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Knitting Help! Please! January 20, 2007

Okay, I have a knitting question that I bet you’ve NEVER read before. Or maybe you have. But I haven’t, so I need a little help here. (Warning: Poop blog ahead, Rabbitch. Turn away if it makes you weep.)

Harriet, our Queen Bee, master of all she rules, and just about the cutest dog to roam the world on Very Short Legs, is probably about fifteen years old. She hasn’t been well for the last year, and we’ve had some struggles with pancreatitis and a couple of UTIs, but the right meds helped, and right now she seems to feel great. 

She is, however, going a bit senile (yes, seeing the vet about that, too). Every once in a while she’ll have an accident where she shouldn’t, where she never would have a year ago. Like the car. When I take them out on walks and to the beach, she’s in the back of the station wagon with Clara, both of them sitting on a sheet I keep back there to catch beach sand, so it’s no big deal.

But the other day we had a very special brunch outing, and Harriet was a guest of honor, so we let her up in the main part of the car. She sat on the back seat and stood up and stuck her head out the window and let her cheeks flap backwards in the wind. Harriet heaven.

And then the smell. Not only had she had she pooped, but she had walked in it a bit before we figured out the smell (we’re not as bright as we like to tell you we are). 

And she was sitting (and walking) on my sock in progress. My really cute sock, I’ll have you know. I’m fond of that sock. About three-quarters done, all poopy now.

What the HELL do I do? 

I cleaned the car, but I was barely able to touch the knitting. I can handle cleaning upholstery, but for some reason, I couldn’t even imagine cleaning the sock.

Today I took out the needle (because I need it to start another pair) and I washed it. So I have an unfinished sock, with live stitches hanging ragged, still dirty. How do I salvage this? 

I could thread yarn through the live stitches and wash it by hand.


I could wash it by hand sans the live-stitch-save and prepare for major damage.


Or, I just realized, I could cut my losses and throw the whole thing out (including 100g ball, which also got dirty) . Damn, that’s probably what I should do. Trouble is, I don’t remember where I got the yarn or what kind it is, because I lost the ball band. I have this cavalier attitude about socks. I always finish a pair and put them on, and then people say “Where’d you get that? What’s the brand?” and I can say, “Oh, I dunno,” because I already know I’ll never want to knit the same pair of socks twice anyway.

But I loved this sock!

Help! Poop! Poop!


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Oh, poop! Sorry to say, I'd probably go with the last option and chuck the thing. Do you really love it enough to deal with the poop factor? Odds are, you'll be able to track it down again at Article Pract. Or take a pic of the non-poopy part of the ball and see if we readers can identify it for you. xoxox

I'd just drop the whole thing in some eucalan. Maybe buy a pair of latex gloves (I work in health care, so I always have some) and use that to save the live stitches, then drop the work in a bucket with some wool wash (more than recommended)and just leave it. For like a week. Then go back and see how much has worked its way out.
I'm a nurse aide, so I play with poop all the time. It's really not as bad as it seems.

Soak it in Nature's Miracle. Really, it's an enzyme cleaner and takes all the smell out.

First, decide how much you liked the sock. If you were fond of it, go with ayla's suggestion. A box of latex gloves is <$10 at the drugstore/bigboxstore and is a handy thing to have around, especially if you have pets (ask me how I know). After you have soaked the sock and most of its nastiness is gone, drench it again in some enzymatic stuff like Nature's Miracle or Simple Solution. Those are guaranteed to get rid of the smell -- they are designed to get rid of cat urine odor, so they will definitely work on dog poop.

Good luck!

I've heard good things about SOAK wool wash. Vinegar also works just as well or better than Nature's Miracle. Bio-Kleen Bac-Out is what I use on my son's diapers when they get really bad.

But I'd just toss it. If it were a sweater or a FO, maybe I'd go through the trouble, but a sock? Cut your losses and keep WIPs in ziploc bags from now on.

I would probably got with the throwing out too, because....ew.
Jeez, and I think I can handle (potentially)having a kid??

Sorry, but I'd have to go with option 3 myself. (I'm pretty sure I'd do the same thing, even if I were making Steph's wedding shawl and were binding the thing off when the shit happened.) You may wash it out, and it may not smell, but you'll be anti-sock. The memory of the poop will be strong. It won't get knit on as often, won't get worn as much...

I vote for tossing and forgetting but definately storing in zip-locks in the future...what was knitting doing back there with her any way, silly girl?

My 20 month old lab helped her self to a hank of sock yarn...found it in the yard the next morning...after the sprinklers ran. A soak and a trip to Target for more baskets later and all is well again. But let me tell you winding that hank was a bitch.

If the stitches are already on a string, and safe, and if the sock yarn is machine washable, then just toss it into the machine and let the washer take care of the dirty work. Chances are likely that even if the yarn is not necessarily machine washable, if you toss it in with cold water, on the gentle cycle, it will be okay.

This worked especially well for me when I had to deal with a similar situation (large volumes of concentrated cat pee plus half-finished object = euww).

Is it yarn that you can get again? If it's handdyed and impossible to find again easily, then I'd give washing it a shot. If it's something you can find again easily, I'd toss it. And maybe light it on fire first. Ew.

shudder. i feel for you.
there are some really good suggestions above so i don't have much to add... i would, if i truly loved the yarn/sock, go for the plastic gloves + hard-core antibacterial wash, then wool wash + conditioner to get the yarn back in shape.
good luck hon!

I agree with others, in that it's a sock, and now it's garbage. If it were, say, three-quarters of Cromarty, well, then I'd be soaking and washing. With gloves on.

I would run it (and the yarn) through the handwash cycle on the washing machine. Without machine washing, I'd never feel like it was clean. (I machine wash all my socks on the handknit cycle without felting problems, so that should be a safe choice.)

I have an old senile dog too, and am well familiar with the "old senile dog walks through poop and gets it all over everything" syndrome. And like

If I really liked the yarn, I'd rip the sock and wash it. Then start over again. I think you're a little more likely to get the yarn clean if it isn't part of a fabric.

Good luck. It's really like what ayla says -- poop is smelly, but it's really just another kind of dirt.

I agree with Cari, but I think you could make the process go even more smoothly if you put the ball of yarn in the leg of a pair of pantyhose or tights to keep it from moving around too much (put the sock in the other leg and tie 'em both so stuff stays put). Then throw the whole mess into a lingerie bag and the gentle cycle. Good luck!

Chuck it. I don't have an old dog, I have a young completely high strung dog (1/2 min schnauzer, 1/2 chihuahua) who did a similar thing last fall. The kids and I went to hamburger joint for supper, the neice joined us, Esme (the delightful but neurotic dog) pooped in the back seat (while feeling overwrought about our absence) and then jumped everywhere - and I mean everywhere. She transfered her fecal matter onto the car's ceiling for heaven's sake. Fortunately (for the kids) my neice drove them home. The dog and I suffered in my car. After days of attempting to clean it myself I went to the big carwash and had the upholstery shampooed. Now if she waits in the car, she waits in a kennel. Toss the yarn, for sure a cavalier sock knitter will find another yarn she loves in no time at all.

Come over on Sunday if you can (I'll be there most of the day) and if we can find the yarn (or one pretty darn close to it) I'll sponsor a new pair so you can throw the old ball away and not think twice about it. Hey, maybe we can find an even better yarn so you don't feel like you're knitting the same thing twice! xo, and my sympathies. ugh.

Bummer! Myself, I'd probably toss it and someday it would be funny story. Well, it's kind of funny story already... It sounds like you want to save it, so I would go with a good wool wash, a good long soak, but skip the Nature's Miracle or any enzyme type cleaner. Enzymes cleaners work by *digesting* the organic material, so it will also attack the wool. It could be your last resort.
Give Harriet a hug and kiss for me and get prepared for this to be a new way of life.

I agree with Nathania, post a picture and see if one of us can identify it.

I'm with Cari and Donna... something similar happened to a baby blanket I am knitting that got stuffed into my diaper bag one day (different poop source than yours but equally nasty predicament). I am using cotton on a set of Denise interchangeable needles... they have a clasp that lets you connect both ends of the circular needle together (with the needle tips off)... so I had it easy. I connected the whole thing but you could just use a string thru the live stitches. Put it in a mesh bag (or a nylon stocking.. great idea) and run it thru the washer. I didn't need anything else, but the enzyme treatment sounds good too... it's certainly worth a try.

Take a picture of the ball o yarn - NOT THE POOP- and post it on your blog. Someone is bound to know what it is. Chuck the sock, baby! I will personally send you sock yarn if you do.

I'm a frugal gal but I have to vote for just throwing it out and putting the whole poopy incident behind you.

Count me in on the chorus of getting some latex gloves (you can get a huge box at Home Depot for pretty cheap and they are handy to have around - no pun intended), putting the live stitches on some waste yarn (also no pun intended) and knotting that, and machine washing the sucker. Otherwise, eww.

Either that or toss the unfinished sock, reskein and wash the unknit yarn thoroughly, and make anklets.

If you save it, no matter how successfully, you'll always think of them as your "poop socks."

You don't want that, do you?

I didn't think so!

Were it my sock, I would first ask:

Can the yarn be replaced?

If yes, I'd toss it, buy a new skein, and start over.

If no, I'd probably wash it, let whatever unraveling may happen, happen, re-skein the yarn (to dry it), and start over with the socks.

I will say that the "wash the unknit part and make shorter socks" option seems like a good choice as well.

Fortunately I've never had to deal with poop on yarn, but I have learned to save the remnants of sockyarn for those occasions when the friendly local arthropods find one of my socks and munch it, or when I forget to trim my preternaturally sharp toenails and wear the socks in shoes and punch a hole through the toes.

I WILL always repair damaged socks (if repair is possible). Socks with disgusting organic matter on them...I'd not be so sure about that.

Others have covered the poopy sockling issue well enough, so I'll leave that matter alone.

As to the elderly dog matter, you can get diapers for dogs. It sounds like it may be time to do that with Harriet. Check with your vet or groomer, I'll bet they can help you.

Harriet may look a little...let's say, less than dignified, in them, but I'll bet it'll be easier to live with than a poopy unfinished sock!

My son used to play soccer in a field that was frequented by Canadian geese. They have large droppings, and soccer players sometimes do "slide" moves. I used to take the (white) socks outside and hose them down before soaking them overnight, removing a lot of the gunk first. Might be helpful to do with the sock, if you intend to save it.

I think that - is it superwash? -
I'd let it - this is gross, sorry - dry.

Then wind the ball into a swift and tie the skien. Rip the sock onto the swift and tie it as well, and throw everything into a sink of hot soapy water.

Or possibly throw everything away.

If you just throw everything into the sink you'll have a giant tangle.

Wear gloves and don't think about what you're doing.

I have the same problem, only it's with cat pee and a nearly finished baby blanket. Yeah. Ew.

Poor old Harriet. Count me in the "chuck it" camp. You won't really want to wear that sock, knowing its provenance, will you?

Better to just throw it out than risk any gifted socks becoming suspect...

I've had to deal with something like this twice. The first time (cottonese) I didn't bother to rip the knitting or unwind the ball of yarn. Most of it washed away, but I did find a surprise or two inside the tangled skein and some staining where it had been rubbed in between the stitches, at which point I did throw it away. The second time (handspun wool), I triple bagged it and stuck it in the freezer overnight. Then I skeined up the yarn, removing the bits as I went, and spot treated the worst spots. I wore an old pair of rubber gloves that I used when I dye, soaked it in diaper soak stuff, then soaked it in a lingerie bag in the washing machine, and it turned out fine. As a bonus, all the dye that had ben rubbing off washed out too. I was kind of grossed out, but I rationalized it by the fact that I handle uncoated raw fleeces all the time and it's not really much different. Freezing it did cut down on the odor too.
If you decide to save the yarn but feel squeamish about wearing it, perhaps it would make a nice diaper disguiser for Ms. Harriet?

I'd pitch it. Even if you miraculously got it clean, completely free of fecal matter and smell...Well, if it were me, every time I wore those socks, I'd be thinking..."dog poop dog poop dog poop."

On the other hand, they'd make a great memory. Every time you pull them out of the ziploc baggy you use to store them in your drawer, you'll remember the time Harriet pooed on your yarn.

I'ed look for a clean part photograph that and see if the readers can guess that skein.

I would probably chuck it or possibly salvage the ineer unpooped layer (I'ed still wash it) and make either shorter socks or something else out of it. Maybe doggie diaper covers. (I'm not being mean I've been there, with an undiaperable cat.)

Depends on your personal poop tolerance level.

I have high poop tolerance. (cloth diapers) I'd probably wash it (great suggestions above). It will wash out well; poop generally does. Unless I was in one of those totally unmotivated easily discouraged moods. In which case I'd toss it.

Either way will be the right decision. Poor Harriet!

Post a picture of the non-poopy part. (Alliteration! Whee!) Perhaps we can help you tell what kind of yarn it is so you can buy some more. Because seriously, who wants to clean dog shit out of commercial wool?

If you had said the wool from a dying breed of sheep, handspun by your grandmother, now deceased, and dyed in colors especially chosen for you by Martha Stewart, THEN heroic measures would be called for. Otherwise, meh, small loss.

I'm not sure I'd even try to salvage it, but if I did I would definitely catch the stitches on waste yarn. But I'm with Melissa - even if you get them clean, and completely eliminate the smell, you're always going to think of them as the poop socks.

Oh, Silly, WASH it. Please. WASH it.

Um yeah....cuz you said "short little legs" I'm assuming your 15 yr old baby is not a large breed dog....(I'm smart like that! LOL) But I'm afraid you're going to find out from your vet that this poop problem is something that is only going to get worse. My dear doggie had it too. It's prob'ly the same nerve degeneration....some meds will help, but not for long.....I'm sorry.

As far as the sock goes...I'd pitch the sock, cut out/off the offending material of the remaining ball and knit a chew toy! A bunch of knots in a chew toy aren't a problem.

Guess I'm just a frugal sheep farmer at heart! Since Harriet is getting on in age, having something "special" to remember her by would be high on my priority list.

Poop washes off, and no new yarn will replace the story those socks will have.

Time to go check the sheep again; it's lambing season. 3 lambs on the ground already (including a white ewe lamb my daughter named Harriet!) and at least 15 more ewes to go!

Good luck with the yarn!

Be brave! Save the yarn! It sounds like you really do like the yarn and it is salvagable.

I don't know if you have tried raw fleece for your spinning yet, but it will kind of be like that...so no need to think of the yarn as contaminated so long as you clean it properly. All sheepy yarn starts off kinda poopy if you think about it! =)

In your situation, I probably would let it dry and reskein the yarn. Make sure you put ties on the skein - 4 would be best - so it doesn't tangle. Then in a sink or your washer, fill it up with really hot water and some soap (cloths soap or dawn or whatever). Let it sit for a while, then drain the water (or spin out your washer - no agitation though). Then do a rinse, ie fill it up with hot water again but no soap. See how the water looks after soaking a bit and you may be done. If you think it needs another wash just repeat steps 1 and 2. This is pretty much what you do for a stinky raw fleece...so in my mind if it gets out the dirt, lanolin, poop, urine, etc from a fleece so that we can spin it, it should work on your yarn.

Hope that helps and good luck! I think it will make a great story to go along with your finished socks.

I agree with Toni. I'm participating in a fleece study, the wool is raw, filled with every type of organic matter. I wouldn't bother ripping out though. Let it dry, wear gloves, run a thread through, scrape off what you can, wash as above in hot water(being very carefull not to tangle or agitate), dry, staighten out the mess. You could add some oxygen bleach for a few minutes to remove odors and bacteria. If you do this put some vinegar in the rinse water to restore acidity. You could test this on a scrap first to make sure it doesn't effect the yarn. BTW, I have found liquid oxygen bleach to be as effective on pet odors and stains as any much more expensive enzyme solution.
Good luck!

Aww, so sorry love!

I yield to the knitters above as far as how to clean the sock.

We sure did enjoy having Harriet over...I'm sorry her limo ride pooped up your special sock.. but the image of the flapping cheeks out the window, awwwwww....

(Oh, btw, too many http//https in the link above. No matter, just noticed.)

Good luck with the laundering!

Hugs to the sexy black short legged dawg!

Ohhhhhh that's a nobrainer! Ziploc bag, garbage! lol

another vote for the trash....but if you want to salvage it, rinse it to remove any chunks, and soak, soak, soak in Nature's Miracle. After that, wash it however you're able to.

Oh please tell me you're going to chuck it. I'll dye sock yarn for you and send it to you in obscene quantities if you'll only toss the poopsock ...

What Rabbitch said, only without the kick-ass offer.

Oh good lord, it's just a little shit. On good yarn! I vote to wash it. I like the name that yarn idea though.

hmmm - I'm not sure why it's such a big question??? If you have dogs (I have 3 labs) and you padding about in the house in your handknit socks and one of the old girls has an accident and you "accidently" step in it - for sure - you'd "hand" wash out all the significant stuff and then give it a go in the washing machine. Yes, this requires a little more "involvement" but then poop is really just processed food - I'm for salvaging the yarn/sock along with the story.

I sympathize with you, with an older dog, this is just part of life :) Hope Harriet is not feeling too embarrassed, best wishes to her.
Lots of good washing suggestions above. I would just add, don't use an enzyme product (like the pet stain removers or soaks) on wool. Enzymes work by digesting protein, and both wool and silk are protein based fibers. They will be damaged.

This is my first visit to your page, and I enjoyed seeing all your beautiful FOs!

Note to self :

If I receive a pair of socks in the mail, return to sender...

Just ask yourself: if you wash the yarn and sock, will it always be the 'Poo Sock'. Would you avoid wearing it?


Yowsers, there are some damn funny comments here. It's a testament to the power of the written word, because we're all imagining poop sock scenarios, from the "just a smear" to the "would you like some yarn with that poop?" But none of us really knows how poop-covered your SIP is.

I think the key here is that they're unfinished. If this happened to finished socks, by all means save them. But here, know when to hold em, know when to fold em, babe. Cut your losses. Take Rabbitch's offer.

I was going to say what about trying to soak it in Natures Mircle, I think someone else mentioned it too. It's great stuff! I get it at PetsMart, white bottle with red and black writing. I always keep it around for cat and dog accidents.
But then again will you not want to wear it because it's the poop sock? Even if it's been cleaned?
It's a hard call. I'd probably soak it a few days in N.M. and if that didn't do it...I'd pitch it!

Sorry, dear Rach, but I would never be able to get past the poop incident. No matter how sparklingly clean they got, they would forever be "The Poop Socks" to me so, as much as it pains me to say it, I vote for round filing 'em.

oh honey! as hard as it might be, I'd toss it out. There are plenty of us here more than willing to help you try and ID the yarn and/or give you more. Hell, I'll personally deliver sock yarn from my stash. Make a new pair and dedicate them to Harriet. They'll be the poop socks that never had poop on them!

I'm with everyone else. If you can bear to clean it, do so with Soak, and then a final swirl through some Nature's Miracle (I had a diabetic cat who often peed in my small apartment, this stuff WORKS). If you can't (and I would totally understand, poop makes me gag), ziploc and toss it and we will all do our best to help you ID it.

I would gladly send you one of my prized skeins of regia canadian color if it would help you to toss the poopy yarn! You really don't want that memory every time you put on those socks, do you? Just chalk it up to being a mommy and give that, er, crap the old heave-ho!

Soak it in some diaper wash and knit on. They won't be The Poop Socks - they'll be The HARRIET Socks, and how great is that? There's really no need to throw it away.

And to those of you who are eager to send out some sock yarn, I'm accepting sock yarn. Please send it my way!

If you can stomach it... and you don't want to get your needles wet...
run a lifeline through. Wash your hands and say "ew ew ew" several times. go to the next step.

(If you're blessed by having used metal needles, skip straight to the next step.)

fill a basin, bucket, bin, sink, whatever with cool water and a touch of soap/eucalan/woolwash.
deposit the sock (either on its metal needles or on the blessed lifeline) into the water.

walk away. leave it for an hour or so.

return, pour the gross water out, rest the sock in the bottom of the sink while you prepare it's cleaner bath.

Repeat until the sock water runs clear.

Do it again w/ clean water.

roll in towel, lay flat to dry.

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