Super fast way: wool is a natural fibre and has scales. So this means that
like human hair you have a smooth direction and a not smooth direction.

If you take a lock of hair, hold it tight you can easily run another finger
down the length but it catches on the way up.

Wool I think is less scaly, but acrylic is not scaly at all. So if you can
get a few loose threads you could feel for that. Same reason woollens fluff
up but worsteds are smooth. In worsted the fibres are spun in one direction
in woollens they are in both directions so the fibres catch with the scales
more readily.

This will really only identify natural vs spun plastic though :)

But wool also smells of wool when washed, and I find acrylic squeaks
upleasantly when rolled between the fingers. My school uniforms used
acrylic for the bulk of the fibres and this was the sensation I most

A really good microscope would definitely identify the fibres :)


On 18 August 2016 at 18:46, Elizabeth Jones <>

> Hi everyone,
> This is not directly historical but I knew this list would be my best
> chance of an answer.
> My uncle sent my 2 month old son a gift of a hand knitted cardigan which he
> bought from a charity stall. without a label I have no way to know if they
> have used wool or acrylic yarn.
> I know I can test using bleach or a burn test but I don't want to damage
> the garment is there a non destructive test I can do on a finished garment?
> Thanks
> Elizabeth
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