How To

Taking your Pills

Or better yet, leaving them. The experts tell us how as fall/winter clearance sales continue

January 19, 2010

Half price at Margaret O’Leary: Unpilled sweaters (and gratis tips on how to keep them that way)

I have a thing about pilly sweaters. I have a thing as in I hate them. So when I stopped by Margaret O’Leary recently to get the details on their current sale (50% off all classic cashmere, and 50% off all F/W chunky wool sweaters, luxury cashmere blends, and draped, boxy, directional cuts), I took the opportunity to chat with store manager Nisa Trehearne about her favorite pill fixes. And then I followed up with a few more retailers to bring you the first Wear What When How To.

Nisa likes those pumice stones for de-pilling, and also reports that she’s had good luck with the little sweater shavers you see at drug stores. She points out that you have to lay the sweater flat on a smooth surface and not attempt to shave the sweater you’re currently wearing. Bad move; causes snags.

At Butch Blum, Kay Smith-Blum, an ardent knitwear wearer if ever there was one, has this to say: ‘I use the small comb meant for depilling – I pick them up in Italy usually, but have seen them in sewing shops too. You can also use the masking tape lint rollers – and the best preventive measure is to hand wash all cashmeres in cold water. Drycleaning is too much heat, and results in breaking fibers. I would not recommend the vacuums. Angora needs to be stored in freezer to keep fibers from flying in your eyes when wearing. Any time you have a chance to buy double face wool, cotton, cashmeres, do it! They never wrinkle! And fold your knits – never hang!’

I’ll add on Kay’s behalf, and yours, that F/W looks by Marlene Birger, Tumi, Culturata, and more are 40% off.

Next up, thinking of the shawl collar cardigan on our November Spree page, I went to Patricia Wolfkill at Merge. Here’s Pat’s practical and simple advice: ‘I just trim the pills off with scissors. I’ve never tried the shavers, but I’ve heard they work on sturdier pieces — I suspect they would pull on the weave of more delicate cashmere. I do know that you shouldn’t PULL the pills off, it just drags on the weave, creating more pills.’

You may recall that there’s a killer sale going on at Merge as we speak.

And finally, I wanted to two cents or so from Totokaelo’s Jill Wenger, since that’s where I purchased the Junya Watanabe cardigan I am hellbent on protecting. Jill says, ‘I remember the first Tom Scott cardigan I bought. Special. Somewhat conceptual. 100% cashmere. And it pilled after the fist wear. And I was devastated. Come to find out that great knits pill. It’s not a reflection of quality. The weave makes a difference (how thin is the thread they are stitching with? Is it bundled into yarn before knitting?). And additives – like 50% cashmere 50% nylon. Soy and bamboo are also fibers that don’t pill, so good blenders. And then I pay attention to designers. Some designers/clothing lines just do a better job at containing the pilling than others. If you have a favorite sweater that’s held up well, stick with that maker. APC is my go-to non- pilling sweater brand. Thinner sweaters are less likely to pill. Big heavy sweaters tend to just shed. It’s that medium weight knit that’s a doozie for pilling. I don’t have a great fix as I’m a low maintenance gal — well, not too low maintenance because the one fix that I can recommend is the dry cleaners. I ask them to de-pill when I clean. But now-a-days I mainly just buy sweaters that are 1) a lighter weight, and 2) a blend and 3) a brand I trust. Because I too hate pilling.’

And again, the sale at Totokaelo? Don’t sleep on it.

Now what about you? What’s your best trick for keeping the best sweaters free of pills?

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