About a year ago, Count Sockula bought a hank of yarn from a local yarn shop. The yarn was on sale for something like two bucks, had no ball band, and the store owner didn't have a clue what it was: no brand, no fiber content, nothin'.
But I liked the colors (every twilight/sunset shade imaginable). Count Sockula is made that way: 'Oooo, colors pretttyyyyyy!' I bought the colorful pig in a poke and let it sit in my drawer while I went, 'Hmmm.......'
The yarn sat patiently, waiting for me to make up my mind about what to knit with it. Then it hit me: Short-row heel.
So, trying to master short-row heels, I started a toe-up sock with it. I used a knitted-square cast-on and discovered I LIKE these: you simply cast on with a reasonable number of stitches, and work either a garter stitch or stockinette square (measure both ways to make sure it's a true square.). Then you pick up stitches evenly all around the square, increase as needed on each needle, and you have your toe practically done!
Quick as a wink, Sock One's toe was finished, using one lonnng #5 Bryspun needle on 40 stitches. Worked sl 1, k 1, for the sole on and off. Decided on a k 1, p 1 rib for the cuff.
All those decisions, and I didn't even know what fiber I was dealing with! All I knew was, to my surprise, I loved knitting with it. It has very short color repeats, so that practically every stitch is a new color against the mainly-mulberry ground: orange, suede, cerulean, cobalt, pink.
Oooooo. Prettttyyyyy. Photo does NOT do it justice:
But was there, I wondered, any way to tell what composition this mystery yarn might have? Was it acrylic? Wool? Cotton? A mix of all three, or some mysterious Bigfoot of fibers?
At a guess, it is DK weight, the springiest yarn I've ever used, with many plys, and tightly twisted.
No smell, no sheen and is in fact very matte and soft. Yet it doesn't feel like cotton. For that matter, it doesn't feel or smell like wool.
Then---several knitters on the Yahoo Socknitter's list suggested----dun dun dunnnnnn!----THE BURN TEST. Apparently, acrylic will flat-out melt. Cotton will ash. Wool will smoulder.
Count Sockula waited until a windless day presented itself, then went outdoors with a lighter to ingnite the yarn. After several unsuccessful attempts, the yarn----didn't burn.
Didn't melt, either. Produced something like a flat black char.
At a guess, it's wool. If I knew the make, I'd buy more of it, in different colors.
MUAHAHAAA. Mystery solved, socks nearing completion.
Oh, and Count Sockula decided on an Afterthought Heel for both socks, because this was after all only one hank of yarn, and it magically rolled itself into two BIG balls and two littler ones, as if it WANTED to have an Afterthought Heel.
We went with it. Nice sock. Colors preeetttyyyyy!
Stay tuned for, quite possibly, some fan fiction.