Sunday, December 03, 2006


It has been a tough few months. Since September I have had
  • The car accident
  • The foot problems (woke up one AM and could not put any weight on foot! better now. Morton's Neuromas in both feet, in case you are interested. Thrilling!)
  • The three major appliances dying in one week (had to buy a new oven, stove top and washing machine in one swoop!)
  • My regular workload which includes library school, my two kids and my neighbor's two kids, plus my wonderful job in a local library (the one peaceful oasis in my day. )
THEN as I was sorting my woolens I discovered HOLES!
Turns out I had MOTHS! My chest is clenching with fear even as I type this. The bugs--I think they are carpet beetles actually, I am such a research-head--had snacked mightily on the unworn woolen stash I have under the bed in a zippered duvet bag. The casualties included some lovely vintage woolens I inherited from Ireland, plus the cabled sweater I knit for my beloved grandmother (she wore it nearly every day for the last 18 months of her life). SOB! None of this stuff was destined to be worn again, but it is still heartbreaking. AND disturbing. What if they invaded the stash!!!!!

I did find a hole in an item in the closet, so a big clean was in order.
  1. I put EVERYTHING WOOLEN in my drawers and closet into the freezer. That would kill everything. I then took everything out for a week and put it back in. My socks are fine and the one scarf is darn-able. Many of the older items may need a wash, or even to be TRASHED. To be decided.
  2. I blitzed the closet, removing everything and vacuuming throughout. I then wiped most of it down. Yuck.
  3. I took the bed apart and cleaned under the bed, wiped it down and vacuuming. I also washed the dust ruffle and vacuumed the mattress, looking for larvae. Yuck.
I will have to continue to monitor; I killed a flying something last night. From what I have read, this may be an ongoing problem.

Then, onward to the stash. FORTUNATELY the stash is stored in the attic; my reading sugested that high and low temperatures discourages bugs. Its an unheated/uncooled space. The stash is in Rubbermaid tubs, but that is not enough when you have had an infestation (IMHO).

I found NO BUGS! Relief. Still, Protection was needed. Stash was sorted into cotton/blends, and wool. Then, I used 3 space bags to package the wool--one for the Cascade 220, one for the Koigu and the Morehouse Merino, and one for the other leftovers and sock yarn. My research said that the bugs would eat anything, but that wool was most vulnerable. I may go back and put the cotton in spacebags.

Here is the sorting process; room space donated by the BoyWonder (his room has great natural light).

And the cotton stash, maybe 3/4 of the tub.

I have WANTED to purchase more yarn, but afraid to bring anything into this house of PAIN! Plus, the semester is ending and I am up to my oxthers in final papers. I turned in one yesterday and the other is due Friday. After that one is turned in I am DEFINITELY going to need a yarn reward.

QUESTIONS: Aside from mothballs, which are toxic and STINKY, what do I do to keep bugs from my stash? Are simple lavender sachets going to help? Where do I get them? Any ideas what yarn stores do????


At 3:12 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Oh man -- so sorry for your troubles. What about cedar? Those little cedar balls you can throw in drawers and whatnot....

I imagine if you called a LYS, they might have some suggestions, as well. And maybe Clara at KR has written about it. If it makes you feel better, I know the Yarn Harlot went through this awhile back -- she did the freezer thing, too.

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Robin said...

OH NO!! That's horrible! Hubby always wonders why I go so balisitc when I see a moth in the house!
I use plain old fashioned cedar sachets and hangers. Besides I love the smell of cedar. You can get them at Home Depot and Lowe's.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Anne Margaret said...

Ack! What a tough time. Hopefully it is time to turn the corner - and head back to the light!

And I had never considered moths (always considered it an "older" house/person problem!) - thanks for the neurosis!

At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Robin said...

I make soap and keep slivers of lavender soap in the bins with my wool yarn. I have also done the freezer thing. I have a snowman made out of wool roving and my sone recently asked me why the snowman is living in our freezer! I didn't see an email for you -- please email me if you are interested in info re: a knitting retreat in VA in January.

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Debi said...

Yikes! It has been a rough fall for you Suzanne! I wish I had some pearls of wisdom for you but I hope things get better for you soon....and all the m*ths in VA drop dead! :)

At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about some cedar? You can buy some at the hardware store, non-toxic and smells nice.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger sarah said...

Moths find wool (and other stuff) by smell, so lavender or anything else that helps to disguise the smell of wool will help. Cedar contains an oil that kills moth larvae, which is even better. See for lots more information.
My stash is stored in well-sealed old-but-sound pillowcases (allowing the wool to breath), together with nice smelly soap to discourage pests.

I've been told (don't know if it's true) that moths are less likely to infest really clean wool, so be certain (if you can) that everything is washed and put away clean and dry.

Good luck!

At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Heather said...

I recently had this problem in my storage unit, which I was unpacking and moving after 2.5 years. Here is what I found from my research:

Here is what I now know from experience:

- The airtight plastic containers, e.g. rubbermaid, worked best. These items were not harmed.
- Moths can eat through plastic bags. Someone told me to store in cellulose, i.e. wrap items in paper or in pillowcases, but make sure to secure any openings.
- Definitely heed the cleaning and drying advice. Some of my things were thrown in at the last minute, and they were badly packed AND not cleaned! They were the most susceptible.

I haven't done the freezer thing yet, but I have washed a bunch of items, and I'm hoping it won't be an issue in my house. Apparently they don't like light or being moved around, so the apartment will be much better than the storage unit!

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Dotty said...

Eeek! Our problem is worse. We have 2 very sheddy cats so the moths eat their cast-off fur as well as trying to get to my yarn. I'll never be able to get rid of them. The freezer method works well for killing anything that might be alive. If you need to de-moth something quickly and the item is heat proof, microwaving on high for a minute also works.

For long term storage, I buy high thread count cotton pillow cases (from the thrift store), dump the yarn in, and sew the pillowcase shut. I'll pin a yarn label to the pillowcase so that I know what's inside. I have also read that the females crawl on the ground and it's the males that fly. So I store my yarn on high shelves.

At 4:40 AM, Anonymous Angeluna said...

Oh you poor dear! Moths are treatable by the various methods mentioned here, although I have found they will happily eat brand new totally clean clothes. If it is carpet beetles, it is a true nightmare. Once infested, they are always there just waiting to make a reappearance. They are supposed to be killed by mothballs...not true. The exterminators said they would have to fog the house, would take a day, and then the little creepy things just hide deep in the baseboards, waiting for a chance to multiply again. I changed flooring (that's right, the wood part), ripped out carpets, etc. etc. only to have them reappear when some new plumbing was leaking inside the wall and gave them a nice damp environment to flourish in. Now my most valuable wools are stored out in the open, as I don't trust the closets. Yarns stored high on the shelves in vacuum bags, so I could tell if something ate a hole in them. And I vacuum the cracks and crannies of closets regularly. Evidently the beetles crawl, so they make contact with things that touch walls or floors. Wash all woolens in Eucalan or Melaleuca soap. Regularly brushing stored clothing is supposed to help (when I have nothing better to do, think I'll go brush my out of season clothes). Haven't seen any for two years, and hope I can keep it up. But I have nightmares. I lost a whole wardrobe to them. I recently purchased some new yarn on eBay, and as I was winding it, a little worm dropped out. PANIC! Secured all loose wool and treated every bag with cedar, just in case. Frightening how easily we can bring pests into our environment. Hope everyone knows that mothballs will kill cats. Be careful with them. Sorry for the ramble, but this touched a nerve. Good luck.

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles!!! Most places like LInens and Things sells cedar drawer liners, they are pretty handy and help keep the buggies away. I'm not sure about beatles though, I know it works on moths. I also have a cedar block that hangs in my closet in the woolen stuff and I have never seen a moth. Our horror is centipeds. ish. They don't eat anything, they're just super gross.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Jae said...

Hi, I came from MDK. I store my stash in the same room that houses my library of books. While I have occasionally seen a moth in the house, I have never had a problem. (Though, panic and a thorough check always followed the sighting.) Later I read that moths aren't big fans of newsprint. I attribute my luck to the fact that my stash room smells very strongly of lavender and dusty books.
Also, someone mentioned microwaving for a quick remedy. This does work, but make sure the yarn is soaked in water first. Otherwise it will damage the fiber or even catch fire.
Good luck!

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A warning about cedar! I suffered extensive moth damage to nearly all the woolens stored in a closet lined entirely in cedar (including ceiling and floor). My understanding is that unless the cedar is sanded regularly to expose a fresh surface and release oils, it doesn't work against moths.


At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Allyson said...

Trader Joe's sells these little lavendar sachets that I really like.

At 11:00 PM, Anonymous linnea said...

So sorry about the nasty critters.

I've had great luck with the freezer -- both as a moth death chamber & preventative maintenance. I try to cycle through the most precious sweaters at least once a year.

Hubby loves cedar thingies so I use them too.

I do grated soap all the way around the baseboards in closets [be sure to avoid breathing in soap dust by grating it somewhere besides the closet floor since it really HURTS to do so... trust me; & don't sweep it up when you replace it, vacuum it up]. This worked wonders in the buggiest house we ever lived in.

Gardens Alive! sells pheromone lure moth sticky traps. These are great. Be prepared for the horrible shock when it is FULL of flying beasties that you saw two or three of.

I have a great book, "A Weaver's Garden", that revolutionized my approach to bug banishment [by Rita Buchanan, Interweave Press, 1987, ISBN 0-934026-28-9]. Chapter 4 has 36 pages on textile protection. Lavender is great, but so is Santolina, anything minty, & the list goes on...

The easiest way to get sachets without gardening is in the tea section at the grocery store! Celestial Seasoning's teas are the best -- no strings or tags to snag things & the bags are very durable. I've used peppermint tea, citrus flavors, & anything with cinnamon!! Just sniff them once in awhile. If you can't smell it, then the bugs probably aren't bothered by it.

You can also get a huge container of Bay Leaves in the spice section at Sam's Club or an Oriental or Mexican grocery store. Put several in with anything you want to protect. Since they are leathery they don't crumble like other herbs so they don't get all tangled up in your stash. They are also potent & last a long time even in non-airtight containers.

The best part with these solutions is I've never had to worry about poisoning pets or my family -- I mean, really, how toxic is a tea bag to a toddler?

At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suzanne, I heard about your moth situation from M&D girls. I have experienced this. You must find the source (white webby stuff is the clue) and destroy it. Whenever you see one, grab the vacuum, always keeping it handy, and suck them up. Fast. I won the war, but it was a sad and digusting thing to have to do. Best of luck. Linda

At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Séverine said...

Montse Stanley consulted Dr Malcolm Stuart, author of thr Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism, and she gives a list of herbs that should work in her Knitter's Handbook, in the Aftercare section. Good luck !


Post a Comment

<< Home