We all know them: the small knots and pieces of fluff that sooner or later can be discovered on garments in varying degrees. Especially with knitted pieces, this pilling, unfortunately, is very common.
What exactly is pilling, and how does it happen?
There are always some loose fibres on the surface of your knits, especially those made of cosy, soft wool. If you wear your knitted piece regularly, these fibres loosen even more due to the agitation. They then become entangled and felt slightly due to the friction so that the typical small nodules form. This phenomenon does not only affect hand-knitted garments but can, in principle, occur on all textiles. Typical areas for pilling are the ones that are particularly stressed and have a lot of physical contact: the underarms, the inside of the forearms, the cuffs and other areas that are frequently exposed to friction - for example, when carrying a shoulder bag.
Does Rosy Green Wool tend to pill?
The answer is: rather not. We know that loose, fluffy wool naturally tends to pill more than tightly spun wool. Because the tighter a yarn is plied, the fewer loose fibres on its surface. That's why we pay special attention to the correct twisting of the raw wool during spinning to reduce pilling as much as possible and still maintain the extraordinary softness of our Merino wool - and also achieve the beautiful sheen of our yarns. But proper care is also important to keep your knits looking beautiful and like new for a long time.
Can I prevent pilling, and if so, how?
Pilling happens to every item, especially woolen garments, and cannot be avoided completely. Especially at the beginning, your knits tend to pill more. With every careful washing without friction, the loose fibres settle -sort themselves out, so to speak- and the tendency to pilling decreases. To ensure that hand-knitted sweaters, jackets and accessories stay beautiful for a long time, they should be washed gently, usually by hand, and with a suitable wool detergent. For our Cheeky Merino Joy, Lovely Merino Treat and Big Merino Hug you can also choose a gentle wool programme on your machine. We have had very good experiences with this, especially in regard to pilling. Rosy gives tips and advice on washing wool in our Good-to-know article on the subject.
The texture of the knitted fabric can also play a role in how much your wool pills. Loose knits are more prone to pilling than a tighter, firmer fabric. If you knit very loosely, you can try using smaller needles to achieve a denser, tighter stitch pattern that therefore pills less. Also, pilling is more visible on surfaces in stockinette stitch than on textured patterns made of different types of stitches, such as slipped stitches, cables, lace, seed or garter stitch patterns. Of course, the small pills can occur here, too, but they are less noticeable.
What can I do if my knits pill?
If you spot the little knots on your hand-knitted garment, it is crucial to not simply pull them off by hand. This will loosen more fibres and create new lint, which in turn will increase the pilling. It is best to carefully cut off the pills close to the surface. For this, there is a convenient helper: the electric lint remover. This handy device has several sharp blades rotating quickly in a shaving head with holes. They cleanly shear off the unsightly nodules close to the surface without loosening more fibres. There are lint removers in various designs and sizes at affordable prices, battery-operated or with a cable and plug. From our experience, it is advisable not to opt for the cheapest one, and look out for an adjustable spacer for different thicknesses of wool which is also very handy.
The process is quite simple: Spread your knitted piece out smoothly on a flat, hard surface, e.g. a table or your ironing board. Then run the lint remover over it carefully without applying pressure, preferably in circular motions. The cut-off lumps are collected in the container and can then be conveniently disposed of.
The effect is visible immediately: With only little effort, your hand-knitted treasures look beautiful and like new again!