I am a 'relearning to knit' knitter after many years away. One thing I never learned was how to identify yarn, other than reading labels. My mother-in-law recently passed away at a great old age after a lifetime of knitting for family, friends and charities. Nobody else in the family knits; and none of us were ever given any care instructions for any of the mittens, scarves and hats we've received over the years. Knowing that I was once again knitting, I was given a large tub full of her yarn. Much was labeled - most being Reynolds Lopi in various colors, but some acrylic, and some wool/acrylic blend. And then... there are about a dozen large balls and skeins that do not match anything labeled. Some is bulky to super-bulky, others to me seem more worsted to heavy worsted. And, I've been told, there is more yarn headed my way for me to sort through. Is there a way to tell all-wool from a blend? What gauge would be best to try first? Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
One way you might be able to determind the 'weight' of the yarn is to use WPI (wraps per inch). Do you have a WPI gauge? If not you can make one out of a wooden dowel. Mark off a 3 inch line in one inch increments. Place the yarn at the beginning of the 3 inch line and start rolling the dowel towards you, as you hold the end of the yarn in place with your thumb. Make sure you keep the wraps next to each other, but not squished together. Keep a light tension on the yarn. Keep wrapping and counting the number of times the yarn crosses over the line until you get to the end of the 3 inch line. Divide that number by 3 and you'll have your WPI. You can also use a ruler to do this. The important thing is to not stretch out the yarn, to keep the wraps next to but not overlapping and to turn the measuring stick, not the yarn. If you wrap the yarn on with your hand, you'll twist it, giving an inaccurate figure. I'll have to dig around to find a chart that you can look at that tells you how many WPI are in a certain gauge of yarn. I've seen it, but can't remember where. Boy, I hope this makes sense to you.
I also know there are some burn tests you can to on yarn to help determine fiber, but I've not done them, nor am sure how accurate they are when trying to determine mixed yarns.
I hope one of the more experienced knitters can give you some help.
Wendy, I was hoping Cheryl would weigh in, she has some information on some ways to tell the make up of a fiber, whether natural or acrylic.
I am too... if I remember correctly, the acrylic sort of melts...but fiber burns the way hair would... cannot remember for sure.
That's my understanding, but I'm not sure how you use that test to determine what a blended yarn is.
Wendy, thanks for the WPI tool suggestion. I didn't know how that worked! To make sure I'm understanding correctly, it's not the length of yarn to get to 3 inches (so dowel diameter doesn't matter), it's how many "widths of yarn" to get to 3 inches... being careful not to stretch or twist the yarn. After a quick search... KnitPicks comes through again with WPI to gauge conversion info: http://www.knitpicks.com/images/pdf/WPI_tutorial.pdf
To all of you, thanks for the burn suggestion. Hadn't thought about that as a method (and am curious about how blended would behave). I have some other known all-wool, acrylic and -- maybe I'll do a comparison and see if I can spot differences. I'm pretty sure all of the unknowns I have are wool, wool-acrylic or all acrylic. No cotton or silk.
I'm looking forward to making some nice stuff for nieces and nephews out of "grandma's stash"
Here is the chart from Ravelry, too. Seems like the numbers might be just a little different than the KP ones. They're just a guide, I know. Interesting to compare, though.
Definitely interesting to compare. Thanks for sharing that link too.
Ooh, I'm going to have to rack my brain on this one! It does have to do with acrylic melting and I think wool smolders. I'll have to see if I can find that information. I think Nutty knows it.
I've used a chart like this to identify mystery yarns. http://www.fullercommercial.com/training/carpetcare/fiber_identific...
I don't know how accurate it is.
Oh, Bonnie, what a handy guide...thanks for the information. That should help a lot!