Inherited "Mystery Yarn" and what to do with it.

My grandparents both passed over the past 3 years, and I inherited all of their old yarn stash, which also included some old yarn spools from my great grandmother’s yarn stash as well. I’m not sure what the fiber is, but the fibers are very coarse, almost like a sandpaper, and most of them are a very fine strand.

I have no idea what to make, or if the strands will even hold from the oldest spools.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to bust this odd and newly acquired stash?

Welcome to the forum!
If the yarn is coarse, it may not be very nice to knit with or very kind to your hands. (That may be why it was still in your grandparents’ stashes.) You might try knitting up a small swatch and washing it to see if that will soften it. If that works the yarn could possibly be wound together to make a thicker yarn and used for a simple shawl or lap blanket. I once did this with a fine spooled yarn using 12 strands held together.
My condolences on the deaths of your grandparents. They are always so special to us.


If the yarn is coarse maybe it would make good dish washing cloths?? I made some with regular dish cloth cotton in DK which I find are too soft to do a proper scrub on a roasting pan and would prefer something more abrasive. Only if it can stand up to some rough treatment though.

If it turns out too harsh to hand knit with maybe find a friend with a machine?


If the yarn is on spools, could it be that it’s oiled yarn? This does feel very harsh before the oil is washed out. I agree with the suggestion to swatch and give it a good soak in wool wash. Sometimes it takes a few rinses to get the oil out, but you might find that it blooms into a lovely fabric! If not, crochet some storage baskets!!!


Can you post a photo? Do the spools have any maker’s name or other info on them?

If you are on Ravelry, you could try posting photos to one of the vintage knitting or yarn groups there too. They may be able to tell you what it was originally supposed to be used for.


To my knowledge there aren’t any labels or anything on them, but I will pull them out and post some pictures (may be a few days before I have some time). I am on Ravelry as well, I’ll try there as well.

I have never worked with wool much, I have no idea what oiled yarn would look or feel like. My Grandpa used to crochet rugs and sell them at craft shows. I love the idea of storage baskets though!

It’s usually quite thin and crispy! I’ve only experienced a cone of oiled Shetland yarn which looked like string to knit, but softened and bloomed considerably once washed! Many coned yarns are used for machine knitting and the oiled nature makes that easier. Worth a try on a swatch!!


I have a follow up question, what type of wash could i use to wash this yarn? I asked at three craft stores (Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and JoAnne Fabrics) and none of them had anything that would work. Michael’s the girl actually had no idea what I was even talking about and no one else working there did either.

You might knit up a few swatches and try different methods to wash. Measure the size of the swatches first. If it’s indeed oiled wool here’s one method for washing.

Just to be clear, I’ve never tried this myself!
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I’m a machine knitter and I confirm that old oiled wool feels very course. Sometimes it has lacquered up, even. The oil has congealed into stiff harsh feeling stuff. But it can usually be saved! Washing & soaking in very hot water (adding hot water from time to time to keep it hot) will often work. If it is really old, you may have to add some denatured alcohol to the wash.

I have a cone of merino that felt like anything but soft wool. I made my brother socks out of it and after 2 super hot washings they softened right up.