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?

Rustic Lace Cowl

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I am pretty good about not buying yarn impulsively. I will buy yarn if I already have a project in mind or if I have just stumbled upon an amazing sale that is too good to pass up. Otherwise, I’m content to admire yarn from afar. When we visited The Tin Smith’s Wife, a darling yarn store with an impressive inventory, in Comfort a few months ago, I came across Fibre Company’s Acadia, a merino, silk and alpaca blend. There was something seductive about its luster and rustic silkiness that I couldn’t resist buying two skeins in “Sand,” even though I had no goal or project in mind. This open-ended approach to knitting usually causes some distress, reminding me that I’m a bit of a control freak Type-A at heart.

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I was fortunate to find a pattern that only required two skeins of Acadia: the Avery Cowl designed by Kate Gagnon Osborn. Most likely drawn from Barbara Walker’s first Treasury of Knitting Patterns, the Avery Cowl is a four pattern repeat knitted in the round of what Walker calls the “Frost Flower” pattern. Here’s Walker’s description:

“Frost Flowers” is not the correct name for this lace, unless the author happens to be an unusually good guesser. But it is quite an old pattern, dating from at least the early nineteenth century, and therefore probably has its own quaint name by which it is, or used to be known.  In spite of its rather complicated appearance it is a simple lace, consisting essentially of only four rows, which are repeatable three times and then alternated on the half-drop principle. (204)

This also knitted up quickly and I was able to finish this on the same night as the Brier Toque. There are no modifications here. Note that the cowl is photographed upside down. I like how the flowers seem to open up and fan out this way.

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I decided not to block this cowl as I think the rippled, pillowed flowers go well with the uneven nubby texture of this yarn.