Sunday, March 12, 2006

Just Call Me Ms. Wiz!

Does anyone remember Mr. Wizard? Didn't GE sponsor that show?

This morning, a question surfaced on one of the knitting lists involving how to tell the parentage of a certain yarn of known origin but unknown fiber content.

Starting with some known quatities top to bottom:

ABM Fluffy, Red Heart Shetland Chunky, Pinguoin Pingofrance II. All have some wool, all are mostly acrylic.

Lion Brand Kool Wool. 50/50 wool/acrylic.

Bernat Baby something or other 100% acrylic.

Let the pyrotechnics begin!

Since I'm always up for a little experimentation, and somewhat of a firebug, I immediately set out to get the facts.

We all know the "burn" test (google is your friend!) that essentially says, ack will melt into a hard little ball, animal fibers will form an ash instead.

But what about blends?

Blends form a hard little ball that crumbles to ash. And smell like burning hair as they burn. At least these did.

Next up: Chemical Diversion!

The bleach test.

Drop the samples in some chlorine bleach (Clorox in this case, but store brand is just fine).

With the 100% acrylic, nothing happens.

But lookie here at the ones with some wool! See that foamy crap?

There's something going on (technical term: chemical reaction between the bleach and the wool).

It's hard to tell from the photo, but the Fluffy and the Shetland Chunky seemed to be generating the most foam. I chalk that up to the hairiness of the strands (more surface, more reaction).

And post-experiment, the Kool Wool was thinner than the control strand (the one that didn't get dipped).

This is after about an hour in the bleach. Untreated strand on top.

100% wool will dissolve completely in bleach. Heads up: don't bleach your woolies! (At least not with chlorine bleach.)

Class dismissed!
Dear Ms. Whiz:

Very cool of you to do the experiment and photograph the 'befores' and the 'afters.'

Very cool indeed. Please put me on your mailing list for future chemistry experiments.
You are so funny. I Iove the way you crack youself up and us too.

Thanks for the chemistry lesson.
Nice chemistry lesson! I'm not dying to try that with......someone else's yarn.

Mr Wizard! Wow, that's a blast from the past.
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