The next item on my "ketchup list" is the American Beauty shawl by BadCat Designs, which I managed to finish just in time to wear it to church on Easter Sunday. We had fun doing an outdoor photo-shoot in the April sunshine (see left).
But two days ago, when I brought out the shawl because I was getting ready to write about it, I had a nasty shock: the drawer where it was kept had been invaded by carpet beetles!! Thankfully, other hand-knit items in the vicinity seem to have been spared, and (before anyone asks) the Princess Shawl and WRS were both tucked away safely elsewhere, but American Beauty was badly damaged, perhaps even beyond repair. The little buggers seem to have a definite taste for fine merino, because they zeroed in on that one piece and basically left the others alone. So far as I know, the little wrist-warmers mentioned in this post from over year ago were the only other casualty.
As typically happens where insect larvae have feasted on a piece of wool, parts of the fabric simply fell apart in my hands (see right). It was hideously upsetting, of course, but I resisted the impulse to throw the whole thing away in despair. The shawl in its present form is probably too far gone, but I may be able to salvage the gorgeous fuchsia yarn for eventual reuse. I won't know for sure until I examine it more closely with dispassionate eyes. For now it's in a plastic bag in our spare freezer, along with the entire contents of the drawer where the infestation occurred. If cold does not actually kill the bugs, it should at least make them go dormant. Meanwhile I've ordered some pesticide strips that are designed for enclosed spaces, so the next step will be to seal all the infected items in a big plastic bin and let the chemical (DDVP) go to work. None of the other dresser drawers showed signs of insect activity, but as a precaution I sent EVERYTHING that I could through the laundry. Oh my, but *that* exercise is not for the faint of heart...
At any rate, because of what has happened, and in deference to the inevitable period of mourning, I am not going to dwell on the completion of this project anymore. That would feel distinctly morbid somehow (although Matthew 6:19 comes to mind, of course). But though the loss is undeniably a bitter one, in the last 48 hours my outlook has already shifted toward the positive, because I can see a shiny silver lining.
As much as I love the Rose Whisper with its wide range of color, done just by varying the saturation of a single dye, the dramatic shading turned out to be too intense and overpowering for the delicate lace of this particular design. At first there were just little flecks of the darker color, which I really liked. But then wider bands and blotches started to appear. It all blends together visually, but the larger rose motifs at the shoulders are mostly drowned out in the noise and confusion, which made me very sad, because they are truly magnificent (see left).
So at some point I think I would like to try knitting American Beauty again, but this time with more of a solid color. I have already done some preliminary yarn hunting over the Internet. For you know what they say: when the going gets tough, the tough GO SHOPPING!! Best therapy in the world, methinks, and it's free for now, as long as I don't actually buy anything. :-)