A Story of Yarn

Free yarn. What knitter would turn down free yarn? Not this one! So when one of my SILs said she’d gotten some yarn from a client and it was mine if I wanted it, I said sure! To be honest, I was expecting chain-store acrylic. Then she said the woman had told her it was “good yarn, not the cheap stuff” and my hopes went up a bit. A quick glance in the bag revealed it was indeed “better” yarn — I saw one label for Rowan wool and thought I might find some goodies.

That night I dumped out the bag, and as I started picking up the balls, I made a disappointing discovery: the yarn had been stored around a smoker. The smell wasn’t super strong, not overpowering, but it was there. I knew I could wash finished pieces but I was afraid the smell would bother me as I knit.

I did some googling and asking around, and the consensus was that washing the yarn was my only hope, and even that might not work. Knowing that, I performed triage on the yarn. I set aside to donate the colors I didn’t like, the unlabeled skeins I thought were acrylic, the ones that felt too scratchy for me. That left me with seven balls of wool and cotton. I filled up a tub with water and Eucalan and let them soak for several hours, then squished them out and set them on a towel to dry.

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Well, that took forever, as you can imagine. I decided they’d dry out faster and air out better if I could put them in loose hanks. So I spent some time with my swift and ended up with neat, tidy, damp hanks hanging in my craft room.

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Tonight they were dry so back on the swift they went to get wound into pretty cakes. As near as I can tell, the smoke smell is gone. (As is most of the cat hair.) What treasures did I keep? I hear you asking. Well, I got two skeins of what I believe is pima cotton (pink and purple), one skein of Rowan superwash wool in red, one skein of a luscious wool/silk/cashmere blend (Jo Sharp Silkroad Ultra, to be specific), two balls of Mochi Plus in the color Neptune (which I recognized because I have three balls already), and best of all, a skein of Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky in red. They’re all definitely worth the work of washing and reskeining! And now I’m quite pleased with myself and my new stash.

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What about you? Have you ever gotten awesome yarn for free? Or gone to great lengths to save good yarn?

15 thoughts on “A Story of Yarn

  1. Nice! I think it was totally worth the work:) I got a large bunch of yarn from a neighbor. I culled it down to about a trash bag worth and gave the rest to my knitting group. It was kind of fun:)

  2. It was worth the work! Rowan pure wool can get slightly pricey. I have better luck since I live near the UK and can find sales, but even on sale it isn’t cheap. Your tale of washing out the smoke smell is quite predictable and shows yet again that wool is a magical fiber. It just doesn’t hold on to odors, no matter what kind, even smoke. I’m relieved you decided to dry the yarn loosely.

  3. Nicely done! I really love the picture of the yarn hanging on the door.
    I have a ball of Rowan Pure Wool DK that has a yellowed spot or two. Maybe I’ll have to try washing it.

  4. So glad you were able to save the yarn! I was once the recipient of an incredible amount of yarn, when my mom’s cousin passed away. It was literally 5-6 big contractor trash bags full of very high quality yarns. I too culled it for what I thought I would use, and then met with all my cousins, sister, mother, and aunts, and we had a free for all, they took home tons, and I still had two big trash bags left! My sister in law took a lot of it, and the rest went to Goodwill. I still have some of that wonderful yarn in my stash, and I always think of Cousin Nancy when I work with it. The yarn you have saved for yourself is beautiful, I can’t wait to see what you make with it.

  5. Good haul! I got several skeins of malabrigo worsted from dbny a while back that reeked of cigarette smoke. The yarn and color was too good to pass up, so I did the same thing you did. It was a major pain because the yarn wanted to felt at the slightest opportunity, so I had to be super careful when washing it and rinsing it. I had hangers full of damp skeins in my laundry room just like yours! It worked out well, though–the yarn cleaned up nicely. Still need to figure out what to make with it, though.

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