I had a plan for Sunday. It was my last day of vacation. I had cleaned my house. I had finished my book and sent it to my editor. That, I thought, had earned me a day of mitten knitting.
There was a ball of Patons Bulky in my yarn box, just one ball picked out by a small boy to make a pair of mittens that would fit him – his hands too small for any commercial gloves he and his mother, my friend Jazz, could find. Small hands shouldn’t be swimming in big acrylic gloves all winter, so I agreed to try my hand at knitting small mittens.
I’d been procrastinating some, partly because BOOK and partly because I was wary of the Patons. I have unpredictable reactions to sheep’s wool, usually the non-machine-washable kind. Sometimes, usually if it’s a blend, I can handle the mild itching caused. Sometimes my day quickly becomes a Benadryl kind of day. I hadn’t really made time to sit around touching the Patons to see what would happen, but I knew Sunday I couldn’t really put it off any longer. It’s January. Our mild winter can’t last.
So I sat down on my couch with some needles and the ball of wool. As I poked around for a yarn end, one came off in my hand from the front of the ball. Hm. Weird.
Then I noticed the hole in the ball.
I’d been finding broken skeins of yarn for weeks. Fingerless mittens with holes in them.
My cat Trilby is a notorious yarn thief. She will drag skeins around the apartment. She goes hunting for leftover balls of yarn to play with. I’d thought she’d been the culprit behind the damaged skeins and newly ventilated knitted accessories. It seemed logical, little cat loves yarn, steals yarn, plays a little rough with yarn.
But this ball of yarn had been stashed neatly away in a decorative scrapbooking box in my living room. Along with my other skeins and balls of yarn. Sitting so prettily in that cardboard box against an outer wall in a mild winter…
I want a medal for not immediately getting up off my couch screaming, bolting straight to my door and hurling that ball of yarn – that ball of carpet beetle infested yarn – down the stairs. Instead, I got calmly to my feet, plucked a plastic bag up from the supply I keep by the litterbox, neatly tied the little ball of woolen horrors up into it, and placed it just outside my apartment door.
Then began the carnage.
I yanked all of my skeins out of the box that the Patons had been in and inspected the box for creepy crawlies. None there, but several skeins of yarn had broken spots. I shook all the yarn out, packed it into plastic bags, and shoved it into the freezer. Then I went to check the WIP box stacked underneath the stash box.
I don’t want to talk about what I found there. What could be saved went into the freezer with the stash. Both decorator boxes went into the garbage…along with what couldn’t be saved.
I had more stash scattered around the apartment, though. I have been lax about stash containment and storage and Sunday? Sunday I reaped a rich harvest of awful.
It wasn’t all bad. I had to clear old containers of soup out of the freezer to make room for yarn, and that had been needing to be done. Although acrylic yarn seems to be of limited interest to carpet beetles, I chucked it all anyway, grateful for the excuse to declutter (don’t start, I had some astoundingly crappy acrylic yarn and it had orgied itself into a horrific tangle that had also consumed an ancient Victoria’s Secret thong and a pair of broken headphones). I reclaimed two IKEA hanging storage units and a lot of floor space in my closet. I had been needing to vacuum, and I did. So, you know, silver linings and all.
But oh, god, the backbreaking labor. Today my hindquarters are really letting me know what they think about all those trips up and down the stairs. I have more yarn out on my balcony, all shaken and beaten and bagged, waiting their turn in the freezer (I’m sure my neighbors all think I am a perfectly charming and normal lady, a real joy to have in the community what with the mutant tomato plants and the glaring Siamese and now the hour or so of slapping yarn against the porch railing on a beautiful sunny day). I’m going to have to cycle chunks of my stash through the freezer and microwave, I am going to have to reskein all the balls and vacuum them (is this when I tell you that the chapter Moth in the Yarn Harlot’s first book of essays is apparently lodged in my memory? shocked the crap out of me that I knew immediately what to do once I figured out what that hole in the yarn was…although Texas doesn’t even turn into much of a freezer when we’re having an actual winter, too bad), I had to buy a lot of big Ziplocs and plastic storage (although, score, there was a really good sale on big plastic storage at the supermarket today) I am going to have to move furniture and vacuum behind it…I’m tired just thinking about it.
Although the whole tired thing could actually be because I lay awake all night thinking, my apartment is full of tiny bugs.
I have the feeling I am going to be taking Silkwood showers for, um, approximately the rest of my life.
And don’t think I’ve taken arson completely off the table.