Last week, I blogged about what I thought was a dye lot problem. I've been working away on a lace curtain for the sidelight to our front door and was using crochet cotton I found in my grandmother's workbasket - which means it is 40 years old at least. In mid curtain, I realized that I had two very different colors. After asking for suggestions and searching for matching cotton, I attempted bleaching in a diluted bleach solution. Voila!
Crisis averted. Where it was soaked, it turned white very quickly. I confess that I was planning to rip out and start again so I didn't bother to take it off the needle even, just put part of it in the dye pot. You can actually see where some of it has been bleached and some of it not. The beads even came through without harm.
There is a brown section in the middle.
While I'm happy to have a solution and not have to do four feet of knitting over, what on earth was causing this? While she was healthy, my grandmother was a perfectionist housekeeper - granted after she died, my grandfather wasn't. She lived in coal mining country, so coal dust is an ever present issue. But how could that permeate the full ball of wound cotton? More likely culprit is that my grandmother smoked - a lot! When she was dying in the hospital and on oxygen she was asking for cigarettes. As I have started working through the new ball of yarn, there are sections that are different colors so some of it was picking up the nicotine as well. I'm not worried now, because I'll just bleach it all at the end.
So if you smoke, take this warning to heart. Perhaps the surgeon general should start labeling cigarettes with the following warning:
CAUTION: Cigarette smoking can be hazardous to your yarn!
If you won't quit for your lungs, do it for your yarn.