Ghosts of Spinner’s Past: Revisiting Handspun Wool after Moth Attack

Long ago…about 7 years ago I discovered that moths had attacked  my beautiful handspun yarn that I had left out for display. Literally pounds of my handspun yarn skeins were in shreds. After obsessively looking for a resolution I found that most people  store cedar chips or lavender with their stash and hope for the best. Both preventative measures had failed me. In my experience I found that this works if the majority of your stash is commercially processed  fiber and yarn. The moths did not touch any of my commercial fiber. The natural stuff that I bought from small farms at various fiber festivals was what they wanted… Why? I asked. I found the answer in one of my industrial textile manufacturing textbooks. Apparently commercial yarns are treated with insecticide. After a little research I found that Permethrin is what they are using. This synthetic material is widely used and can be purchased in large concentrated quantities from farm suppliers. There is a similar product used as the active ingredient in pet shampoos that is an abstract from chrysanthemums. Bugs apparently cannot digest the stuff.

101_1781

Insecticide, Permethrin (concentrate 10%) solution used to treat wool for moths

With this newly found information I now had a way to prevent future attacks however I had not figured out how to handle the active infestation. After doing a little more digging I found that I had 3 choices to kill the moths and their eggs. I could use stinky moth balls, freeze, or steam the yarn and fiber. I chose to seal the fiber in 5 gallon buckets with moth balls. I steamed the shredded up yarn skeins in a huge pot in my oven killing anything that could possibly survive then sealed it in 5 gallon buckets. This is where my wool stash sat for about 7 years untouched.

On a whim I searched up how to join yarn ends without knots. I found a braiding technique where you unravel one yarn end and connect it to another end by creating a 3-strand braid. This method created a strong barely conspicuous join. This prompted me to pull out my shredded up wool yarn and test the method out. IT WORKS! To my joy, I realized (after the emotions had settled over the years) the skeins were mostly intact with exceptions to about 6 or 7 strands. The damage just looked far worse that it was. I am so glad I kept them.

101_1775

braided yarn join is barely conspicuous

In my excitement I began a project using a black and white hanspun Jacob fleece. The skeins were slightly underspun, but oh- well they are perfect for a crochet project. I had 3 skeins that were 2-ply worsted weight. It has a sort of cloudy, marled look to it. There is 1 skein that was 3-ply chained ( Navajo plied). It is more of fingering weight and has more color definition as the chain plying keeps the colors fairly separate.

 

101_1771

Sweater in progress. The chain plied skein is to the left. The 2-ply yarn is already wound for crocheting. I used a  hanspun orange alpaca yarn for accent

 

I will be using up all of this yarn in a crochet cardigan using the pattern book The Crochet Closet by Lisa Gentry. I am making the Carefree Cardigan.

So far so good although I have had to do some frogging. The directions lack key details for the cluster stitch pattern and spacing for yoke increases. It is otherwise pretty simple to make.

101_1807

101_1772

My new favorite crochet gizmo. Boye ergonomic crochet hook cozy. It has a rubbery texture that it warm and grippy in my hand. The shape is perfect. Love it!

 

I may not have enough yarn to finish long sleeves but I’m not really worried. I am happy to be able to use the yarn that I had long since left for dead in plastic buckets.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s