I planned on leaving the yarn in skeins until I could start my sweater, but several nights ago, realizing I'd need to buy more circular needles, I decided to make a few gauge swatches.
I started unwinding the yarn and soon realized that it did not have the sweet wool aroma I was expecting. It smelled bad. Really bad. Chemically almost. Like...fresh paint, yes, that was it, fresh paint.
Being impatient to start I wound the skein up anyway, thinking I could just air it out, but after winding I determined that the smell was way too deep for a simple trip to the great outdoors (besides, I can't trust the wildlife). I soon realized all four skeins had this smell. So, I took a skein and yarn cake and put them into a bath of cool water and mild shampoo (note to self, don't put a wound yarn cake into a soapy water bath). I was up just about the whole night tossing and turning over problem and woke up about an hour earlier than usual and emailed my good friend, Celeste.
I hate those moments when after performing a deed that cannot be reversed I realize that a much simpler solution awaited, had I simply sat down and pondered my problem and selected the best option, and not the most readily available. It was in the moments of writing that email that I realized, had I stopped the ball winder and twisted the first skein back up I could have simply returned the whole bag of yarn. Sigh...will I never learn?
Going back to the main event; the skeins were now soaking in a vinegar bath (suggested by Celeste, who had several great ideas, but I had vinegar handy so I chose this one) about 3tbsp vinegar in a bag filled with the yarn and water.
BTW, one thing Celeste mentioned which is worth repeating if you ever have to go through this painful process with your stash, test with a swatch first! I tested my yarn and the dye was fine, but if it hadn't been and I had washed all four skeins at once...I shudder to think of it...
After the vinegar bath, the skein smelled much better, but got rinsed anyway because who wants to knit with pickled yarn? After drying completely, I realized that it was still a bit on the stinky side, but far improved, and now a tasteful blend of paint, shampoo, and pickles.
The other two skeins I decided not to return, for $12 I spent on them, the drama of returning fiber (I question my ability to attempt this) was not worth it. And so I now have those skeins soaking in a vinegar bath. I shall then rinse them out, dry them and put the whole mess away until I can buy needles I need to knit Corona.