As I look at these, the old familiar smell of wool and lanolin, or linen and flax is still evident despite the mothball smell. It’s the moth ball odor that I want to get rid of here on my hammock in the perfect sun of late spring. And why moth balls? Once upon a time I had a Puli dog named Alfie. He was a Hungarian Sheep Dog and I inherited him along with my husband. Alfie had marvelous fur that completely covered his eyes when fully grown. My husband took pity and decided that he should give Alfie a haircut when summer came. Always, he’d comment on how much happier Alfie seemed, and certainly we were more responsive when we could see his eyes and his bouncy countenance.
Having learned to spin not just wool but short staple cotton, one summer I decided to keep Alfie’s fur and try to spin it. Noble gesture, stored in a plastic bag, but my days were busy with an infant. My studio walls, in the studio I mention in my post from last January, were lined with wool and weaving books. At one point, I noticed the occasional wool moth, and this gradually gave way to an infestation. Because I found a number of my Berber wools were targets of the wool moths, I decided to sequester them in garbage cans with moth balls. This was the prevailing treatment in 1980. The whole concept of non-toxic alternatives was not known to me or I would have chosen chunks of cedar. Now the story gets more interesting. When I looked through this picture-perfect studio of yarns, I found the bag of Alfie’s fur. Opened it. And found it empty. No fur, just masses of wool moth detritus. Ugh.
Most commercial yarn is pH treated to a level that wool moths do not like. That’s why those beloved handspun sweaters from Guatemala or Nepal are sometimes the gates of heaven for wool moths. No pH treatment there. Ditto for dog hair.
Later on, my studio became a TV room, then a bedroom. My yarns went into garbage cans, and here I am, cleaning them out. I was tempted just to throw them all away, but they are beautiful! The smell of wool and lanolin is seductive. I think I will ask my local weavers’ guild if they want to offer it to members, who can in turn donate to the guild. I really don’t think I want to weave again. Or do I?