have not yet knitted with this yarn, but I would assume that it is just as lovely as the 8 ply that I am currently knitting.

The only other chunky possum yarn I know of is Wooli.   I have never yet seen it in stock, but as it’s still online, I assume that Nikki Gabriel must be planning to continue to make it.  I have seen blog posts from others that rave about this yarn.  One day I will get me some!!  If you are visiting Napier, her shop seems like a nice one to visit.

Ok, that’s about it folks!  I can’t promise this is an exhaustive list, but I do believe it captures most of what’s on offer.  I hope this has given you some information about what kinds of possum yarns you can find in New Zealand, and where.

If you have knitted with possum yarn, please do leave a comment and let us know what your experiences were like knitting with it, and where you got it – so that others can find it too!  Thank you.


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A good weekend

Two little projects got ‘done and dusted’ this weekend.

I’m looking forward to seeing them on their recipients.

So pleased I managed to find the cutest buttons:

Pumpkin (Kim Hargreaves) is knitted in Treliske Organic merino.

The Striped Cardigan (Debbie Bliss) is knitted in The Wool Company Merino Possum in the Tamarillo, Natural and Coffee colourways.  Coffee is no longer available which is a pity.  However, new season colours are coming out soon: it will be interesting  to see if any additional colourways are added.

The possum cardigan is knitted for an eight year old girl.  What is interesting is that I did the entire cardigan with only 300gms of possum yarn (1 ball each of natural and coffee and 2 balls of tamarillo, but there was a lot left over of the coffee and tamarillo – enough at least for a hat and some more).  In contrast, Pumpkin took 5 balls (250gms) of pure wool, yet it is sized for a one to two-year old.

The possum is so soft and snuggly and light.  I have a severe case of ‘I-want-my-own-now’!