He’s back

Tuesdays are for spinning, I extend the definition of “spinning” to anything involved with spinning. This means that it was totally fair that my contribution to Tuesday was washing some more of the fleece that I’m using for Joe’s gansey. (In as much as the gansey is moving slowly, it is on my mind, lurking around.) I put the fleece outside in the sunshine to dry.


The next morning went out to collect it. I opened the garden door, moved toward the chair and my heart fell as shock spread through me in a manner that was the exact opposite of a warm glow.



Now, the world still isn’t quite what we want of it and that means that ordinary people still outnumber us spinners and therefore show little or no interest in acquiring fleece, so it was unlikely that my culprit was human. (I also ruled out malicious human intent. Most humans also wouldn’t steal fleece just to be mean, since they don’t know how much we care about it.) As far as I know, my neighbourhood isn’t filthy with broke spinners so desparate that they have been reduced to midnight fleece theft, and all of this meant, as I stood there in the glaring light of summer mid-day, ruling out suspects…

He was back. The wool stealing squirrel was back.

Rat Bastard. (I feel entirely comfortable calling him a bastard. I am confident that since he is a squirrel that his mother was a squirrel, and squirrels are always born out of wedlock.) I thought he was dead when the pilferage and wool-filching had stopped two summers ago, and I guess I got lazy. Turns out he was just either working another ‘hood, one of his furbearing offspring have inherited his heinous fiber fetish, or we have once again run into the generally loose set of ethics possessed by squirrels… but one way or another I was looking at an empty fleece chair. Good fleece. Gone.

Now, I try not to focus on revenge (the criminal does, after all…have a brain smaller than a walnut and there’s only so much you can expect of that.) so I thought over retrieval. I did a lot of squirrel research during the first crime wave and while I was writing about it, and so I know a thing or two. For example, I know that it is very likely that he took it up a tree. A nearby tree. I assume he is (as all mammals are) interested in carrying things in his teeth the minimum distance possible, and examine the two nearest trees.




Bastard again. I can’t see any fleece at all. Now I am mad. I say a rude thing or two to a squirrel I see in one of the trees. It is a squirrel without a fleece or a nest, as far as I can see, but you can bet they darned well know each other, and he can give the fleece stealer a (insert expletive of your choice here)ing message from me. Furious, I turn to go back in the house and lo’…what do I see in the alley by my house?


At first I am sure it is a dead…something, and then it hits me. I run over.


Half my fleece. Lying in the dirt all tangled up with squirrel spit on it.

That little arsing thief – I can’t believe he’s back, I just can’t believe it. I’m standing there, looking at my chewed up corriedale, offended to the core that the stupid little tree-jockey didn’t even see fit to use all he took from me, instead tossing half of it away like nobody loved it, when it hits me. This is how the summer is going to be. He’s going to try to steal all my fleece and yarn, and I’m going to try to defend it.

I tried hard then, very hard. I tried to have some respect for this little mammal with the walnut sized brain. I tried to understand that he’s just a stupid squirrel incapable of higher thinking and that I’m the mature and considerate one here, and I gave myself a nice talking to about the circle of life and warm squirrel babies born into nests made of my stash and I tried to understand… but really? All I could think at then end of it, as I looked at my trashed fleece, stolen, stripped and left for dead in the dust was…

Game on.

367 thoughts on “He’s back

  1. If it makes you feel any better I have a rouge squirrel too. Just yesterday I was sitting in the hot tub looking up at the tree in our yard and saw what look like some really strange cocoons. I thought wow I wonder what kinda bugs those are from….then it hit me….it’s pieces of fleece…that’s all you can say….exactly what I said…..BASTARD!
    Don’t worry you’ll leave him just like you found your fleece….dead in the dust!

  2. This is the reason I won’t leave *any* wool outside – I remember your dealings earlier. Better safe than sorry, better a little longer to dry than gone!

  3. My money, the little that there is, is on the Harlot.
    (Sitting here frustrated as I saw there were 0 comments when I read your blog. Thought, OMG, I’m gonna be number 1 (What is it with being first?!)!! Then kept getting an error message. Looks like your closet is all funky again. Hope you’re dealing!)

  4. Maybe it is a forewarning to a very harsh cold winter ahead. Animal folklore sort of thing… though I am thinking you are forecasting your own prediction on the squirrel and his kin.

  5. It reminds me of the fight my dad has with the raccoon.. my biggest worry remains that if it is a match of wits.. what happens if they win?

  6. I bet that with the right weapons (oops, I mean tools) he’ll take you more seriously than the stove guys.

  7. Squirrels are vindictive and evil, and smart little buggers. The war began with the trapped tail, extended through chewing up macramed lawn chairs, and continued with chewing up the metal fence. Me – 0 (minus the tail, of course); Squirrels – 10. I would find other places to dry my wool. Don’t give them any more fuel for fodder!

  8. I will impart the advice that my father (a fired cop, crazed vet, and boxer) once gave me: There are only two ways to fight. You can fight fair, or you can fight to win.
    Go. Fight. Win, Steph!

  9. You go get ’em! I shrieked last night, as my husband let the dog back in, and saw not 1, not 2, but 3 moths fly into my house!!!

  10. Oh Steph!! They little fudger mucker!!!! I was relieved to learn in your book that he had disappeared. Perhaps this is the offspring of the original rat bastard. Perhaps the urge to steal YOUR fleece has been genetically encoded in High Park squirrels! If you need a look out, I am available to stand watch for you…

  11. Oh, thank you, dear Stephanie. I have a day of rather unpleasant tasks staring me in the face, and this was just the giggle I needed to get me going. Guerilla warfare with a rat-bastard squirrel — much funnier from the outside looking in, I’m sure. I am, however, very respectfully mourning the stolen fleece.

  12. I have visions of knitters at knitterly gatherings wearing t-shirts that sport “Team Harlot” or “Team Squirrel”. I blame the percocet.

  13. Good luck with the game. Could you make a protective shelter for the fleece – with wood and screen material – so the wind would still dry it but the squirel could not – or would he just chew through the mesh? If so you could use metal screen material…

  14. Does your cat chase squirrels? Mine does, demonstrated by the squirrel tail end found in the house…
    Also, my cat LOVES flan, so I started covering it with an upside down laundry basket to allow it to cool down without the cat eating it.

  15. Ok get a cheap ratty fleece. You have sources. Take the time to clean it. Make sure the outside critter world knows what you’re doing so they’ll pass the word. However, as you are “cleaning the fleece”, use some soap, water, and a whole 1/2 cup jar of cayenne pepper and perhaps the juice from a jar of pepperoncinis as well. Then casually leave the fleece to dry in the usual place. Now go tell all your neighbors that the next squirrel with a foaming mouth is the one to target with their cars!!!

  16. I’m all about Squirrel Wars! If you spray vinegar on the area around the fleece, that might help. Otherwise I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the next battle. Will this be a pre-empted strike?

  17. My first reaction is, why not invent some sort of net contraption that would keep the fleece in and the squirrels out, that would be porous enough for the water vapor to escape? Something akin to a lobster trap with window screening, maybe some chicken wire so he can’t gnaw his way in?
    I’m a problem solver, not a fighter.

  18. Oh no – just as I get ready to go away for a week’s vacation (no e-mail, no phone – usually good, but now . . .?) you have entered into the fray of battle. I’m going to have to find an internet cafe or see if the local library will help me out – I need to keep track of what’s happening in the war zone. This will be some of the best entertainment this summer – except I’m sorry it’s at your expense (well, Joe’s expense really, because the fleece technically belongs to his gansey and so to him).
    Just a thought – if you found fleece the little RB left in the alley – is there perhaps an attic close by that is getting a lovely new fleece lining? Don’t know how you can find out, but I’m betting you’ll think of something.
    Battle stations at the Harlot House – weapons ready!

  19. Squirrels, moths, and unsupportive mates who question your yarn-buying practices: the axis of knitting evil!
    You gotta give it to the squirrel; although they are merely CUTE rodents, they are practical. There’s some fuzzy, warm stuff lying out, and your particular guy lives in Canada. Please don’t kill me when I say this, but can you blame him?
    (I think in this case we should all just say YES!)

  20. You must build a cage! Get some steel mesh from a hardware store (the kind with about 1 cm x 1cm squares) and rig up some kind of box out of it. Put fleece inside. But not for too long. Those squirrels are crafty!
    So, you are sure it wasn’t just windy?

  21. If it makes you feel any better, my friend has a squirrel that sneaks in to his house and only eats cashmere.
    The good thing is, my friend lives right near Rhinebeck. He said to me casually, Don’t you want to go to the wool festival? This was after I dragged him to see you at FIT in NY city.

  22. My backyard is overrun by rabbits that love to eat my garden veggies, so I had my sweetie make me a rabbit-proof pen to grow peas and greens. I’m thinking you need something similar, made of cheap lumber and hardware cloth. Just make sure it is designed so that the squirrel cannot chew through it. Good luck!

  23. Now, on the positive side…Perhaps that squirrel has a burning desire to create a “gansey” of its own. A knitting squirrel – now that’s something to think about. After all the knitting goddess lives in his domaine. Some karma working there me thinks.

  24. Now, when I put my fleece outside to dry yesterday it never occurred to me that the local squirrel would be after it (they are after everything else of course!).
    Luckily it was still there a few hours later…but I’ll take this as a ‘heads up’ and keep an eye in future!
    Maybe you do need a yarn and fleece drying cage type affair, though our squirrels gnawed through the metal bars of a bird feeder last year, so even that may not work!

  25. …He’s back!?
    I say you bait him into a live trap/humane trap with a few tufts of fleece and take him for a very long car ride to anywhere else. And perhaps shave him bald in the process.

  26. You’d better watch out, squirrel. She’s had two years to think about this, and there are lots of crafty, sneaky ladies leaving ideas…
    Go Stephanie go! Do you need cheerleaders? No, that would be impractical, jumping up and down with our needles…someone’s bound to put an eye out. Maybe we can bring our lawn chairs over, watch and cheer?

  27. When we lived in Toronto, not so long ago, we had critters in the attic I thought were mice. I’d lie in bed at night listening to their acrobatics and cursing them. Every weekend for months I’d go up into the stinking hot attic with traps and warfarin and reload the empty bait trays and traps. DH laughed and said I was starting to look like Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack as my hair and eyes got wilder and I became less and less coherent. The kids learned not to talk to Mommy on Sunday mornings. To make a long story short(er) we eventually discovered that while we did have mice, the main culprits were red squirrels. It cost us a small fortune to get rid of them.
    We now live on a farm and racoons are the bane of my existence. I empathize with your pain, have no solutions to offer apart from maybe hanging the wet fleece in a mesh bag and will hold you in my thoughts. Stay sane.

  28. My next door neighbor feeds squirrels with a constant supply of peanuts, which they then bury in my garden, toss on my deck, etc. I’m surprised they don’t belch and scratch their bellies afterwards. Part of me is always very pleased to be able to swear at and chase the buggers away in a way that I can’t chase, say, politicians. My own personal War on Terror. : )

  29. Steph, make yourself a nice, mesh bag, so you can hang your fleece in safety. It’ll breather better, and be mostly safe from thieving (expletive deleted) squirrels.

  30. Oh. My. God. I so agree with you- bastards! I have never left fleece/wool outside, but have had ongoing skirmishes over who owns the garden produce. The tree rats strip my tomato/eggplant/squash plants and leave at least half behind- chewed, raw, trashed completely; as if to just show that they can. Good luck on your battlefront!

  31. My next door neighbor (of the turnip truck) actually (and I am not kidding) mentioned to me the other day how much she “missed her a squirrel to cook up”. I’ll have her give you a call, she must know something about capturing as well as skinning and preparing said Rat Bastards.

  32. No wonder you didn’t mention anything about it yesterday. Time to teach Millie to be a lethal guard-cat. She can contribute to the household. Get a leash and stake her out by the chair with the fleece. Or borrow someone’s dog. Trying to explain a wool-stealing squirrel and how their dog would be just the thing to stop the situation could be another chapter on why not to discuss sheepy-things with non-knitters.

  33. I’m willing to put my money on you outsmarting the squirrel. I won’t bet the house, just in case – you never know, it might be a genetically altered, intellectually enhanced, test lab squirrel – but I have faith in your scheming abilities!

  34. Steph, I am laughing so hard I’m snorting and have tears…and they have called the gents in white coats to come fetch me. Have you ever seen “Open Season” — McSquizzy? I think he’s based on your, um, little friend, as it were.

  35. Ok, where’s the bookie. Bets are on. Squirrels are pretty cagey and clever. Stephanie is pretty cagey and clever. I’d say the money is even on both sides. I like the cayenne pepper idea. A little pavlovian training…..How about a live trap–and move the little bastard to Ottawa, for example….

  36. If you want to branch out from writing books, you might be able to cut a deal with Warner Brothers.

  37. Y’know that thing we normally say about bugs? That outside is their territory, but inside is ours and if they come inside, it is altogether fair to expect that they’re risking their lives?
    Let me recap:
    Inside = your territory
    Outside = animal territory
    Although the discarding of fleece was unnecessesary and wasteful of the squirrel, I’m afraid it’s a reasonable expectation that if you leave stuff outside (overnight, no less) it’s free nest material.

  38. I’d be ripshit. I’m all for loving the fluffy little creatures, but that’s first strike. Rat Bastard, indeed. Go get him.

  39. Game on – hahahahahahahaha go get em!
    Look on the bright side – at least the thieving bastard left you half…spat on and desecrated though it may be.
    You need a dog.

  40. OH. MY. When I started reading I thought, “Surely not AGAIN?!” Well do I recall the last encounter with this varment. (Actually, I still pull out your book and re-read the tale when I need a good chuckle.) As they say in “The Godfather”: GO TO THE MATTRESSES!!!

  41. That little guy had best be glad you don’t decide to try to spin squirrel fiber.
    Beware the cayenne pepper trick. This squirrel is a freak. I tried it once with a puppy, and thankfully gave her a little taste of the cayenne/oil mixture I’d intended to use for aversion therapy. Said puppy loved it, ate the whole bowl, and now begs for salsa.

  42. No disrespect meant to the gansey, or the fleece, but you have to admit those pictures make it look sort of, well, squirrel colored. Squirrel love? Squirrel rescue mission? No squirrel left behind?

  43. OMG Stephanie!! Totally funny and horrible at the same time! I remember too in your book how the problem was worse because the fleece was grey. I hate to see Joe’s gansey in jeopardy. I think I’m going to have to put my money in your court though. Our brains are definitely bigger and more intelligent. There has to be something you can do – go get him girl!!! πŸ™‚

  44. I could almost find it in me to feel sorry for the little tree-rat, as he clearly doesn’t have any idea what he’s gotten himself into. (He should pick on somebody his own size – with a brain the size of his and with not more than his own degree of passion and purpose.) But scratch that, because he IS a tree-rat, and as such he’s gonna get what he deserves, which if he’s very very lucky is… nothing. Bupkes. Someone up above is right, though – I’d be building a fleece-drying cage right about now. A big solid one. Teeth-proof.

  45. We’re behind you!!! Don’t worry…we can get that stupid thing. πŸ™‚ Of course I couldn’t stop laughing when I thought of you in a back alley staring at a pile of fleece and taking pictures and then picking it up and carrying it with you. I can imagine the neighbor’s thinking “look it’s that crazy lady again and this time she is picking up old dead animals out of the alley and carrying them lovingly back to her house…and did you see her yelling at the trees in her backyard…maybe we should call mental health.” πŸ™‚

  46. Ah yes. It’s going to be an interesting summer. Good luck. I’ve learned that thieving squirrels fear very little.

  47. get a rabbit cage, a big one, and use it for drying things in. he shouldn’t be able to get into it. later, you can fill it with angora bunnies……

  48. You go girl! If you can face 200+ knitters on a regular basis, in spite of severe stage fright, you can win this battle.
    Nail the thieving little creep.
    If you are willing to give up a little bit of your fleece for the cause – you know one small sacrifice for the greater good of all the rest of your fleece – get one of those cage animal traps and bait it with fleece. Then ship his furry little behind off to Newfoundland. πŸ™‚

  49. If anyone is taking bets, my money is on Stephanie-although right now, bastard squirrel is up on her (half a clean fleece, leaving filthy half a fleece to be reclaimed and recleaned). I’m thinking the fleece drying in a mesh laundry basket with platic screening overtop and a really heavy something in the base of the basket (clean rock(s)?). You could always go to the thrift store and buy a wool sweater and leave it out as a peace offering, if you use a bright color you’ll even know where the secret lair is.
    Keep the score posted Stephanie!

  50. I would definitely somehow dry your fleece inside or a place wahere you will know a pesty animal won’t get into it. It will help your frustration level from going over the top.

  51. Shenanigans! First thing I pictured was a chicken-wire dome, but then I thought that seemed like fiber in a cage, and that seems a little… disconsoling. Someone’s idea about mesh bag sounds kinda good – you could just buy that, the ones they make for “lingere” washing. But then, won’t he take the whole bag? But then, maybe not. And maybe if he does take the whole bag, it’s at least, like, a whole container, and unless he’s an especially dextrous squirrel, he can’t get the zipper open, and he’ll leave the whole (sullied) package somewhere, instead of just half.
    Or maybe you can convince the neighbors to get a sheep, so he will be drawn away from the wool in your yard?

  52. I’m afraid to put any yarn of any sort outside, lest some squirrel make off with it. Teasing the dog and digging up our bulbs is enough to deal with.

  53. Hmmm, is that a drainspout near the fleece? Consider the fact that the squirrel may be hauling your fleece up that spout. I’ve seen them go up the spout to get onto my sons roof and away from the dogs….hey…you need a dog…a fleece guard dog! Happy spinning!

  54. Well, my first thought was about that smart new stove/oven. Then I realized that you might not want to cook much else in there after that and it being new and you already relegated to stash diving…. So, I’m thinking this weekend would be a fine time to roast a small animal on a spit in the backyard for dinner. Wouldn’t have to be the actual squirrel, but a bit of a warning. If you wanted to make it a little clearer for the bugger you could put a wee bit of fleece in the critter’s jaws. I wonder if one of McKenna’s stash weasels would be willing to guard the fleece? Good luck!

  55. My husband laughed until he cried when I read the squirrel piece out of your book. Of course, I had been laughing so hard while reading it he had to know what it was…. I’m sorry for you to hear the squirrel’s ancestors have fleece stealing DNA, but I really, really needed that laugh!!!
    Good luck!

  56. The Fauna Revolt of 2007. I believe it was the fauna that has thrown down the gauntlet. Reports are coming in from all over the world- bees are stinging, (see my site) squirrels are hording…could it be global warming? Could it be some sick plot by those against knitting and fiber arts?
    We’ll stay-tuned…. We’ll watch for reports at our central headquarters. (Harlot’s blog)
    I say, kill anything that tries to steal fiber or inhibit knitting in any way. (except your kids- no one should kill their own kids..even though they muck up knitting on occasion))
    ps- I have three sons- most of which are pretty good shots with their bb guns- just say the word. We got your back.
    Well- until I try to cross the border with the redneck squirrel killing posse.

  57. You know, squirrels are not entirely worthless. My Aunt Helen, who took her gardening very seriously, used to make a tasty stew…
    Recipes available upon request.

  58. That just brakes my heart! All that good fleece being used to comfort and warm up yet another generation of squirrels out to steel your goods.
    In the words of the wicked old witch in Wizard of Oz “What a world, what a world!”
    P.S. I hope you can salvage what he left πŸ™‚

  59. Game on is right! You could build a cage, hang one of those mesh lingerie bags with your fleece in it, or (my personal fave) find someone who has one or two of those obnoxious motion-activated Halloween decorations to put next to the fleece. My husband love those things, I can’t stand ’em, and the cats are completely freaked out by them. You move near it and it gowls or screams or whatever. Could work as a creative squirrel deterrant, and it would alert you to when you should go investigate. (Bring a hockey stick when investigating, that way you don’t have to get too close to the bugger.)

  60. Oh NOES! I would probably be calling him several more choice names than just ‘rat bastard’.
    On the other hand, I am glad for you that he did leave you some, I read with relief that the fleece (though still in need of washing) was not all gone. I wonder what the wooly version of a scarecrow is.

  61. We used to have rabbit and squirrel problems but we adopted 4 feral cats. For several years we were critter (except for cats) free. Alas the years are taking their toll and the cats, now only 3 of them, are 10 years old and the critters are learning that spookie, Killer and Baby aren’t the scourges they used to be!

  62. I’m not generally a fan of squirrels’ myself….but that just takes the cake (or the fleece).
    I know what side I’ll be rooting for.

  63. I’m thinking a double-cage system. First the fleece is put down. Then a relatively close-fitting cage is put over it. You might be able to find a flat, wide basket intended to hold paper at a thrift store. This ought to be staked down with either tent stakes or just sticks. Then you put a larger cage over it, and stake that down as well. And maybe weight it.
    That way, there’s a squirrel-free buffer zone between the outer and inner cage. He won’t be able to reach in (they have surprisingly long limbs, and no, I’m not kidding) and grab the fleece to drag it to the outer cage and carry it off in mouthfulls. The stakes provide an extra layer of protection. Also, make sure that the ground is even where you put the cages down. Being rodents, they can worm their way into shockingly small places.
    On another note…we have black squirrels in my neighborhood. Pitch black. I wonder if they’d leave a gray fleece alone?

  64. You may want to be careful about how far you take this squirrel thing. See the news story below (w/ tongue in cheek…):
    Woman Freed in Foxy Brown Assault Case
    Friday, June 29, 2007 11:20 AM EDT
    The Associated Press
    NEW YORK (AP) β€” A woman charged with assaulting and robbing Foxy Brown was released from jail after the rapper failed to appear before a grand jury to testify against her.

  65. Hate to say it, but are you sure and certain it’s a squirrel? Cause I’ve now had 3 different dogs roll, drool and steal fleece. It’s delicious stuff. Cats like that too, and that’s a mighty amount of fleece for squirrel transport. Got any racoons, possums, or other varmints of that size? They too could be (ahem) fleecing you. I hope there’s enough salvageable fleece left for the gansey, in any case. And maybe, from now on, the fleece should be dried inside or guarded or something? Good luck. May the fleece be with you!

  66. On another note – are you positive it’s a squirrel again? When I was small, my cat caused me considerable distress when he picked up my beloved otter puppet and carried it into the yard for the night. My mother was pissed that she had to go out with a flashlight to look for Otter at 2 am to make me hush up. Cats like to pick up fuzzy things and carry them around.

  67. Hmmm. I have a shetland fleece to wash and now I’m worried about the squirrels in my back yard. They’re big-a** squirrels too.
    I may have to put my drying fleece in the basement with the dehumidifier going full blast.

  68. What about a sort of cage for drying wool? Something the size of a crab trap, maybe, but with no handy entrance hole.

  69. Ok – this is how I’d FIX his little grey bush-tail for good… go buy a bow then yell, “SO YOU WANNA KNIT, HUH?” really loud and then start aiming. I’m sure you have PLENTY of arrows in different sizes. Start with the 2.25 dp’s – they’re lightweight and more precise.

  70. Yes, I’m of the “keep the fleece inside” persuasion. . . because after all, birds also feather (or fleece) their nests! You can’t fight everybody! Heck, the birds and beasts in my neighborhood EXPECT me to leave them thrums and odd lengths of yarn and dog and cat fluff. Keepin’ those nests cozy!

  71. As I (literally) watch one of the lil rat bastards run by on the fence, I am reminded that here in the south there is a small population of folks that actually will buy these creatures for cooking! Perhaps in Toronto there is same. At least you could make a profit – to buy more yarn! p.s. As I am sure you learned last time, there is nothing of mesh, metal or wood these little critters can’t get thru, they actually have chewed my house! Keep it inside.

  72. This reminds me somewhat of a cartoon with Donald Duck. Poor Steph! Hang in there! (You know, it is easier for us to be sympathetic when we’re not laughing hysterically! ):)

  73. I wish you luck in your fight against the squirrel. It’s going to be entertaining around here this summer for us readers. πŸ™‚

  74. FYI – Squirrels eat through plastic with ease. They ate the heavy duty sealed containers containing bird seed that we had on our deck. They also ate through the siding on our garage -probably got their strength from the birdseed. They’re cute but they’re also flying rats fron hell. Dry the wool inside.

  75. Ho ho! That little thieving bastard!! He had best run for the hills if he values his little squirrelly ass! He will rue the day he pilfered your fleece! I have all the confidence in the world in you – you will prevail!! My advice, Senor Squirrel, is pack your bags and RUN!!

  76. I first thought of using the mesh bag…but thinking again that the outside is the squirrel’s domain…maybe you could dry it in your new oven like the big pink thing. yeah, right.

  77. We too have fiber loving squirrels in our backyard. squirrel*S*
    No outdoor furniture cushion is safe around them. They chew through the outside and take the polyester fiber fill in huge chunks, right in front of us. Their nest must be like a warm cloud. I can’t imagine what they’d do with decent spinning fiber. Well actually, I could–bastards.

  78. Oh my my. I have (mercifully) not yet encountered any wool-loving squirrels. I am wondering, though, if the fleece you did find was salvageable.

  79. Actually, a squirrel’s entire head is the size of a walnut (assuming we’re talking standard urban grey squirrel). So the brain? Not so much. If you ever try to go mano a mano with one, though, you’d better wear thick leather gloves – like welder gloves. Those little sumbitches can bite.

  80. Squirrels are jerks. They can’t be trusted! I think the best way to brighten up the day is to indulge and buy yourself more yarn to make things better.

  81. Well…I’ve watched those PBS type specials on squirrels and they seem tenacious and they adapt to changes in the ramparts and defenses; they are driven to puzzle things out. Maybe fleece goes in a cage inside a cage inside a cage? ‘Rat Bastard’ makes me laugh – punny.

  82. The thieving little rats with feather dusters may only have walnut-sized brains, but I fear they use a great deal more of them than we use of our great big brains.
    The foe is crafty. Smart. Determined. Still…
    Game on?
    I’m behind you all the way, Stephanie!

  83. Here in the rural south we have a cure for that sort of thievery. It’s called “squirrel and dumplings” and it goes very well with mashed potatoes.

  84. How about trying this to at least track the little guy. Get some old yarn (Yes I know that all yarn is important and can be used for other things, but I’m sure that somewhere in your stash is some yarn that be sacrificed). Put it on a spool and the spool outside. Now when the theif takes it, it should unwind and you can track him back to his hideout with the trail of yarn.

  85. Sounds like he’s driving you nuts with his squirrely behavior! And now with a nice warm, woolly nest in which to safely and snugly raise babies there can be an entire new generation of tree rats to harass you.

  86. At least he has good taste, for a rodent anyway.
    I fully expect karma will come to get him one of these days.

  87. You know, Steph, I believe in being humane, even to rat bastard with which you are contending. After, the outside is mostly their world. So, I recommend you go to a hardware store and get a squirrel trap, put the fleece in and deploy it so NOTHING gets in or out. Maybe even put the trap in a small tent in your yard so there is no visual temptation for the filthy obnoxious thief (I like the buffer zone idea). However, know that we are pulling for you against the fauna!! Kick squirrel a**!!

  88. Get a live trap, put a little fleece in there, and see who you catch! And then ship the little rat-bastard off across the country to a new home.
    My money’s on the Harlot…

  89. Ya know, maybe the little bastard ran out of fleece to spin with when he did *his* spinning last week and he’s just too lazy to go out and buy his own?
    He’s probably running a thriving hand spun yarn business out of some tree in the neighborhood. Or, maybe he’s selling ganseys?!

  90. ROLFMAO! Thanks for the laugh! I know it’s serious, really, to lose a nice fleece like that, but you made me laugh as you told the tale (as usual).
    Having lived in spots where roof rats were more prevalent than squirrels, the term “rat bastard” is a much more literal thing for me. Thankfully, I’ve never lost any yarn to a critter — except when my cat manages to grab the tail of something I’m working on. πŸ™‚
    FIGHT ON! No rodent shall defeat the ardent knitter!

  91. ooo….hope he doesn’t come to my house, i have like 8 fleeces drying on my back porch!…and i’m away on vacation…that could be bad!

  92. well he has good taste at least – I think that what you found is the part he couldn’t carry all at once – I mean really that is a big hunk of fleece for one little squirrel to carry at one time – so it wasn’t discarded it was just waiting for him to com e back for it. Or maybe her to come back for it.
    You just have to get something to put the fleece in to let it dry outside but be sure it has smaller than squirrel size hold in it. Maybe an old dog cage with screening around it?

  93. Well, I can offer you a squirrel-safe washing venue—my house. Just send fleece to me. I will wash in my big, old, 1912-ers, empire tub and dry on the porch. Not a squirrel within miles—no trees! Since I do not spin, it is assured that I will return the fleece to you.
    Seriously, I would recommend that you do the fleece-drying indoors. Squirrels are incredibly wily little beasties with ultra-sharp teeth (the rodent family, you know). They will chew through wire if the prize is worth it. Is corriedale worth it? You betcha!
    They make sweater drying racks that hook over the bathtub (or slide under the bed). Since there’s air space above and below the rack, things do tend to dry quicker.
    Do you think he/she might be attracted to some colorful acrylic as a distraction. Our squirrels in Florida were partial to paper towels with synthetic microfiber reinforcement over plain paper towels. We must not assume that the squirrel actually has good taste in fibers.
    Good luck. I’m betting on you!

  94. The thriteen year old reading over my shoulder just said and I quote “The yarn harlot wouldn’t really hurt the squirrel, would she?” then he suggested the loaning of our large (but dumb) dog Tony (ok he’s smart enough not to touch fibre) who keeps our yard squirrel free. Good luck , perhaps you could buy a dog crate & dry the fleece in there.

  95. Hmmmm, the close proximity of the rain downspout gave me pause to consider….maybe he took it up the downspout. Look up and you may find more evidence.
    We had one come in the garage and take the brains (stuffing brains mind you) out of my daughters really big plush rabbit. When I opened the bag to wrap the bunny it had a deflated head.

  96. Better you put nuts out there, and see what he favors…my question is do you have more to finish the sweater? and I did have a secret delight in knowing this was a continuing saga that you would write about, how entertaining..and of course, sad. lol

  97. Another suggestion for squirrel-proofing — albeit with more possibility for cruelty than some ideas offered already — is to encircle your fleece with mousetraps or rat traps. The offending squirrel will get a surprise *snap* when it gets close. Maybe not so good for neighborhood cats…hmmm.
    Adapted from a trick for training dogs to stay off your kitchen counters: put mousetraps under bacon-greasy paper towels on the counters. The *snaps* scare but don’t hurt something with big paws when the traps are covered.

  98. Now, while I’m all for the theory of rogue fiber stealing squirrels and all, I was somewhat taken aback by the apparent “complete”-ness of that half pile of fleece. I live just a short jaunt to the west in Oakville, and this week has been a tad on the windy side, Wednesday especially. Was the half-fleece to the east of it’s original position?
    Mind you, I don’t know all that much about washing and drying fleece, but that much wool when wet (maybe even when dry) would probably require quite a gale to propel if above and beyond a fence, especially moving between houses…. Perhaps the spot where the fleece was found is the bastard squirrels staging area, or half was point. I suggest some surveillance.

  99. I have a book at home that I bought for my husband on outsmarting squirrels. Since my husband left me, it’s yours. Just send me an address and I will send it pronto.

  100. Stephanie,
    You might as well give up and dry your fleece indoors. It has been shown that these furry cute RODENTS are MUCH smarter than us mere humans. They can outwit us any time they wish.
    Spend your summer enjoying the awful heat and forget trying to fight with the squirrels, they will always win and you will always lose. It’s a fact of nature.

  101. I’ve enjoyed your blog for so long, what a lurker I am! However, I must ask…. was your fleece partially pulled into a hole in that wall, or was it just lying there? Because you might not have a squirrel-rat-bastard, you might have a rat-rat-bastard! Squirrels are not usually ground dwellers, which makes me suspicious. Those rats could be looking for a nice cushy soft nest, too.

  102. Why build a cage, when you can get a used collapsible dog cage for cheap or free? They’re easy to store (they fold flat), easy to clean (garden hose and scrub brush), and when you’re done with it, you can donate it to a shelter. (I’m betting you’ll outlast that squirrel.)

  103. the mocking birds here in florida i call them
    the spanish moss mafia do this just take any thing get nasty when you call audubon for help
    tut tut just nesting then they sit up the telephone lines
    waiting for you to open the door and attack
    i lost use of my yard kill the mocking bird indeed good luck pandora
    good luck pandora

  104. Funny, I called the squirrels who built a nest on top of my engine (and caused $400 damage by chewing up stuff) the exact same thing. Now they have the nerve to steal my tomatoes and zuccini (at least they leave my eggplants)
    To think that I used to find them adorable! Now I am this close to setting up a deadfall in my carport.

  105. I’m pretty sure the appliance delivery guys are related in a significant way to the squirrel…

  106. …little birds also like fleece… they use “leftover” fur from our cat to insolate their nests πŸ˜‰ maybe it’s a bird?

  107. I’m with Freda. I have an older neighbor who looks forward to a couple of squirrels in the pot. As a second choice I’d opt for some sort of cage with screen over it. And a ferel cat.
    My first choice would probably be obvious in my screen name. πŸ™‚

  108. Knowing nothing about fleece and spinning, my questions are 1) can you salvage what he left you (i.e., is it totally ruined) and 2) will you have enough to finish Joe’s sweater?
    Squirrels are indeed dumb. Ask me how I know. Rabbits are also not very high up there on the intelligence tree. Some day remind me to tell you about the rabbit that got into my house!

  109. OMG, SO sorry to laugh at your wooly misfortune, but what a cheeky little hooligan! I had no idea that squirrels have a love of fleece! I watch them chew through my metal suet bird feeders and steal the food all summer, but WOOL?
    Are you sure it wasn’t a cat? I’ve had mine run off with some really weird stuff in the past! Maybe it’s a new cat-rat-bastard to replace the squirrel-rat-bastard! (hey, this is getting confusing…)

  110. I think some further investigation is needed here. Rat Bastard the squirrel seems to have been unfairly and prematurely presumed guilty without benefit of a trial or a lawyer. Further, the CSI team should be called in gather and test any evidence that might be remaining at the scene.
    Personally, I think that Gusty is at fault. You know, Gusty Winds? I’m sure she thought it was a tumbling tumbleweed but dropped it when she realized her mistake.

  111. Can you say “midnight fleece theft” really fast 3 times? Banish the bas&*^d! There are tons of squirrels. Now if he was on the endangered species list, I’d try to find some compassion. He’s not. Take him out. Fleece is more precious than squirrel.

  112. Ummmm…..”his heinous fiber fetish”….?
    How’s the glass house, Stephanie? Heh heh. Heinous fiber fetish.

  113. Tree jockey. LOL! I love it.
    We hates our squirrels here too. They steal my yarn when it’s hanging out to dry. I wounder if they have yarn stealing conventions for squirrels?
    Good luck!

  114. I understand that your yarn and fleece are very important to you and that the prospect of having it in danger all summer is very disconcerting, so I hereby apologize for laughing so hard that I almost shot coffee out my nose AND wet myself at the same time.

  115. Maybe you could try a different drying area? Maybe put up a window-flower-box-type-of-thing outside an upstairs window (away from any trees and therefore out of the rat bastard’s reach…) that you could put a flat board on and dry your wool there. Outside the comfort of your bedroom window, you could keep an eye on the fleece!
    Good luck!

  116. Huh? What was that ‘sound’…oh yeah, the sound of the nickel dropping….game on!
    I am SO looking forward to seeing how this unfolds.

  117. Game off if I were you, I’m afraid! They outwit us humans every time, those squirrels!
    I once watched a documentary on TV about how clever people had tried to invent things to stop squirrels pinching the food they put out for birds, and the squirrel won every time.

  118. Stephanie, the rabbit cage or large bird cage would be a good defensive measure (and we all know the best offense is a good defense!) (at least in American football!). I’ve been wondering about the gansey’s status; glad you’re working on it again. Will there be enough wool after today’s losses?

  119. First….make a small protective barrier around your fleece with lots of sharp pointy sticks facing upward….you know the ones. You have tons of them. Second…Sit back with your morning coffee and laugh at that rat bastard as he tries to steal your fleece without impailing himself on all those knitting needles. Mwahahahahaha. Game on indeed!!!

  120. I had an ex-boyfriend (how far into past tense can I put him?) who used to call squirrels “rats with good PR”. Obviously, he was not a knitter. They really just are rats with cuter hair-dos.

  121. I hate to admit it, but before I started spinning I used to skim through blog entries about spinning and fiber and wheels. *yawn*, I thought. Except for your fiber stealing squirrel story. That story had me in stitches the entire time and what’s even worse – I found it terribly amusing. I did. Now I’m just as horrified as you are and whenever I hang roving outside to dry, I wonder if it’ll still be there when I go to retrieve it. I’m sorry that sorry bastard squirrel is on the make again.

  122. Game on. I’m rooting for you. I like Stephanie’s idea about protecting them with a knitting needle barrier, then laughing at him. Or the bird cage idea – hang it from a tree to be really frustrating!
    How much yardage did you lose?

  123. It’s like the newest summer blockbuster:
    “Son of Rat Bastard”
    I saw get a terrier or some other dog that’s good at hunting squirrels.

  124. Having never successfully fought a squirrel (the little bugger even figured out a way around the bird feeder that gives them a shock) I look forward to hopefully witnessing your victory. But, I warn you, there is no way the brain of a squirrel is smaller than a walnut – no way at all.

  125. In Vermont we had deer that came down to our garden, chewed the jalapeno peppers off the plants, then spit them out on the lawn with a bite taken out of each one. But those are just gently and lovingly (and organically) home-grown peppers. Fleece is going WAY too far…

  126. Have you heard about Pink Lemon Twist’s Mystery Stole 3? The first clue is out today. KNITTING LACE FROM YOUR STASH sounds like something just up your alley (snicker snicker) given that you’re recovering from the recent stove adventure. Don’t try to tell anyone you don’t have laceweight in your stash!

  127. I think you may need a multilayer defense system. First, a largish noisy squirrel-chasing dog. Then, to keep the dog as well as the squirrel out of the fleece, a sturdy cage in which to place the fleece. Last, in case the squirrel outwits the dog and is approaching the cage, a squirrel-hunting gun.
    I used to know a guy who claimed squirrel, uh, testes are a first-rate delicacy. I never had the nerve (or stomach) to ask him how many squirrels it takes to make up a “dish”. The “squirrel and dumplings” idea seems fine, though.

  128. We had squirrels in the attic at our new digs(more then we moved here with) and the landlord was kind enough to hire a company that used live traps.
    You could set some of those live traps out with your fiber as bait. Then when you catch them you could torture them by washing, carding, and spinning all that lovely fleece right in front of them! Maybe while also eating granola and nuts and cherries and all the other things they love! MWAHAHAHAH!!

  129. I knew i hated squirrels for a reason. I’ve always been deathly afraid of them and there is no way anyone will ever convince me they are cute. And now that I know one of them stole your fleece, i have one more item to add to my “Squirrels Are Evil” list. Good luck hunting the little rodent.

  130. I had my DH who is known in the neighborhood as “Tarzan of the Squirrels” read todays entry. He suggests you get a lovely old school birdcage to safeguard your fleece while it’s drying. You could even hang it off a tree or something & catch nice little passing breezes. He was laughing his butt off while reading it. The other comment of the day was “so that’s why you always read this, she’s funny in a crazed sort of way”. Also, there is a ‘rodent Deterrant” thing that you plug into a socket & it makes sound that nobody but undesireable rodent types (mice squirrels & possums) can hear that might keep them out of your yard. It got them out of my attic. Good Hunting!

  131. Big Alley Cat. We have a program down here that re-homes cats that are not good with people. They call it a barn cat program. You need a young neutered feral cat with a penchant for squirrel.

  132. Maybe there’s some kind of anti squirrel pheramone you can spray on it. Or how bout this, you could make a big sheet of camoflauge fake-fleece, and lie under it until he comes for it, and then WHAMMO! No more squirrel.

  133. Personally I think this is just a faction related to the relatively unknown “Squirrels Taking Over the World Coalition”.
    Google squirrels if you don’t believe me, the sum of odd news stories and strange behavior clearly implicates them in a wag the dog scheme whereby the squirrels distract us and their leaders take over.
    BTW I am pretty sure that Dick Cheney is not releasing records due to the unusual number of squirrel visitors he has. They are a force to be reckoned with I tell ya….

  134. You know, I actually wonder if he mistakes it for another one of his mates. Maybe he thinks that he’s saving one of his people. You know, he sees them from afar and plans an escape for himself and his brother-in-fur. I don’t know – seems like it would make sense to me if I were a squirrel. πŸ˜‰ Well, no matter what cause he’s working for, I still agree with you. Dang RAT BASTARD!

  135. I completely empathize with your dilemma. But, not to start a squirrel/human/squirrel defender war here, is it just me or did your fleece look just a wee bit like a pile o’ baby squirrels? I don’t think you could needle felt a bunch of baby squirrels as realistically as that fleece looked just sitting there!

  136. You know, Steph, it may not even be a squirrel this time. I have two cats and they are both very interested in my wool, one in particular! I’m just wondering if it wasn’t a cat instead… I know it’s not funny, but there is a little bit of humor in this. I don’t think I’d want to be the little wool thief at this moment, whatever it is. How’s your corriedale stash holding out?

  137. Perhaps what is actually needed is a little, squirrel-size spinning wheel out on the patio?

  138. Oh, I felt that sense of complete heart failure you must have experienced on seeing the empty chair. Do you still have enough fleece for Joe’s gansey?

  139. Listen, the squirrels in Texas have exactly the same ethics because listen to this: my older daughter and I were trying to grow a mango tree from a mango seed. You’ve seen them, right? Large seeds. Flattish. Ovalish. Anyway, we did the research and it took a couple of tries (you can’t use the seeds from mangos that have been refrigerated but I didn’t know that) and finally, FINALLY, we had a little seedling.
    I was so proud.
    My husband was leaving for work one morning and I realized I hadn’t shown him our little mango seedling and I went and got it from the screened-in porch and he oohhed and ahhhed over it (in his own way) and then he realized that he’d left his wallet inside the house. I set the mango seedling down on the porch rail and went into the house to get it for him and he walked out into the driveway to put his briefcase in the car.
    In the less than two minutes that we were otherwise occupied, a squirrel, who had obviously been eavesdropping, came down the tree onto the rail and stole the seedling. I am totally serious. Took the plant with the mango seed still attached, right? but left the pot of dirt.
    I know what you’re thinking and yes, I did frisk my husband. Also, there was no way the dog could have reached up that far.
    This was three years ago and it still makes me mad to think about it. Even though I have grown another mango tree from a seed that is so large, it can sit on my patio without me worrying about squirrels.
    Shoot. I better go check.

  140. squirrels really are nothing more than more brazen, less covert rats! the only thing separating them from this vermin is a fluffy, uplifted tail! (shudder)

  141. There may be a poor mother squirrel out there struggling to take care of her young and needing that fleece for the family nest. Just give this point up to the critters and find a way to protect your fleece in the future.

  142. The attack of the fibre-stealing squirrels! Run!
    I’ve managed to keep squirrels out of my birdfeeder by purchasing one that has the perches on springs – light enough for a bird, but when one of those fuzzy little bastards gets on, their weight lowers the perches and covers the feeding holes – HAH! Was quite drawn to the spinning feeder that flings them off, but frankly, $75 for a bird feeder seemed a bit excessive!
    The squirrel-apult seems not only effective, but entertaining, but I think your best bet is the used bird cage idea, maybe with the fleece in a lingerie bag (large size of course) inside. Suspended from a greased flagpole. With machine-gun emplacements surrounding it. And a moat – with alligators.
    I have a huge 100-ft.-plus pine tree in my yard with a squirrel nest the size of a VW Beetle (WWII version) in it. And I keep strands of Tibetan prayer flags in several places in my yard. And I swear there is a squirrel mom up there in the next that likes to redecorate regularly. I can see her perched up there on the branch, saying, “Mervin, this place is a dump – I want new curtains and slipcovers – and make them blue.” Every time the flags get taken apart, it’s the blue ones that disappear.
    I do live near Stanford (and work there) and there are billions of squirrels that we all agree must be escapees from the Linear Accelerator or the biolabs – they open screens, invade dorm rooms, steal the students’ gummi bears and doritos. But must admit i would rather see them than real roof-rats any day.
    You shall overcome, Stephanie – we have faith in you (and so many people with recipes, too!)

  143. “Squirrels are always born out of wedlock.” OMG I fell out of my chair when I read that — too funny!
    Two years ago, I walked into my kitchen at night to find a fuzzy squirrel tail sticking out from under the dishwasher. Three humane traps (from which he stole the bait and escaped), four damaged kitchen cabinets and an assault on the dishwasher wiring later, he was finally captured and relocated to a park many many miles away from me (I wasn’t stupid enough to release him locally, I drove 20 miles with a cheesed-off squirrel hissing and spitting in the backseat of my car).
    All I can say is — good luck. Those little brains pack a lot of deviousness in them.

  144. ah yes.. corriedale, the wool of heaven. easy to spin, a joy to work with.. and apparently pure catnip to my cats. if it had been here it would have been one of the cats stealing it.
    YOU have a squirrel of refinement and taste. he probably was chased off the fleece by either a wool gathering cat, or a large blue jay. (birds also like fleece)
    good luck, and may i strongly suggest a mesh cage to dry the wool in?

  145. I was just rereading your second book yesterday, where you talked about that squirrel. Sorry to hear about your destroyed fleece.

  146. I would get a big dog crate that the mangy little bastard can not get a claw into and taunt him all summer long.

  147. So sorry. Maybe a cage around your yarn/ fleece from now on? Like gardeners use to keep birds away from their seeds. Best of luck. (I will be using one of those cages for my garden next year- nothing is growing and I see way too many happy birds in our back garden to believe they’re innocent)

  148. Of course, unclear on the precise nesting habits of squirrels, I would also assume that the thief is not a male squirrel, but a female squirrel, an unwed single mother squirrel.
    Not that I have a point or anything. I think a strong mesh cage is a good idea, either way.

  149. That’s horrible! I am just glad that in Edmonton you rarely see any squirrels. I think that you need to invest in a chicken wire cage of some sort to dry the fleece in. Thoses squrriels are tricky little bastards aren’t they?!?!

  150. This makes me think of countless Warner Bros. cartoons from my childhood. Of course, none of them featured squirrels, though they may as well have. Somewhere in your neighborhood, there’s one very warm, tricked-out squirrel condo that’s the envy of all the others. Hide the rest of the fleece now.

  151. You need to get a cage. Not for the squirrel but to put the fleece in while it is drying outside.
    Good luck in the fight. Keep remembering that he only has a brain the size of a pea.

  152. Well Frank, much as I admire the Yarn Harlot, I have a bevy of squirrels myself and I have to say My money is on the squirrel.
    Sorry Stephanie. I am rooting for you!

  153. no fleece in this story, but one of the funniest human vs squirrel stories, ever, can be found in the “squirrel cop” segment here: http://thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=115 (if you want to buy it via audible vs itunes, just search for This American Life “First Day”. you don’t have to buy it, you can also listen for free at the above link)

  154. I had my husband (because power tools and I should not be in the same room together) make me a fleece dryer. He made 2 frames with chicken wire attached to one side. Then hinge them so they open like a book. Fleece in, critters out!
    You can put it up between 2 chairs and the air will get to both sides. Flip it over for sun on both sides!
    Also, love that you called the varmit a Rat Bastard as this is my name for all things yucky and bad!

  155. Whoa, didn’t you have a high-end, squirrel-proof fleece dryer installed in your kitchen yesterday?

  156. Reminder to self, do not get a fresh cup of coffee before reading the Harlot! Absolutely spewed it howling with laughter.
    Oh wow! Samina might be right. Except how would it smell in the kitchen, wet wool and all? Ever moseyed up to a sheep in the rain? Ripe.
    I spend almost a $1000 per year replacing roof shingles that those little Rat Bastards eat. You hear them as you wake up in the morning, chewing the roof over your head. Because of rain, you have to call the roofers immediately, and several calls must be made each season. Never mind how much they like to watch seedlings come up. Just to the point where one starts dreaming of Arugola salad and basil on tomatoes. Then some dimented little walnut brained thing goes and digs up every single seedling in sight. I’m on the third planting round this year and the seed beds are full of branch fences and I’ve got my fingers crossed because it’s too late to plant again. I’ve put plastic owls and rubber snakes on the roof, worked for a day or two. I’m even willing to feed them as a bribe, but that hasn’t worked. I shall follow your saga to see how you outwit them. Frankly, that little walnut sized brain seems to work quite well for their purposes.

  157. Can you put some fleece in a Have-A-Hart [sic] trap and catch him? If so, just drive about an hour away and let him go and you’ll never see him again.
    Failing that, would you like to borrow my cat?

  158. πŸ™‚ My sister formed her own association to spread the word about just how evil and coniving squirrels are. She has the little ones convinced that squirrels are in fact minature pets of Satan bent on bringing a touch of hell to the neighbourhood.
    I’d offer to lend you my cat, but 1. I see someone has beat me to it and 2. I would have to depend on the squirrel just being scared of him as a cat, because he’s kind of a big wuss.

  159. I haven’t posted a comment before; just enjoyed lurking and checking for new posts twice a day. But this hit close to home. Last summer one of the little tree rats was doing his best to steal every last one of my delicious golden drop plums. I caught him in the act one day, and before I knew it I was standing in the middle of the garden (on the main street in a very small town) throwing dirt clods at my tree and yelling, “You little f…er!” at the top of my lungs. Hmmmm…. It occurs to me that there may be a reason the neighbors think I’m “unique.”

  160. His American cousin lives here near the store. He’s not here to steal any yarn or fleece, so far as I can tell, but to hide in the dumpster outside the building, waiting for me to park near by and then jump out, screech at me and run away. It’s actually a big joke with everyone on the staff and some customers who have been in the middle of taking a class in the 2nd classroom, which has a window and looks out towards said dumpster. They have seen him in action and me freaking out.
    I wish you well as you go into battle. . . .

  161. And I thought the demonic black squirrels that live in my apt complex’s trees were bad. They are always digging up my potted plants, and sometimes even bury things in them. I found large pieces of pizza after a kid’s birthday party once.

  162. I read “Yarn Harlot” this spring on my way to my grandpa’s 80th BDay. I read the first story of the squirrel at 35000 ft on a plane full of people. I had my little mp3 player in my ears and was off in my own little world, and began laughing, pretty hard, and my seatmates kept looking at me like I was a crazy person! Now, I was not then, nor am I now laughing at your misfortune, but the brilliant way you wrote it with all the sarcasm and humor my inner monologue has. Go get him, Steph…Game on for sure!! I look forward to the recap of the battles!

  163. Now in London it is the foxes that steal things we leave out by mistake in the garden . . .

  164. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh I am a lucky gal today. I finally got to see the show on Knitty Gtitty. We don’t have satelite tv at our house so I was looking for a place to see it. My friend said I could come to her house, the first time it aired, and watch it. I took a little time off work, I was all settled in and…..@#$%^ she didn’t have the right tv provider, but, she said I could go to her brother-in-laws restaurant and go to the pub in the back and watch it there. However, the show was over. Then when you mentioned this week that it would be on again, I made a plan. I went there for lunch and asked the owner if I could go in the pub, (closed a that hour) and watch a show about knitting socks. You know that look you get when they think you’ve totally lost it…”knit what……tv about knitting…..why socks” etc. I tried to explain a bit, but gave up and just asked to watch his tv for a half hour, all the time wishing I could order a brew in a closed pub. Ahhhhhhhhh the things knitters do. I am so happy to have gotten to see you finally. I live in the middle of no where and I have a life through knitting and reading your blog and a few others. Oh, and reading your books. Thank you….Happy Knitting………Sandy

  165. Damn squirrels! A small-world moment for me, as I was *just now* trying to figure out how to get a damn squirrel to stop gnawing on the birch tree that is shading my patio chair, sending down a hail of bark bits and catkins.
    I threw a couple rocks at it until I narrowly missed the neighbor’s window, and then had a brain wave. Ran up to the upstairs deck with an industrial squirt bottle full of water and let him have it. Poof. No more squirrel!

  166. I would suggest hanging your fleece to dry in those mesh bags for lingerie – they are very inexpensive at the dollar store. Hang them with a string between the hook and the bag (you have something like string around the house, right?) to make it even more challenging for the bugger to get to. You could even attatch bells to the bag so that you can hear if the little devil is swinging away, pulling out tufts of your wool! Nothing is foolproof, but perhaps it will dry faster with more air flow, so you can bring it inside to safety sooner too.
    Good luck, this will be interesting!

  167. Bastard!
    Can you get one of those cheap wooden drying racks they sell just about everywhere? Maybe you could set it up in the attic or something and just put the fleece on that.

  168. You know, when I was a kid, my dad would buy feed corn still on the cob and he made a little ledge on the tree by our front windows. He put 3 really big nails into it pointing up, and then he’d “mount”, for lack of a better word, the corn cobs up there for the squirrels. We had a couple so tamed that they’d climb up on the flower boxes and scratch on the screen so we’d feed them peanut butter cookies. I’m just saying, maybe if you left something else besides the fleece, he’d make better choices. I’m not talking a squirrel buffet or anything. Maybe just give him your scrap wool, and maybe some nuts.

  169. Nice try. Good lord, what you won’t go through to get out of finishing that gansey. Nor do I doubt that the self-filling fleece bin continues as full as it ever was. Back to the washtub, woman — hut, hut, hut.
    Squirrel. A likely story.

  170. I think I’m going to have to side with Lene and Rachel H…
    You can’t really *blame* a squirrel for comming across this wonderful nest material right there in the outdoors and being smart enough to realize how good it is, and crafty enough to carry it off. You know that’s exactly what *you* would do if *you* were a squirrel. (For that matter, even if you’re not a squirrel, if you come across some lovely shetland fleece all washed and just laying there in the wild, you wouldn’t pick it up?)
    That said, it’s terribly unfair that you can’t dry your fleece without it being swiped. I definitely think you need some sort of contraption to dry your fleece outside without worrying about fleece stealing varmits. I screened in box as a few others have suggested sounds like it would be nice and not that hard to build. I’ve seen what you can do in the bedroom, you can do it πŸ™‚

  171. Bait a cage trap with fleece, and then drive the little dude at least 30 miles out into the forest somewhere. If he’s got moxy enough to come after you (as he has done before), then he’s tough enough to survive in another locale.
    In nature, if one animal threatens another, it’s a no-holds-barred kind of thing. At the end, one animal is winner and one is run off or dead. Squirrels don’t understand our notions of common decency, fleece ownership, and the circle of life. If you want to effect a change in his behavior, you’ve got to speak his language. Even if you feed him (which I wouldn’t recommend–the squirrel population is already grossly inflated due to supplemental food sources), he’ll still go for the fleece. It’s not hunger driving him, it’s some other primal instinct.
    So remove the dude. It’s the only way you’ll ever get any peace, short of caging your fleece when it’s outside to dry. (Which is a viable option, provided that the fleece is more than 4″ from the sides of the cage, the wire openings are less than 1″, and the construction is completely rodent-proof.) A gerbil or hamster cage of generous proportions might be good. Or, even better yet, a fleece-drying pedestal with a squirrel baffle, like they use for bird feeders. Wouldn’t that be hilarious . . . to watch that darn squirrel trying to get to the fleece, only to be foiled?
    Best of luck, Steph. I firmly believe that animals should be treated humanely–but I also recognize that they are fundamentally different than humans, which requires different methods than we would use with people.

  172. I’d love to see a post on how you’re processing the fibre. Let’s see the washing of locks, and carding. Will you remove the weathered tips?

  173. Second thought: that’s a big hunk of fleece for a squirrel to have carried off. More than likely it was a dog (this is assuming that your backyard isn’t fenced in a dog-proof manner). If you take a whiff off the fleece, I wouldn’t be surprised if you caught an eau de canine in there. Dogs love things that smell strongly, and the sheepy smell of fleece would be right up a canine’s alley.
    Caging the drying fleece is sounding better and better . . .

  174. I am sorry, but I had to laugh. Just the way that you wrote it struck me funny. I know it isn’t funny, sorry.
    I hope that you can catch the culprit and make him reform his stealing ways.

  175. Don’t send your squirrel to Ottawa – we’ve got enough of them here already. πŸ™‚ Red, grey and black: they’re all here and playing in the trees in front of my townhouse.
    Sacrificial fibre sounds like a good plan. Make an offering to the squirrel of some fibre that you’re willing to shed – maybe small bits of leftovers?
    My squirrels get all the dog hair I strip from my dog’s coat, spring, summer, fall, winter. It’s not long enough to spin, but I’m sure that every one of the bushy-tailed tree rats in my neighbourhood has a cosy nest lined with dog fur.
    The starlings and grackles are like flying rats – they steal anything fuzzy/shiny left outside, too.

  176. We had a squirrel attack once at our little wooden cabin in the hills of Tennessee–the little SOB was eating the corners of our HOME! We tried everything (including the above-mentioned cayenne pepper), but nothing worked. We finally rounded up some neighbor’s teenage boys and put a price on the squirrel’s head.
    It worked, and we still have our little wooden cabin. (At least we did the last time I looked.)
    Know any teenaged boys who like guns?

  177. We had a giant red squirrel that we named Erik because he constantly pillaged the bird feeders. The assualt he would mount ont he suet feeders was truly Viking-esque. Forget any ideas of cayenne pepper – Erik just sneezed a few times, then decided he liked the spicy Mexican food. Maybe a truce is in order? Perhaps if you made this as a peace offering, he wouldn’t need to steal? After all, we are products of our environment. Maybe he just never recieved love, understanding, or gifts of wool in his life, and you could turn his life around – just reach out to him in the way you know best – knitting!
    I admit it. Even in their most dastardlyness, I find squirrels charming!

  178. Wouldn’t it be more sensible just to not leave it lying around outside??

  179. Okay, put up your dukes, you’re in for a fight! Do you have an attic? Check there. Those animals (and I use that term loosely as they are of the rodent family)can “squirrel” their way anywhere. We had one get in the attic. The destruction was unbelievable. Considering my DH doesn’t believe me when I tell him we have any unwanted “pets” until they actually come out and “announce” (like the skunk did) that they have moved in with their relatives. Good luck, the fight for fleece is on……LOL

  180. “tree-jockey”
    Must be a renegade Red Squirrel from here in Maine. Those things are demons brought to life.

  181. I like Pixie’s suggestion – a live trap, then shave the little sucker bald. Maybe even tattoo him, so he can be easily identified for future targeting. Oops, I mean observation…really I do. Yeah. Go, Harlot!

  182. If the drying box/rack idea doesn’t fly, bribery doesn’t fly, well shhh, I’m Italian and I got “connections” in the right places…
    They can handle your squirrel problem right quick πŸ˜‰

  183. In the words of “The Godfather” – ‘Take it to the mattresses!’ You go girl! That silly Squirrel! Game ON!!!

  184. My friend’s old mother was nice to a squirrel once, fed it and everything. Made a real routine of it. Everything was fine and dandy until the first day that she didn’t show up (sick, don’t you know). The squirrel climbed up the screen door, chattered angrily, and then peed on it.
    Filthy squirrels.

  185. Perhaps a live trap with a bit of fleece as a lure? Then you can relocate him to some enormous green space thirty or so miles away? This has worked for me with other kinds of pesky garden thieves (except I used peaches not fleece for bait!)

  186. Lovely fleece! Sooo sad when that happens… My dog steals fleece too. Loves the stuff. She is always chewing it when she catches a piece…but squirrels are tough. I had a squirrel steal my aunt traps for his nest…and I was also attacked on a sidewalk and had to surrender my blueberry waffle on my way to work…yikes! Good luck and please show pictures of your plying technique…I’ve been hoping you would! I am spinning my first fleece from my newly acquired sheep and am hoping to knit a sweater…wondering how to plan this project…could use some inspiration. May the force be with you!!

  187. “…with squirrel spit on it.”
    Heehee!!! As if the rest weren’t bad enough. I pity the poor squirrel. He doesn’t stand a chance.

  188. Oh. My. God. This had me in TEARS from laughing.
    Time to set up a surveillance camera and nab the effer in the act.

  189. I was just wondering how Joe’s gansey was doing.
    As for the rat bastard, go search through your attic for that long-forgotten parakeet cage one daughter or the other abandoned at the age of nine. String it up in the backyard in the sun. Wash some more of that lovely fleece and drape it over sticks crisscrossing the inside of the cage, such that your friendly rat bastard can’t get to it. A parrot cage would be even better. Maybe a dog crate would work. You get my drift.
    Then sit back and watch the fun. Pea-shooters might come in handy, too.

  190. If I might suggest, a little Fox Urine goes a long way. And perhaps a catapult, attached to a thinga-ma-bob, with a doohickey to set it off.
    Cheers and Happy Hunting.

  191. Squirrels can chew through wire mesh (like screen), aluminum (like aluminum storm windows and screen doors), solid wood, leather, and plastic.
    If you are dead set on outdoor drying, you might try a dog crate. The all-metal kind, not the plastic airline crates, with good solid “bars” set fairly close together. I paid about 150. US$ for a very large one for a very large dog – about 4 feet long, with bars about an inch apart (sorry for non-metric, Stephanie). They come in smaller sizes. It would keep a squirrel out, and last forever.
    Maybe worth the investment. Otherwise you may spend a lot of time trying to baffle a species that is pretty darned acrobatic and goal-oriented. To a squirrel, I think Rube Goldberg was an amateur.

  192. I guess my only concern is, if the squirrel keeps stealing your wool, will you have enough to finish your sweater? Having half of it returned to you was a good thing, wasn’t it? Or is it unusable now, or requiring too much work to use it again? I really don’t know how it works, just wondering.

  193. Stephanie send it MA to air, we have the world’s dumbest squirrels(ok to be fair the birds are too) I carefully saved all yarns snips last year, I had this whole bag full. I got my husband to put it up in a tree so the “poor little things’ could use it for their nest….they didn’t take one single piece! Ahh…thinking about it now, I see their must be a Black Market of fleece, and spun colored yarn isn’t GOOD enough for them! Though they do love Doritoes, I watched the squirrel take all of them to hide in his spot….couldn’t wait for it to rain, so they all melted into a big glob! Sprinkle pepper on it next time…..

  194. The squirrel may have a teensy brain but he also has absolutely nothing else to do with it other than plot the theft of more fleece. Save your sanity and save yourself an ulcer. Give up now.
    Wash your fleece, lay it on the oven rack of that lovely new stove of yours and dry it overnight with the oven door open.
    We have possums. Trust me. The little bastards will be watching you burst a bloodvessel and sniggering from their tree-top lookouts.

  195. “Rat Bastard”!!! My stomach still hurts from laughing!! Sorry to pour salt on your wounds, but I must agree with the comments about outside being animal territory and therefore your fleece was fair game as nesting material. All kinds of critters use such stuff to warm their babies. Your best defense if you must dry fleece outside is putting it INSIDE a live trap; those are constructed to keep caught animals IN, therefore would be just as useful in keeping them OUT. You would need to keep it out of reach though…they will try to reach it if they really want it. Next, my weiner dog is an excellent example of her breed’s hunting background and considers “dangerus skerls” and “ebbill bunnies” the best kind of chew toy! All we need is an invite from you! (My sister would come along too…you might have to hide your stash from us…maybe you should just get your own weiner dog!)

  196. Welcome to the club of folks who wish you could shoot off firearms within the city limits πŸ™‚
    We have some luck with throwing rocks at them and have seriously contemplated sling shots.

  197. You know, you can fire at it with anything really. Throw sharp pointy stuff at it. I doubt you’ll actually hit it or anything, just scare the bejesus out of it. Very great fun.
    But personally, what works best are other animals. Get a dog that actually will chase, track, and hunt the damned animal and let it get him. It’s amazing. It’s totally nature and stuff so there really is no need to feel bad about it at all; predator chases, tracks, and hunts prey, all a very normal procedure. AND if you can get the dog to do it, you can probably get it to track the squirrel’s scent and locate the rest of your stuff, as long as the trail isn’t too old, yeah?

  198. Oh NO! As soon as you said your heart fell I thought, “Not the SQUIRREL!”
    That reminds me, speaking of the archives. I see that cherry season is coming up soon. [ominous chord]

  199. Steph, I’m surprised you’re not seeing the opportunity that lies in front of you. Here you have some squirrel mother who just wants to keep her babies warm and comfortable, and you love to knit for babies…put 2 and 2 together! Knit tiny little squirrel sweaters! And little squirrel blankets! Then the squirrels won’t need to steal your fleece! Come on, you know you love to knit little tiny things…wouldn’t they be cute?

  200. My mom has a giant (ok really big) mesh dome uesd to cover foods at picnics. It would be plenty large enough to cover all that wool and still allow the air and sun to get to it. I think that would work to slow the rodent down. then set a “Have a heart”(sic) trap nearby. the trap will catch the terrible beasty without hurting him (hence tha name) and finally there is a middle school class somewhere that would love a squirrel as class pet.
    I know they also make high frequency sound things that chase off rodents.

  201. Dear Stephanie: I have thieving squirrels in Washington State as well but I have no worries at all about my stash. I brought a large rabbit hutch and do all of my drying in it. It is fairly neat as the bottom of the cage is of wire mesh for the air to currulate. It is a tall hutch so I can hang wool in it to dry. Best is all, it is made of coated wired so it does not rust. And the squirrel? All he can do is gaze at my fleeces longingly and go mess with the bird feeder. (PS: You can order hutches on line at pet supply companies. Parrot cages also work but are more expensive.)

  202. A trick that works to keep them out of birdfeeders, if you could rig some sort of hanger in the middle, is to run a clothesline (Or similar) and then string an empty 2 L. or so bottle, the birdfeeder, and then another bottle. The bottles spin, so they can’t get across them. Maybe something of this sort? And the gardeners around here have all sorts of tricks to keep them out of tomatoes, maybe your local gardeners would have suggestions?

  203. A whole campground of people in the NY Adirondacks has been joining forces against thieving red squirrels. We are vicious and show no mercy. We bait rat traps with marshmallows! Goodbye squirrels.

  204. Oh my word! Must remember to put on Depends before reading your blog.
    Two thoughts:
    1) Um that fleece looks a lot like a bunch of baby animals all together in a nest. Like baby rats. Sorry.
    2) Can you get a nice wire cage, run some finer meshed wire inside it (so little squirrel paws won’t reach in and filch said fleece) and put that outside to dry your fleece? My cynical opinion is that all squirrels will like your lovely fleece and that one rat bastard is just waiting behind the next for his/her shot at it. Just a thought.

  205. Hehe, maybe you could buy a Goodwill sweater, start unravelling and tie one end inside somewhere, then when the squirrel takes it, follow the trail and smoke the little blighter out? You could use incense, then use incense on your porch and he’ll come to realise that the smell is bad? I dunno. Reminds me of the raccoons while camping a couple weeks ago. They ATE MY KNITTING.

  206. I understand your squirrel problem. They have dug up every single plant; killed several fuschias and bonsai. I will be very careful of any fiber product going outside.

  207. If only your neighbourhood was “filthy with broke spinners” – then I would help you find a new one!
    Maybe…dry your fleece indoors? Or is it all part of the ‘Game’? Sounds like I have some archives to search…

  208. Hey, I figure that if I can’t trust my domesticated, trained PETS* not to run off with yarn, what can you expect from wildlife? Anything I wash dries inside, thank you . . . you can’t trust those wild animals to properly respect wool. You just can’t.
    (*Not, of course, that I don’t trust Chappy . . . now. But when he was a puppy with those sharp, needle-like teeth? Um . . . why do you suppose that every knitting bag I own absolutely must CLOSE at the top?)

  209. Maybe you could get a mesh laundry bag, and put your fleece in that. Then you could tether it down. Or an upside down laundry basket with a couple of bricks on it?

  210. The thing is how are you going to be able to know which squirrel is the rat bastard who ate the fleece? Doesn’t one squirrel look pretty much like another? And if he tells a friend and that friend tells another friend and then they tell two more friends… well, this may become more than just a game, you may have a full on spinner verses squirrel war.

  211. My mother has two squirrel-sized box traps and she knows how to use ’em (although it sounds like you are not really in the catch-and-release state of mind at this moment)!

  212. Hunt him down Steph. I never swerve to avoid them in the road…..I’ve seen the commercials.

  213. My friend says that Squirrels are just rats with good PR. I am starting to think that he is right. Thieving bastard!

  214. I agree with Lori – at first glance, I thought you had a mess of baby squirrels there! I was relived to find out it was just the fleece that LOOKED like squirrel fur.
    My sister is trapping (and hopefully releasing elsewhere,) her over abundance of squirrels – and my mom did it for years (and she actually made a dent in the population in her yard)…maybe a hava-heart type trap is just what you need!

  215. I used to have a friend who referred to squirrels as “roadkill pot pie waiting to happen.”
    I know. You’re a vegetarian. Also, breaking a veg diet would most likely not happen in the face of an opportunity for squirrel pot pie. But dude, that squirrel’s days look numbered, so…
    Just thought I’d mention it. Soit sage, little buddy. πŸ™‚

  216. Walnut? Nah, his brain is more the size of a jelly bean. Makes you feel a little humble, eh, to be bested by a jelly bean brained mammal (I mean, that’s how I felt as I paid the $1000 repair bill for all the holes and rips in the siding of my house. I’m going to enjoy watching them try to find their peanut caches next winter).

  217. Naughty little squirrel! hahaaa… I like the caynenne pepper and pepperocini juice idea. We have a squirrel that nibbled on my bike (which is unfortunately stored on the balcony/deck of our apartment). I have since covered various parts with aluminum foil.

  218. Damn their eyes – little rats with fuzzy tails! I keep a spray bottle with vinegar, a little water and hot sauce to drive the buggers away when they come stealing my birdseed. Just don’t spray it upwind!

  219. Would you like me to send you some Great Pyrenees clippings to guard your fleece while it’s drying?
    Seriously, I actually do this for a living. It’s part of my job. Nuisance wildlife management, I mean. Not dog jokes.
    In addition to squirrels and house pets, other animals often abscond with wool, including raccoons, many sorts of birds, and coyotes. But squirrels are diurnal, and the fleece disappeared overnight, eh? And a squirrel would either have to drag that big chunk of fleece (in which case you would have found a trail of tangled wool bits), or run with it a mouthful at a time (as they usually do with bedding). So you know what my gut tells me?
    Look at that pile of fleece, as viewed from above. Squint a little. It looks like a rodent orgy, doesn’t it? A squirrel sashimi buffet.
    Now imagine a hawk (early morning)… or an owl flying overhead at night or observing from a nearby tree … and imagine the fleece stirring in the breeze. What a yummy pile of squirming squirrels! I suspect an owl thought it was in for a furry feast and was quite befuddled when it grabbed two taloned feet full of fluff. Once it realized it wasn’t food, the owl would have dropped the fluff. Part of it may be on the roof of that building next door. Keep scouting the immediate area to see if it blows down.
    Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl and Great Horned Owl are common in your area … and Great Horneds adapt well to urban life in neighborhoods with mature trees and shrubbery. Not likely you’ll find the rest of the fleece in a tree — owls are cavity dwellers and opportunistic nesters, taking over nests abandoned by other birds or nesting in the hollows of trees or a crevice in a building.
    If you do catch the squirrel in action again, email me privately and I’ll be glad to give you further advice.

  220. And if the squirrel ends up accidentally deceased, let me know. We have a nice little rodent graveyard in front of my house where my daughter’s previous victims, I mean pets have met their melancholy end. In Holloween, their little ghosts run around, scaring the jeebers out of the cats…really–it’s good karma. You could use one of those yourself, yes?

  221. I got yer squirrel solution right here: it’s called a .22 carbine rifle. Pump-action, loads of fun, and very accurate. Squirrels tend to be overpopulated in urban areas, anyway. Not enough wolves around when you need ’em.

  222. I have a miniature dachshund, Lexus, that would love to get her teeth into your squirrel!

  223. I second (or whatever – I admit, I did not read every comment) the negative conditioning option. Put out a waste fleece, heavily saturated with essence of habanero pepper. The little guy will be terrified of wool forevermore.

  224. Oh, my. Yep, time to put that fleece up on a (caged) pedestal! Preferably hotwired…
    Although I must agree…a nightflying predator *would* be a better candidate, since the squirrel never did leave clues as to where his stash was. (Ah, that we could be as wise and crafty!)
    Couple of links for folks…PLEASE go read these, but PLEASE put down all food and drink first!

  225. I’m sorry about the new “fleece wars” but thanks for the laugh. I have no suggestions that haven’t already been written – good luck!
    Oh, watched Knitty Gritty this morning while I grafted the toe on my second Monkey. You were great, Stephanie!

  226. Oh lord. Are squirrels roaming agents of CHOKE?? One has one’s suspicions…
    After having seen “Daylight Robbery” 1 and 2 on A&E several years ago, frankly, outwitting ’em with clever tamper-proof packaging doesn’t seem to work. (The one who managed to figure out an entire obstacle course to get to, then inside, a bird feeder was just… Well, we should be so lucky to have that much cleverness working for any think tank.) I’d say forget outside, get stacking dryer racks, and a good fan. Ok, so the fleece doesn’t get that nice outdoorsy sunshine smell. You live in a city, anyway. Tell yourself it’s not an outdoorsy smell, it’s just smog, despite what your nose thinks. Inside, at least it’ll be safe! (Ok, safer.)
    And t’heck with shipping him off to Ontario or suchlike if you trapped him. I’d say Nunavut, meself. (Bob– Er, I mean the Northwest Territories, would be too good for the little rat bastard.)

  227. Oh my God! I think I’m just going to bust a gut laughing!!!! You and my husband have to be related because he’s a squirrel magnet too. He even calls them rat bastards!!! We live in the country and love birds so we have several bird feeders out in our yarn. As you would expect, we have a quite a few squirrels and chipmunks that visit. They make my husband crazy! So crazy in fact that several years ago my son and I bought him this great anti-squirrel bird feeder. It has a rechargeable base that spins when a certain amount of weight lands on it. You can see it in action here – http://www.yankeeflipper.com. It’s just a riot and it really works! Well, as long as you hang it far enough away from the pole that is LOL! We had one squirrel that figure out how to short circuit the system. After a bear (told you I lived in the country) bent the wrought iron pole that our bird feeders hang from, he found after some ridiculously funny trial and error, that he could hang from his back legs on the pole, lean over and steal seeds without putting weight on the spinning mechanism. We let him do that for a bit then straighted the pole. It was too funny. I also have to guard my fleece and yarn from the marauders, especially fleece. More than once I have come outside to see a bit of fiber mysteriously bobbing down my driveway. The culprit here is usually chipmunks, but those rat bastard squirrels have been caught too. You would think after a while they would just buy their own fleece, or at least get some extra fur from a shedding dog! It’s not like there’s a shortage of dog fur in the world! My Corgi sheds enough for at least 5 standard poodles! You would think that they would be happy with that! Good luck on your mission Brave Defender of the Fleece. We are behind you (holding our fleeces very, very, tightly!) every step of the way!

  228. Can’t you placate him with very cheap yarn and shredded blanket or something. Maybe if he had enough of that he would be satisfied.

  229. 1. Get a humane trap
    2. Put some of the squirrel chewed fleece in it
    3. Put it outside
    4. Take squirrel filled humane trap on next book tour.
    5. Open trap over large body of water and see if the little bastid is a flying squirrel

  230. Fox urine. Go to an organic gardening center near you (or must be someplace on the Web) and buy fox urine. There are special cotton-like applicators that you squirt it on and then hang to discourage squirrels and the like. You do have to replenish the scent after it rains and every couple of weeks. It does work and does not smell so bad that it keeps humans out of the garden.

  231. That little bugger deserves anything that you can throw his/her way! Good luck!

  232. You know what they say – a squirrel is only a rat with a good PR!
    Look forward to reading your blogs – makes my day!

  233. YOu made my day! Here ih Oklahoma, I battle a possum that eats my puppy’s food, and hisses at me when I nicely ask it to go back to its whatever. It doesn’t, and even sits on the patio watching me as it eats! It is not even cute and has a nasty looking long, thick pale pink tail.

  234. You are hilarious.
    We too have a nutty (no pun intended) squirrel…he is a descendent of a long line of psychotic squirrels that have taken up residence under our barn. The newest is named NumbNuts VI
    The current one has discovered how to fly–in order to get onto the squirrel proof feeder. He also goes catatonic and we can pelt stuff at him without him moving. He has even fallen off the side of a tree.
    Previous generations have chewed holes in the barn floor & composter, slept in coffee cups accidentally left out..kept us up at night with their incessant clicking. One time I saw one trying to make off with my fathers entire sweater.
    No fleece theft yet…although I will think twice about drying my washed yarn in the summer sun!

  235. I’d be cautious about the squirrel relocation idea. My FIL tried that two summers ago, and after taking more than twenty squirrels for a long drive (one at a time), discovered that his yard had MORE squirrels than it had when it started. Conversely, some of his neighbors were saying it was the most squirrel free they’d been in years. Apparently, he was creating some sort of squirrel vacuum, and drawing squirrels from all over.
    During this time, a squirrel got in their garage. It ignored the trash can full of birdseed, and instead decided to completely shred the very expensive child car seat that was on the shelf.

  236. I once read this book, the premise of which was that if squirrels worked together rather than solo, they could quite possibly rule the world. Actually, it was a book about why there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a squirrel-proof bird feeder — evidently, there’s no such thing as squirrel-proof wool, either! If it makes you feel any better (or at least gives you a sense of solidarity), a veterans’ cemetery in Wisconsin recently discovered that the “vandals” who were stealing flags from graves were — you guessed it — squirrels. Cheeky bastards.

  237. I had to stop packing, I’m laughing so hard. Wondering if you can spin squirrel tail. When my sister-in-law had squirrels in her attic, the pest removal person told her that they had to take them across the river to keep them from coming back. Apparently they are genetically territorial. Good luck with this round, I’ll be checking your updates from my lounge chair on Lake Michigan’s beach.

  238. I have a most devious plan. Oh yes, masterful, I tell you You must put a delicious looking bundle of fleece in the offender’s path–sacrifice the bluefaced leicester if you must–then order twenty sticks of dynamite special delivery from ACME and cleverly hide it in bundle. When that Road Runner…er…squirrel comes sniffing around, (((KABOOM))) Am I not a genius?
    Wil E. Coyote

  239. We’ve had sqwerl wars in our neighborhood; they would get into everything. My neighbor bought a cage to trap them but they didn’t get caught; he was so angry that he had a useless cage. However, my other neighbor bought it for him and put her fleece INSIDE the cage, far enough away from the sides that the sqwerls couldn’t get at it. So caged, dry fleece; outwitted sqwerls.

  240. CURSES!!! So unfair. My first thought was that maybe you could use those food cover net things but then I realized that a determined squirrel could easily get it out of his way. I’d loan you my dog but she might eat a child and considering she doesn’t like tall men, she’d never stop barking at Joe.

  241. Could you use some kind of fleece-pen? I’m thinking of something like a pop-up hamper, though he might try to chew through it. You could hang a cowbell on it as an alarm.
    I know you don’t have Bed Bath & Silliness… just google “pop-up hamper”. You could easily do something to close the top, and tie the hamper to the patio furniture so he doesn’t drag the whole thing off πŸ™‚

  242. You’re a human. He’s a squirrel.
    Perhaps you should dry your fleece somewhere else.

  243. I guess I’ll have to be careful with my yarn when we go to the campground! I feed the chipmunks and squirrels. Guess I should make sure that I don’t leave my knitting outside unattended or it might disappear…

  244. You know. . . my husband’s family eats squirrels.
    Just sayin’
    Get ‘im Steph! Kick his furry little bushy-tailed ass! I’m rootin’ for ya!

  245. I have an idea (insert lightbulb here) A worth it investment in a metal trap, like a lobster trap or a large dog kennel and a small table that would fit inside it. That way, the fleese can dry safely on the little table while protected in the “cage” unreachable by fleese fleesing bastards AND! They get to stare at what they can not have! You can protect and tease at the same time.

  246. Rat bastard indeed (I don’t often curse…well not lately of for the past several years…I’ve had to work at it), but given your situation and having personal knowledge of squirrel behavior, I feel justified in echoing your comment and just for the fun of it, I will say it again: Rat bastard! And, BTW, pigeons? They are flying rat bastards!

  247. RAT BASTARD!!! One of my favorite expressions in the whole world!!! I am howling yet again! Squirrel spit!!! Lord, lady! This situation is awful, but oh, how I love your way with words!!!
    So, if he comes back, I have a prefix to rat bastard for you to use. {Through the years I have found that reoccuring annoyances in life make me want to expand my names for them as they continue to make me even more of a raving lunatic.}
    This prefix comes from a time when I had a boss who was a thieving b-tard that made my life a living nightmare. I named him the P.O.S.R.B. – Piece O’ S*** Rat Bastard. When using this term you say the letters, making your use of vulgar language safe for the public arena!
    POSRB is now known and used nation-wide here in the US and it all stems from me. Since you are one of my favorite-though-actually-unknown-people, I am hereby giving you the sole rights for its use and propagation in Canada.
    Go for it! It’ll help – I promise!

  248. Bummer! I bet you could make some sort of screened box for drying your fleece. Squirrels are pretty tricky and flexible so I’m sure it would have to be large so the fleece could sit in the middle of it, too.

  249. Can you at least re-wash it? Or is it dead and gone forever, only lacking a proper burial?
    You got game Woman! The squirrel is vastly outmatched

  250. My sympathies Stephanie. We have the same problem with little brown monkeys in India. And they aren’t even trying to line nests, they steal things just for the glee of it! Nothing like finding your toothbrush in the road covered with little monkey pawprints! Hope you have enough fleece left for the gansey.
    Rewalsar, H.P., India

  251. I like Pixie’s idea, trapped, transported elsewhere and released, Shaved Bald of course.
    I am sorry for the loss of your fleece. I cannot imagine how frustrating that is. So sorry though, I have laughed so hard I am dizzy. They are fuzzy little rat bastards…POSRBS

  252. Have you thought that maybe it’s not the squirrel? The usual MO is take small pieces of something large, not a large piece of something bigger than the squirrel.
    Squirrels can be bribed, you know. Pecans are especially effective.

  253. Harlot, Ma’am:
    A lightweight box frame and some fiberglass screen (no metal lest the drying fiber be stained by rust) and you will be ahead of the squirrel forever.
    It would be easy to build, and even the lightest version would wildly exceed the squirrel’s ability to carry it.
    Of course, a much more organic version would be an alley cat (hungry and mean).
    Down here (deep south), a lot of folks would shoot the squirrel. I assume that aspect of society is not so popular in your fair city…

  254. Well one thing you can take comfort in is that corriedale fleece did go through a lot worse when it was still on the fleece.
    That being said, can you train the cat to attack squirrels, or at the very least keep them at bay?

  255. Don’t fight him! A fiber hoarding squirrel should be domesticated. Just imagine the treasures he’d bring home if “home” was a happy squirrel house in your back yard… it has promise.

  256. We have vegetable eating squirrels here. As in, we (try to) grow the veggies, they eat them.
    But this is far, far worse…
    I can’t wait to hear the next installment. It’s going to be the Summer of Yarn Harlot vs Bastard Squirrel…

  257. Rats with fluffy tails. That’s all they are. See the magnificent, impassioned, insane rant entitled Outwitting Squirrels by Bill Adler. It will give you some ideas.

  258. I just got a list of household hints and one of them said “to keep squirrels away from your plants sprinkle cayenne pepper around them. It will not hurt your plants and the squirrel will not go near them.” Why not sprinkle cayenne around your wool? It is worth a try.

  259. I kept waiting for someone to say…and Valerie did … that you’d been fleeced.
    But while I was reading, I began wondering…
    maybe you were de-fleeced!

  260. The Horrors!
    I really tried not to LOL but I just couldn’t make it pass the spit part without ROTFLOL…sorry. Good luck!

  261. I suppose it’s unlikely the squirrel is teaching itself to spin, but wouldn’t it be funny if it returned carded batts in a day or two?

  262. I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn’t have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.

  263. Like other readers I’d recommend a liberal dose of cayenne pepper. I use it on the lettuce in the garden and the squirrels have learned to leave it alone. It’s worth a shot… Though there are the mutant squirrels who go to Indian restaurants and order spice 10. I have to confess to being a squirrel lover though. I don’t mind sharing a little lettuce with them, the problem is that they want all the lettuce!

  264. ALL of it? Couldn’t believe it when I saw that picture. Noooooooo! Do you have enough to finish the gansey? I can sympathize with your dilemma. I’m a bleeding-heart vegetarian, but the raccoons in my neighborhood have made me contemplate violence more than once.

  265. Maybe he thought it was a gift. I mean, you just left it out there for him. Again.
    I’ve got nothing against squirrels. I grew up in Ohio, where the brown ones are absolutely EVERYWHERE. Well, unless we were making peanut butter cookies; then they were heavily concentrated on the side of the oak tree that faced the kitchen window.
    Maybe if, when you dry your wool outside (truly, that’s the best place to do it), you hang it in a mesh bag, and put a bowl of yummy peanuts on the other side of the yard from the wool to distract your little bandit.

  266. After reading the post and a few comments, I imagined Stephanie crawling through the bushed in her garden with a crossbow (or anything else legal and lethal) hunting for the abovementioned critter.
    And, as for the squirrel recipes, hand them over. Not that I wanted to hunt for walnut-brained rodents but I guess it would be cool to use them with something easier to obtain. Steak or so.

  267. I’m with Rams on this one. There’s no way you can prove that the squirrel did it. You’re just avoiding the gansey and your destiny.
    Get over it, m’dear.

  268. Oh, and we thought moths were the big problem! HA.
    On a list of the world’s top 10 smartest animals, based on: how they play, how they problem-solve, and how they socialize, squirrels came in at number 10. You have a big problem.

  269. I just heard a story on the radio (NPR, Sunday Weekend Edition) about a woman using strobe lights for a few minutes 2-3 times a day to drive away squirrels.

  270. I nearly gasped aloud when I saw the second picture and knew instantly which “he” you meant.
    Hmmmm…I wonder how they would respond if you somehow acquired and hung outside a squirrel tail. You know, sort of a warning, “Look out, buddy; this could be YOU!”

  271. OMG! I read this one out loud to the husband and he and I have had a fabulous Sunday morning giggle all because of this great post! So sorry to laugh at your misfortune, but the way you wrote it is rather hysterical in a good way:) We love it and thank you for a great start to our day!
    PS: Try trapping the little booger. Cats also work very well:) A boisterous doggie would do the trick as well:)

  272. Go get him! I took the day off from work to watch you on Knitty Gritty. It was great. Next time you are in Maryland I am so there.

  273. I don’t think he discarded half your wool. I think the wool in the alley was a halfway point to wherever his nest is. He carried all the wool to the alley and then started carrying it from the alley to his tree. Search a little further afield for your fleecey tree.
    I know this sucks for you, but all I could think was woo-hoo! More rage-induced postings! You have a special, very entertaining, way with words when you’re angry. πŸ™‚

  274. Somone above commented about strobe lights. I’m the nuisance wildlife person above, and strobes are my Numero Uno way to get raccoons and squirrels out of attics. Keeps deer out of the garden at niht, too. The trick is to use the random sequencing (slow strobnes and rapid ones vary).
    Steph, we await your update!

  275. Here’s an idea – Trap him (them) and release elsewhere using fleece as bait?!!? Whaddya’ think?

  276. Didn’t you conclude, last time you went through this, that the squirrel was in love with the fleece and who were you to come between them?
    And didn’t you then beat him/her about the head and ears with a broom? I would too.

  277. Well, the problem is…that fleece looks remarkably like a pile of squirrel corpses. Perhaps the little bastard thought you were a grave robber and he was exacting retribution. Or perhaps he thought it was a writhing pile of female squirrels waiting to … well, you know. You can’t catch the squirrel until you understand the squirrel, and I don’t think we understand him yet.

  278. Oh, that totally sucks! Maybe you could make some mesh cages that would keep the vermin out while your fleece or yarn is drying. Last night we got home from camping to find the back door to our house wide open… Open to the elements, open for any animal to make itself at home, open for burglars to walk right in (although it would seem there were none around at the time.) But it wasn’t those things that made my heart stop, it was when I saw the mother of all moths resting by the clock that I started to panic. After close inspection my wool seemed fine, but I made my husband capture the beastie and take it outside!

  279. Let the games begin baby! Stephani: 0 Squirrel: 1
    Now, I am an animal lover myself, but don’t mess with the stash, just ask my alpaca loving dog! How about a little fleece left out as bait that has been lavishly sprinkled with cayenne powder? It won’t do any permanent harm, but it sure would leave a lasting impression on your little friend…..I wouldn’t advise spinning it afterwards though.

  280. Someone mentioned that Toronto is rife with raccoons. Perhaps it’s not a squirrel, but one of those furry, naturally masked bandits?

  281. I never forgot this episode after reading about the beast! You could build a cage to dry the fleece and wool in. He would be outside and furious.. (and you would have a little revenge πŸ˜‰
    Good luck anyway!

  282. This is unfortunately a common activity for squirrels. Here’s part 1 of my story:
    but it unfortunately leaves out the lovely and expensive angora-ish yarn that was so cruelly stolen from me, since I didn’t discover that til a few days later. I recovered almost half of it in the bird feeder near the window, but the strand broke in one of the bushes near the base of the deck stairs. He of course couldn’t take the bubblegum-pink acrylic!
    My squirrel also came back many, many times (destroying many, many screens while trying to get back in my condo), but the last time I saw any trace of him was in January. I now have a new screen frame and much heavier screen. I keep my fingers crossed that I can safely open that window without being right there or leaving the tv/radio on. I hope you can clean up and use what’s left of the wool!

  283. Steph,
    You have had me so paranoid since reading about the bastar…I mean squirrel…that every time I lay fleece outside to dry I check on it every 2 minutes!!! lol!
    Actually, my squirrels don’t seem to give a flying hoot about the fleece.
    Crickets, however, CRICKETS LOVE nice soft wet fleece and think they can build a nest in it. I can’t see crickets from my window like I can see the squirrels though so it’s always a surprise when I retrieve my fleece and crickets are jumping out of it from all directions. I swear, there’s one cricket in particular that WILL NOT LET GO! I’ll throw it out of the fleece and the little buggar will be back in the fleece before I can get it flipped over!!!

  284. You might be falling into the trap laid out by the feral cats…
    Every summer, there’s always a concerted effort by “do-gooders” to catch, neuter and release the feral cats. So they need to get that focus diverted onto something else, and there’s nothing better than a thieving squirrel. After all, a feral cat wanders around, roots through a garbage can or two, and maybe catches a mouse or two a day. That’s a service, really. But if they can get people thinking that squirrels are out to steal the items left in the backyards of the city, then they can swing people’s efforts toward getting rid of tree rats rather than “cat nads”.
    So get the CSIs to check that suspected “squirrel spit” and see if it isn’t really cat drool…

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