Friday, February 06, 2015

Fiber Test

Once you become known as an avid knitter, people give you stuff; skeins and random leftovers.

I like to knit with wool and other natural fibers, because there's a pleasant ease to the yarn. But without the ball band, I don't know right off what the yarn's made of. This yarn looked like wool, was soft to the touch, squishy and appeared to have guard hairs. But was it wool? 

I put it through a few tests. First I buried my nose in it and inhaled deeply. Inconclusive. I can usually smell wool. It takes a little practice, but you learn to notice the lanolin fragrance and/or its wooliness.

Next I did burn test.

I snipped off a piece, lit it with a match and watched it burn. Wool and animal fibers will burn slowly and usually self-extinguish, a sure indication that the yarn has a high wool content. This one burned quickly, fizzled and had to be blown out before it burned my fingers. Wool leaves a soft ash and the smoke smells like burnt hair. This ash was medium soft and I couldn't tell if it smelled like burnt hair. Still inconclusive.

Next I sprayed it with water. If it was wool, it would smell like a damp dog. It didn't, it just smelled damp.

For whatever reason I wasn't convinced it wasn't wool, so I cast on to knit a 4" x 4" swatch. Within the first 2 rows I knew it was a synthetic by the way it acted as I cast on and knit. No give, no ease. 

I know there are times when a synthetic is a good choice. Like when you want a washable hat or baby item - but I didn't enjoy knitting with it - so I passed it on.

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