Some more about the mold…

As you may (or for you newbies) or maynot remember, the worst experience that has ever happened to me as a knitter was this summer of mold. The jist of the story is that my airconditioner in the room I was staying in this summer grew mold and contaminated almost everything in my room including much of my yarn stash. You can read more about it in this post here, and you can read what I did about it here.

So why bring this up again? Everyday, when I look at my stats, at least one of the searches that brings people to my blog has something to do with mold. One person had mold under the floor in her boat. I get lots of searches with the question “is mold bad for you?” I find some comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one with this problem.

Anyway, Bryony emailed me the other day because she too was having mold problems. She agreed to let me post her question and my response in order to help future google searchers. She writes:

I’ve been reading about your horrible mold issues thanks to Google and I
wonder if you could offer me some advice.

I live in a very old stone weaver’s cottage that is built into the side of a
hill, and the back of it is the only place that gets hit by the sun (which
unfortunately is the side built into the hill). Because of this, and a
problem with water pipes , we have issues with moisture levels in the house. We have a dehumidifier, which does a great job, but until we can afford to have some more work done, and get the bathroom and the pipes replaced, we are a bit stuck with it.

Unfortunately this kind of makes things a bit difficult with my knitting
habit (as you have already discovered, sadly). My yarn is fine. The WiPs
are ok because they are washed at the end of knitting, and my stored yarn is kept in locking plastic crates, so the yarn is quite happy, has never smelt
musty and comes out the box fresh as a daisy :) My books are luckily fine
too.

My issue is with my needles. I prefer bamboo to metal or plastic, and
while I’m knitting with them they are fine. Even needles left to one side
for a few months stay fresh and clean. However, the set not in use I’ve
kept for the last year in a felted needle case, and these have serious
problems. For the second time I’ve noticed they have mold on them. The
first time, I cleaned them with anti mould cleaner, and most of it brushed
right off, without any staining. I also sprayed the case with
anti-bacterial Febreeze. Apparently that wasn’t enough :( I’m ordering a
new set of bamboos from ebay to minimise the transfer of mold, and my
beloved case will have to go :(

What I would like it know is – did you have any problems with your needles? If so, have you been able to do anything about it like treat them with something to protect them? I’m already thinking of moving my stash upstairs to somewhere more airy and dry, so that I only keep WiPs in the living room, but I’m not sure how to store my needles to keep them safe and dry. Given that I don’t have the opportunity you did (i.e. moving!) to resolve your problem, do you have any advice you can offer? I’ll be keeping the dehumidifier on quite a lot at least!

Many thanks in advance
Bryony

As someone who enjoys knitting with bamboo needles, I’m glad that I didn’t have any of these issues. Here’s my response:

I haven’t yet noticed a problem with my needles – I was only in the moldy room for 3 months and so I think that might be a factor – also, a lot of my needles are plastic or aluminum (as much as I love the birch and/or bamboo).

However, I do have a few suggestions for you – First – either toss your needle case or give it a long soaking in some Kookaburrah. In the course of my cleaning, I had to throw out a hand-quilted pillow that had a ton of sentimental value for the relationship I had with my mom – the mold was deep inside the stuffing and I just had to let it go - washing didn’t do any good. This had to be one of the worst parts of this whole thing – throwing away something that I valued as special.

Exposing your needles to the moving air will be helpful. (in the course of my crisis someone told me that it’s warm, wet and extremely stagnant air that mold loves the most) – Since I love looking at my needles, I’ve never had them stored in a needlecase – I store them in a vase where I can see them everyday. My circulars hang (from one of those circular solution things), also in the open air. I’d recommend that you first clean your needles – soak/wash the non-porous ones (plastic, metal) in a solution with some bleach (make sure you rinse off the needles really well afterward) and seriously wipe the wooden ones with some Murphy’s oil soap and maybe some Kookaburrah just to be sure. Then, you may want to think about doing what I do (at least for the interim) and store them in a vase – an advantage to doing it this way is that you could put a bunch of rice in the vase – this could suck the moisture out of the needles you have (preventing mold from growing) and make sure they stay dry in your apparently wet house.

I hope this helps!

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4 Responses to “Some more about the mold…”


  1. 1 elizabeth October 13, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    oh god. This is terrifying. I’m glad I don’t have a lo tof wooden needles…ever since your mold problem I’ve been looking everywhere for mold, just in case.

  2. 2 hege October 14, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Why not get some of those silica gel desiccant packets? Lke the ones that come in all packages when you buy electronics. You can buy those at some stores that have closet supplies, like the Container Store. Some grocery stores, too. I also live in a damp area, and I put those into my yarn storage boxes, just in case.


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