Thursday, October 18, 2012

Setting Fire to the Yarn

The following question was asked by my cousin, a new crocheter:

I have a yarn ? I'm hoping you can help with... When I get bags of yarn at a thrift store or garage sale sometimes they don't have the sheath with info on them. Sometimes the yarn is deliciously old and high quality, too! But.. And here is the pickle.. is there any way to be sure what the yarn is: i.e. wool, acrylic, etc??? Also..I'm careful not to mix say...cotton yarn and acrylic yarn in one piece..or wool and anything else...but is it OK to use different synthetics in the same garment? Like, say, an acrylic yarn scarf with eyelash yarn trim? Sorry for all the questions! Thanks! ~Nancy

Great question, right?! :)
from 2006, the dark brown is
a leather yarn; the lighter is
an acrylic.
As I type this blog post, please first let me apologize should you get Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" running through your head.  I know it is now stuck in mind.

Getting back to our topic, I advised Nancy that she can certainly mix her fiber contents.  I mix my fibers quite often.  In fact, in the 2005 book, "Fabulous Crocheted Ponchos: New Styles, New Looks, New Yarns," I have a beautiful blue/teal poncho featured with different yarn fibers and weights.  I think the most extreme mix I've done thus far is mixing an acrylic yarn with a (real) leather yarn.  Freeform, a crochet (and knit) technique, is renown for mixing both stitches AND fibers.  Aside from figuring out the gauge issue caused by different yarn weights, is to remember to change the washing instructions from machine to hand-wash, and to lay flat to dry to prevent the more delicate fibers from being damaged.  Leather, well, that requires cleaning magic provided by my local dry cleaners.

Side Note:  If you are donating an item to charity, it is best to label the donation with the fiber content.  If you don't know the fiber's content, then stating it is unknown is still appreciated.
As for determining fiber content from yarn missing its manufacturer's labels, there is a burn test you can do.  This was first (that I know of) mentioned in Darla Sim's book, "Crocheting for Fun & Profit."  It is also detailed on these two websites: 
I have of yet to try the burn test myself, so if you do decide to give this a try, please take all necessary precautions.  Remember, safety first! 

No comments: