In Which I am Pretending

Today I am not spinning this, which is what would be next on my wheel, were I not otherwise occupied.

Merino/bamboo/sparkle batt from Hanks in the Hood.

Today I am cleaning and working, and cleaning. It’s time for the bi-annual tossing of the stash.  Last year when I said that I was "tossing" the stash, a bunch of knitters wrote and said that they would like it if I tossed it their way, and I realized that the term might have multiple meanings.  I don’t mean that I’m tossing things as in throwing them away – I mean that I’m tossing the stash, like you would a salad.  I go through the whole thing, in all its bags, boxes and shelves, and I have a look.  I vacuum out the shelves, put things back in a (more or less) orderly fashion, and check carefully for vermin.  I look for evidence of mice moving into a cozy skein of merino,  carpet beetles looking for a skein that’s up against a baseboard or wall, and yeah.  I look for moths.

At this point in my knitting experience, I believe that Toronto is Moth Central.   I also believe that if a Toronto knitter tells you they’ve never seen a moth in their stash, they might need to add the word "yet" to the end of it – and part of me wonders if they’re lying.  I think moths are like the knitterly version of herpes.  Lots of people have it, but nobody talks about it, and we all pretend that we’re don’t have them if we do – but we do, and I have.

I don’t have a lot – certainly nothing you would call an infestation, but I live in a house built in 1880, and at least part of my home is insulated with horsehair and old newspapers.  Whatever people had kicking around that they could fill the chinks with to defend themselves against a Canadian winter is stuffed in my walls.  (I don’t know if it’s true of my house, but some of my neighbours have found wool (clean fleeces) as insulation during renovations too.)  Our houses are literally built of moth food, and then if you’re a knitter, and you go and stuff more wool into the place, you’re literally laying out a buffet, and it’s only natural that moths would come where the food is. All a house built in 1880 needs to have a nagging little moth problem is one owner over the last hundred and thirty years who didn’t beat them into submission, which is pretty hard to expect, considering wool rugs, wool curtains, wool clothes and wool blankets.  At least once a year I used to see one of the foul winged beasts flutter through the living room and it would send me into a terrible panic.  Where are they? What are the eating? DO THEY HAVE THE CASHMERE?

Now I accept them as a natural part of my ecosystem – like mosquitoes, or mice. They live here, so do I , and I do what I can to minimize them, but really, I accept that they’re pretty inevitable. Even if this house were totally moth free, I can’t believe it would stay that way. I engage in a lot of high risk behaviour.  I bring yarn, fleece and roving in all year round, and all I would need to do to touch off something bad was bring in something from a shop that had moths. (This is another secret we don’t talk about. Some shops have moths.  All they have in them is moth food. How can they not? It’s not dirty or bad, it just makes sense.)  The age of my home, the climate of where I live and the fact that I consort with lots of other knitters means that I need to be very, very, very careful not to let a single moth get the upper hand around here.

Thus, I am vigilant, bordering on neurotic. I keep everything in ziplocks. (Moths can eat through plastic, but it’s harder for them, and I’m all for anything that could slow them down.)  Twice a year, spring and fall (when moths, carpet beetles and mice are most active) I toss the stash.  I put my eyes on every skein of yarn.  They all get an inspection and a shake out.  Maybe an afternoon in the sun, if there is any.  Every container is vacuumed and washed – if it’s washable, and the yarn is rotated top to bottom and back to front. I don’t keep things in baskets.  (If you’ve ever lived the dream, then you know that basket + wool + moth + time = your worst nightmare.)  Our boxes of woollies (because moths like nothing better than dirty sweaters, socks and hats) are washed regularly, and go for a lay out in the sun. 

This system has served me well. On the rare occasion that I’ve found evidence of an incursion, it’s been small, and I was able to totally eradicate it. If I suspect vermin (moth or carpet beetle) that skein leaves.  I don’t try to wash it, keep it, or make it better.  I kick it to the curb instantly, without regret or a second look, and if I’m tempted to feel bad about losing the skein, I remember that this is the price of doing business.  If you’re going to have this much moth food in one place – if you’re going to essentially invite them, hire a bartender, put up twinkle lights, lay out a smashing spread, and then walk away – then you can neither be surprised or upset when they come.  (I sometimes have to remind myself of that to feel better.)

My fear, that I would have a foothold situation where the moths ever got the best of me and somehow managed to invade the bulk of the stash, that idea is more than enough to keep me vacuuming, tidying- organizing, inspecting and washing on a pretty spring day when I would rather be spinning.  So I’m pretending I’m spinning, and admitting that I worry about moths, and that I’ve seen the interlopers before, and they are ugly, and they want my yarn and yours, and they will stop at nothing to get it,  and I wish knitters talked more about this, so that we could band together and form a mighty wave of prevention and treatment. 

Honk if you’ve seen a moth in your stash.  They are nothing to be ashamed of.
Now go vacuum.  You’ll feel better.

210 thoughts on “In Which I am Pretending

  1. The spring cleaning urge is upon me and I was going to spend tomorrow vacuuming beind furniture and washing curtains, but now? Now you’ve put the fear of the Moth into me. Stash toss it is.

  2. Agreed on all counts, even if I’ve not recently been on top of it. Maybe this weekend is a good stash tossing time….,.

  3. It’s been 80F and Ice out on March 15. Spring is 6 weeks early and I found my cashmere gloves that I keep next to the bed (in case the furnace goes out in the middle of the night) with holes in them! I can’t believe it. I have pictures of my house in the 1920s. I’ve always been vigilant about vermin. But the audacity of the moths to go after my only pair of hard won cashmere gloves! I am appalled.

  4. 1974 colonial in New Jersey. Have not ever seen any evidence of moths but I am having new shelves built in my stash closet and I think I will make it cedar.

  5. Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am to live in a dry climate! We have moths in Colorado, yes, but they are few and far between. I have honestly never seen one in my stash or my basket of wool winter things, or my boxes of sweaters. I do reorg my stash occasionally, but don’t do the washing/vacuuming/moving part. However, I am contemplating moving to a wetter climate (Seattle), so this is a good warning and a good thing to keep in mind. I would definitely adopt your process twice a year to keep them at bay. Thanks!!!

  6. Your batting looks just like the Texas Bluebonnets that are beginning to emerge all over the state. So lovely!

  7. No, I have never had a wool moth. I have been infested with flour moths, which I consider the devil’s own spawn. But I have WAY more flour and flour grain products than I have stash. I am a better baker than knitter I’m afraid!

  8. I was always very proud of myself because in almost 50 yrs knitting had never had moths in my stash. Then last year I went to pick up a skein and it disintegrated in my hand. Had to do a lot of tossing that night. I am still herpes free.
    And to JL above: it never fails, they go after your best yarn/knitted piece.

  9. Well, I know what I will do this weekend! You remind me of my wise New England grandmother talking about head lice: It’s not a sin to get them, it’s a sin to keep them! Anyone can get the little critters – the secret is to be vigilant about not letting them stay. Out, out damn bug.

  10. I have found that if you keep some cakes of soap, preferably Lavender scented in your wool and wooly clothes it will keep all the crawlies away. One or two per tub or drawer, should do the trick.Linen and clothes cupboards need soap too, stops musty smells and crawlies.

  11. I didn’t know the little buggers can eat through plastic! House where I live was built in 1865, but the original owners put in cedar lined closets everywhere. Have not seen moths, but the occasional mouse. Fortunately, my cat is a champ at catching the little vermin.

  12. They eat pet hair, too…I just wish they would be exclusive so I could spin just one thing that had ABSOLUTELY NO cat or dog hair in it…
    Honk, honk, honk….*snif*

  13. Interesting. I did the same thing this past weekend. Tonight is going to be for washing the winter woolies and putting them away in their plastic storage bags for a nice slumber until next fall.

  14. There are times, as a vegan knitter, that I’m bummed out that I have far fewer yarn options than others. Then there are days like today that I feel freaking awesome. I don’t mean to revel in your pain, but it’s nice to win one every once in awhile.

  15. Living in Calgary, I didn’t actually know that there was such a thing as a moth infestation. (I didn’t know about mildew either, until I moved to Halifax and stored my winter clothes in a dank dirt basement.) It’s a different story for my gram in Germany though, and she puts these lavender-scented moth repellant things in her closet that smell really nice. They’re not available here, but perhaps in damper climes?

  16. Totally agree with JLMom…flour moths are satan’s little helpers. The problem is you can’t tell sometimes until you have poured the item in. I had them in my PECANS. It was incredibly disturbing and gave me the willies for days. I have always kept everything in plastic or tupperware containers but they still got in. Ugh. It’s so much worse because you EAT the food. You only wear the wool.

  17. They’ve been here, and yes, I found them in the cashmere. That hurt. A lot. Most of my stash currently lives in ziploc bags in a huge freezer. There is still even a little bit of room for food, just enough to justify the expense of running the freezer to keep my stash safe.

  18. Just started keeping a stash, so I appreciate all the tips and hints. I have had moths, would rather do almost anything else rather than clean, but will be vigilant about the Stash…
    (after watching for HOURS for a response or a mention in the new blog post may I repeat that WE WANT TO KNOW WHERE NATALIE GOT THOSE RED SHOES)
    Thank you, ahem.

  19. Here in Central Texas I’ve not seen moths or carpet beetles in my own stash, but I’ve seen others get infestations. I’m about to give my own stash a ‘toss’. I only do this once a year. Cleaning the woollie hand knits for summer storage, cleaning out and sorting the stash, sorting through and straightening out knittles and other tools once a year in spring.
    Then on to the annual ‘stuff’ purge. This year we are doing some serious sorting of books, because that’s what this house is insulated with!

  20. I have only been a knitter for a litle over a year and just kept my stash in the bags from the store-you know plastic gracoery bags. A few months ago in preparation for moving, I moved my small stash into a medium sized plastic container. As I was reading where you said you store everything in ziplocks I suddenly remebered that I have special ziploc bags where you can suck the air out of them. They are designed for the freezer. All my stash (except the acrylic) is not safely in those bags and in the plactic container. Now if my yarn container falls and all my yarn goes rolling, at least it as all in plastic bags and won’t get dirty.

  21. I have never had a moth problem but that doesn’t stop me going through all the wool every June and December.Just because you’ve never seen one doesn’t mean that they are not there…waiting (cue Jaws music). Ebay purchases go straight into quarantine, into my mother’s freezer, then into her outhouse, then into the kitchen for an inspection period. She has less to lose than me.

  22. I have an 1880s house too and see a few moths around. Never found on in my stash though thank goodness! I hear lavender is supposed to be a good deterrent? Haven’t tried it yet but it definitely smells better than moth balls!!!

  23. I too live in an old house, full of moth food. Years ago, a good friend brought me back some lovely mohair from Argentina. Within what seemed like days, my house was infested with moths. We’re still friends, but it was touch and go for a while.

  24. Man. Now I’m freaking out. What do you use as moth repellant? I have little cedar balls all over the place, and most of my stash is in tupperware-type plastic tubs. Dangit. Now I’m going to spend all weekend moth hunting instead of knitting.

  25. 1) i won’t be able to sleep now
    2) everything is getting inspected this week. EVERYTHING.
    ugh. ugh ugh ugh.

  26. My stash gets rotated through my chest freezer…I have a lot of silk and wool fabric, reproduction historical clothing, plus my knitting. I think the moths came in on an antique flag or quilt….Rotating through a freezer helps, a lot!

  27. I had buggers in my embroidery stash last fall, I don’t believe they made it into the front room where I keep my yarn. I have a lot of moth balls in that back room now.
    I have been putting off cleaning out the rest of the damage since I’ve fumed them all to death, but perhaps today is the day to finish.

  28. I knit mostly with acrylic, because people keep giving me bags of it. I’m pretty sure that moths don’t like it; it’s probably like chewing a mouthful of shredded-up plastic. Not very tasty. The only real wool that comes into my house is what I buy for socks, and I’ve never seen anything nasty on or in it. But can someone please tell me how to get rid of spiders? I have a lot of those, and I keep killing them and they just keep on coming. Where are they coming from? At least they don’t eat wool. Good luck with your stash-tossing, and I hope you don’t find any creepy-crawly.

  29. I only ever got moths in unwashed buffalo fiber. But I have had mice in my stash before. Now, almost everything is in zipped plastic bags inside plastic storage bins (numbered and cataloged in Ravelry, of course. When you have this many plastic bins, you have to have some sort of organization or you never find anything.) The washed fleece is stored in space bags (giant zip locks). So far, so good.

  30. One of the many great things about living in Alaska is the lack of large numbers of mothlike, buggy things. (Notice I did not say there were none, just few enough so that my stash is “safe”, with just a little vigilance.

  31. Not too much of a moth problem here in Utah, but I can also attest to the effectiveness of lavender/cedar. Plus, it smells wonderful. Does your cat munch wool? Mine recently chewed up a Noro sweater.

  32. Oh Lord! You’re scaring the willies out of me! I’ve never seen a moth here in Fort Wayne and hope I never do but now I’m going to be terribly paranoid about the stash even though it’s in ziploc bags inside plastic bins. And what about my handknit sweaters? Yikes!

  33. I knit mostly with acrylic, because people keep giving me bags of it. I’m pretty sure that moths don’t like it; it’s probably like chewing a mouthful of shredded-up plastic. Not very tasty. The only real wool that comes into my house is what I buy for socks, and I’ve never seen anything nasty on or in it. But can someone please tell me how to get rid of spiders? I have a lot of those, and I keep killing them and they just keep on coming. Where are they coming from? At least they don’t eat wool. Good luck with your stash-tossing, and I hope you don’t find anything creepy-crawly.

  34. One of the many great things about living in Alaska is the lack of large numbers of mothlike, buggy things. (Notice I did not say there were none, just few enough so that my stash is “safe”, with just a little vigilance.)

  35. Hmmm, I have something to say.
    What about clover? I put LOTS of clover among my stash. Moths hate its strong odours!!
    Another possible thing to do: freeze the darn yarn. Moths can’t stand freezer for a couple of days. I do this with my floor, when the bugs attack it, works like a charm. I think it would work with moths too… (No, I’d never try this, the clover kept them away from my stash)

  36. ‘Tossing’ has a third, entirely different meaning in the UK. So please excuse my sniggering.
    I’ll be checking for moths right after I’ve finished chasing the mice.

  37. I live in Arizona where I am guessing there are few months…but really, Stephanie, it would have been nice of you, if you were going to freak us all out about it, if you had included **Helpful Information Such As How To Tell A Questionably Moth-Infested Skein.** Cuz I have no idea. I mean, I’m off to do a google search obviously but it would have been very beneficial for the Queen Of Moth Awareness to have included her visual inspection tips in the post… 🙂

  38. Well, last spring I had Ron completely convinced that all moths were wool moths and that we would totally lose our shirts if even ONE flew into the house.
    (kept the monster light-bulb-loving moths out of my face for the whole summer. I count that as a win.)

  39. “Tossing” means something different in the UK too 🙂
    DH just noticed that his good suit has several holes on the back – hope that wasn’t down to moths

  40. My stash is small, but I go through it frequently and can think of only one time I had moths. It was while living in a hot/humid climate, far from (very) dry Colorado, where I live now. However, a couple weeks ago, I got a big bag of black oil sunflower seeds for the birds. A couple days later, when we went to fill the feeder, we found the bag crawling with little white worms. I took it right back to Lowe’s and the lady at customer service thought it was nasty too! She was ordering up a fleet of employees to get at that “stash” of sunflower seeds and see how many more were infested. Gives me the creeps just remembering it! Thanks for the reminder to be vigilant!

  41. I’m scared. But we can’t not talk about such infections just because we are afraid. Ignorance and silence only help the spread and worsen the problem. I’m going to do my part and be proactive about getting treatment for any possible infection. I’ll do my part and be vocal when I return from a small trip. Only if we work together with one voice can we slow the spread of infestation.

  42. We have moths and carpet beetles. I wish I could train the cats to eradicate them as well as I’ve trained my partner. We could use the help!

  43. The annual stash toss is also great for finding fiber you’d long forgotten you had. It’s worth doing that alone for me.

  44. I met Hanks in the Hood at Sock Summit! I bought some awesome skeins of sock yarn that remind me of Starry Night. And, proving that I live in too urban an environment, originally read the store sign as Skanks in the Hood. Mom would be so proud.

  45. I’m curious if freezing the wool like I was told to do with hamster food would work. Seems like the safest place would be to store it all in a deep freezer year around!!! In California we have some GIANT moths that sneak in once in a while. The cats take care of those quickly but after the small moths infested my parents pantry (Inside a thick plastic tupperware!) I’m paranoid.

  46. @Jen, Kate: Hehe I sniggered at that too. And then again at ‘tossing salad’. Real mature one over here. I considered myself a real knitter when I could finally stop giggling at ‘fingering weight’ yarn. I think I’ll go knit a willie warmer or a vulva purse now.

  47. Can’t go vacuum just yet. It is 10.45 PM here. My neighbours would not be pleased with me. I’ll wait till tomorrow morning 10.45 AM.

  48. I’ve never seen a moth in my stash, but last year I discovered that a whole bin full of doll clothes I had knit for my daughter had been decimated. All those sweet, original designs turned into swiss cheese! I made notes on what was ruined so I could knit new versions and promptly threw all the spoiled ones in the trash… and then my daughter received a long and energetic lecture about properly taking care of one’s belongings. Now we inspect all the doll clothes regularly, as well as the stash.

  49. Funnily enough, I’ve never gotten a moth in my stash…or any other sort of vermin, for that matter. I’m not saying it’s never ever going to happen but it hasn’t happened yet. Then again, I dig into my stash on a pretty regular basis and almost all of my lovely stash is housed in Rubbermaid bins, sometimes in a ziplock bag as well. The stash that are not part of those bins are usually stash that I don’t care as much about (like kitchen cottons or acrylics).
    It’s all good.
    Now, mice…I know we have mice in the attic and garage but I have yet to find any in the actual house. I suppose that’s part of the reason we have a dog…

  50. My husband teases me to no end. There have been several nights where I’ve got my booklight on, reading in the dark, and one lands on my head. I end up screaming and swatting and scaring the bajeebus out of my husband who then finds me angry and going through my stash which are in ziplock bags inside watertight containers…

  51. Hi, Steph,
    I have moths. I live in San Diego, so there is no harsh Canadian winter to kill moths once a year, so this is moth (and people) paradise. I put sachets of lavender where ever I have wool and that helps, also Lavender oil in the shampoo I use to wash woolies. They don’t like the smell of lavender and I do, so there, moths. Losing a garment of carefully knitted cables, for example, is heart-breaking. But we get over it. And knit on. BSJ on the needles for a friend’s first grandchild. Using up lots of little left-over balls of fingering weight yarn. Yeah me!

  52. I’ve never seen a moth in my stash, but I live in central Arizona, so I’m not sure if it’s just too dry for them to want to be here. Maybe they just don’t expect humans to want wool here? ^_~ I have seen the occasional moth flutter through my home. I wonder if our moths even eat wool. Do all moths eat wool?

  53. Idea: Cedar knitting needles. Are these available? Would knitting with them deter moths?

  54. I have birds, therfore seed and grains, therefore meal moths. My heart does a little flop each time I see one flutter by. We attemtp to keep them under control but I will say it still gives me pause. You, as always, are a very wise woman.

  55. I live in an apartment in New York City and I have moths, which, I must say, I prefer to other insects I could have. They got to some of my husband’s store-bought cashmere sweaters (the infestation started in his closet and I am the innocent victim) and I could not bear to throw them away so I kept them for recycling. I washed everything and then, when they were dry, I put them in the microwave for a minute or so with no ill effects on the yarn. Then I found one ball of an acrylic blend infested when I was halfway through the sweater. I nuked it a bit too long and it melted in the center. I had just enough to finish. Now I just don’t have much stash.

  56. I use those zipper bags that come home with new blankets, or pillows, or sometimes sheets. They are thicker than ziplocs, and yet still delightfully clear and flat– and they stack well.

  57. I haven’t seen a moth as of yet, but I have a smallish stash which I keep a vigilant eye on. (And in plastic).

  58. I remember when I saw the first moth in my house.
    Living right next to the ocean means we get a lot of fog and when it’s nice outside bf loves to open up the house. Well one night he left the backdoor open and the next think I know there is a moth.
    I hunted it down to an old fleece and threw it and everything near it out. Since then there has been nothing and that was over a year ago

  59. I’m so lucky to just have herpes and not moths!
    And I learned the hard way about stash tossing when I accidentally put a basket full of yarn near an exterior wall…MOLD 🙁

  60. I’m in Colorado and we definitely have moths. I lost an entire year’s alpaca clip that had been handspun to the little rat bastards. (We moved into a rental farm and didn’t know we had the flying roomates til it was too late.) We’re under control now at a new place, but I still freak out if I see one of the buggers. I now use ziplocs, lavender dryer sheets, and large plastic storage bins, but still….

  61. I snorked out loud of your comparison that moths are knitters herpes. You kill me!!

  62. Yikes, moths! I found them once in a box of wool that I bought at a knitting show. Thankfully I noticed it and got rid of it immediately. That was a couple of years ago and (cross my fingers) haven’t seen any since.

  63. I live in north Texas, and we do get them, though thankfully not as much. My house is also from the 50s so there’s a bit less for them to chomp on in its construction. All my yarn lives in a closet with two boxes of little cedar balls- a bonus is that I like how cedar smells. The only incident I’ve had with them was out in my room, and it wasn’t actually with yarn. I have a doll with a wool wig that they got at and I panicked and shoved all loose yarn and WIPs in the freezer for two weeks (the wig, too). It seems to have done the trick, but now I am ever vigilant.

  64. Tossed my stash last weekend. Glad to know I have a name for it now! Also, I keep a “Pantry Gypsy Moth Trap” in the small cupboard that is actually my office/craft storage (10ftx5ft). I have been quite successful at keeping them OUT.

  65. Thanks for the shout out! I can not wait to see how you spin it up. Sorry to hear about the moths. I am buried in about a foot of snow so fortunately it is not a worry for me right now. Oh the joys of spring living in Oregon. Thanks again, Jen Andersen Hanks in the Hood.

  66. i keep all my “good stuff” in plastic tubs in my storage closet. behind the tubs is a open box of moth balls. i am not crazy about the smell but it seems to keep moths out. i also “toss” the stash once or twice a year mainly to see what i have and move things forward dust the shelves. etc.

  67. My mother put out the woolen blankets in the sun every spring. They were first strongly shaken between two persons to get out dust(mites?) and then baking in the sunshine and turned over every two hours. She told me the mothseggs would die and then there would be no holes in the blankets eaten into them by the mothbabes. You can imagine a thirteen year old girl folding double with laughter when seeing her mother chasing the birds away that were tucking and picking bunches of woolfiber off the blankets to make their nests cosy! At least the birdsattack only lasted for that day, not like moths, eating their ways all year long.

  68. HONK! I haven’t found moths in my stash (though what little I have is stored in a couple of basket-y bags on a top shelf, which is sounding like a bad idea now) but fluttering out of a pile of stored clothes, or across the closet, even in the kitchen. The buggers will infest faster than you can believe, and the ones around here will take over your pantry too, if you’re not careful. Be diligent!

  69. I am raising 2 young children who, when they see ANY moth (and sometimes butterflies) scream and run in circles with their hands over their heads yelling, “The moths are going to get our yarn!! They are going to eat my fairy hat/Minion hat/Edith hat/fingerless mitts/sweater!!!” (insert any favorite handknit of the moment).
    I can’t imagine where they get it.
    I hope they won’t need (more) expensive therapy when they are older.

  70. This is me honking…I’ve had carpet beetles and moths. My stash also lives in ziplocks and I do still see the occasional wee beastie fluttering about. Old apartment. I always worry about the hubby’s wool suits though 🙁

  71. Rams made me a beautiful mobius scarf for my high school graduation. Or rather, she made me two beautiful mobius scarves because the first one gotten eaten before she had a chance to give it to me.
    (I still wear the one she was able to give me much of the winter; it’s now rather felted from years of snow storms, but that’s just made it nice and warm when I wrap it around my head to cover my ears.)

  72. Agree w/ Presbytera who usually seems to have a good sense of humor & great perspective.
    I’ve also found that lavender/cedar & a few select herbs likely help deter moths, but I would never count on these as a true preventative. Examining the collection once or twice a year for bits of “dirt” & webs, & checking for frayed edges on unused yarn & fiber seem to work well for me.
    While I, too, would rather be spinning, I truly love handling the fiber.

  73. Ha! Like lice….we’re all ashamed of getting them but many of us have had a bout.
    True story: I dreamed one night of munching sounds in my stash. I woke in a cold sweat, about 4 a.m. I felt foolish, but also felt compelled to check the stash. I REALLY was thinking how I’d lost my mind, creeping through the house at o’dark thirty, poking through balls of wool with a flashlight so as not to awaken others in the house. Guess what??? Insect damage in my stash!!! About 1/4 of it showed infestation. I was horrified…spent the next few hours vacuuming, scrubbing, bagging & freezing, trashing…it was a horror scene. Never had such an experience before or since. That was in Williamsburg (Tidewater) VA many years ago…swampiest, buggiest place I’ve ever lived! My one & only supernatural experience….. :o)

  74. I have seen moths before. I don’t panic though, I know what to do: KILL. Now you must understand that I am an even-tempered, usually kind and not taken to violence mother of five. However, when I see a moth (brown, white, tan or even multi colored) it’s like my brain rewires for the moment. Everything around me goes dark but for that moth. They are the enemy and they have crossed the line…I hunt them down and squish it…multiple times. Actually, I am so passionate in my destruction of them that my kids and husband know only by response if I just killed a moth. It doesn’t phase them one bit…I keep asking for a moth trap for my birthday. I haven’t gotten one yet…so I am forced to do the barbaric thing. Maybe this year I’ll get one 🙂
    I agree, we should talk about moths more…

  75. I did not know that moths did not like lavendar, I did not know that lavendar dryer sheets were being made. I love the smell of lavendar. I really like the idea of a deep freezer for the yarn. A long time ago I kept my yarn in the freezer but that freezer just plum died one day. I have seen carpet beatles (I hate, and yeup they were in my wool!) I have seen wool moths (I loath, and yeup those buggers were in my wool too but not at the same time as the carpet beatles) and I have seen flour moths (I toss the flour/pasta whatever OUT…yeeck!!) I think I will use up my stash so I do not have to worry about it. I am going out to search for lavendar dryer sheets NOW! Car keys …. check … bye now.

  76. Moths chew through plastic??!! Excuse me while I go check my stash.
    Maybe some people don’t know they are infested. For years I was so clueless that I didn’t recognize vermin damage. I lost a cashmere jacket before I realized what the tiny holes were. They do like the expensive stuff.
    I do know they eat cotton and other natural fibres as fast as wool. I have heard that carpet beetles will chew acrylic yarn.

  77. Knock on wood (preferably cedar) I haven’t had moths in more than 20 years. After a sweater I loved got eaten, I started putting all my yarn in ziploc bags and lining my chests, drawers, cupboards and closets with aromatic cedar. Every year I also put fresh lavender sachets between the ziplocs. It might seem like a bit of an overkill but it helps me sleep at night and it works! 🙂
    A few years ago I read an article that said that wrapping wool in newspaper protected it from moths… They said that’s what Australian sheep farmers used to protect their wool. Has anyone heard about this? Has anyone tried it? Since my method works, I haven’t tried it, but I admit I am very curious!

  78. Eeeww! Moths at the *stores* ?!?!?!? I had never even thought about that. Now I’ll have to go “toss” my own stash!

  79. Dear Stephanie, this post couldn’t have come at a better time! Two weeks ago I was knitting a swatch (go me!!) to make a hat for my hairdresser, Michael. I found a couple of little brown bug and sent my husband a panicked text that “my stash has been compromised!” I got home a few hours later to find that he had taken out all of my stash and gone through it, not to mention while being home with our kids running around him. (w have two boys, age 5 and 2) He found two compromised skeins. (What a guy, huh? I am one lucky knitter) I froze one and thought it was salvageable but now I will never do that again. I promptly went out that afternoon and got rid of my wicker basket. Thanks again for posting, so glad to hear that I’m not alone! 🙂

  80. I was just going to start tossing the stash this year to a different room, too! Setting up a small studio/office and letting myself have a whole bedroom for sleeping! And I, sadly, have had to toss some stash to the curb a couple of times in my lifetime due to the little mothy things.

  81. um…. you live in a deep freezer for a few months out of every year. Couldn’t you rotate totes of stash outside throughout the winter to freeze their little hinies off? You could put it *all* out there for a week but then your family would totally know how much there was. If you secretly swap out a different container every few days, they couldn’t keep track. This method seems to have worked for me as the only place I’ve seen damage is in the wool kept in the living room where it is warmer. Opened a bag of our angora fiber (our rabbits) recently and found it infested. Burned that and put the rest in the deep freezer.

  82. I was also not aware that moths can chew through plastic! I don’t think I’ve ever had clothing moths, but I have had carpet and pantry beetles, and I hates the disgusting little bastids! I thought I was being so very clever and moth/carpet beetle proof by putting everything in ziplocs and plastic bins. I will definitely be spending time this weekend going through my stash!

  83. I like this idea.
    I’ve been starting to think of doing our spring clean out but I hadn’t considered my stashes (yarn and fabric). It would feel good to go through everything, see what I’ve got, rediscover old beauties, and make sure everything is in good condition.

  84. My bunch of random responses:
    – I’ve had infestations of grain moths, wool moths, carpet beetles, you-name-it, and the ONLY times I’ve not had to worry about insects were when all my cats (was 5, now 4 as of yesterday, and I’m crying and crying and crying)when all my cats are on Revolution(TM) flea drops. Honest to whatever, that and frequent vacuuming (sorry) keeps any house bug-free.
    – it’s not just moths that eat animal hair/fibre. There are some *%&^$##&**(( little beetles who also love a buffet. I don’t know what they are, I just hate them. Revolution(TM) drops seem to take care of them, too.
    – Advantage II(TM) drops seem to be just as effective as Revolution(TM)
    – no, I’m not a vet, or a sales rep for any vet products; I’m just a long-term cat ….. I was going to say ‘owner’, but ‘servant’ would be closer to the truth.
    – I’m curious enough to experiement with the microwave in addition to the freezer; has anyone tried lightly dampening a new-or-suspect skein, and then nuking it on high for however-many-seconds-it-takes-without-starting-a-fire?

  85. I keep my yarn in tightly sealed Rubbermaid bins. It’s not pretty but it’s bug and mice proof.

  86. I read somewhere that cold actually helps more of the wretches’ eggs hatch. I’ve had them in the fleeces in the garage, but thankfully they bypassed all mohair to feast on the one wool fleece. Yes, I went thru every one with fear in my heart. Must be the lanolin? But they ate the old horse blankets in the barn. All yarn is kept in the house in clear totes and regularly rotated/inspected/frolicked in. I think the beasties like dark undisturbed places. I usually keep a bar of Irish Spring soap in with my yarn & sweaters. So far (knock on wood, salt over shoulder) it’s kept them away from the good stuff in the house and the mohair now too.

  87. Honk! I keep my yarn individually wrapped in ziplocks and those in giant tupperware boxes full of cedar, moth repellent, lavender, everything.
    I still occasionally see moths in my house…I toss the stash twice a year too and check.
    So far the ONLY thing that I’ve had to jettison was (sadly) 100g of English angora rabbit sliver that I bought at Woolfest. That was when I knew that keeping yarn in ziplock baggies in baskets or bags wasn’t enough and invested in the plastic bins.
    Except I’m anticipating problems this year for 2 reasons.
    One: I’m living in University accommodation this year and took a sizeable chunk of the stash with me. Unlike my post-war mid-terraced house in London the building I live in now was built in 1876. And I don’t have the plastic bins with me…
    Two: My stash at home is doing the stash creep. Not all of it is in the bins anymore. I’m spinning as fast as I can. I have one more fleece left to wash and card and spin. If I get that done I’ll have a whole ‘nother bin to work with!

  88. Holy crap, I didn’t know they could eat through plastic! Here I was acting all smug and untouchable knowing every skein of yarn is safe inside a ziploc bag, but apparently it’s a false sense of security. I have never seen a moth anywhere near my stash and I have 4 fearsome moth-hunter kitties to help keep them at bay, but most of my stash is still fairly new, so I suppose it’s just a matter of time. I am now adding vaccuuming, inspecting and “tossing” my stash to this weekend’s activities! Thank you for spreading moth-awareness!

  89. Honk. First time ever on Tuesday.
    I was pulling out a WIP that had been languishing undisturbed for about 5 months. It’s in the freezer right now while I do my cleaning frenzy. I don’t think I can bear to part with the project so I think I’ll try a few cycles between the freezer and spreading it out in the sunshine.

  90. I’ve had about a million moths in the house and many of them have ended up in the sticky moth traps (seriously, the one I just disposed of was COVERED in dead bodies, and the occasional hole in my clothes, but so far no evidence of actual infestation attempts in the stash.
    Like any serious disease- potentially fatal to any knitter- I am fully convinced of the importance of primary prevention and screening programmes for early detection. At least tossing the stash is more enjoyable than a Pap Smear, right?

  91. This post makes me want to lay down on the couch with a rag over my eyes. Who knew that knitting, such a lovely hobby, could be fraught with so much endless peril?

  92. I wish somebody had told me about the yarn + basket + time equation. There was moth food just out in the open all over my house waiting for the beasties and I was a naive new knitter “helping” friends that were destashing, or finding crazy grocery-bagfull bargains at closing LYS’s…until…the great moth purge of December, 2010. The stuff that seemed ok AND worth saving went immediately into ziplocs and then into the freezer and then into tubs additionally fortified with lavender-scented moth cakes (which reek for weeks when they come out of storage). Haven’t seen them since. Have been more careful about what comes home, too, and tend to steer clear of the old stores with low turnover (sad they’re going out of business, yes; worth risking a fresh infestation, no).
    Lessons learned. Honking in Seattle.

  93. Wool moths aren’t so much an issue, but those dratted silverfish bugs are. Worse in my opinion as they eat more fiber types than the moth!

  94. I’ve never seen a moth in my stash, but when I went to university I took with me my favorite of knit hats and took it out of the closet after a warm spell to find that it (and a less-loved Clapotis) had holes. HOLES. It was my first moth experience and hopefully my last; I’ve been pretty vigilant since then.

  95. I found a single dead moth in some yarn that was still in the bag from the supplier (I had bought enough that they sent me the bag with like 10 balls in it, or something, and I had used about 5 of the balls). I froze/thawed/froze everything, just in case. I never really saw any evidence of nomming on any yarn, but I was so worried that I went for it anyway. Now I keep everything in ziplocks, inside a thick plastic comforter bag. That was earlier this year, but I’ll probably start checking everything periodically, now that I’ve read this. As far as I know, my region (Louisiana) doesn’t have a huge problem with moths. But, better safe than disintegrated cashmere, I say.

  96. Honk! I’ve had them, twice. First time they came in with possum fur and ate their way out of the bag. I lost my first skein of handspun to that infestation. I cleaned, put anything within 3′ of the influx in the freezer even though there were no signs and cycled stuff in and out for 3 weeks. Second time they were in a cone of yarn, never got beyond that box though, more freezing. Now I keep things in quarantine for a few months and check before adding them to the stash; 2 fleeces have proven to have them, before they entered the stash thank goodness!
    I keep most things in clear plastic boxes now

  97. Okay, now you have put me in fear of my stash…. I don’t know if my poor lil heart could take it! Needless to say, every time I see one of those pesky things I tend to smash ’em, but I’m also a firm believer of Karma… worrying in Vancouver,BC…. :))

  98. Glad I’m in good company! ;). Yarn+basket+time is very bad, learned the hard way. We got invaded by carpet and furniture beetles – I still remember the look on the little guy’s face looking up at me when I was going through yarn – I could almost hear him saying, “watcha doing? Put me back in the party!!”. Freezer, ziplocks, and metal tin storage. Oh, and the heavy canvas zip top totes work really well – larvae can’t seem to get through it.
    Re moth balls – very, very toxic and bad for you
    Person whose kids run around “screaming” about protecting their wool – so cute, you taught them well.

  99. I once found moth eggs on my hand knit lace curtain. I froze and baked that one and thankfully have not seen them flying around.

  100. I can’t honk, because I gave up my car horn for Lent (erm, my anger and control issues were manifesting themselves through my horn, and there is just *way* too much to honk at in traffic in Nairobi). I do have two garbage bags of wool in my car right now, baking out the moths in the equatorial sun. I think my infestation came from some local handspun I found.

  101. At Stitches West I asked various people, teachers ‘what about moths in stores, in your house?’. Everyone said ‘no problems’. I have everything in plastic bags. No matter how much I’d like to see the fabric and colors, it remains in good ziplocs. With this wierd weather we have had moth STORMS at the porch lights. I send any moths I see in my house to moth-heaven. My husband sing’s the ‘Mothra’ theme when I start moth-chasing 🙂

  102. I haven’t read through all the comments, so if someone has already said this, well…I hope the beautiful Millie is doing her part to keep the vermin away. Many mice will avoid a place that smells of cat, and I hope Millie’s mom taught her how to hunt!
    I do know a lot of the other commenters are right: use Ziploc and Space Bags freely; also use lots and lots and lots of lavender, cedar, and eucalyptus (sachets, oils, and any other forms); and use lots of airtight plastic, Tupperware-type containers to hold it all. Make sure all of the stash and knitted goodies, even that made of cotton or silk, are well and truly clean before storing them.
    And that batting reminds me of the semi-wild irises that grew on a relative’s farm in the Ozarks. GAW-JUSS!!!!

  103. Anyone else’s head starting to itch??
    I now must shower, and then begin the search for vermin.

  104. Boiling water. I have probably twice now simmered or even boiled hanks of yarn that I was worried about, knowing that no form of insect life can survive that. Another thing that I’ve thought of but not done yet is put the bemunched into a black plastic bag, sealed up, and leave it in a hot car on a hot day with the windows rolled up.

  105. the other nice thing about a stash toss is finding things I’ve forgotten about. It can be like a big present, finding something tucked away with the pattern and yarn all ready to go! If I see yarn that makes me feel bad, because I don’t love it, then I can send it out to the world to find someone who does. If you think moths can devour yarn, then you’ve never see knitters in front of a “free” pile!

  106. I haven’t seen one yet, but I keep my yarn in plastic tubs with sort of sealed tops. Maybe that is not good for the yarn? Your post today has really got me thinking.
    I do drag pillows outside when it’s below freezing to kill anything that might be lurking in there. Should I do the same for yarn?
    What about lavender sachets? Or is that for another kind of bug?

  107. Lavender – have had dryer packets of lavender but can’t find any more. Any help out there? I grow lavender and load my totes, etc., with lavender of all sorts…….

  108. By the time you see the flying moths the damage has been done. It’s the larvae that eat the wool. Silverfish are just as gnarly. Hate those buggars. I live in NV…I don’t see many moths, but silverfish abound…and they eat anything…paper, cotton, wool, silk, you name it, they like it. So just because you live in a desert setting doesn’t mean your stash is safe.

  109. Hi. I have recently been cleaning and going through EVERYTHing. I am going to find a picture of moth larvae and adults so I realize what it is I’m hunting. To the person who wants Lavendar. It’s in most herb stores, online, and also at y local coop. I could send you some if you like. It comes in bulk. To Steph: I ‘ve sent you a few emails, one lately being one with questions about schedules and seeing if we coudl invite you to our local yarn shop for a lovely time here in the Burlington Vt area. Wondering if that is something we could talk about. Love to all. Peace out. Going hunting. Kathleen

  110. Hi. I have recently been cleaning and going through EVERYTHing. I am going to find a picture of moth larvae and adults so I realize what it is I’m hunting. To the person who wants Lavendar. It’s in most herb stores, online, and also at y local coop. I could send you some if you like. It comes in bulk. To Steph: I ‘ve sent you a few emails, one lately being one with questions about schedules and seeing if we could invite you to our local yarn shop for a lovely time here in the Burlington Vt area. Wondering if that is something we could talk about. Love to all. Peace out. Going hunting. Kathleen

  111. Honk!
    But thanks to reading your books early on, I started ziploc bagging my stash before there was a problem. When I did eventually see a moth it was really easy to track down what they were feeding on (it was a dirty fleece I hadn’t got around to washing yet). The infestation didn’t last long 🙂
    So thank you muchly!

  112. Oh lordie…I have been meaning to do this for a while and a conversation the other night at Knit night plus this post is really giving me the kick up the backside to get on to it. Thing is, not all of my stash is stored properly, and I have seen a few moths about the place. Basically I am asking for trouble and due to being lucky so far I have become a bit lazy…which I think may have come back to bite me on the bum. Thanks heaps for this post!

  113. One thing to be grateful for about living so far north – no moths – some of the biggest bugs (mosquitoes in particular) I’ve ever encountered….but no moths. Sadly, I’m also told its too cold for sheep to winter here either so that might be part of it…not much food for them. Well, except my stash. Hmmm, maybe a toss is in order, just in case.

  114. I’m so sorry to keep asking about this, and I apologize if I missed it in the comments, but please, for the love of all that is wooly, WHAT BRAND ARE NATALIE’S RED SHOES?
    (Here’s hoping the Canadian Special works…)

  115. Our knitting guild (LIKCG) made felted lavender soap for our knitting bags and stash. I swear by lavender for keeping the moths away. And all of my stash is in Space Bags. Lots and lots of Space Bags.

  116. I’ve suggested this before, and I’ll continue to do so:
    They have little spritzer bottles of cedar oil blend designed to keep bugs at bay. I’m not sure I’d rely on them for total tick or bed bug protection (like they suggest) But spritzed into my stash and wool storage areas after a thorough cleaning? It can’t hurt.
    (I have no affiliation, I just like my wool to smell like cedar – a lot)

  117. I have to admit that one of the main reasons we bought our house 8 years ago was the huge walk in cedar closet in the basement. My husband didn’t quite understand how I went from, “Nice house” to “MUST BUY” with just a trip to the basement, but considering the visions of a man cave he was having, he just said, “Yes dear” and started negotiating.
    The fact that the owners (one of which HAD to be a knitter) didn’t move a large standing cedar armoire was icing on the cake.

  118. SPIDERS!!! Dear Marjorie, you must live in the South! Spiders and webs are everywhere here in the spring and fall particularly. I have found that what cuts down on it is keeping them away from windows and doors in the first place. I spray around all the house windows and doors and light fixtures and sidewalks twice a year to keep out moths, ants and spiders. It works pretty well. If they can’t get near the doors and windows it cuts down on a lot of critters! Good luck with that!

  119. I tend not to worry about most of my yarn because it is in plastic bags and then those are in plastic boxes. Then I remembered that washtub on the floor in my stitching room with my works-in-progress. Some of them are just in cloth drawstring bags that make them easily portable. Guess I better take a look!

  120. I’ve experienced wool moths twice in my life. Once at my Mother’s house in a cupboard that held the old fashioned coats with the curly fleece lining or collars. Many of them were decimated. I’ve had moths in my house in recent years, but most of them are the harmless type, others the kind that get into flour and other kitchen ingredients. Last spring however, we started to see moths and I got both suspicious and paranoid. My husband found the offending space while I was away one day and kindly cleaned out the whole cupboard. They had attacked a berber carpet I had brought back from Egypt many years ago. Many things went into plastic bags for baking in the sun and freezing in the snow. I started buying plastic totes and bagging up all my yarns, which to this point, really were never organized much. I’m pleased to say that the moth infestation was dealt with summarily and, finally, a year later, I have most of my sewing fabric and knitting yarns bagged and boxed in plastic totes.
    Aside from wanting to eat kerotin, moths like to hang out in a stable environment without breezes where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much. If that sounds like a storage area in your house, then ‘tossing’ it as Stephanie suggests, on an infrequent basis is not a bad idea. If nothing else, it stirs up the air and changes the environment a little.

  121. I had an “infestation” a few months ago and went completely psychotic about it …honestly..(if my parents wanted a reason to institutionalize me, that day would have been a perfect excuse) there was only maybe two little moth buggies in my stash yet I went a bit overboard and proceeded to dump all of my stash in a huge pile in the middle of my studio,franticly inspect every little bit of fiber I had, scrubbing most of the roving and going totally lady mcbeth “out damned spots” crazy, after that got old every single ounce went outside to the deep was a sad pilgrimage seeing as that I had about four big trash bags full of yarn, woolies and fiber. I kept my full stash in the freezer for two weeks….I guess just incase there was a large mutant super moth whom had not been spotted in my insanity. There was no mutant radio-active super moth.. he-he well I rather be safe then sorry
    thank you for sharing about your “stash herpes”
    no shame! honk ^_^

  122. I purchased some roving once that was infested. I did two rounds in the freezer (with a few days apart to allow for any hatching that could have survived the freezer). I salvaged most of the roving. Now I put roving in the freezer first before it goes into the stash. Knock on wood, I’ve not had another problem since. Thanks for the basket advice. Today, everything is going into plastic, even though it won’t be as pretty. It’s worth it!

  123. I really hadn’t thought about this – haven’t had a problem “yet” but I too am going to take precautions. Ziplock will have a bonus sales week because of you, Stephanie. I love yarn, I love knitting, I love all of it. I have never spun and never have had the opportunity but after seeing your beautiful spun and plied fiber, I am envious. By the way, if you do, indeed, want a ‘safe’ place to keep your stash, I am volunteering – especially the fiber focused on today’s blog. Just saying, just want to be helpful. I feel sort of like one of the girls waiting to catch the bride’s bouquet but it is even better – it is yarn. So please toss all the way to Nova Scotia.

  124. I’m not going to tempt fate but the point of needing to check stash is acknowledged. My problem is then I see all the stash and then my head explodes with all the projects I want to start.

  125. I feel your pain. The house I live in was built in 1840 and has a permanent carpet beetle problem. When I’ve lived in new houses, I haven’t had any problems. But this place is hell on earth for a fiber lover. I spend much of my could-be-knitting-or-spinning time cleaning and checking. Even my current projects on the kitchen table are bagged. The only “free wool” in my house is the woolie that somebody is currently wearing on his or her body–and as soon as it comes off, it’s bagged & boxed between wearings.

  126. I completely agree with you about Toronto being moth-central. When we lived in our 90 year old apartment, we had moths. I was heartbroken and my busy husband devoted an entire evening to helping me package everything up. All my stash was then slowly rotated through our tiny freezer. We moved three months later into a 3 year old townhouse. I was terrified that we’d brought the moths with us and we did see them for a time. It’s now been months (knock wood) since we’ve seen a moth and I’m hopeful that they won’t come back. However, I remain watchful for those tricksy buggers.

  127. I had moths in my lace yarn. I was so very not happy that they ate my Lacy Lamb. (My favorite pink skein that I never see any more.) All the lace yarn spent a season in the freezer, and now every yarn container has either lavender sachets or cedar chunks (or both) in them. Ugh! Maybe it’s time to check them again…

  128. I had a bad infestation of them-we call it the Great Moth Infestation of 2010. I first found a couple of holes in a sweater I made for my son (thankfully repairable). Then I found them eating a couple of wool rugs (those went out immediately). My stash was quickly assessed and bagged in and out of the freezer for the duration. They were hard to get rid of. We had to flip sofas and chairs and vacuum the undersides of everything. It was months before I could walk into a room and not scan every surface looking for one. Thankfully I haven’t seen one for ages. my stash has now moved into a dresser with bars of Irish Spring, although some things remain bagged. Every time I see something flying in the house I freak out a little, until I determine that it’s NOT a clothes moth. By the way, we tried the pheromone traps, which did nothing. What worked was lots of vaccuming (change the bags!), clothes washing, and everyone in the house was trained to hunt them down and kill them.

  129. Since a moth infestation a few years ago claimed the lives of a few of my favorite skeins, 99% of my stash now lives in individual bags, in containers, in my uninsulated attic. Wisconsin winters and summers take care of most of the insect problem. Regular cleaning and preventative measures seem to control the rest. Unfortunately, moths still pop up now and then. Fortunately, it’s been about 6 months since I’ve seen one.

  130. I have lived in Vancouver, BC my entire life, and I keep my plastic totes full of wool in plastic bags under the house (since we do not actually have a basement, we have a “cubby space” under the stairs, accessible only by going through the laundry room) for many many many uneventful, non-moth years.
    I have never had moths. I’ve seen moths outside my house, but never in. That being said, my house was made in 1982 and is not insulated with moth-food. I have those gross little pill-bugs that find their way in every now and then, and I live on a slab of concrete so I am always fighting the cold away during winter months (but always nice and cool during summer months)! I don’t know how this will all change when the stash moves to it’s new home upstairs in the newly renovated and acquired from previous roommates “Craft Room.”
    I will stay vigilant. I will clean and inspect often, just in case!

  131. Recently my 4yo said, “Look mama, a moth.” I jumped up and started demanding to know where, what did it look like…etc. He just gave me a concerned look, dropped his shoulders, and said, “Mo-om. I was *pretending*”

  132. Haven’t seen a moth because I live in a desert. I guess the good news is scorpions don’t like yarn.

  133. I, my stash and my completed woolies survived many a winter up north, but were hit hard this past year in San Antonio. I lost several pairs of socks (sigh), and am going through the stash and enclosing moth-free stuff in ziploc bags. There are moths everywhere in the house.

  134. Honk. Gave in to the lure of the gorgeous colorwork project displayed in basket. I learned that is only for photo ops. Plastic bags rule.

  135. Usually everything I buy makes a trip through the freezer for a while. I rarely have moths in the house, but I will kill them quickly when they get in. Most of my stash is sitting out in baskets on bookshelves, so I guess I am tempting fate.
    I did have a problem with pantry moths for a few months. I bought a small chest freezer for nuts, dried pasta, flours, and birdseed. Everything from the pantry went into that freezer that wasn’t in a can. It was a pain, but it worked and now the yarn goes in there sometimes.

  136. I don’t think I’ve seen any yet, but thank you for the reminder. I’ve been trying to find both the time and energy to do a real good cleaning and this might be the time. Especially because it’s been pretty warm!

  137. I was told that it wasn’t the wool itself that moths ate, but the ancient food residue on old woolen sweaters. Have you been in touch with an entomologist about this?

  138. Tucson summer monsoon + flying critters + silverfish = stash in ziploc bags and plastic tubs, since a lot of my yarn is legacy used for Project Linus blankets and “stash of origin” is unknown.

  139. so far.. no sightings! but you are making me nervous as i live in a home of similar age to yours. and i once did see a mouse scurry under the stash room door… eek, maybe i need to spring clean.

  140. I am realizing that I am in total denial. I don’t keep my yarn or fibre in plastic bags and I didn’t at any point feel the urge to toss my stash when I read this yesterday. Then, all of a sudden I realized, she means me!! I am no different than all the other knitters out there. I too need to protect my stash. My home (also old) may also attract moths. While I have never seen them, I certainly am not immune. I am stopping at Walmart on my way home from work today, stocking up on ziplocs and tossing the stash. I just might organize it a wee bit too. What a fun weekend I’ll have. Don’t tell my husband. He probably won’t agree that this is fun.

  141. Anchorage, Alaska – no bug pests here, but I do buy mail order wool and yarn. No infestation so far ever. Whew – never even thought about it.

  142. Honk.
    My house was built in 1905. For the record, I think it is worse to find an incursion in a drawer of knitwear than a container of yarn. 🙁 But I am thankful for my mending skills.

  143. There really are advantages to being poor! Who’da thunk it.
    If you can’t afford wool yarn, you don’t get moths. I’d still rather have decent yarn, but we take our silver linings where we can find them.

  144. Honk Honk Honk…..
    Moths….my arch nemesis.
    I had the kitchen ones really really bad once….it was soooo disgusting I wanted to move…..but my mummy came and saved me. We threw everything out, cleaned the whole kitchen….the culprit was a tupperware of oatmeal left by the previous tenant that we had never noticed….it was a quick move in. I won’t get into all the details but it was traumatizing to say the least.
    Clothes ones….I’ve had them here and there throughout the years. Not as traumatizing as the kitchen ones but still sad & disturbing and def not fun. They wrecked things my Grandma made for me…..mostly I was sad.
    Recently, I purchased a knitting machine off Craigslist (this is when I should have known) it came with bags and bags of what I thought was acrylic….I didn’t really want the yarn but I took it into my newly purchased house to sort it.
    The house was still in the cleaning/painting stages…we hadn’t moved in yet….I let the bags of yarn sit in the den….for like 4 weeks. When I was sorting through it I thought I was seeing something but I wasn’t sure what. I threw out half and stored the rest in my craft closet. It wasn’t until a couple of months later I started to see them. 1 here. 1 there. I started to get nervous. Was it a coincidence….random moths. My bf thought I was crazy. He’d say, “I think I just saw a moth”. I’d say (in a slightly crazed voice), “how big? what colour? where was it? did you kill it? did it turn to dust? IT DID? oh crap!” I threw out the rest of the knitting machine yarn…I didn’t even look at it, I wasn’t going to take the risk. I pulled out my stash…nothing. I went through the closets…..nothing…..hmmmm. I have 2 carpeted spaces in my house – craft room and bedroom – neither have wool carpeting. I checked the kitchen cupboards (in case it was those other rat bastards)…nothing…..hmmm. I couldn’t find them.
    One night while watching tv and knitting (of course) I reclined my seat and low and behold 1 moth flew out from beneath me, towards the tv. I jumped out of my chair and squished him….bugger.
    Then flipped the couch over to discover a few of their ‘cigar’ shaped larva sleeping bag thingys in amoung some dust bunnies…..I did not think this was possible. What are they eating? Talk about losing your mind/sh@t. The whole house was ripped apart, vacuumed, cleaned and put back together.
    But it didn’t end there….oh no…
    I was pulling out some things from under the bed one day (I had never seen evidence of moths in the bedroom and I don’t have wool carpets) but low and behold…..’cigar’ shaped pouch on top of hubby’s balance board (exercise thingy)….huh….bed came out of the room….I started going through the carpet with my nose a few inches from the floor. I pulled a few ‘cigar’ pouches from under the bed (they like the dark)…then spread out….and found my little nemeses had been hiding between the trim and the carpet…..bastards! I got out the attachment for the vacuum that would go waaaay into that cracked and sucked out everything around the room. And then put that room back together. Then for curiosity I checked the craft room carpet (also not wool) and they were there! What the! Is this even possible?
    The only thing I can think of is that the previous owner had a dog (I cleaned up A LOT of dog hair before we moved in). Moths eat wool but also pet hair. Previous Owner strikes again! Arggggh. I cleaned thoroughly and put the craft room back together.
    I haven’t seen them since….it’s been about 5 month…..but I know they could still be there…. creeping.
    Hold your heads high, moths can be defeated…..I hope.

  145. I’m sure a bunch of people have said this already, and you might even know, but lavender, mint, clove, thyme, ginseng & rosemary are all moth repellents. A sachet of some of those might keep the moths at bay.
    Excuse me while I go buy some sachet bags to fill and stuff in my stash…

  146. The moths came in with the bird seed and chewed on my jackets…
    It is the mice that drive me nuts. Another old house…about 1920’s. Fortunately, when they discovered I knit, they seemed to prefer the dark cotton yarn. I discovered their incursion just as we were leaving for vacation and had no opportunity to protect my good yarns before I left. I spent the whole time worrying about them nesting in my hand-dyed wool/silk blends. Now all yarns is in plastic tubs. And I have a mouser cat.

  147. I too have an old house in Toronto and have had many moth encounters. The thing is, for all of you freaking out when you see moths flying around, it is very unlikely to be a clothes moth. They are very secretive and hidden and very very rarely seen – unlike pantry moths. If you do see one, they are very small and whitish. Just trying to prevent all those harmless other moths from being massacred. Thankfully my stash has not been infested but certainly my wool sweaters have. They are very fond of cashmere I find. Bastards.

  148. Re: moths in Colorado…growing up in Aurora we would get regular infestations of miller moths, I think in the spring, not every year, but some years REALLY BAD, like you’d come home turn on the light and six or seven of them would come swooping out for the lightbulb party. I’m glad I didn’t knit back then.
    Yeah, here you go:

  149. They got in the bag of wool socks in the attic last summer and not one pair escaped wihtout a hole. Also had a bad infestation from a skein of alpaca lace that it’s taken me a couple years to eradicate.
    I saw one flutter thru the bathroom the other day, and all the sweaters got pulled and washed.
    I’ve started keeping scented wax cubes in my bins of yarn and that seems to have helped. I’m also negotiating with a guy who has a sawmill to get some cedar woodchips to make sachets for the sweater bags (he usually sells by the dump truck load and doesn’t seem to understand that I only want about a 5 gallon pail full… he mostly thinks I’m crazy… maybe if I offered to trade him socks…)

  150. I live in the country. I have sheep. My house is full of wool. Boxes, bags, baskets and plastic containers. Every time I starta new project I’m usually going through stuff and have yet to see any damage.
    I’ve seen moths in my house. They come in at night in the dark and go for the lights. These are not the moths we are talking about…. are they? In my mind I always told myself that wool moths are not these moths. Now I’m a little nauseous. It may be time for some googling of wikipedia….. O.o

  151. The moths are attracted to the sweat and grease on the yarn – they can smell it. The purpose of the cedar and lavender, etc is to provide a different smell that says “no Wool here, just lovely outdoorsy things” which is why infestations are more likely to be found in not so clean things (like my husband’s sock left under the bed for months) and then the bugs transfer to the clean things. Note: if you’ve spun the wool, or knitted/crocheted the wool, or worn the garment it will have grease and sweat on it , so it will need cleaning. Another good reason for wet blocking when you’ve finished a garment.

  152. This could not have come at a better time. I just opened two drawers of stash and two little silver winged buddies flew out. I squashed them but now I know I need to be more diligent. Nothing is in plastic bags. I have a lot of work ahead of me!!!

  153. Toot!
    One, just a few months ago. Tossed the stash, in similar fashion as you. Sent everything to the sunny patio for an airing. Bought plastic boxes and reorganized stash, except the fleece. Aired out the fleece too. Blaming it on a fleece I put into the closet before washing. Fleece since washed.

  154. Sometimes the EGGS of cloth or yarn eating moths…..ALSO pantry moths are not seen, so it is best to treat everything before it is put in plastic bags or containers.

  155. Moths are the vampire bats of the insect world! We have plenty of the the winged trouble makers here in Traverse City, Michigan. They invade in the night beating themselve silly against screens, windows, and doors until they gain entrance into the house. Once they are in, they are hunted down with brooms, tissues, and shoes until they are eliminated. There is a virtual hit squad on them. So far there has been no evidence the buggers have made it into any of my stash or knitting. I have an army of clear zippered storage bags from Knit Picks along with large plastic storage tubs that all of my loved yarns go.

  156. Honk. Fates be cursed, I saw one in my MOM’S stash the one summer I was living with her and had brought my stash with me. My stash spent the next four years living in 2.5 gallon ziplock bags inside clear plastic tupperware. Just recently I moved the ziplocks into a pretty open steamer trunk instead of the tupperware. I decided that moths happen and it was more of a shame to have my yarn packed away where I couldn’t even see it. Thanks for bringing it up, silence is deadly, or whatever they say.

  157. My partner lived in a frightening, moth infested house. When it was time for him to move in with me, I warned him that anything even slightly motheaten must be discarded, and everything else washed up thoroughly. I was enjoying the first week of blissful cohabitation and feeling so in love. But then three moths flew past me in the bedroom. This resulted in an immediate blubbering meltdown and threats of kicking my poor sweetheart out forever…irrational, for sure. Fortunately, there was room in my freezer and a neighbors freezer to hold my wool until I was satisfied that the moth issue was under control. I did not lose any skeins, and eventually cohabitation became blissful again.

  158. Well luckily for me right now, I’m down to only 4 balls of wool yarn and a bag of wool (a handknit scarf I rescued from a thrift store and pulled apart to wash and re-use with great delight!). The rest…I hate to admit and sad to say….is acryllic (cheap Walmart yarn I bought during desperate times!). All of this I have neatly stored in a duffle bag under my bed. My only saving grace, mind you, is that I’m a new-ish knitter.
    Thanks for the advice on keeping wool and the like! Will come in handy when I finally live in a felted tea cozy of a home. 🙂

  159. I just had a moth in my apartment for the first time this week. It fluttered lightly around the room before zeroing in on my shelf of really nice yarn (I divide my yarn up by quality – super cheap craft yarn, I might make something for myself with this yarn, soft and gorgeous I love you yarn, and so nice I only make really small things with it to make it go a long way yarn.) I start frantically pulling my skeins out, but I don’t have a table near by and I can’t put them on the floor! So I keep stuffing my arms fuller while my boyfriend tries capturing it – kill it, I say! One moth down, no yarn lost. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it was the only one. Do cats eat moths?

  160. This is for Mary Peed, who posted earlier today: Look around and you may find cedar chips or shavings in other places! When I was a kid, many pet stores sold cedar shavings as bedding for small caged pets like rabbits and hamsters. I haven’t seen that in pet stores lately, but it might be worth asking some older neighborhood pet shops or farm supply stores if they know where you can get some.
    Also, look in the garden departments of your local DIY and Big Box stores. Many will carry cedar chunks intended to be used as mulch. Go for the most fragrant you can find.
    Also look on the ‘Net or in your local organic health food/general stores for cedar oil. It can be hard to find, but it will help if you spray it on the shavings or mulch chunks after the original smell has dissipated. Lavender oil and eucalyptus oil can be a little easier to find at times, and can (although not always) work as well as the cedar oil.
    It might not help against moths, but I recall my stepmom had good luck keeping mice out of stored clothing by putting in pine sachets she made. The sachets contained a cotton ball or three that had been saturated with Pine-Sol (or similar), then wrung out until just barely damp. She would then wrap the cotton ball in some cotton or polyester quilt batting (whichever was cheapest at the time). These assemblies would then be put into small bags sewn from scrap fabrics (old shirts, sheets, etc.) that were then tied shut with ribbon or string. Just be careful to put these where they will not stain anything!

  161. Honk from several households. Thirty-three years ago my family brought clothes moths back with some weaving from Ecuador – and the darn things still appear every few years. How do I know they are still the Ecuadorian ones? They are darker and slightly larger than the typical ones, but with that same characteristic wobbly flight. I use the great freezer outdoors (under minus 10 degrees celsius for several days) to keep them control, but am going to have to take other measures after this winter that just wouldn’t stay cold. I expect that this fight will go on for the rest of my life – our house is pretty old and there is lots of wool about.

  162. I´m lucky. I live where I can go outside twice a year and pick armfuls of lavender which gets tied in bundles and hung in closets and storage areas around the house. Before I lived here I did two things. A trip to a major hardware store would supply me with the thin boards of cedar used to fake a cedar closet. I still use them on my sweater shelves. Every so often I hit them with some sandpaper to refresh them. Second, rather than buying those fabulouly expensive cedar packets I would hit the pet store and buy a huge bag of cedar pet bedding. I would put one leg inside of another of a defunct pair of pnty hose and proceed to fill, knot, cut , knot etc my way up the leg. I´ve done the same with lavender on occasion. The double layer prevents chips from getting out and the little balls can be tossed into any container to assist in the Eternal Fight.

  163. Both heat and cold will kill any pests and I have been known to bag up yarn I am nervous about and take it into work where we have a walk in freezer at -20C. This is specifically for pest management, not food, so I feel ok about it!
    We’re watching you bugs!

  164. Wool moths are under control after removing anything woolen from the dark basement storage room, and the kitchen moths are now bumping up against practically everything except tea kept in mason jars, including pasta, seaweeds, all grains and beans, nuts, etc.

  165. Not in the stash, but in some woolens. Fortunately never in a handknit. I seem to have considerate moths who go for the factory made items that I got at Filene’s Basement or that I just never wear because they are too big or otherwise don’t fit. I do not question this, just give thanks.

  166. Carpet beetles. I had no idea they existed until they destroyed five or six items and I caught on. I try to be vigilant, but I live in a tiny studio apartment and bug-bombing isn’t entirely feasible, so….. I watch, I wait, and even though I’ve started storing everything in plastic bags, I will still find the occasional item I forgot was wool or got stuck behind something, and there will be the holes……

  167. I had to toss, as in throw out, about half of my hand spun yarn last summer. This is in the mountains of Arizona. The yarn was stored in plastic bins with a heavy sprinkling of anti moth herbs which had a lot of lavender included. I was just sick. The yarn that was left now has a good bit of moth balls surrounding it. Somehow I will get rid of that smell but its better than picking up a ball of handspun and have it turn to dust in your hands.
    I have carpet beetles down here on the desert. I used some carpet beetle spray on them and darned near killed me. I thought for sure they would die from the heat because this desert place is closed up during the summer. Found a couple a few days ago.

  168. Thanks for the motivation. I was planning on culling the stash ruthlessly, in order to try selling things online, but now I have a double purpose! Never seen a moth actually in the yarn; my cats are my first line of defense against insects, and they love pouncing on anything that flies or wiggles.

  169. My house is possibly older than yours and it has apparently produced fairly stupid moths because I’m more likely to find them in my underwear drawer than my yarn stash. I don’t know how they’ve survived. (And I assure you, my underwear is of traditional cotton.) Anyhow, I keep my yarn in ziplocks and my wool sweaters in larger ziplocks and have a fairly large number of cedar blocks that I pack in with the wool items. I always wash my sweaters before packing them away for the season, which is a huge process because I have so many and they take so long to dry in fickle New England weather. Occasionally a scarf or a mitten will get separated and not packed away properly and I pay the price. But mostly, the system works. I have a pretty small stash and go through it now and then but I’m much more concerned about the yarn that I’ve already worked hard to make into something.

  170. Aghh! Thanks, Steph, for the kick-in-the-pants to toss my stash. We do have moths here in Minnesota.

  171. Thanks for the reminder to toss the stash. I just went through mine, and luckily, no bugs! (The Wollmeise is pretty heavily scented, I like to tell myself the moths don’t enjoy it.)
    It was also a good reminder that I really do love my stash, and maybe I should slow down on the buying (or learn to knit faster!)

  172. I was inspired and tossed my stash too. Very refreshing and found some stuff I didn’t need (will send that away) and some stuff I can use for my weaving. Thank you!

  173. Gently reminding you to “toss” your sweaters at least every other month, during the cold and more in the summer. Moths do not “set up house” in “tossed” areas…

  174. I live in Australia in a five year old house and we have moths at the moment!!!
    I spray raw wooden beads with essential oils and place them with my woollens and now with my yarn (just started knitting and just realised that I am a stasher).
    Also mixing lavender essential oil (in nature it exists in order to repel insects) with water (half/half) and spraying directly onto garments is helpful. Also your stuff smells good. Win win?

  175. Uurgh. Thanks for the reminder to check my stash. I moved to Zambia, Central Africa with my family 2 years ago and we have lots and lots of bugs. And I see moths all the time. I thought that since I keep all of my wool in ziploc bags, it would be safe. Now I will go look through it all. And check all of my sweaters too. Please not my pretty cashmere sweaters. Pretty please.

  176. I live in a rickety little house that was built in the 1950’s. We’ve only recently gotten a roof back on (after seven years with only a partial one, and three with none) and the shower is still rather lacking in walls (everywhere else is fine, though). Obviously, our poor little house is critter heaven; and as such I’m pretty darn vigilant about ousting them. We’ve had everything from an opossum in the attic that fell through the laundry room ceiling, to baby snakes under the living room carpet. Oddly enough, though, we’ve never had moths. But we’ve had something just as bad: Plaster Bagworms. *shudder*
    Florida is not so nice a place for knitters.
    However, vacuuming like a motherhugger every week does help quite a bit.

  177. Ooooh! Stark reminder! Yes, 1905 brick house and yes, mice and moths. Mice appear to be seasonal intruders when the cold chases them out of the garden. Never had issues with mice and yarn, only with mice and crumbs. But moths have helped themselves to various sweaters over the years and to an old fur hat. We’re getting better at keeping the knits safe by regularly handling and washing them and safe storage over the summer. The stash has been ok so far (in plastic bags), but I’m always a little paranoid. Did get a skein from a store once that had obvious moth damage. I like to use cedar and lavender essential oils to repell moths and it seems effective so far. Smells really nice too. Cedar oil coincidentally also proved effective when we got bedbugs after one of the kids returned from a school camp.

  178. For whomever asked above, moth infestations are evidenced by one or more of the following a) mysterious sandy substance in the stash despite no visit to the beach (these are the eggs), b) on close inspection tiny wiggling larvae about 1 mm thick and 3-4 mm long, c) you actually see tiny moths about 7-8 mm long flying about in your house.
    I too discovered the risks of wool + basket, that is how I got moths myself.

  179. Thanks for posting this! I’m still fighting the long hard battle after a nasty infestation last summer. I had no idea that the tiny insects that were flying around were moths. I was pouring bleach down the drains because I thought the “flies” were coming from there. Then I went through a basket of stash and discovered it had been turned into moth food. I tossed most of it (including most of my sweaters and scarves, sob!), then did the freezer-microwave thing for the skeins that didn’t look too bad. My stash now lives in ziploc bags and is stored in a pretty cabinet instead of baskets.
    Just so everyone knows, moths will lay eggs in ANYTHING, so once the wool is safe, the war isn’t over. They can’t eat acrylic, but they’ll lay eggs in it. Dust is organic matter, so if you haven’t vacuumed under your bed in awhile, they can breed there. I even found eggs in my old cassette tapes! There’s a soft little nubby thing in cassettes that was just enough for them. Have an old vacuum that you haven’t emptied in a long time? They could be in there. The ironic part is that I never had a problem in my old apartment that was dark and dank and badly insulated. The infestation happened in my refurbished, updated condo!

  180. Errrg! Reading this, blog and all the comments…huge mistake. I am now itchy all over and living in dread, at the office, that my stash is being over run by nasty moths.
    @ Bess “tiny wiggling larvae” YIKES!!!!

  181. I’ve had moths in old yarn. It looks like bites out of the strand. I got really mad and blamed the manufacturer. Then it dawned on me. Moths. Gah. So far, they’ve only gotten fairly inexpensive 100% wool. Nothing devastating.

  182. carpetbeetle-Honk! Never had a moth sighting here but those wee-tiny bugs are everywhere in the midwest and old houses with old furniture and Great-grandma’s beautiful rugs…Some koigu ended up in freezer for months and is still in quarantine, with mental reservations about using…And yes, I have been the (vigilant) bearer or carpetbeetle-bad news to the 2 major LYS in the region. Found once in basket on floor and once in cubby-shelf virtually on floor. So I “toss” regularly too!

  183. Most of what you said I understood as much as if it were written in Turkish. However, I’ll bet it’s like keeping ants out of the cereal, pasta and sugar here in south Florida.

  184. Our house was built in 1892, “insulated” with charcoal and I’m not too proud to say that I’ve seen evidence of carpet beetles, although I’ve never actually seen a beetle.
    I was blissfully moth-free until a year and a half ago when some silk taffeta I’d ordered from India came with a side of moths. I’ve been hyper vigilant ever since.

  185. Well, I only got my Christmas tree down yesterday. But you better believe the stash resides in a plastic, organized, sterile environment.

  186. Northern Dallas (Plano, Allen, Frisco, Southfork Ranch) is surrounded by urban farmers who tend lavender fields, alpaca ranches, and keep an amazing variety of chickens for fresh eggs. Once a year, I go to Lavender Ridge Farms in May to gather lavender to fill generous sachets I’ve stitched out of gossamer lavender batiste. My quilt boxes (six wooden wine boxes with slide-on lids I was fortunate to find at the grocery store) hold folded stash, sorted by color, and once a year get fresh lavender sachets, as do the dresser drawers where I keep my yarn stash. So far, any predatory moths are steering clear.

  187. I have always read people’s moth stories and crazed cleaning. I would have never thought that it could affect me and my stash. I just realized that I live in one of the most humid places in the world–Shanghai, China. Being with many Chinese knitters I have never heard them say ‘moth.’ All the yarn store have shelves stacked high with yarn–no cedar. Excuse me while I consult my stash, get out my lavender soap and buy some cedar wood.

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