The Care and Keeping of Fiber
Browsing the Created by Elsie B shop can be a wonderful experience because there is just so much to see! While shopping may leave you dreaming of all the fun fiber possibilities, the real challenge comes when your fluff arrives in the mail and you have to figure out exactly what to DO with it. Wool can be delicate and finicky, and it's important to care for it properly to get the best from your hand dyed combed top and yarn. The good news is that it's not hard if you understand the potential pitfalls in stash storage.
Probably the most important fact to consider when storing and maintaining your fiber stash is its susceptibility to pests. As a natural product, wool is very appealing to moths & beetles, or more specifically- their larvae, and you could find yourself losing a significant investment if your home becomes unknowingly infested with these fiber-loving beasts. And if you think 'that could never happen to me', just wait - it's happened to some of the best fiber lovers out there (yes, including myself). While there are ways to get rid of pests, being proactive and preventing them is always the best bet.
We take our carbon footprint very seriously at Created by Elsie B. (There will be a blog dedicated to our approach to environmental responsibility soon!) However, the quality and longevity of the hand dyed combed top that we send to each of your homes is always our first priority, and that is why we store and pack every braid in heavy-duty reusable plastic bags. We have found this to be the strongest defense against moth infestation as it provides an impermeable barrier that keeps flying pests from laying eggs in your fluff. We recommend that you keep your fibers snug and safely bagged until you are ready to spin and that you seal the finished skeins in the same way until you need the yarn for a project. The very worst thing you can do to animal-based fibers like wool is leave them open to the elements. Not only does bagging fiber prevent moths from reaching it but it also keeps any surprises contained to a smaller area than if they were able to access all of your stash at once.
If you have been unlucky enough to find moths in your home, it's time to take some serious action before it gets out of hand. First, you need to know the extent of the damage, and that will entail a complete check of your fiber stash. Separate clean braids from damaged ones, quarantining anything that looks suspicious. Once identified, you can kill the larvae by either exposing them to heat in an oven set to a low temperature (unbagged, of course!) or by freezing them in the baggie for about a week. Be sure to remove any visible debris from the braid or skein before again storing it properly.
Before breathing a sigh of relief at dodging the bullet and saving your stash, take the time to do a deep cleaning of your space. Thoroughly wash any garments or finished objects in vinegar and store them in plastic bags or bins when not in active rotation. It is helpful to dust well and vacuum the cracks and crevices around your home that may be harboring pests. Also look into renewing your acquaintance with the pest control service in your area (or diatomaceous earth if that's more your style). Finally, installing window and door screens can serve as a strong line of defense to keep moths out of your home in the first place.
At Created by Elsie B, we take proactive action to keep all your fibers safe and sound from the dye bath to your front door. We truly hope that none of you ever need to deal with crawly things eating your beloved fluff, but as the old saying goes, stuff happens, and it's good to be prepared for all possibilities!
What are your favorite fiber storage solutions? Do you have a favorite product, method or procedure that has worked particularly well for you? We'd love to hear about it!