A common misunderstanding is that pilling is a sign of bad quality, but that is not correct. Yarn made by natural fibres will normally release some fibres just because they are not machine made with equal dimensions. However, high-quality yarn, such as Lillelam uses, is processed in the most careful way whilst combed, twisted, spun etc, so that the final yarn has an absolute minimum of pilling.
It is also a fact that some people get pilling and others none, for unexplained reasons. However, if it should occur on your garment, don’t despair – there are lots of different pilling removers available in most hardware stores.
What is wool and what is pilling?
The outer layer of fibre/hair of the animal is protecting it against rough weather and temperatures, so it is often bristled and rough. The fibre/hair closer to the body of the animal is softer and thinner and keeps the animal warm. It is the innermost fibres/hair we select for our yarn, and, we only use new wool – meaning that it is the first time the fleece is being cut of the lamb with no impurities.
A fibre thread is single straws of hair which are spun together. This process is carefully carried out in a way that all fibres are well spun and attached to each other, and no floating dust or impurities enters this process or creates frictions. If the fibres are short, and impurities occur, as the tread is twisting it can create small “balls” which becomes pilling. However, merino wool has long and thin fibres and is the least pilling raw material of all animal spun fibres.
Yarn that is spun too lose, or clothing that is knitted too loose, can pill easier than tighter spun yarn and tighter knitted items, as the shorter fibres will be held more in place. If the user is warm, the fibres “expand/rise” since wool is made for regulating body temperature it reacts in this way biologically to let in air and help the body to cool down.
If the wool garment is soaked for too long, the fibres also “expands/raises”, which is to easier get rid of the water or humidity, which is another positive property of wool in terms of sweat regulation.
If you experience static electricity, it can also create pilling. It occurs when a natural fibre rubs against a synthetic material.
Lillelam exclusively uses 100% pure, new wool, without any synthetic fibres* or chemical treatments which are often used to control pilling. Lillelam avoids these treatments, and therefore some may experience pilling. It is not possible to guarantee pilling free and at the same time follow a sustainable, natural and healthy strategy.
Normal causes for pilling:
- Higher risk of pilling with low quality yarn processes
- Pilling can occur if the garment has been soaked over longer period.
- Friction with synthetic materials
- High body temperatures can make the wool fibre expand and release pilling
- Loose spinning, twisting and knitting can increase pilling
It is important to remember that wool is a natural fibre which adjusts to the environment it is in, and if you care for the garments in merino wool, they will stay nice and take care of you for a long time
(* except for in the hosiery collection where additional stretch is needed here, we use the lowest possible content of elastin and polyamide)