Pilling is a Fact of Yarn and Fiber- But Can Anything Be Done About It?
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Pilling is a Fact of Yarn and Fiber- But Can Anything Be Done About It?

Sometimes knitting is not all glamour; it takes some care to choose the right fiber that is going to meet your needs. Pilling, what is it and what to do about it and does it really matter anyway? Including some things you can do to prevent it. Includes video

There are so many things to think about when you knit: what pattern? What are you in the mood to make? What time of year is it? And what yarn to use? Are you fond of synthetics or do you like the real McCoy, the wool and alpacas? It is all good, I love them all. I am really not that choosy. But one of the things that might help you decide what kind of yarn you want to use is what the finished product will wear like when it is complete.

Do you know what pilling is? Pilling is when the yarn kind of pills up into a little nub on the object you have just knit.

Man-made fibers are more likely to have pilling occur, fibers such as acrylic, nylon or polyester. Abrasion or rubbing will cause the wear and cleaning the fibers cause the yarn to unravel and the loose ends are what ball up causing the little pills. Fibers such as cotton, linen, or wool which are natural fibers may pill but they will be removed during washing.

How the yarn is made gives an idea of the amount of pilling that can occur. If short fibers are used they will tend to loosen and become lose with wear. The twist of the fibers also plays a role, the more tightly twisted the yarn formation is, the less likely it is to pill.

There are some things that can be done to minimize pilling,

1. Always turn the garment inside out before washing

2. Minimize abrasion during the wash cycle by washing only a few things at a time.

3. Use the delicate cycle of your washer

4. Wash your delicates separate from clothing that has a tendency to produce a lot of lint. The lint can tangle into the pilling and make it even worse.

5. Reduce static and prevent lint from collecting by using fabric softener.

Blended yarns such as combinations of linen, silk and cotton are usually a good choice because they bring together all the best components of the individual yarns in one place. Many acrylics can pill too. It does require some work to determine what works best for you.

There are a couple of neat tools that you can try if you do find you have some pilling. Plus it causes your sweater to look refreshed! One is called a sweater stone, which is a gentle way to remove the pills and it will last forever.

Another tool is the sweater D Fuzz Comb, It is really inexpensive and you just run it (one way only) across your fabric and magically the pills are gone. Both of these very cool tools can be found at Amazon.com for very little expense.

You can get an idea of how much your chosen yarn is going to pill by rubbing two pieces of it between your middle finger and thumb (as if you were going to snap your fingers). Quickly roll them back and forth, if the yarn begins to separate, indicating the short fibers loosely woven you will likely have pilling with normal wear.

This video shows you about different types of yarns and how they knit up but it also shows you about natural fibers and how they turn into yarn!



What is pilling

Knitting Daily

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Comments (6)

Good job on this! Very well written.

Great article! I am sure my aunts on my mother's side will love love this, cause after the house chores, I will always find them on the terrace doing knits or crochets.

Another home friendly article, Susan. Thumbs up on this.

Excellent tips on avoiding pilling.

I get pilling on certain tops and pants that are a type of polyester... it makes me want to take a razor to them and shave them off... but I've never done that.

Those are some great tips. Now I know why you should turn your sweaters inside out. I never knew.