Moth Eggs!

This morning, I sent Little A to school without a raincoat. I was still sleepy and didn’t bother looking out the window to check on the weather. Late night yarn emergencies can seriously undermine your parenting abilities, and the large quantities of coffee I downed this morning did little to improve them.

I had heard from friends in San Antonio about their moth infestations, but somehow I thought it wouldn’t happen to me. It’s not that I wasn’t vigilant for the most part–I kept my yarn and fiber in plastic ziplock bags. I also have one large plastic bin where I store my fiber. But I also wasn’t consistent, and that’s the part that bit me in the ass. I did have a few skeins, here and there, housed in paper bags. They were on the “upcoming project list,” which somehow, in my mind, translated to “invincible to moths.”

I should not have kept this particular bag–filled with plump and downy fawn-colored alpaca from the now closed Old Oaks Ranch–on the shelf of the laundry closet. I had been so paranoid about moths getting into the clothes closet that I forgot about this one. It’s small and dark,  just wide enough for the washer and dryer. Apparently, this is the perfect breeding ground for moths. How was I to know that moths like the dark? I obviously took the phrase, “Like moths to a flame” a bit too literally. Not only am I a bad parent, I’m also a literalist.

I was just about to go to bed, when I thought I’d take a peek at my soft and lovely alpaca yarn. Sometimes, I like to drift off to sleep dreaming about all my possible projects. But, instead of visions of knitted delights dancing in my head, I was confronted with the horror of tiny little eggs beading my yarn. And instead of being snug in my bed, I was up till 2 am scouring the web and countless Ravelry discussions on what to do.

The various solutions I’ve found include using dry ice, baking the skeins, putting them in the microwave or putting them in a plastic bag in your car on a super hot day. They all seemed simultaneously promising and dubious. My instinct was to put them in a plastic bag in the freezer. There weren’t a lot of eggs and it didn’t look like any had hatched and inflicted damage. (Of course, newly-hatched larvae can be really tiny and thus hard to detect). I had once read that the sudden change in temperature and the cold can kill the eggs. But, I also read that this won’t completely kill them so much as it keeps them from hatching…until they thaw. I’m in a holding pattern until I figure out what to do next, but for now, the family is going to have to live with a big bag of yarn taking over the freezer (which, in retrospect, is not such a hardship since they are used to having yarn everywhere else).

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(Infested yarn the size of a small turkey)

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot, writes that whenever she finds signs of an infestation, she just gets rid of the infested yarn. “This is the price of doing business,” she says. It’s sensible advice and helps to protect the rest of your fiber. But all last night, as I tossed in bed trying to fall asleep, I felt strong-armed by this deal that I didn’t want to make. The phrase, “the price of doing business” looped over and over all the while I thought about our wonderful drive to the Hill Country and the beautiful alpaca ranch and yarn store that these skeins had come from. If it had only been any other yarn, they wouldn’t feel so precious. And priceless.

So, if you were me, what would you do? Toss or keep?

Snaphots

IMG_7076Though I casted on last summer, I actually began this sweater over a year ago. The yarn was one my earlier spins, a 3-ply sport weight yarn spun on my Louet Victoria. This was back when I didn’t take any records, so I have no recollection of when I began the project and how many yards I spun.  Still, it is good snapshot of an earlier self because you can trace my inexperience along the yarn’s erratic diameter.

The sweater also languished for a while in my knitting basket because of a few errors that I couldn’t face fixing.  It’s finally done, and I couldn’t be happier. And it looks like Little A is rather pleased too, though trying to take pictures of her is like asking a humming bird to hold still.

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Snapshot of our expressive, loving and kooky kid who will only be five and a half year old once:

  • Her favorite colors are pink, purple, red and blue.
  • Has an ambivalent relationship with Santa; is scared of him but like his gifts.
  • Thinks that a quarter, 3 nickels, a dime and a penny equal 10 cents.
  • Virtually all her drawings include hearts, rainbows, unicorns and princesses.
  • Loves pedaling super fast on her bike.
  • Wants to be a horse rider, a bike mechanic and a mom when she grows up.
  • Enjoys word play, puns, and jokes– just like dad.
  • Caring and attentive to little animals.
  • Wants a little brother named Diego.

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Sweater details:

Elizabeth Sweater designed by Georgie Hallam. Her patterns are always well-written and incredibly thorough. This is a top-down sweater with a bit of cabling that transitions into lace.  This was an easy lace knit (despite my recurring problems with row counting), and it didn’t take too long to memorize the stitch pattern.

Handspun 3-ply sport-weight yarn made up of merino wool top (8 oz) in “Coral” from Pacific Wool and Fibers and superfine merino (3 oz) in “Lipstick” from Opulent Fibers. This was a serendipitous combo as Little A chose both colors on different occasions and they happened to match. She obviously knows what she likes. And even though I spun this yarn without a project in mind, I was lucky that I had enough yardage for this sweater.

Homemade glue

Maybe it’s because of attachment parenting. Maybe it’s because she’s five. Maybe it’s because she’s an only child. Maybe it’s because that’s just who she is. Whatever the reasons, rarely a minute goes by without Little A calling, “Mamamamamama” and needing some attention.

Yesterday she was sick at home, and for a brief spell, she was in the living room, entertaining herself by drawing little rabbits on newspaper and cutting them out. I was in the bedroom, absorbed in the delicate unraveling of a cowl knitted with SweetGeorgia’s Silk Mist.  “Mama,” she called out from the other room. “We’re out of glue.” The “little” error I was trying to fix was threatening to become a catastrophe, my fingers untrained for the surgical precision and skill needed to untangle cobwebs. I tried to brush her off.  “We’ll get some next time we go out.”

I had knitted many rows of this Welted Cowl, but somehow I miscounted the rows, alternating four rows of reverse stockinette instead of five. Even though this is a gift and I won’t have to see the mistake, the perfectionist in me would wince every time I thought of it.

The next thing I knew, Little A was in the doorway. “Mama, I just found a video that teaches us how to make glue.” I followed her out of the bedroom, and lo and behold, she had gone to the computer and Googled “how to make glue.”

Parenting can be mind-numbingly boring, but it can also lead you out of the habituated boredom of your own thoughts. As someone who tries to live simply and to make instead of buy, it never dawned on me to make my own glue. But this little girl of mine, who is always tugging and pulling on me, understood better than me, the sychronized rhythms of our beating hearts.

When I was little, there was always a cooked pot of rice ready to be served. Whenever she needed to glue paper, my mother would scoop out a little bit of rice, mash it between her thumb and middle finger, then spread it on the spots she wanted to bond.  I had forgotten about that until now.

I put my tangled project down, and we went to the kitchen to cook up some glue.

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Missing from the recipe: Cook on stove for two minutes while stirring.

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Homemade glue. A grain of rice. Smiling rabbits holding hands.

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14 lbs in 2014

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I have been wanting to participate in a spinning or knitting challenge, and I’ve decided to see if I can spin 14 pounds of fiber during this year of 2014. Part of me wishes I had started this challenge a few years ago, like 2006. That would have been more doable! But back then, spinning would have sounded so alien and so unlike me. Now, I sometimes daydream about raising sheep.

My plan is to spin roughly 16-20 oz of fiber per month.  Below are my spins for January.

First up: Western Sky Knits, “Jem” in superfine merino (4 oz, 2-ply, 511 meters).

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This is what happens when you tell a five-year old girl, “Choose any fiber and color you want, and I’ll make something with it for you”: You end up with a mashup of Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, and Barbie in braided fiber form. More precisely, you end up with “Jem,” a colorway that brilliantly captures the essence of Jem and the Holograms, that 80’s cartoon series that I will be sure not to mention to Little A. Even before I finally registered the Jem reference, they were already screaming “80’s leg warmers,” which is what they will become. I only wish I had not spun it so finely. I may double the yarn.

Next: Miss Babs, “Dream Weaver” in BFL (80%)/Tussah Silk Top (20%) (4 oz, 2-ply, 324 meters).

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I had never heard of Miss Babs before. I got this braid in a bulk destash, and it was merely a tag-along with the other fibers I really wanted.  But, what a surprisingly lovely spin this one was, and I think this might be one of my new favorites. I’ve been spinning a lot of BFL/silk combos recently, I’m starting to get a sense of how it needs to breathe and be cajoled to relax. I tend to ply tightly, and with this combination I’ve really had to resist that tendency. Both BFL and silk give a lovely sheen, but what I love about this blend is the halo of the BFL. I don’t know what I’m going to knit with this, but suffice it to say, whatever I knit will be for me me me. I love it so.

Below: Nest Fiber Studio, “London Jupiter” in superwash merino (4 oz, 2-ply, 196 meters).

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Obviously I cannot get enough of Nest Fiber, and I am compelled to I spin at least something from Jen once a month. Her color combinations are so cheerful and bright, and the fiber is amazingly prepared. I mean, AMAZING. I decided to try spinning a thicker yarn because I need more practice at it. I had read in one of the Ravelry forums about spinning with not a lot of twist, but then plying tightly to create a slightly bumpy yarn with barber pole stripes that pop. I’m still not very consistent at plying but this texture really complements the already super-squishy qualities of merino. I’m going to use this yarn to knit this Squishy Love cowl for Little A. It’s going to be darling, and I’m already itching to cast on.

(Added note: Nest Fiber Studio products usually sell out right away during a shop update, but if you want to check out previous colors on flickr and find out when the next shop update will be, click here or onto “More Nest” on main page.)

Finally: Pigeonroof Studios, “Tangerine Dream” in polworth (85%)/silk 15%) (4.4 oz, 2-ply, 471 meters).

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I had intended to spin this braid a while ago, but then got sidetracked. What was I waiting for?? I do not know. I spun this without planning or forethought and gave myself up to muscle memory. Sometimes I need to let my hands lead my head and heart.