Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pill Prevention and Cure.

Pilling on a fine Merino Baby Cardy
One of the questions I often see asked in the shop or in online forums is "Can you recommend a yarn that doesn't pill", pilling is the effect that happens when the fibres in a yarn are met with friction and small unsightly balls of fuzz start propagating your once smooth pristine fabric.
We all hate it.  It seems so unfair that after hours of labour and toil that these little gate-crashers can spoil your yarn party.  So, can I recommend a yarn that doesn't pill?

Firstly - pilling isn't the end of the world.  It can be remedied, easily.  In fact I enjoy de-pilling, but more about that later.  This is a question about expectations and planning.  The expectation is that you can never expect a hand knitted garment to wear like a mass produced, fine count one.  It just isn't going to happen - as soon as you cast that expectation away, you are half way there.

This vest is knitted in Southlander - I did this in early 2010.  He gives it a gentle pluck when he hand washes it and that's all the care it needs.
The next is the planning.  "Who, Where & Wear" being the main factors to consider here.  Who is going to own the garment, where is it to be worn & how is it to be worn.  Then making your yarn selection suited to purpose.  So if the garment is going to be a vest for your father to wear to work (see above) which involves activity outside, it needs to be a yarn rugged enough to cope with his activities, any friction from increased arm movements and being worn inside or out of a jacket.  So in this case I would chose a yarn like Southlander (see recent posts) which is warm, strong and can stand the punishment.
This sample is knitted in Vintage and is about 6 years only - it is touched, fondled and generally abused and still looks brilliant!
Likewise you maybe wanting to knit for a busy pre-schooler, so you need a yarn that will be soft and comfortable for them to wear, can cope with the tumbles and spills and be easy to clean - Then Vintage DK, Urban or Orb are the yarns for the job.

 A bolero in my collection knitted 10 years ago - was depilled for the first time this year, you can see where I started on the right.
The conundrum is when you have a request for the softest yarn, but without pilling.
Simply - pick one
A very fine yarn (ie Fine Merino) with friction and wear will start to pill.  This is because what makes those yarns so fine and soft are the very thin fibres that make them up.  What can help reduce the pilling is trapping those fibres into a firmer  or finer twist (but not too tight or you loose that lovely squish factor) and making sure that yarns such as this are knitted into a denser fabric or are locked up in tight defined stitch patterns so they don't escape.

I love this yarn and this pattern - but I need to give the finished garment a wee "buzz" each time before I wear it.
I knitted a cardigan this year from a fine merino cashmere blend and it my absolute favorite right now.  After each wear it starts having a wee 'pill party' under the arms, at the cuffs and around the breasts.  No matter, I spend no more than a few minutes before I wear it giving it a quick once over with trusty depiller and I am good to go.  I think the garment warrants a few moments of TLC after all those hours you have spent knitting it.  Likewise I have other hand knits which need a spruce up once a season or two.

It took me less than 30 seconds to depill this (see first image in post), it's not hard.
So what's the yarn to recommend that doesn't pill I hear you ask again...  For me the best work horse yarn we have in our range for wear has to be Vintage DK - if pilling is something you just cant abide, then Vintage is the yarn for you - failing that invest in a good depiller - mine is from Briscoes & is just $20 (often as low as $13 when on promotion & let's face it they are always in sale!), its battery operated and is designed for hand knits as it has the larger opening for hand knitted garments.  If you want any help selecting the best yarn for your next project, don't hesitate to contact us at skeinz.com or on our Facebook & Ravelry groups - we are here to help.

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