Learn everything about wool pilling and how to keep your wool garments beautiful

Did you buy a wool sweater or wool socks and you just after a few wears you see these little bobbles appear on the surface of the fabric. These little bobbles are called pills and what you see happening on the fabric is called pilling. Wool pilling is is quite common and a natural process of many products made out of wool.

Read why wool pilling occures and how you can ensure your garments continue to look beautiful.

What is pilling?

As I just mentioned above, pilling is when little round bobbles or knots accumulate on the fabric of a garment. You can find pilling especially in places of the garment that get a lot of friction like on the side of the garment where your arms rub against your body.
Where there is friction applied to the garment, short fibres or broken fibres start to intertwine with each other and form little knots which are essentially the pills.

Blue cardigan with wool pilling Wool Lifestyle Blog

Why does pilling happen?

Pilling can happen on garments made of all sorts of fibres. I have had 100% synthetics sweaters which developed a lot of pills just from washing. Pilling most often occurs on fabrics made of blends, meaning when two or more different fibres are mixed. While one fibre might be stronger than the other fibre, the weaker fibre starts to break. These broken shorter fibres then start to pill. Fibres can start to break during washing or just from wearing.
Another reason for pilling to happen is that the fibres used to make the yarn are quite short and start to untangle themselves out of the alignment of the yearn and start building pills.

Wool pilling on sweater

Why does wool pilling occur?

When you have a wool garment that pills, there are also several reasons why this happens. Some types of fabrics are typically made out of shorter wool fibre. Shorter fibres have the tendency to create pills.
You will most probably experience pilling with wool sweaters. Here it can also come down to several factors. The first one could be the quality of the sweater. High-quality sweaters would be made using longer wool fibres which would not so easily start to pill compared to sweaters made of shorter fibres which can be an indicator of lower quality.

Another reason could be the yarn used to achieve a certain effect. Some fabrics and some garments are specially designed to have a so-called woollen look or effect. They look and feel very cosy and fuzzy. This fuzziness is created by small wool fibres sticking out of the final fabric. These little fibres sticking out would have a tendency to also start forming pills more easily over time.

Another reason is how the yarn was made. In wool there are two ways of creating wool yarn, the woollen system and the worsted system. A woollen yarn will achieve a very different type of fabric than a worsted fabric. One example is a flannel fabric for flannel trousers and the other one would be a suit fabric for a nice sleek business suit. On the flannel, you can see the different fibres sticking out while on the worsted fabric the wool fibres are so aligned and bound together that no little hair is sticking out. On the latter, you will have less chance of pilling to occur.

Of course just as mentioned above, wool blends with other fibres especially synthetic fibres would also have a tendency for pilling.

Pilling on wool coat Wool Lifestyle Blog

How to avoid wool from pilling?

As a summary from above, you can prevent pilling of course by choosing high-quality items as well as 100% wool items where possible.
With some fabric types you kind of need to expect pilling to occur sooner or later. For example with the majority of wool sweaters, this is just part of the process.

Pilling will occur especially in places where the garment is exposed to a lot of rubbing against itself or other fabrics or items. The inside of the sleeve and the side of the garment, or when your belly or arms rub against the desk or chair. I sometimes get pilling on the back of a garment where my handbag sling rubs against my back. I also get pilling on my socks from wearing them with my shoes. Of course, you need to still be able to move normally in your garments, so I don’t really think you can avoid pilling when you wear a garment.

When you wash your wool garments make sure the washing machine is not overloaded to avoid too much friction during the wash cycle as well as too much pressure on the fibre to prevent fibres from breaking.

How to get rid of pilling

The good news is, that you can also get rid of your pills, so pilling does not have to be the end of the world. I also recommend that you get rid of any pilling because it lets your garment look worn out. There are several tools that can help you and you need to see which one works best for you.
There is the little comb that works well for sweaters and larger pilling.
Then there is the razor type that kind of shaves pills off.
You can also buy these little electric machines that also cut off the pills, these tend to work well on smaller pills.
On larger items like a huge wool blanket or cardigan, you can be quicker by using a little pair of scissors to just cut off the larger pills.
Have a look which device works best for you. You can buy them at a drug store or department store.

Pilling razor Wool Lifestyle Blog Pilling comb Wool Lifestyle Blog

Do you have another question about wool pilling or do you have a tip on how to best manage wool pilling? Then write a comment below, I would love to hear from you.

Learn about the different types of wool scarves to find the one you like best

Do you have a wool scarf? Or maybe more than one? Did you ever count? I just did and I was a little bit surprised about the number. I found 16 scarves either hidden away in my cupboard or hanging on my coat rack. As this is the Wool Lifestyle blog, I don’t have to mention that all my scarves are made out of wool. Over time I did get rid of the scarves made out of viscose or other synthetic fibres. Most of the scarves I own I bought myself but some were also gifted to me. Wool scarves are actually always a good and safe gift because they always fit around anyone’s neck.

There were times when I would always wear a wool scarf no matter the weather, summers and winters, inside and outside and no matter the occasion. Was I a scarf addict? Maybe. Some of my colleagues in the wool industry would sometimes make fun of me because it would be a super hot day and everyone would be sitting in air-conditioned rooms enjoying to cool down a bit and I was still wearing my scarf (mainly because I never do well with air conditioning). Recently, however, I mainly wear scarves 9 months out of 12 when I go outside (I live in Germany). So I am still a big fan of my wool scarves. I even bought my latest two scarves only 6 months ago despite already owning so many. Seems like one can never have too many scarves.

When I piled up all my scarves and looked at them I noticed a scarf is not a scarf is not a scarf. There are many differences. Scarves can be hand knitted, machine knitted or woven. They can be lightweight or bulky and chunky. They can be a loop, a triangle, square or rectangle. Patterned, multicoloured, embroidered or plain. Long, short, narrow or wide. The possibilities are endless which makes each scarf unique and a perfect accessory to pimp up your wardrobe. There is for sure always one scarf that fits the occasion.

Let’s get an overview of the different types of wool scarves to help you identify which one can be your next favorite one.

Hand knitted wool scarves

Although I did once knit myself a scarf when I was 22, both my hand knitted scarves were made by my mom who is a gifted knitter. One is a very chunky loop scarf and the other one is a mix between a loop and a poncho. With hand knitted scarves it is important to make sure the wool used is soft enough for you to wear. You also want to make sure that the wool does not pill easily as the scarf will

With hand knitted scarves it is important to make sure the wool used is soft enough for you to wear. You also want to make sure that the wool does not pill easily as the scarf will rup against your coat and sweater while wearing.

Hand knitted scarves often have a chunkier look which can be a nice contrast to a plain coat or outfit. A hand knitted wool scarf is for sure always something special.

Hand knitted wool scarf Wool Lifestyle Blog

Machine knitted wool scarf

My one machine knitted wool scarf is already over 10 years old, it does not even have a label on it anymore and I don’t remember where I bought it, but I need to say the scarf has kept really really well. Hardly any signs of pilling. I love the many colours of this scarf as it fits well with any sort of coat. The colour blocking is something that I think will never go out of style.

When you buy a machine knitted wool scarf test it against your skin if the wool is soft enough to wear around your neck. Machine knitted scarves look often less chunky than the hand knitted ones as the knitting needles used are thinner and finer. Knitting machines can sometimes also create much more elaborate and multi-coloured patterns.

Machine knitted wool scarf Wool Lifestyle Blog

Single jersey machine knitted wool scarf

Another very nice knitted fabric is wool as a jersey because it can be super soft on the skin. My jersey scarf is actually loop scarf from Buff. This one is the slightly thicker version for winters. However, a single jersey fabric can be very thin and light in weight which makes it a nice option for summers where you might need to protect yourself from a draft or spend some time in air conditioning without wanting to ruin the summer outfit with a winter like looking scarf.

Plaid woven wool scarf

I have two plaid woven woolen scarves which I honestly don’t wear very often because they are quite narrow and short and I tend to wear big bulky scarves. But I still keep them because I think they are beautiful, they are both made out of super soft merino wool and have some memories. One scarf I stole off an ex-boyfriend and the other one was gifted to me by a very lovely colleague and mentor.

Maybe you have noticed that I used the word woolen to describe these scarves. Woollen means that the individual wool fibres are not all totally aligned with each other which allows for some fibres to stick out a little bit. This gives the wool scarf a nice fluffy texture. Make sure you test the scarf against your neck to see if the wool fibres are fine enough not to irritate your skin.

Woollen scarves can of course come in plain colours or patterns. Plaid scarves are also very decorative and go well with a more plain style or a plain coat. I often find they look particularly well on men.

Plaid Wool Scarf Wool Lifestyle Blog

Herringbone woven wool scarf

I admire woven patterns like the Herringbone. They are simple but yet interesting. By using different colours they can achieve all sorts of effects. Mine is a scarf woven in South Africa by Hinterveld and it was a gift for all participants at the IWTO Congress in Cape Town in 2014. Typically my husband wears this one as it is very soft and he has sensitive skin.

The herringbone is a classic pattern that always looks great and can come in many different colour combinations.

Herringbone wool scarf Wool Lifestyle Blog

Plain woven wool scarf

Now this category is my favourite scarf style. All of my 3 plain woven scarves are large and a bit bulky and I wear these the most.
They also tend to all be in very basic colours of black, navy and grey which is probably another reason why I wear them so much as they go with almost everything. In addition, I love these scarves because they can easily function as a blanket on a flight or you can sit on the scarf during a picnic. But mainly I like the look of a chunky scarf and the cozy feeling I get wearing it.

You can never go wrong with a plain wool scarf as it will go with many different styles and outfits. Invest in a high quality wool scarf and it will be a long time friend.

Wool Scarf dark blue Wool Liefestyle Blog

Embroidered woven wool scarf

Before my chunky wool scarf phase, I had a embroidered wool scarf phase. All my embroidered scarves are from India. It started with one scarf that I got from a friend when he returned from a trip to India. When I then attended my best friends wedding in India in 2010 I went scarf shopping and returned with 6 or 7 embroidered scarves, of which I gave a few away as presents to my friends and the rest I kept and wore consistently. I just found the colours and the embroidery magnificent. These scarves always elevate a simple outfit. At the same

These scarves always elevate a simple outfit. At the same time these scarves are also quite large in size so perfect to cover up your shoulders during a colder summer evening or when you are on your way to a party only wearing a cocktail dress.

Embroidered blue wool scarf Wool Lifestyle Blog

Very fine woven merino wool scarf

This last category is also a very special one because of the beauty of the fine wool. You can sometimes not believe how fine and lightweight wool can be and these scarves are the proof of that. The white scarf is a Woolmark Gold licensed scarf in white that I actually wore to my civil wedding. It is I think the softest scarf I own and just feels wonderful on the skin.

These type of scarves are perfect for anyone with very sensitive skin. They work really well in summers and if you wish to look very elegant on a special occasion.

Lightweight merino wool scarf Embroidered blue wool scarf Wool Lifestyle Blog

What is your favourite wool scarf? How was it made and what shape does it have? Either leave a comment below or post a photo of your scarf on the Wool Lifestyle Facebook page.