December 2009

Removing pills/balls from sweaters

Have you ever made a sweater where after one wear, you notice that little round balls show up especially under the arms and on the sides of the sweater?

It is disheartening as these pills/balls cause your sweater to look old and worn out. What is the cause of this problem? Usually it's loosely spun yarn and short fibers that have made their way to the surface of the yarn. If you are not spinning your yarn, the best way is to be careful when you choose the yarn. If possible, buy a skein of yarn, make a swatch and wash it several times. Rub the swatch on itself and other fabric and see if there is any pilling. Then decide if the yarn is good enough for investing time and money to make the sweater.

In case you have already made the sweater, hand-wash your sweater inside out as friction causes pilling. The less friction, the less pilling you will have. A simple but time-consuming way to take care of the balls is to take them off one by one. Another recommendation that I have seen is to wrap masking tape to your hand and run it over your sweater. The little balls stick to the tape and will come off easily. When the tape is not sticky anymore, use another piece of tape. In addition, the hook side of a Velcro should work too. In using tape or Velcro, consider the yarn type as some yarns are more sensitive and you need to be more careful. There are sweater shavers on the market. I have never used them myself, but a few friends who have tried them are very happy with the results.

Another product is a sweater stone. This natural stone is lightweight pumice which helps in removing loose pills and balls. It can be used for many years and is very cost effective. For more information about sweater stones, check out: www.sweaterstone.com

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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