Care of Knitted Fabrics: Four Fundamentals You Should Know About Pilling

Pilling in a nutshell

Pilling is a term that you may have heard – and a condition that you have probably already encountered. But do you know what pilling really means? Pills are unintended and undesirable little clumps or balls of yarn that form, to a greater or lesser degree, on the surface of nearly all knitted fabrics. Their presence mars the appearance of knitted garments, giving them a tired, worn, ill-cared for look. So nembutal purchase what can you do about pilling? You can start by understanding its four fundamentals: 1. the causes pilling; 2. where pilling is likely to occur; 3. ways you can minimize pilling; and 4. how you can safely remove pills.

1. What causes pilling?

Abrasion, or friction, from the normal use and cleaning of knitted fabric can cause the yarn to separate. When this happens, short fibers are loosened, freeing themselves from the longer fibers in the twisted yarn. The loose ends of these short fibers then clump up into what look like little balls. These balls are what we recognize as pills and their emergence in knitted fabric is what we refer to as pilling. Often, small pieces of lint will get caught up in the clumps, making the pills appear even more pronounced.

2. Where is pilling likely to occur in a knitted garment?

Since abrasion is the catalyst for pilling, those areas of your knitted garments that are subject to the greatest friction are the areas most likely to form pills. This would include the underarm area of sweaters, jackets, vests, and dresses; the underside of sleeves; the heels of socks; and the inner thigh area of shorts and pants.

If you wear knitted tops and sit at a desk all day, then areas of your top that come into regular contact with your desk or a piece of equipment may also develop unsightly pills. These include the cuff or wrist area of a long sleeve that rubs against the edge of a computer keyboard; the elbow area of a sleeve if you, as do many people, tend to rest your elbow on your desk while speaking on the phone; and the front trunk area of a top that routinely rubs against the edge of a desk or other work surface.

Some of these garment areas are so notorious for their propensity to pill and prematurely wear that reinforcement may be built into them. Examples include sweaters that are made, from the outset, with suede patches at the elbows. In jodhpurs, riding pants that are worn while performing equestrian activities, leather replaces knitted fabric at the insides of the calves, knees, and, occasionally, a panel in the rump area. Socks are often knit of a blend of animal and non-animal fibers that lend stability to the finished items.

3. How can you minimize pilling?

If knitting your own fabric for garments that will have areas subject to abrasion, then you’ll want to take care in the selection of your yarn. Begin by inspecting the yarn, especially if it is a yarn that you have not worked with in the past, and by reading the manufacturer’s label. If the ball band indicates that the fabric should be hand washed or dry cleaned, then you can assume that the yarn is delicate and may pill more easily than will a sturdier yarn. The same is true for a purchased garment with similar laundering instructions on the care tag.

Next, manipulate a small length of the yarn. Roll a strand of the yarn back and forth between you fingers to ascertain how easily the strand separates into component strands. The short animal fibers will free themselves more easily if the strand readily separates. Generally, the higher the ply count and the more tightly twisted the yarn, the less likely it is that you will experience significant pilling. In contrast, loosely twisted yarns that readily separate when manipulated by your fingers are more likely to pill.

You do not necessarily need to avoid delicate yarns, although you may want to consider how they can best be used. Consider reinforcing susceptible areas of the garment by working in a bit of color-coordinated nylon thread. Perhaps you could knit with a double strand, augmenting a delicate yarn by knitting it together with a strand of more durable yarn. Or, perhaps, you may choose to reserve the most delicate yarns for garments that will endure less stress.


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