27 July 2009

Wool moths!

I cleaned out my work room on Saturday, a job that had been waiting for me since the wedding. With Tricia and I rummaging in the fabric stash for quilt fabric and thread, and the various other activities associated with the wedding, looking for ribbons and pins, it was quite evident it needed some order restored. I spend quite some time in my work room now that I'm writing the book every day. My laptop is in there, along with the sewing machine and my knitting supplies so at times it's the centre of a lot of activity. But it's quiet and away from the general pace of our home so it suits me well as a work room.

I reorganised the desk top, moving the sewing machine to a better position, folded fabric and ribbons, sorted and stored cotton reels, paired up knitting needles and found two bodkins, lost for a month or so, that were poked into balls of wool. When I pulled them out of the wool, I remembered putting them in there for safe keeping. Ahem. I was sure I would remember that. :- )

But there was one tragedy - I have two baskets and one box full of wool and cotton, and one of the baskets had been attacked by wool moths! I initially saw tiny white casings, that I since discovered are their skins or shells that they grow out of quickly. Along with the tiny white bits were droppings. Ugh. And, of course, wool that had been eaten through so that although the entire ball was not eaten, they'd eaten through the strands leaving me with lots of strands instead of one continuous one. I threw three balls into the compost. It was only the pure wool they went for, they left the cotton alone.

The contents of the wool basket, in the sun, after inspection and culling of damaged wool.

These are clothes/wool moths. They're sort of greyish with dark spots on the wings, although I imagine each continent would have their own wool moth. They aren't pantry moths that eat grain. I don't use moth balls or naphthalene. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies naphthalene as possibly carcinogenic to humans and animals, but I'll take the simple way, they're killed by freezing. I have emptied my basket of wool and cotton and it's been sitting in the sun on the back veranda. I'll bag it up and put it in the freezer for a week and then store it all in air tight containers. I have learned a valuable lesson.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the wool moth.
And more, with photos.
How to store wool.

I invite you all to share any information you have on these moths, particularly the keen knitters who have stashes of wool in their homes just like I do. How are you storing your pure wool? What do you do with the woollen clothes you're wearing, do you store them in any special way when they're not in use?

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