Yes, winter is here and we’re now wearing our fabulous knits. But when you went to put it on for the first time this season, all you saw were those frightful fuzz balls or pills. For some of us we can handle some pilling, but for others those pills send us into a monumental meltdown. Regardless of which group you’re in…“I can’t believe I paid good money for this sweater and look at it,” or the group where pilling doesn’t bother you at all, read on so as to learn how best to limit the amount of pilling in your knits and how to properly care for your knitwear. The linked picture provides a lot of good tips for caring and maintaining the life of your knitwear.

Pilling occurs when loose fibers push out from the surface of the cloth, and over time, as abrasion happens, the fibers develop into small bundles, held on to the surface of the fabric by fibers that haven’t broken. Generally, longer fibers pill less than short ones because there are fewer ends of fibers and because it is harder for the longer fibers to work themselves out of the cloth. Loose fibers pill more than tightly woven fibers.

A new sweater should be worn two or three times and then washed or dry-cleaned. Laundering your knitwear regularly will reduce pilling over time.

Of course there are guidelines on how to properly wash your knits:

  • Hand washing is the safest method to launder your garment followed by rolling it up in a towel to remove excess moisture and then drying it flat.
  • Machine washing is also an acceptable method. As long as your sweater’s care label says “dry clean” and not “dry clean ONLY.” That’s the clincher when it comes to deciding if you can hand wash or machine wash a garment or if it needs to be dry-cleaned. If machine washing, make sure it’s on the lowest temperature setting and the gentlest cycle. Turn the garment inside out and put the piece either in a washing bag or a pillow case to prevent it stretching – that’s one of the major things you’re trying to avoid in addition to reducing abrasion which leads to pilling. When the washing is finished, put your piece on a mesh rack or one with slats to dry. This increases the air flow; therefore drying faster. Try not to let the arms dangle over the edge because that may cause them to stretch slightly. Remember you’re drying the sweater flat to help keep its shape while moist.Lastly, when sweaters do pill simply run an emery board or nail file over them. Other devices that work and are inexpensive are: sweater combs, razors/razor blades, battery-operated fabric shavers and sweater stones. I find the sweater combs work the best for me. FYI…We have them at our studio.

I hope this has provided you some helpful tips on how to handle those nagging sweater pills and extend the life of your knits.

Click here to view our Knitwear Care Guidelines.

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