This yarn was free for a reason. It stank. Some combination of cigarettes and mildew was my guess, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time sniffing it to make a definite determination. But because I can't stand to throw things out...and because half of it was already skeined up, as if someone meant to try washing it...I figured I would take a shot at saving it.
The first batch went into the wash with a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar, and I let it soak overnight. The water was brown when I looked in the morning. Filthy. I said, "Ugh!" with feeling, spun it out, and then put it through a second wash with oxyclean.
To be fair, he did most of his supervising with his eyes shut. Once the first batch promised to survive the washing process, I skeined up the rest of the yarn in the bag.
Skeining is way more interesting, according to Cookie and Biscuit. Cookie was actually the primary assistant here, as he could not resist attacking the yarn as it moved from the ball to the swift.
Although Biscuit certainly took his turn at sniffing the yarn and lying on the bag when I was trying to get a new skein out.
Despite the best efforts of my assistants, batch two is in soaking (albeit with somewhat more cat hair than it started with). The second batch was a bit cleaner, and didn't smell nearly as badly, so I'm going to try a soak and spin with baking soda and vinegar, followed by a wash in Eucalan instead of Oxyclean. I think that doing a no-rinse detergent will give the more fragile yarns in this batch a better chance of survival.
And now I can start winding the clean dry first batch into balls. And once that is done? I think I'm going to see if some of the knitters in my local group would like some yarn. I've already got so many projects lined up that despite the fairly rapid rate of yarn usage around here, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and definitely like I'd be a while getting to use any of this. Anyway, at the rate the stuff has been showing up, I really suspect I'll have more arriving at my doorstep long before I run out of stash!