It was about this time last week that I was looking for a wrap to throw into the car before leaving to visit one of my daughters. I checked the usual places – drawers, shelves etc and finally resorted to the ‘wool basket’. This was a lovely sea grass crate that has had various uses over time. I kept a selection of woollen items in there, mainly things that I’d been working with and hadn’t stowed away yet. It also had some unused skeins of wool and quite a lot of small tiddly bits of wool that I save for swatching and lets be honest, just for the sake of saving it.
As I lifted the worked shawl at the top, a movement caught my eye. It was small and a little bit slithery and certainly shiny. It was a small but unmistakably a moth, a clothes moth. I check this basket on a regular basis so didn’t worry too much. I lifted a skein of my own dyed merino double knit and stared in disbelief at the gnawed off ends of wool dangling from it. Obviously my regular checking wasn’t either regular or thorough enough or sufficiently frequent.
It got worse. An undyed scarf, ‘Widening Gyre’, had small but significant chunks missing from its edge but more depressing was my ‘Counterchange Shawl‘ also with shredded edges and more worryingly, significant holes. I immediately took the whole basket out and shook everything, put the contents except for the small balls of wool into plastic bags and deposited them in the freezer. I also collected all my other wool garments, items and put them in the freezer too. There was no other sign of damage other than the contents of the basket. I left it and the bits and bobs remnants out in the sun and gave them a closer inspection once I got home that evening.
It was much worse than I thought. We are talking full blown infestation. The basket itself was covered in eggs and no doubt a whole multitude of little critters were about to emerge in order to munch through even more of my precious wool. Not any longer mes amigos!
The basket and everything in it went into the bin. I washed the whole set of shelves down with vinegar and became a demon hooverer! I’m under no illusion that I’ve got them all – I know I haven’t as I’ve seen the odd one flying about looking for its brood, no doubt. The risk is now real and I know the consequences. I don’t think I was complacent, yes I was, wasn’t I? The warmer weather and the speed a which it takes one single moth to lay a few hundred eggs can’t be ignored and I simply just did that, ignored the risk.
I spent last Wednesday is a very black mood but resolved to try and make the best of something that was of my own doing. I can mitigate the damage and do everything I can to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I did consider posting some photos of the damage, but don’t think I’m quite that resilient yet. So as an alternative, I’ve posted an undamaged and as yet unpublished hat, almost certainly going to be called, Cabbage.
Most of my wool is still either in the freezer or the bin. I think I’ve reconciled myself to ripping back the two main damaged items as they are complete and photographed. I am just so glad that the plastic bags next to the basket weren’t infested too, they had completed items without either pattern or photos. Air tight plastic boxes along with ziplock bags are awaiting all woollens and my checking regime will now be considerably more frequent, comprehensive and thorough.