Admittedly, I have not been very good about how I store our wool. We have sweaters and hats hanging up, wool socks and gloves in drawers, and wool craft projects laying out. But then, as the weather turned and I was digging in a drawer for some wooly layers, I saw that a handknit hat and a pair of wool gloves had moth holes in them. Uh oh. It was time to change my ways. I starting bringing woolens to the freezer as I could fit them, to kill the moth eggs. Then I’d take that batch out and put another batch in. My wool yarn all got frozen and then safely stored in a plastic bin, I had been too careless about it before.
I ordered some wool wash online. The same day that our wool wash arrived in the mail, we also received a gift in the mail that included the book: Yetsa’s Sweater. I read the book to Bracken when we got home from the post office. The timing was perfect because the book talked about a little girl helping her grandmother and mother wash wool to prepare it for spinning. (It’s a really sweet book and I like how it shows the process of how a sheep’s fleece becomes a sweater.) I got out our Eucalan wool wash and filled the bathtub with tepid water. (I went online to search what exactly tepid meant, I wanted to get the temperature just right.) It was time to wash our woolens. I decided to start with one piece at a time and began with Jeff’s favorite cashmere sweater (a lucky thrifted find) that he literally wears all the time. It was dirty and really needed to be washed. We watched the tub fill with soap bubbles and emerged Jeff’s sweater in the water. With the spirit of the book with us as we went about washing our wool, we put our hands down in the water, gently squeezing the sweater and swishing it in the soapy water. Bracken thought it was great fun! We let it soak for awhile. And then, we squeezed out all the water we could and hung it up to dry by the woodstove. It looked so clean and new! Bracken was ready to do lots of wool washing, he loved it. We didn’t wash all our wool by hand, though. I didn’t want to tackle handwashing all our woolens, there were so many to wash. I like to handwash woolens here and there, Bracken really enjoys it, but for doing the majority I decided to use the washing machine. I had never washed wool in the washing machine before (except to purposely felt it.) I was nervous, I didn’t want it to accidentally agitate and felt all our wool! I kept my eye on it, filled up the washing machine with water, added the soap and the woolens, and let it soak. (Our washing machine does not keep from agitating if you leave the lid open. I had to wait until the water was full and then turn it off.) After it was done soaking, we turned the dial straight to the spin cycle and it spun the water out. (That particular soap does not get rinsed out, it gives wool a fresh treatment of lanolin.) An entire load of washed woolens! So much easier than washing it by hand (even though that was fun.) Before when I’ve handwashed wool, I’ve put a towel underneath our clothes drying rack because no matter how much I try to squeeze out all the water, it drips all over the floor. So I had a towel underneath it again to hang the woolens, but I didn’t end up needing it. The spin cycle was a wonderful thing!
After washing loads and drying them, it was time to store them. I was inspired by Amanda’s post where she talked about bringing a cedar chest in her living room to double as a coffee table and a storage space for wool and handknits. What a wonderful idea! We had a cedar chest we were storing extra sheets and bedding in. I cleared it out and brought it in the living room. Jeff had some cedar oil from the woodworking store and suggested oiling it with that. So I oiled the inside with a bit of cedar oil to refresh the smell. Then I folded up our clean woolens and put them inside. What a good feeling! I have much more wool around the house to gather and freeze and wash and store, but at least I have a start. Of course there are sweaters and hats that we wear all the time that are still hanging up, but everything that we are not wearing at the moment will start going in the cedar chest. It’s not fun getting moth holes in your woolens, but it gave me the incentive to do something I’ve known I’ve needed to do for years: properly store our wool. I want to make some sachets with lavender and fragrant herbs to stick in our cedar chest as well. I have some other ideas I’m working on for repelling moths from wool that I’ll share as I try them out.
Tell me friends, what do you do to protect your wool?