Pilling is an unfortunate reality with yarn. Over time, bits of fibres separate from a strand of yarn and undergo friction (such as the rubbing of the underarms of a sweater or where your favourite bag rubs) and they clump together in small bunches.
Unfortunately, pilling is inevitable but there are some ways to reduce how much a garment pills and tricks for removing them.
- Look at the yarn label
- How many plies does your yarn have and how tightly are they plied? The more plies your yarn has and the tighter the plies are, the more sturdy your yarn is. If you’re choosing a delicate yarn, you can compensate by tightening your gauge and choosing a stitch pattern with greater stability.
- Remember that if you’re choosing a fragile fibre, you’re signing on for more pilling. If the label says something like “fine” or “baby”, it’s going to be prone to pilling.
- In love with a loosely spun or delicate yarn? Pick a pattern with lots of alternating knits and purls - the added density will help give strength and ward off those pesky balls.
- Settle initial pilling
- Some pilling when you first finish your garment is normal. Gently pluck or snip these and then do a warm wash with a small dash of gentle wool wash - this will help the fibres settle in and mingle.
- Remove pilling
- Once you’ve noticed some pilling, you can remove them with careful use of a fabric shaver or you can even try using a velcro hair roller or a razor (make sure it doesn’t have a moisturizer strip!). Some brands make gentle sweater stones or sweater brushes that provide a gentle alternative to a fabric shaver.
While pilling can be annoying, these steps can help keep them under control - and even with those extra little bumps, your finished garment is a beautiful thing to cherish!