I have never had any luck finding yarn in thrift stores. If I do, it's usually "just" acrylic, and I am finding myself to be more and more of a yarn snob who only wants to knit with natural fibers. After all, it is honestly a much wiser plan to just purchase a sweater than it is to knit it (cheaper, takes less time, etc.), and thus anything I knit I want to be good quality and last forever...and be "authentic." To me, that means lots of wool, alpaca, and cotton.
Despite my bad luck with thrift stores, I stumbled upon not one, not two, but three loads of yarn at this store. By "loads" I mean sufficient quantities of the same yarn type to make a sweater. Yarn for three sweaters - for less than $25!! And two of the loads were labeled with their original wrappers are 100% pure wool. I was delighted. A nice tweed...some bright solids...and these two huge cones of something that did not identify its fiber content but was the perfect yarn for...the chair! I decided that even if the chair yarn wasn't wool, I'd use it. It was certainly much cheaper than any other yarn I had planned to buy for it!
And so began the Search for what was in my yarn. I first hit up Google. The cones had some numbers and words imprinted, so I stuck those in. I did find some information, that the yarn was made by a place called "Mary Lue's." But for some reason I couldn't find this exact type of yarn.
That could only mean one thing: a Burn Test.
A burn test consists of burning samples of the yarn in question and observing how it burns. Does it melt? Then it's acrylic. Does it smell awful? Then it's some sort of natural hair-type fiber, just like your own hair would smell if you stuck it in fire. Mom and Dad joined me in my test in our Outdoor Laboratory (aka the back porch).Like any good scientist, I needed controls. Fortunately, I had several different projects along with me, and I had some scraps of various other yarns in the particular knitting bag I had brought to Michigan. So I selected a white wool/acrylic blend (synthetic), pink wool/mohair (all natural wool), a blue cotton (at least I was pretty sure it was all cotton...it was from an old, old project), and used them to compare with my yellow Mystery Yarn.
Armed with a flame source (no bunsen burner here...we had a candle) and forceps (er...tweezers swiped from Mom's manicure kit), we entered the Outdoor Laboratory and began the test...The results:
- Synthetic: melted, smelled pretty bad, smoked a lot
- Natural wool: burned up, smelled awful - smelled like Mom's hair, which she offered as an additional burn sample!
- Cotton: burned a little slower than the natural
- Mystery Yarn: seemed to melt like the synthetic, but also smelled bad like the wool
But then, as often happens in science, someone else made a different discovery that refuted my conclusion. Mom put in some of the same information from the imprint on the cones and found an exact description of my yarn! Hey! How did she do that? I don't know, but I do know that I have 2850 yards of 100% wool Schuss Plus yarn from Mary Lue's. It's actually made for machine knitting, but it will work just fine for me and my hands. I might not have quite enough to make the entire chair cover, but I have some ideas on what to do to remedy that (that Aran sweater I'm making is of some very nice-matching Fisherman's Wool that I should have extra of).
It was an exciting experience and now I have more motivation to work on that Aran so I can see how much extra I have. ...Which would be good, because I started the sweater over a year ago?!?!
And my yarn stash is even more happy now, too.