Category Archives: Mothproofing

Spring Storage + Cute Bags, Gleeners

It’s Time to Store Your Woollens!

Yup, it’s May, and you can officially put all your woollens away for the season!!! I’ve written a lot about this in the past, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m just going to gently nudge you to read our CARE AND MAINTENANCE INFO. A quick summary of the salient points:

SWET Bags from Gleener

Last week at the Knitter’s Frolic (a local show hosted by the Toronto Knitting Guild) we sold out of all of our adorable project bags from Gleener, and they have graciously and quickly restocked them!

Gleener Swet Bags make perfect project bags, but they’re so much more. They’re designed to keep odours, wetness and messed contained. The zipper and lining are both waterproof, so they also make a great travel companion to the gym, swimming or beyond. Keep your projects safe, clean and dry anywhere you go! They come in two sizes, the medium is great for regular projects, and the larger is perfect for large sweaters and blankets (I also use it for my swimming gear, as do my niece and nephew).

  • Medium: 10.5″ x 14″
  • Large: 16″ x 21″ (fits a large sweater or a blanket project)
  • Machine wash in cold water, flip it inside out and hang it up to line dry overnight.

Gleener (Full Size)

While you are cleaning your knits, you might as well de-pill them and get them ready for the fall with a Gleener® Ultimate Fuzz Remover™. This award winning fabric de-piller and lint brush combo safely removes fuzz balls, lint and pet hair from even the finest of fabrics. Yes, it really works, I have one at the ready in my closet. Plus, it’s a Canadian company! READ MORE HERE!

Gleener (Travel Size)

Gleeners are also available in a compact travel size, which is super handy if your carry-on luggage is frequently in use (Gleeners work on all fabrics, not just knitwear, so it;s great for cleaning up suits & such).

REMINDER Spring Clean Your Woollies

 

Wash Your Sweaters.jpg

Freshly washed sweaters drying.

 

For me, spring isn’t really official until the first sighting of moths – which was this week. So today, as I do my own laundry, I offer you a gentle reminder that Spring is upon us and it is time to wash and store your woollies. So many people come into the store with sad stories and even sadder looking knits – don’t be one of them next season! NOW is the time to prevent moth holes from happening; wash and store your woollens and you’ll thank yourself next fall and winter.

We write frequently about how to maintain woollens, you can find it all HERE.

 

pileup haley special storage.jpg

Clean sweaters ready for Spring-Summer storage.

 

KNIT HACK Spring Prep

Moth-Proofing: 5 Easy Things You Can Do Now

It feels a little early, but even if spring is only casually flirting with us, it may be time to start thinking about protecting your woolens for the upcoming season. It’s A LOT easier and cheaper to avoid moth holes than it is to mend them. Even worse, if you end up hosting a moth infestation you’ll have to pitch everything. You can read up on the “How-Tos” in Storing Your Knits from last spring, but here are a few things you can do to get yourself started.

Change Your Moth Traps

I just changed my moth traps and they were blessedly EMPTY. If you haven’t already, it might be time to change yours, and if you don’t use them I suggest you do. I only consider them a second line of defense, but they’re helpful, and they’ll let you know if you have moths.  I use the Aeroxon Clothing Moth Traps.

Bag Exposed Stash

Bugs like sweaters, but your stash is also vulnerable. There’s no time like the present to bag up yarn that’s floating around. Don’t forget projects on hold, laying fallow in project bags. If the majority of your stash isn’t already organized in sealed bags (like Ziploc) now is probably a good time to get on that. By the way, the picture above is pretty, but a good example of how NOT to store your yarn (stuff in baggies doesn’t make for good pictures). If you find yourself spring-cleaning your stash and need to purge, our next yarn swap is April 23, 2017, or you can drop off donations in a sealed plastic bag any time we are open.

Wash Dirty Woolens

Start washing the sweaters you wore this winter, especially anything that’s been in frequent use. Little bits of food & shmutz are what moths feast on, so shutter the buffet. If you’re like me and wear a lot of sweaters, getting them all cleaned is a bit of a chore, so you might as well start early and get it over with. I like to wash with either Eucalan or Soak, both are excellent no-rinse delicate washes that are very easy to use (I do not suggest you use the stuff from the grocery store).

Store Peripheral Knits

Start bagging and storing any knits or woolens that you aren’t likely to use again this season. At my house this includes heavy wool sweaters, thick wool socks, scarves/hats/gloves that didn’t get used, felt hats, wool coats.

Plan Ahead

OK, this sounds really niggly, but I’m constantly learning from my mistakes in this particular area. Almost every year I come across some class of object that I forgot was made of wool – and of course I find this out the hard way (lots of tears and regret). I always think I’ll remember things but never remeber things, so I keep a running Moth-Proofing Checklist and add to it every time I find something new that needs to be stored. I keep my checklist digitally in a cloud-based form of storage (iCloud, Google Docs, Dropbox, etc), so I can get to it easily and it won’t get lost. This is currently what it looks like:

  • socks (wool)
  • coats (wool)
  • knit scarves, hats, mitts, gloves
  • legwarmers
  • felt insoles
  • blankets
  • pillow covers
  • felt hats
  • needle felted stuff
  • felted bags

 

KNIT HACK Change Your Traps!

Moths Caught 1

Do you recall way back last spring when I wrote about Storing Your Knits? Well if you read it and actually took my advice, you might have gone out and bought MOTH TRAPS! Moth Traps are awesome, the only hitch is that they’re only good for 3 months, so if you have them it’s time to change them out for new ones! I did, and this is what I found – a bunch of malevolent little wool munching creatures.

Don’t panic, just because you caught buggies does not necessarily mean you have an infestation. First off, the bugs can get into the house through natural means, doors and windows tend to open frequently. Secondly, the traps use moth pheromone to attract the males, so the females’ eggs aren’t fertilized. Certainly feel free to inspect your woollens, and I continue to urge you to seal them up (seasonally) when not in use.

When you set out your new traps write the expiry date on them and put the date in your calendar too (you know you won’t remember). Also, when you buy them always get extras for the next round (you aren’t going to want to go back to the hardware store, but your knits do need defence). I use Aeroxon Clothes Moth Traps (package of 2), I get them from Home Hardware, and I think they’re worth every penny. It’s substantially cheaper to avoid moth holes than fix them, and infinitely satisfying when you catch the little buggers.

Moths Caught 2

KNIT HACK: Leftovers – Keep or Purge?

 

Moth Holes  Extra Yarn

Leftovers: Keep or Purge?

What do you do with the leftover yarn from your knitting/crochet projects? Is it useful? Should I keep some? Should I use it in a scrap project? Should I bring it to a yarn swap or give it to charity? Good question. The answer it yes and no.

When to Keep

Garments and other knits in use occasionally need to be repaired, and when the time comes and you have a bit of the original yarn to do it with you will feel like a GENIUS and pat yourself on the back many times over for having the forethought to put aside the scraps.

Case Study: Jo’s Sweater

See the picture above? That is Jo-Anne’s FAVOURITE sweater. It’s the first sweater she ever made for herself, it’s her favourite sweater, and it fits her perfectly. She’s a purger, she brings me her bits to give away when she’s done, and they go to charity. Fast forward almost exactly a year, Jo washed Principessa (my name, Jo doesn’t reify inanimate knitwear objects), and the beloved sweater came down with a bad case of moth holes on the inside of both forearms (there must have been something yummy on them for the moths to munch).  I know, OUCH. But Jo is a lucky lady, because I have a thing for that yarn (Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light), and when she finished this project I kept her leftovers in my own little hoardy stash. We’ll mend Jo’s sweater and Principessa will be good as new!

What to Keep?

  • Sweater repairs are usually small moth holes or catches and don’t usually require a lot of yarn. I’m conservative and worry about shortage, so I wind off a bobbin of about 4 to 5 grams (you never know when the moths will really go to town).
  • Blankets are like sweaters, they usually suffer from small moth holes or mild unravelling. If the yarn is solid coloured I save a bit, but if it is a self striping or ombre like a Noro I keep as much as I can – you never know which part of the colourway is going to be needed.
  • Sock repairs are more intensive because the holes are usually caused by wear. I also like to repair my socks when they are starting to show wear, and then use swiss darning/duplicate stitch to shore them up. This takes a lot more yarn than you’d expect, I save as much as I can for this. Regular darning uses less yarn but it isn’t as pretty.

 

Moth Holes  Extra Yarn 2

How to Keep It?

  • Wind your bits into Butterfly Bobbins (picture above): How-to Video 
  • Keeps each project’s extra yarn in it’s own little ziplock baggie (11cm x 12cm/4.3″ x 4.7″) and label it with the project and yarn name. For sweater bits I use special little baggies (I get them from Dollarama, you can find them in the Craft section near the beads & ribbon).
  • Keep your mending bits together in a separate box or bag, away from your knitting stash. Treat extra yarn from commercial sweaters the same way, you can keep it all together. You should also keep extra buttons together with the yarn. I think of it as mending materials and keep mine in my sewing box.
  • Enter your project into Ravelry with all the details (yarn name + colour + dye lot, needle size) in case your need that info later  – it’s a good back-up in case something goes AWOL.

Moth Holes  Extra Yarn combo BLOG

KNIT HACK: Storing Your Knits

It’s that time of year again … the time when I remind you to wash & store your knits. I’m sorry, I know this is a tedious chore, but it’s so, so, so VERY important for preserving the longevity of your knits. You know those evil little buggies who leave those wicked little holes in your knits? They are most often feasting on bits or food, skin, and other human detritus on your sweater. Washing is essential to depriving the little buggies of their buffet, and proper storage keeps them from gaining entrance to the restaurant.

 

Soak Wash Basin

 

Step 1. Wash

Hand wash in specialty delicate wash like Soak or Eucalan. Both brands are no-rinse (an essential feature for making this chore bearable), made in Canada, and work equally well. Personally, I prefer Eucalan for anything made with animal fibres (wool, alpaca, mohair, etc), it is formulated with more lanolin which is a natural conditioner for fibre. I especially like Soak for garments made with plant fibres or synthetics (you can find it in quilting and lingerie stores as well as knitting stores). Both are excellent products, you can’t go wrong with either. If you don’t have many knits but you want your lacies to last longer, pick up a bottle of Soak, they specialize in lingerie. If you are a knitwear fiend and throw your skivvies in the machine, grab a bottle of Eucalan.

Detailed instructions are on the bottles and product websites, but this is how it’s basically done:

  • Soak garment in cool water for 10 minutes
  • Add a little bit of delicate wash and squish it through garment
  • Soak for another 10 minutes
  • Drain water and gently squeeze out water (do not wring)
  • Wrap in a towel and press out excess water
  • Lay flat to dry

Washing Tips

  • Don’t forget your non-sweater knits! Wool socks, hats, mitts, scarves, cowls, and long underwear are just as vulnerable as your sweaters and need love too.
  • Avoid the big corporate store brands like Woolite, they’re still ‘detergents’ and the results will end up making you cry.
  • If the dye is saturated and you think it might bleed, add a quarter cup of white vinegar to the water before adding your garment. The vinegar will act as a mordent and stabilize the colour.
  • If you don’t have a laundry room or suitable sink (I don’t) you can pick up a plastic wash basin at the dollar store (which are also wonderful for a nice foot soak). If you want a higher-end, very high-quality basin that will last forever try a 26 Litre Tubtrug – I have one at home for laundry and we’ve been using the same bins all over the store for over 6 years and they still look like new (the best price is from Amazon.ca and you can get free shipping).
  • Instructions usually suggest drying garments flat on a towel, but I’ve found that if you have already pressed out the excess water with a towel Blocking Mats are a much faster method.
  • If garments MUST go in the machine, use Soak or Eucalan in cold water on the delicate cycle and put them in a Honey-Can-Do Sweater Wash Bag.
  • All fibres are susceptible to moth damage (even plant fibres like cotton and synthetics), wools just happen to be their favourite meal . Wash and store ALL the sweaters you wore over the winter.

 

 

IMG_2662

Step 2. Storage

Now that your knits are clean it’s time to put them away. Thankfully extra-large (33cm x 38cm) zipper freezer bags are ubiquitous and can be found at grocery stores like Loblaws. Presently, my favourites are from Dollarama (they’re tough, the seal is easy and stays put, and they are cheap). Use one sweater per bag, it seals the bugs out, plus it ensures that if one of your knits is infested it won’t spread to the others. This system will also help isolate where any potential infestations are coming from. If you want to seal in a nice, subtle, clean smell you can add a dried bay leaf to the bag – it smells like happy-nice-clean.

Storage Tips

  • Store your non-garment knits! Woollen blankets, pillow covers, anything felted (like bags, slippers, ornaments) are all vulnerable and need to be sealed up. You can buy XXL Ziploc Bags at Walmart or at Dollarama for storing blankets.
  • Don’t neglect your STASH! Ever worked with a skein of yarn that constantly breaks (not counting tight knitters working with delicate yarns)? Yup, buggies. I’ve known people who’ve had to pitch their entire stashes because of infestation.
  • All of the bags mentioned are tough, do not tear easily, and can be used over and over (we use them for storage in the store).
  • I don’t suggest you rely on big tote storage bins to keep your sweaters safe. They don’t fully seal and my past experience has been full of tears and regret.
  • If you’re feeling extra organizey and want to exercise a little control over your chaos, you can label your sweaters. A roll of masking tape and a sharpie pen go a long way, and when the cold hits next fall you’ll know which black sweater is which, without opening all the packaging (I learned this the hard way). BTW, there’s no right or wrong way to label your sweaters, as long as you label them so you can *find* them. Mine are kind of kind of random: “V-Neck from H&M – Black”, “Cashmere Scoop Neck – Black”, “V-Neck Dress from Grad School- Black”, “Haley Special Ultra Alpaca – Blue”, “Haley Special Ultra Alpaca – Green” (I’ve got a few of these), etc. It’s hard to see colour accurately when your sweaters are all packed away together, so be sure to put the colour on the label.

 

common-clothes-moth

Step 3. Second Line of Defense

I field a lot of questions and hear a lot of stories about moth prevention, and I feel I should weigh in.

Moth Traps

I like keeping the windows in my home open as much as possible, which inevitably leads to a little bit of nature creeping in. Hopefully, I’ll have stored everything away properly, but in the past there have been a few strays. This year I’m going to try using Aeroxon Moth Traps as a second line of defence and see what happens. I’ve never used them before, but I’ve heard good things (they use pheromones to attract the males). They last 3 months, so be sure to change them regularly. Even if the buggies don’t have anything to feast on, I’ll still experience a little bit of schadenfreude (shameful-joy) seeing the little bastards in the trap. Death to the sweater eaters!

Moth Balls

Moth balls work, but they smell like camphor on crack, god knows what the chemicals are doing to you and your family, and little kids always seem to think they’re candy. The smell gives me a mirgaine, ’nuff said – VETO.

Cedar Closets

I have fond memories of rummaging in my grandmother’s cedar closet, the smell was wonderful and it’s where she kept her ‘stash’ (she’d keel over if she saw what we collect these days). These closets mostly work on the principle that they are located in the basement, are tightly sealed, and aren’t often opened. Buggies don’t love the smell of cedar oil, but the wood dries out over time and it isn’t a reliable deterrent. Plus, it can’t do anything helpful if you store something already infested in it. I’m conservative when it comes to these things, if you are going to rely on a cedar closet without washing & bagging, I’d put a moth trap in there as a back-up.

Cedar Balls

Cedar balls are pretty, but are already dried out and they don’t have much scent left. I think their best use is in a glass bowl as a decorative centrepiece.

Heavy Perfume (Smelly Soap, Dryer Sheets, etc.)

Maybe buggies dislike the smell, maybe they don’t – this one’s in the realm of ‘old wives tale’. Personally, I’ve never had any success with this technique, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to go all out and make all my stuff smell like Springtime for Hitler.  I don’t endorse heavy fragrance for a few reasons:

  1. There isn’t any science on it, I don’t know if it really keeps moths at bay.
  2. More and more people are sensitive to fragrance; I don’t want you to hurt anyone with your perfume and I also don’t want *you* to become sensitized through exposure and become allergic (or your kids – that would be an unimaginable world of pain for the whole family).
  3. Besides being a common trigger for asthma, commercial synthetic fragrances contain chemicals called Phthalates (like the stuff in BPA), which are endocrine disruptors and are associated with cancers of the lady parts, deformities in baby boys, and god knows what else. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to keep my breasts & ovaries and never have to know what chemo feels like, and I want the same for my family and yours.

Resources

Tips & Tricks: How to Wash & Store Knits

Spring seems to be starting to sprout and that means it’s time to WASH AND STORE YOUR SWEATERS! Well, at least start. You probably won’t need to put them all away until the end of April, but you can definitely start with the heavy ones now.
 
The cruel little buggies who leave those wicked holes in your lambswool and cashmere are most often feasting on bits or food, skin, and other human detritus on your sweater. Washing is essential to it depriving the little buggies of their buffet, and proper storage keeps them from getting to the restaurant. 
 
 
Wash
Hand wash in special delicate wash Soak or Eucalan. Both brands are no-rinse (an essential feature), made in Canada, and work pretty much work equally well. 
 
Personally, I prefer Eucalan for anything made with animal fibres (wool, alpaca, mohair, etc), it is formulated with more lanolin which is a natural conditioner. I like Soak for garments made with plant fibres or synthetics (you can find it in quilting and lingerie stores as well as knitting stores). 
Detailed instructions are on the bottles and product websites, but this is how it’s basically done:
  • soak garment in cool water for 10 minutes
  • add a little bit of delicate wash and squish it through garment
  • soak for another 10 minutes
  • drain water and gently squeeze out water (do not wring)
  • wrap in a towel and press out excess water
  • lay flat to dry
 
Washing Tips
  • Avoid the big corporate store brands like Woolite, they’re still ‘detergents’ and the results will end up making you cry.  
  • If the dye is saturated and you think it might bleed, add a quarter cup of white vinegar to the water before adding your garment. The vinegar will act as a mordent and stabilize the colour. 
  • If you don’t have a laundry room or suitable sink (I don’t) you can pick up a plastic wash basin at the dollar store (which are also wonderful for a nice foot soak). If you want a higher-end, very high-quality basin that will last forever try a 26 Litre Tubtrug – I have one at home for laundry and we’ve been using the same bins all over the store for over 5 years (the best price is from Amazon.ca and you can get free shipping). 
  • Instructions usually suggest drying garments flat on a towel, but I’ve found that if you have already pressed out the excess water with a towel Blocking Mats are a much faster method. 
  • If garments MUST go in the machine (socks), use Soak or Eucalan in cold water on the delicate cycle and put them in a Honey-Can-Do Sweater Wash Bag
  • All fibres are susceptible to moth damage, even plant fibres like cotton and synthetics, wools just happen to be their favourite meal . Wash and store all the sweaters you wore over the winter.
 
 
Store
Now that your knits are clean it’s time to put them away. Thankfully extra-large (33cm x 38cm) zipper freezer bags are ubiquitous and can be found at grocery stores like Loblaws. Presently, my favourites are from Dollarama (they’re tough, the seal is easy and stays put, and they are cheap). One sweater per bag seals the bugs out, plus it ensures that if one of your knits is infested it won’t spread to the others. If you want to seal in a nice, subtle, clean smell you can add a dried bay leaf to the bag – it smells like smiles.  If you’re feeling a little anxious or just enjoy zipper bags, you can hermetically seal all your pre-packaged sweater cutlets in a second, super-sized meta 4XL Zilpoc Bag  
 
Storage Tips
  • All of the bags mentioned are tough, do not tear easily, and can be used over and over (we use them for storage in the store). 
  • I don’t suggest you rely on big tote storage bins to keep your sweaters safe. They don’t fully seal and my past experience has been disappointing. 
  • If you’re feeling extra organizey you can label your sweaters. A roll of masking tape and a sharpie pen go a long way, and when the cold hits next fall you’ll know which black sweater is which, without opening all the packaging (I learned this the hard way).
  • Non-sweater knits need to be put away too! Wool socks, mitts, hats, scarves, cowls, legwarmers and blankets also need love. Even if you don’t get around to washing them you should definitely seal them up for the summer (those super-duper big Ziploc bags are especially great for blankets). 
  • Felted projects are wool too: felted bags, baskets, bangles, trivets, etc, are a favourite feast for tiny beasts. Bag ’em up!
  • Don’t forget to bag up your stash! While your skeins may not have been exposed to any human detritus, they’re still vulnerable. Ever worked with a skein of yarn that constantly breaks (not counting tight knitters working with delicate yarns)? Yup, buggy. I’ve known people who had to pitch their entire stashes because of infestation. 
Resources