You’ve been mooching through a selection of cashmere jumpers for a while and you finally make your mind up which one you want, but the first time you wear it you feel annoyed and cheated because before you know it it’s covered in little woollen balls. It makes the jumper look tatty and old, no matter how new it is. So, is this a sign that you’ve invested in a poor quality jumper?
The simple answer is no.
The forming of these little woollen balls is called ‘pilling’ and you shouldn’t assume that because a jumper pills it’s of a low quality. This assumption is completely wrong. Pilling is inevitable and there’s nothing that can be done to prevent it happening to any new cashmere garment.
Cashmere wool is one of the finest and softest natural fibres in the world and is the undercoat of Chinese and Mongolian goats. After the wool is processed and manufactured into the luxury clothing that we all love, tiny fibres remain loose among the knitting. When the jumper is worn for the first time, certain areas of the jumper, especially under the arm, go through rubbing with your daily movement. This in turn loosens those tiny fibres and these gather and clump together to form the tiny balls that we see and hate. It’s a natural process of the wool and is unavoidable – and in no way is it a sign of inferior quality. Even the most expensive, top quality cashmere jumpers will pill.
But it’s an easy assumption to make for those who don’t understand why fabric pills. Most people love the clothing but hold no interest in the manufacturing process, which in some cases is a shame. To understand where something comes from and the processes it has to go through can actually increase your appreciation.
But pilling is not as serious as many may believe and can be controlled. These little annoying pills can easily be removed by hand, and you can even purchase cashmere combs that safely remove them. These combs are designed to be used after you wash your jumper, brushing it along the fabric and removing any pill that has formed. This will make your jumper look like new once again, and by doing this you can even improve the quality. By combing cashmere, you’re actually helping the material to consolidate which softens it in handle and touch, and which can help to prolong its life. And pilling can actually be reduced by following its care instructions fully. Small things such as washing the garment in hot water or leaving it to soak for too long can increase it, but by avoiding this helps you to keep on top of the problem.
Cashmere jumpers differ from other woollen jumpers. They need a little extra care and attention, and by providing this you will find your jumper offers you many benefits in return. It will remain to be warm and snug whilst looking in top condition, and you will find it to be a loyal, valued piece of your collection that you can wear season after season.