Friday, December 9, 2011

A Burning Desire... or

Creating warmth in December.
A few blogs ago I directed interested knitters to TechKnitter's blog.  There are three links to various topics and this one caught my attention:  A burn chart to help identify mystery fibers.
I have a few "mystery fibers".  One is several skeins of yarn from a back street Quito, Ecuador trip, and another is carefully wound into balls white wool.  Or I assume it's wool.  
So, I welcomed a science experiment where I might get some idea as to what I have in my stash.
Here's how I managed to eat up a few hours, and make the house (and my fingers) smell not so Christmasy.  
I covered a rack with foil, and assembled some tools.  I collected my mystery fibers and a few others that I knew exactly their content.  That was very helpful in educating me as to what "Burns Self-Extinguishing" and other terms mean.
I tried cotton first.  It was over quickly! 
Fingering / 4 ply
100% Cotton
196 yards / 50 grams
It burned, and wasn't self-extinguishing.  That means it burned until there was nothing left to burn. It burned and charred, leaving ash. The smell and color of the ash was difficult to evaluate, but I know it was cotton. (The label doesn't lie...?)
Fingering / 4 ply
100% Merino
191 yards / 50 grams
I had no idea cotton (or many other fibers) burn so well.  I live a sheltered life.
The catch is that fiber-blends will - well... not behave like all of the fibers in them.  The Merino above didn't want to burn, but I kept lighting it.  I was beginning to think it was a blend with nylon, but no, the label says...
My mystery fiber from Ecuador, which I had treated as some sort of synthetic, appears to behave like acrylic. 
Yarn from Quito, Acrylic

 It sputtered and burned and melted into a neat, stinky pile. I determined it Burns, Not Self-Extinguishing, and Melts.  I couldn't discern what odor (vinegar, burning meat or tumeric: first of all, I didn't WANT to inhale any of the smoke, so I guess I'm not much of a scientist!) but the remains were definitely Soft Black Irregular Ash.  That's the part that scented my fingers.  I thought they just smelled 'smokey'.
by Patons
Worsted / 10 ply
100% Wool
210 yards / 100 grams
I tested "Classic Wool" from Patons, and it behaved exactly like wool, and identical to my white wool from the '80's.  
Top left: White Wool
Bottom:  Patons Classic Wool
Right: Acrylic
Yes, I'm quite sure that white wool traveled with me from Norway to the States in 1986 only to re-surface a few months ago in a container of other timeless craft items.  Wool sure is resilient!  I see no damage.  It probably was knitted, then frogged...more than 25 years ago!  (That's humbling...)
Christmas is coming!  Later, gator!

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