Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How do you know?

Oh my goodness... I just finished one of the most awesome books since the Promises to Keep series.  But I'll have to tell you about that later.  I don't have the energy to write about that now.

Amazingly enough, though, I do feel like writing about a common problem that so many of us may have with so much of the yarn in our yarn stashes/reserves/pets/whatever you want to call it.  :-)  :-)  Let's say that you want to use up some of that stash on a baby blanket or baby toy but you're not sure what these various little balls of yarn are or know if they'll be strong enough?  I can tell most of the time just by look and feel (and sometimes memory) on what brand each ball of yarn may be.  But sometimes it's not as easy - especially if you've just inherited yarn from someone else's stash.  :-)

So, other than the usual burning test to see if the yarn is acrylic or wool, you can do the stress test that a friend taught me years ago (can you believe that I almost typed 'yarns ago'?  :-)  :-)

I like to use this especially when I'm making something that has a good chance of being abused.  Baby sweater/toy/blanket.  It can even work for socks or mittens.  :-)  You need to use a yarn that is going to be fairly sturdy and will  not disintegrate too easily with lots of abuse.  So, you get a couple yards of yarn and try the following:

Make a chain (finger or you can use your crochet hook) for the entire length of yarn.  Make a chain with that chain, and if you can, make one last chain.  Make sure when you finish off at the end of each chain that you don't tighten it up too tight because you'll need to take them out next.

Holding the chain in your other hand as tight as you can, pull chain to undo it (or frog it).  When you hold the chain tightly in your other hand, it causes a lot of friction in the  yarn.  At this point, you should have seen a few fragments or shedding of the yarn.  If it hasn't fallen apart completely, then you know that the yarn is a little strong.  Unravel the second layer of chain, and possibly the third (all while holding tightly in the other hand), then look at what you have left.  The yarn will look like total crud.  Not much gets past this unscathed, it will have untwisted a bit, it will looks a bit fluffy where most of the abuse was given... grab an end in each hand and give it a nice tug.  Does it fall apart or break?  No?  Well, then you have got yourself a really strong yarn!  :-)  This will probably survive the abuse that any baby/toddler/child can give a blanket, toy or sweater on a hourly basis.  Make a quick swatch with this bit of yarn, and no, it does not have to be in the stitch that you will be using.  Just stockinette or single crochet will do, then wash it.  It doesn't matter what you wash it in, you want to see if it will survive the gazillion washes that most kid stuff must endure in it's lifetime.  Then, throw it in the dryer - I personally throw these swatches in with the whites where it not only takes further abuse by being washed in hot water, but also bleach.  Then, you'll undo one of the ends and holding it tightly again, take it apart.  How does the yarn hold up now?  :-)  :-)

I've only known two brands that have survived both the chain torture test and the wash test, but I'm not going to tell you.  Put your favorite brands to the test and let me know.  :-)

I will need to tell you that most of that fun and fancy lace weight yarn falls apart really easy.  But then, I'm not going to spend a million hours on a lace shawl and give it to a baby now, am I?  :-)  I have also noticed that home hand spun is stronger than heck and back, but others don't survive the first layer of torture.  So, what kind of fiber is stronger?  Or can it all go back to the spinner?  :-)  :-)  Don't know, I just do the test.  :-)  :-)

I need to get batteries for my camera and take some decent pics to post.  I'd love to hear your comments though so please share!  :-)

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