Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Pilling Babble

Several readers have asked my thoughts on pilling. I'm not a yarn expert and especially not a piling expert, so this is just my opinion and not necessarily factual or even helpful.
  • All wool and alpaca is likely to have some pilling.

  • Yarn quality is not directly related to price.

  • I've read that if the pills are removed with a shaver or sweater stone, eventually the pilling will stop. I don't have enough experience with pills to say if this is true or not.

  • I have never had a serious pilling problem. This may be because I like my yarn knit at a tighter gauge than most. For example, I'm currently knitting a sport weight pattern (6 stitches/inch) with Knitpicks worsted weight Wool of the Andes. On size 4 needles I get 6 stitches/inch and what I consider a nice fabric without it being too firm.

    If I were to knit this yarn on the size 7 to 9 needles recommended on the label, it would result in what I consider a sloppy, baggy garment and much dissatisfaction and pilling.

  • Both of the pilling questions on my comments mentioned Wool of the Andes. I've knit two often worn and much loved sweaters with a similar inexpensive yarn, Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool. I find Elann wool a bit softer next to my skin than Wool of the Andes. And there are about a hundred colors to pick from. Color selection is almost too overwhelming to bear.

    One of my informal resolutions for 2008, not written down but rattling around in my brain, is to look at Elann first when I need to buy yarn.

  • When I do have pills, I pick them off or snip them off with a sissors. I'm sure someday I will be very sorry about the sissors technique. Now that I've confessed, I must stop doing that.

  • I was lucky enough to get Clara Park's The Book of Yarn for Christmas. It fully explains the nature of pilling and how to guess if a yarn is going to pill by looking at how the fibers are spun. It's an excellent reference book for yarn topics not covered in other knitting books.

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