Guest Author - Beverly Elrod
So, you’ve crocheted a passel of items that you’d like to keep for gift-giving at a later date. You’ve spent many happy hours working on these items to completion. But, what’s the best way to store these items so that they will keep until they’re gifted to someone? This is a very important question to find the answer to. After all, you don’t want all your hard work to go to waste and that’s exactly what could happen if steps aren’t taken immediately to ensure the safety of your precious commodities.
Let’s start with the easiest items. Acrylics (AKA: synthetics, Also AKA: manmade fibers) are the most forgiving. These fibers will last years and years as long as they are not left in direct sunlight or exposed to high humidity/dampness.
Natural fibers-such as wool, alpaca, mohair and the fur of any animal that will mat up (or tangle)-have the same sensitivity to the elements, but they are more sensitive because of the fragility of their fibers.
All fibers need to be protected from various creatures; such as the two “m’s”-moths and mice. For protections against moths, the ‘old school’ ruse was to toss a few moth balls into the container with your fiber items. Unfortunately, this created an unpleasant odor; which left you with the feeling that it was just removed from Grandma’s house. The ‘new school’ cure for moths is to throw some cedar chips into the container instead. Cedar chips leave a pleasant aroma that reminds me of summer vacation, in a cottage built of cedar tongue and groove boards, by the lake.
Mice are another critter that’s unpleasant to contend with, but unfortunately they’re a matter of life; especially if you live in or near a wooded area. Mice chew through almost everything except metal. Paper? It makes a great nest for them when they shred it to pieces. Plastic? It barely slows them down for any length of time at all. Wood? Now, wood will slow them down, but it won’t hold them back. I have an antique storage trunk that can attest to that fact. There are no sprays, or scents that will detour mice from something they want. And, any type of yarn fiber is something they’d love to get into and make a nest of. You could use preventative measures; such as mouse traps placed under sinks (where children won’t be putting their little fingers), in the basement, on a work bench or such. If the though of harming one of God’s little creatures bothers you, you could invest in some metal containers to put your fiber items in.
I have always held to the belief that items which are to be stored for a long time should be neatly folded and placed into a storage container. But, recently, I watched a documentary of the Smithsonian Institute and how they stored precious articles of clothing. The items they had folded were laid on an acid-free sheet of paper-away from the edge if the storage container was wooden (as in a drawer). The drawers, where these items are stored, were periodically opened and the items gently refolded in a different area of the material (with gloved hands) so that the folds didn’t develop worn spots or show discoloring from being creased at one place for an extended period of time.
Some items were hung on hangers. No wire hangers in the Smithsonian Institute, that I saw. But the hangers that were used were well padded so that the shoulders of the garments lay gently over a wider area, rather than on a narrow hanger; which would certainly wear on the seams and material over a short period of time.
But, what if you have a limited space for either containers or for hanging? My suggestion is this, for light-weight items that can be hung, store theses on well padded hangers in a closet. Heavier items need to be stored in a container. I would never store a heavy item on a hanger (even if it were a garment) due to the fact that the weight hanging down from a hanger will cause the item to stretch.
I hope this advise helps you in determining how you will store and care for your fiber items over an extended period of time.