You know that point where you know that something’s wrong, but you keep trying and trying to convince yourself that it will all work out fine in the end? You keep holding onto that hope that somehow the sweater will magically grow 8 inches with blocking, or that the fishnet you’re knitting will somehow turn into a nice, firm fabric. You know that there’s a problem, but you don’t want to face what it would take to fix it.

That’s a difficult place to be in knitting, but it’s even worse in real life, where there are things like jobs and commutes and significant money in the balance.

We’ve been in that place since June with our new apartment. When we first moved in, we noticed that the house smelled a little musty, but they’d just replaced the furnace in the basement, so we figured that the smell was from that. We opened all of the windows, put fans in them, and hoped the smell would go away.

It didn’t.

In fact, it got worse. And it kept getting worse, too. I have allergies, and they are complicated by asthma where mold is concerned. The only really severe attacks that I have had have been from mold, and they were severe enough that I was later scolded by a doctor for not going to the emergency room because “you could have died.” I didn’t know it was that serious at the time. Now, I do.

In short, this is not something I want to mess with.

We covered the heating vents. We did everything we could to seal off, vent, exchange, clean the air. And we just couldn’t do enough. I became more and more sensitized, and my asthma was getting to concerning levels (I have barely needed my inhaler in 3 years, and suddenly I was needing it every day, and then it started becoming less effective).

About two weeks ago, we realized that the smell was coming not just through the heating vents, but through the walls as well. It would seep up through the walls from the dirt basement, all the way up as far as my office on the third floor. When we realized that it was a problem of that scale, we knew that it was time to move.

We still didn’t want to admit it, though. We wanted to find a way to make it work. We love the house, and we love the area, it’s really a reasonable commute, and heaven knows we don’t want to move again.

We went down and sat at the beach, and went over the same things over and over again for the millionth time. Eventually, Branden looked at me and said “you know, we just need to frog this sweater.”

And we did. Things are still in that awful, messy, tangled pile-of-yarn stage where you despair of ever getting that monster wound back into neat and manageable balls, but the knitting is ripped.

We viewed an apartment on the 11th, notified our current landlord of our intent to move, signed a new lease on the 15th, and I moved into the new place to sleep on the floor that night. We were just in time, too. My breathing was getting much worse, and it was becoming harder and harder to control my symptoms. I went to the doctor and got a heavy duty inhaler, and things are slowly coming back under control now that I’m away from the main cause of the problem.

We spent last week moving all of the small things over by carload, and on Saturday we got a truck for the larger items. I am sitting in the new living room now, amidst a sea of boxes and piles, just getting back to my computer now that we have internet in the new house (they set it up yesterday).

There is so much left to be done. It is all such a mess.

And yet, when I stop and really think about it, my biggest feeling is of gratitude. I’m grateful to have learned the lesson that sometimes you just have to rip, and that it’s better to do it sooner rather than later (even if you do have to avoid it for a while first). I’m also grateful to be in a place where we can decide to move and figure out what happens with the lease later.

My first asthma attack happened in our first apartment, in a similar situation. Things smelled musty and were starting to bother me. We didn’t think it was all that big a deal, and were trying to clear it up with good ventilation. Thing is, the landlord had put carpet over an unsealed cement floor, and as soon as it got humid the cold cement condensed water and made the perfect place for mold to grow. It only took two or three days of August heat and humidity to go from musty air to mold growing up the walls, me having severe asthma attacks, and us having to throw out more than half of our things.

That was 8 years ago. Back then, we were too poor to move. We made enough together to pay our rent and have $300 a month left for things like groceries, utilities, and a T pass to get to work and school. The rent was as cheap as we could get in the city, and there was just no option to leave.

We’ve come a long way since then. We still don’t want to pay the extra money that this move will cost, but it’s no longer something that will hold us in a potentially dangerous situation, either. We’ve both been worried sick for the past two weeks about possibly having to pay double rent for a year (the landlord refuses to let us out of our lease), and about having to seek legal counsel and maybe even face lawsuits to get this straightened out.

And yet, in the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t the end of the world.

There are lots of things that I’d rather do with that money, but if worse comes to worse we can afford to pay it if we absolutely must. We are in a better place now, which still has a musty basement, but it can be sealed off and controlled with a dehumidifier, a bit of weather stripping, and a good airing out. I have no idea how long it will take us to put things back together so that it feels like a house and not a disaster relief zone, but we have time for that; it doesn’t have to happen all at once, and it will get done.

Still, I much prefer frogging knitting to frogging in real life. Real life can be much, much messier.

(Remind me of that next time I have to pull out a sweater.)