When I started knitting, I realized I needed to think about storing my textiles differently. For one good reason: MOTHS.
Moths are the enemy of long-term textile storage, which we learned the hard way at our house from one vintage jacket purchased at a second-hand store that worked its way through three prized sweaters before we discovered what was going on. Textile moths LOVE wool, which is why closets have been made of cedar and old ladies have smelled of naphthalene for decades.
With my fabrics for sewing, I admit that I didn’t think too much about storage, certainly not specialty storage. I mean, cotton, right? Fold it up, stick it on the shelf, done! I have had a number of wools rolled up in a basket for years and never gave them a second thought, probably (and I’m ashamed to admit this, but it’s true) because I got them cheap at a closeout sale, so I didn’t ascribe any particular value to them. Insert conversation about cost vs value here. Sigh.
But yarn! Oh, my, yarn. One of the first yarns I really splurged on was from Purl Soho, their wool/silk Mulberry Merino blend, and even though I got that on 30% off sale, it was still GASP levels of pricey. It hurt to purchase a sweater’s worth of this stuff–ten skeins, even at a discount, was a major chunk of change. So I suddenly was enormously invested in thinking about how to preserve my precious new preciouses.
Almost all of the yarn I have purchased comes in a plastic bag, so that’s how I’ve chosen to protect them. Mostly, your choice is between storage containers or bags, anyway, and bags are inexpensive and take up very little space. Plus, as an organizational tool, I like using very large zip top bags and placing one kind of yarn in each, either every skein I have of one color, or all skeins of one type, like sock yarns.
We also liberally employ lavender oil to prevent pests (read more about that in this article, along with other tips for preventing moth infestation). In every load of washed laundry, we use these dryer balls with a few drops of lavender oil to both freshen the load and to keep pests away (at the very least, I HIGHLY recommend using dryer balls with lavender in your linen loads, because it can make ALL the difference for kids who are reluctant sleepers–soothes them right off to dreamland!). On top of that, for garments that can’t be laundered, we use small sachets with lavender flowers and oil, tucked into dresser drawers or on shelves in the closet, to protect our clothing. Same idea applies to stored yarns and fabric, where sachets can be placed in bins or between bags of stored textiles to keep moths from eating their way inside.
And don’t overlook the obvious: vacuum and dust often, to keep your collection fresh and keep an eye peeled for any developing pests. When we discovered them in our closet chewing through our knits, they’d done some damage to sleeves and hems that couldn’t be repaired, but if we’d caught it sooner maybe there could have been some mitigation? I don’t know, that’s what I tell myself now, as I’m spending weeks knitting a sweater and trying not to think about the ephemeral nature of all making. At a minimum, you should be able to eliminate an infested item before the creatures move on to another pristine selection that you treasure.
Again, these tips apply both to fabrics AND yarns, including WOOL BLENDS. Just because an item isn’t 100% wool doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be protected! For basics on mothproofing before a problem starts, Martha has a list of tips–and she’s got you covered should you discover the little buggers nibbling away at your favorite wools, too.
Because making stuff is more fun when you don’t find holes in your fibers before you even get going. Have fun, you guys!