When in Sweater Weather

It may be 80 degrees and sunny today, but we are fast approaching the hustle and bustle of fall, when a dip into the 50s at night might cause you to go digging into your basement for that box of sweaters you filed away when they were no longer needed.

As someone who works in the fashion industry, I’m hyper aware of this very technical term that happens to sweaters (although it can be present on all types of fabrics- sweaters, knits or wovens, sweaters just happen to exhibit it at a greater rate): pilling.

“Pilling” : Yes, the act of your sweater rubbing off and creating tiny “pills” of sweater fluff that get stuck to the sweater. Sometimes they occur in places of most friction, such as under the arm or where your bag rubs against your sweater. And sometimes, if the sweater is too soft and fluffy, it just pills all over.

Why do pills occur, you ask? Well, any yarn is created by spinning together tiny fibers. Those fibers might be the fibers of, say, a merino sheep which would be longer fibers, resulting in a smoother and subtly shiny appearance when spun. Longer fibers do not pill as much. Shorter fibers, those of a cheaper cotton, wool or synthetic, will pill more. The ends of these tiny fibers stick out of the yarn, and when the yarn is knitted into a sweater, these short fibers are more likely to rub off and create little pills.

Moral of the story? Cheaper sweaters will probably pill more. But even long-fiber sweaters will pill, hopefully just a bit less. So any sweater, after it has been loved, may need a little “de-pilling.”

Never fear! The sweater shaver is here!

If you want to preserve your sweaters for years to come, this is a must have. I shave my sweaters throughout the season as I wear them. Sometimes they just need a little touch up. I mean, don’t we all?

Sweater defuzzing can come in two varieties: electronic and manual.

I own both.

In my experiences, the manual "DeFuzz It” comb (available here from Joann Fabrics) is very gentle and easy to use, but also takes a bit more time and effort.

I also have an electronic sweater shaver similar to this one sold at Bed Bath and Beyond. It’s very quick to use and a bit more friendly to someone who isn’t looking to put too much time and effort into their sweater care. The only possible issue with an electronic sweater shaver is there is a chance you could snag your sweater if it’s very delicate or loosely knit, so please use caution! Overall, the reviews look very positive for this brand, and the price is right on.