How I moth-proofed my yarn collection AND kept it pretty

Guestpost by Jessica Drue on Jul 5th

Years ago I learned how to knit from Debbie Stoller's Stitch and Bitch. Like an army of other young women that summer, I fell in love with it. I bought plastic needles and soft acrylic yarn and knit my little heart out. As the years went on, I bought nicer needles and pricier yarn made of natural fibers and bought pretty wicker baskets to store them in.

The last year has seen a sharp decline in my knitting. We moved to our first condo, and even though one of the reasons I like it here is because there is a lot of natural light, there is an unfortunate lack of unnatural light. So once the sun goes down, it gets too dim to do anything crafty.

Then one night my husband asked me if he could borrow some yarn for the Halloween costume he was putting together. I went into my long-neglected stash to see if I could find something. As I delved in, I realized that something was wrong. All my little rolled up cakes of yarn looked rough, like something had been nibbling at them. For the last couple months we had seen tiny little brown flies around the apt. I didn't think much of them because it was summer, and bugs happen in the summer. I thought they were coming from the drains so I'd been pouring bleach down them. Could they be moths? That hadn't occurred to me before because my mental image of a moth is a large, butterfly-like insect that flutters around light bulbs. I discovered that wool-eating moths look much different when I saw a larva crawling on MY PURPLE MERINO.

Really, I was asking for it.

My yarn stash was sitting in wicker baskets or boxes on the floor. Why not just lay out a moth banquet? So, I decided to see this is an opportunity to re-do the "knitting corner" in my living room.

The husband and I took a trip to a little gem in Chicago called Nadeau that sells furniture from Indonesia for wholesale prices. We got this gorgeous cabinet for a song.

Here some of my anti-moth techniques:

  • The moths can't get in through wood and glass, so it's perfect.
  • Moths also hate any strong scent (cedar, lavender, sage, peppermint, etc) and the inside smells pine-fresh.
  • Hours of Internet research has brought up conflicting theories about plastic. I've read that moths can chew right through plastic so using a plastic storage bin is useless. I've also read from reputable sources, such as the Deptartment of Entomology for Cornell University, that storing in plastic is fine as long as it's air-tight.
  • Just to be on the safe side, I'm still storing my yarn in Ziploc bags in my cabinet, just in case one moth flew inside while I was reaching for a ball of sock yarn and found a feast. The baggies might not be the most eco-friendly of choices, but they are pliable and allow me to squeeze a lot of yarn into a small space. Because now that the stash is safe? That cabinet is gonna get filled up fast.
  • Putting something scented, such as a piece of lavender bar soap or cedar balls into each bag would also be helpful.

So a big cedar chest from a second hand shop with some lavender sachets thrown in looks nicer, smells nicer, and keeps unwanted critters out.

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About Jessica Drue

Jessica Drue constantly tries to fight the good fight against her natural slob tendencies. Sometimes she wins and sometimes she loses.