Is it really possible to determine if a yarn is real wool and not acrylic just by looking at it?
Some people say this but I sincerely do not believe it, at least not through a PC monitor.
I would rather say that there are five ways which help you to understand if the yarn is real or not:
The easiest and most obvious thing is to buy yarn with its original label in yarn shops. The label clearly states the composition of yarn, the number of needles to use, the washing instructions, etc… There can be also the possibility of a falsification, but that’s another story…
Real wool is softer than acrylic. Maybe other people do not even notice that. In my experience instead, touching acrylic causes tingling in my fingers.
This can be also a good indicator. Acrylic is a lot cheaper than wool, I know. But in my personal opinion it is not a matter of money but of quality. I do not care if I can save money by getting a lousy yarn. I am not talking about taking a bank loan in order to buy cashmere for an adult size sweater. I mean pure wool. That’s all.
4. Felting test
Take two pieces of the same yarn and wet their ends a little bit. Now fray them, push one end into the other and weave them togehter. Now rub the wet part quickly between your hands, until they are dry. If you pull and the pices stay together / have felted, it is rel wool. If they come apart again it’s some other yarn.
5. Burn test
You burn a strand of yarn with a lighter. If it has a chemical smell and melts rather than turning to ash, it is acrylic. Otherwise, if it smells of burned hair and turns to ash , it is wool.
I tried this test only at home, not trusting a yarn seller at the market. I had not the courage to test it there directly. Otherwise…can you imagine the scene?
Tuesday morning, at the Florence biggest local market. A quiet atmosphere, grandparents that walk slowly, mothers pushing baby buggies, buyers talking in dialect yet with a smooth tone. All of a sudden in one of the yarn stands a man screams aloud: someone is trying to set one of his merchandise on fire. Or just to be more precise, someone is still trying to discover whether the yarn ball is pure wool. Or not.
I cannot break acrylic if I wrapped it and pulled. My fingers would break first. But wool is easier to break. I don’t need scissors when using real wool.
Also, acrylic sticks to the needles and just won’t move.
I’ve bought many times wool from ebay. I’ve never tested though, except when I start casting on I can feel right away.
And the smell of wool when washing it is also easy to recognise