What Happens to Acrylic Yarn Outside
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Crocheting for Outdoors
Crocheting for Outdoors

Crochet for the Outdoors

This past early spring, a fan posted a question about crocheting something for her outside. She wondered if Acrylic Yarn aka everyday yarn would last if she did a project that is intended to stay outdoors. She was inquiring about people who yarn bomb and abandon their projects. What will happen in the long term? Though I had some assumptions, I decided to do a test without telling you all.

Purpose

  • Test for 3 months on how long and what will happen if I yarn bomb an outdoor project that is exposed to summer weather conditions using a mix of acrylic yarns.

Hypothesis

  • I think the yarn will fade and potentially the yarn to break apart. Potentially attract birds sit on it and potentially pick it apart.

Procedure

  • Yarn bomb a cover for my front yarn lamp post.
  • Sew the components together to form the cover.
  • Sew the cover directly to the lamp post.
  • Let the cover sit for 3 months from June 1st – August 31st with no touching.

Observations

  • Over the summer, the cover was exposed to temperatures that were over 100 degrees and was exposed to light and torrential rain conditions.
  • The cover, when wet, had to dry out on it’s own. Due to the positioning of this being a lamp post, the water would naturally run off so the cover wasn’t exposed to pools of water.
  • The cover started out vibrant and faded slowly.
  • As a month had gone by, the cover top appeared to be wet most of the time. While the yarn vibrant colours were fading, the acrylic to have developed a luster shine. So while it appears soaked and wet, it’s the yarn that has changed.
  • From observations, the new luster look appears to make the cover waxy and hard. However, if you touch it, it’s still is soft.
  • When looking at it, it appears that some of the project has actually melted. It has a dripped candle appearance.
  • The fibers looked aged but they still look just as strong; however, I haven’t tugged on the cover to determine if the yarn has been weakened. I would assume it has been.
  • The south side of the cover is more faded than the north side as the sun travels from the east, across the southern sky and sets in the west.
  • It definitely looks weathered.

Conclusions

  • The yarn definitely fades.
  • The yarn develops a weathered look and adopts a luster and waxy look.
  • To answer the fans questions about being concerned about yarn bombers who abandon their projects because they think it will last forever. I wouldn’t make that assumption. Acrylic yarn is not meant to be outdoors in this capacity and will quickly react to being outdoors. If the yarn bombing is not done with care, such as loose ends and more hanging from it, it will definitely become an eye sore really quickly. Out of respect of everyone else on the planet, if a yarn bomber is bombing a public space, be mindful that it has a limited shelf life and be sure to remove it after the exhibit is completed.
  • For me, I don’t mind the weathered look for my own living space. Makes it feel rustic to some degree. I have a feeling though, after a full year of being on the lamp post, it will have taken a beating from our winter blasting it exposing it to being wet, frozen, weight of snow and thawing back out in spring.

I have always wanted to perform this test, I just decided to because the kid in me was curious.

Crocheting for Outdoors
Crocheting for Outdoors – Starting Day – June 1st

 

Crochet for Outdoors - August 31st
Crochet for Outdoors – 2 Months Later.
Crochet for Outdoors - August 31st
Crochet for Outdoors – 2 Months – It’s not wet, it just looks like it as the yarn developed a shine and to appears to have melted slightly.

Winter Time

What Happens to Acrylic Yarn Outside
6 Months Later – Mid Winter. What Happens to Acrylic Yarn Outside. By February, the lamp post has received blizzards, thaws, and lots of wind over the winter. Though everything around is white and grey scale as our winters are not very colourful, it appears to be okay but it’s not nearly as vibrant. It is completely frozen in this photograph.

Spring

What Happens to Acrylic Yarn Outside
10.5 months into the experiment. It is now April. The lamp post cover has taken a beating of the weather conditions and is looking pretty rough. Fibers are brittle and appear to be melted.

Conclusions

What Happens to Acrylic Yarn Outside
What Happens to Acrylic Yarn Outside. After 10 1/2 Months.
What Happens to Yarn Outdoors Test
What Happens to Yarn Outdoors Test. 13 Months Later. The bugs are making nests under the cover. Now it’s time to remove my test, as per Daniel.

While it’s nice to make sculptures and yarn bomb outdoor things, it’s definitely not considerate to leave items out and unattended for this particular circumstances. The idea of yarn bombing something and leaving it up for an extended period has it’s consequences of the initial beauty is quickly taken away by the sun and outdoor conditions.

Acrylic yarns are not designed to be outdoors for extended periods of time such as this. A throw pillow or a favourite afghan shouldn’t be left outdoors.

While I suspected this would happen, I wasn’t sure and glad I have run the experience to test how long this would last. I would suspect in the next year or so the fibers will begin to break and this sculpture will go from a nice idea to something that looks weathered and dumpy.