Suggestions for rustic wool, please?

I have 25 unlabeled cakes of what I’m pretty sure is wool. It’s approximately fingering weight, loose 2 ply woolen spun, undyed natural. It’s quite wooly looking and not very soft. I don’t have a complete swatch to wash yet so I don’t know if it will soften up. It’s from an auction, the yarns that were labeled were from the 80s all the way back to possibly the 50s based on the patterns available for those yarns. So this yarn could be older than me, lol. It seems to have lost some of its elasticity but I am not sure if that will be restored with washing. I suspect it was stored in an attic for years.

My 30 stitch swatch on size 4 needle is about 8". I plan on swatching with size 2 and 6 as well to see what happens. The size 4 makes fairly open, uneven stitches. I strongly suspect it will bloom quite a bit with washing.

I have never worked with this type of yarn. What types of projects might be suitable? It shows lace with a halo effect but textured stitching is mostly obscured by the fuzziness. I have no idea of the yardage of each cake, but the one I have out weighs 43.4 grams. I would appreciate any and all suggestions.

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That phrase “lace with halo effect” sounds telling to me, and makes me recommend that you look through Jillian’s pieces here on MDK for suggestions on diagnosis and usage. I am not an idea person, but maybe a photo or two of the knitted yarn would help.
My itchiest items that I use regularly are lap blankets, if that helps.

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If you want to spend more time on fiber identification, you could perform a bleach or burn test. Here is an article that talks about both, Is it Wool? Three Ways to Test for Fiber Content –

If it is too prickly for against the skin, I’d knit a pullover or cardigan that would be worn over another shirt. I knit a really nice cabled pullover with worsted weight rustic wool. I am planning to knit a simple cardigan from some fingering weight rustic wool sitting in stash.


As for yardage, measure out and weigh ten yards (or meters). Then you can divide the total weight of a cake by the weight of the sample and multiply the result by ten to get the yardage for that cake. It works for just one yard too, but you need a lot of decimal points!

By the way, I use woolen-spun wool for heavily used objects, like mittens, as it is much more durable than worsted-spun yarn. Also, of course you’ll want to test your swatch, but I can pretty much guarantee that washing it will soften the yarn as well as allowing it to bloom, though it still may not be skin-soft. If it’s too itchy even for mittens you can line them, but I’ve never found my hands to be that sensitive. For larger projects I mostly use woolen-spun yarns for heavy cardigans, almost jackets, that will be worn over turtlenecks or whatever. I’ve also made lined hats from similar yarn that are wonderfully warm.

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Thank you, Ginny! I got a set of five skeins of rustic wool and was wondering what to make with them. You’ve provided some thoughtful ideas!