Wednesday, October 29, 2008

They're heeeerrreee....

So, I had this whole post planned about this amazing package that came in the mail yesterday, and about how excited I am about it, and how excited I was to share my excitement with you. That's gonna have to wait, though, 'cause something else has come up, and what I need to share with you right now is a state of fear, perhaps even panic. (I feel like an SNL skit: "There was a light at the end of the tunnel, Seth, but it's broken.")

See, here's what happened. We have some very nice neighbors who live a block or so away and whose girls play with our girls. Yesterday, as I was picking Younger Daughter up from a quick swimming play date (have I mentioned that it is failing in all ways to cool off? Yup, still in the 80's and 90's around here; I'm coming to the conclusion that October is just not my month), the mom of the other girls mentioned that she'd been wanting to pick up knitting again. So, of course, I did what any of us would've done and told her unequivocally that I'd be happy to facilitate (I may even have jumped up and down a few times but I am sure that I did not squeal; I have some dignity, after all). We agreed to meet this afternoon for an hour of knitting while the girls played.

She and her daughters duly arrived at the appointed time and we sat down to knit. She'd brought her small stash of yarn and needles, and we fiddled with that for a while. She remembers how to knit and purl, and a basic cast-on, and wants to learn to knit lace and/or socks. I showed her briefly how to knit on dpns, and then headed inside to get some sock yarn from the stash (you know how it is -- half the reason to have a stash is to enable when necessary; pulling people over to the Dark Side of Fiber Love is a good reason to get out of bed in the morning). I grabbed a skein that I figured one of her daughters would like (kids' socks seemed like a better start than large grown-up sized ones), and my ball-winder and swift, and headed back outside. I opened the skein up, put it on the swift, went to untie the yarn holding the skein together, and that's what I saw it.

Little bitty weird gray granules on the yarn.

At a spot where the yarn was broken. Strands and strands of it.

I tried not to panic. I thought that maybe it was just schmutz. I hung on hard to the schmutz theory, because I figured that screaming and yelling and running in circles pulling my hair out would not impress the nice neighbor lady with my sanity and responsible nature, and after all, she does let her kids hang out here unsupervised.

But I knew what it had to be. As soon as she left, I was head-down in that bin of yarn, praying that I would find no more "schmutz". Please please please, Our Lady of Knitting, no more schmutz. Because we all know what that schmutz is, don't we?

Moth eggs.

I'm pretty sure that's what's going on there. I found two more skeins with moth eggs on them in that bin, and pitched one of them (it was a partial skein of Kidsilk Haze, which should tell you just how freaked out I am about this whole thing); the other one only had a little bitty bit. I went through all the other yarn that had been on that shelf and the shelf above it, and found nothing else, nor in my bumps of roving. I haven't faced my other bins yet, but they're further away, and I haven't seen anything flying, so I'm going to hope I caught this fast.

What did I do with the yarn in the bin, you ask?

Yup, that's my freezer (I'm really hoping to have the camera ready when Rick first opens the door; it's the only laugh I'm gonna get out of this thing, and I intend to milk the heck out of it). I've been busy ever since wandering around the house, distracted, watching for little flutters out of the corners of my eyes (and seriously, this is way too much for me right now, since I'm fighting the good fight against meal moths in my kitchen right now)(yup, I know: bay leaves and pheromone traps and sealed containers); I have a distant memory of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee battling moths and that it involved freezing the heck out of the little devils. That also works with meal moths (there's rice there in my freezer right along with my yarn), so I'm gonna leave it all there for several days, thaw it out, and then for good measure, freeze the little bastards again. Maybe I need to buy a giant case freezer and store all of my yarn and all of my grain in it forever and ever. Or would that be going overboard?

I don't think so.

No mercy.


Anonymous said...

Oh no!! No mercy at all.

Stephanie had the good fortune (okay, yes) to live in Toronto and find her moths during their winter. Ours is not even going to get close to those temperatures.

A giant freezer for the yarn sounds only prudent.....

Anonymous said...

Oy oy oy,,, the horror!
I am very proud of your restrain while the lady was still there.

I sure hope the freezing will work.

Anonymous said...

ooppss,,, I clicked too fast, maybe you recognised my oy oy oy :)

Anonymous said...

Another way to kill the moth eggs is to bake any non-synthetic yarn in the microwave oven for a couple of minutes.


Jane said...

Daren't ask what's for dinner!

What a nightmare

adrienne said...

you were good. i would have run out screaming!!!!!

Nana Sadie said...

I think, frankly, that the chest freezer is a good idea.
OMG. Now I have to go look at my stash...tho' most of it is in zip bags, even IN the plastic bins.

I soooooo feel your pain...and fear.

Alwen said...

Eeeeeek! I'm not afraid of spiders and snakes and I'll empty a mouse trap, but wool moths and carpet beetles are teh debbil! (weeps for the Kidsilk Haze)

Confused flour beetles are not much fun either. The name, at least, is funny.

Now I think I need to go smoosh my stash and make sure nothing is flying or crawling around in there.

Marianne said...

I would've been very close to throwing up. Seriously.
A stash freezer is the only answer.
A good investment. a Much Needed Investment.

Sending you tons of good luck and best wishes! (but none to the pests)

Mary Lou said...

That is a scary thing to find. I have found it before. The good thing about living in a cold climate is you don't need to use the freezer! It's a reminder to me that maybe I should put all my yarn bins outside for a few days when the temp drops. Hope you got the little buggers.


Show no mercy! I once opened a fresh bag of rice and cooked a batch, only to find little worms all through it. Talk about blech! and gag!

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Not necessarily just moths: if you see what look like cute little ladybugs, only gray or brown or combination of same, those are carpet beetles and they are voracious wool eaters--and unlike moths, they keep eating as adults.

Meal moths definitely go for, first choice, grains, second choice, chocolate (oh the horror) and third, wool. I even found one in a silk shirt once. They are terrible to get rid of in California. I'm actually looking forward to the day we tent our house for termites.

Hope for a really hot day, put everything in a black plastic bag in a car with the windows rolled up in the sun. That's just enough heat to kill everything, eggs included, which freezing doesn't do, without damaging the yarn. Careful with microwaves not to set it on fire.

Stell said...

moths! no! that would confuse me - chemical are not something I resort to easily or readily - but moths in my yarn
I'm off to check right now ....
cause if if can happen to you -well it can happen to me
ps - congrats on the evil entrapment of a new knitter - go girl, and next door to boot, i see some fun coming up there.

Anonymous said...

Mom keeps her wool in a chest freezer. I may have to start doing the same. But first, I have to buy a chest freezer.

I wonder if I'll have some space for food in it?

Lynne said...

Absolutely no mercy - never, ever!
Since I don't know a mother moth of yarn-eating-larva looks like, I kill 'em all!

M-H said...

You can buy moth traps here - they have pheromones to attract the f*ckers and sticky surfaces to trap them. We keep one in each bin of yarn and sometimes they catch something. We've never had breaky-breaky yarn, though, so obviously we've caught them before they got jiggy jiggy and made babies.

Juno said...

If I had the room, I would totally have a chest freezer for the yarn. Freeze thaw several time, you want to go though a hatching cycle at least twice - feezing kills larvae not eggs. So kill them, warm them until the next hatch (couple days), freeze again. You can also put them in dark plastic bag and hide them in the trunk of your car and let the sun kill them all.
Be strong. Cull ruthlessly. Bag everything.

Anonymous said...

My stomach sank as I read the words. I so hope you nail these successfully.

And why don't we have yarn cellars like enologists have wine cellars? It is so obvious now.

Anonymous said...

This is awful! I hope that you caught it early. I had moths ruin several irreplaceable boiled wool jackets that I bought on various trips to Austria and it about broke my heart. I hope that it was only those few skeins. Crossing my fingers...

EGunn said...

Oh no! This is a Halloween special, isn't it? Knitterly tales of horror?

Congratulations on keeping your cool (despite the heat), and definitely freeze those little buggers out of there. I've heard that lavender and rosemary also help to keep them away. Good luck!

Willow said...

I concur! No mercy! Don't you just hate those things? My tummy gets queasy just thinking about the destruction.

When we lived in Papua, Indonesia, we always put our new 25 lb sack of flour in the freezer for 48 hours to kill any bugs or eggs. The mantra we learned about buggy flour was that if there were living bugs the flour was still good and nutritious. If the bugs were dead , the flour had no nutrition left. Creepy, huh?

Gotta go and check my stash!

Bea said...

I will send you some lavender sachets. They will keep the moths away.

oh my gosh! Just now, for teh first time ever we got trick or treaters! 7 of them at once. Yay!