Cashmere Cardigans: What Is Pilling?

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Cashmere cardigans are luxury items of clothing that often come at a price.  Therefore when little balls appear on the material you feel disappointed because they make your cardigan look old and tatty.  But your cashmere cardigan can actually benefit from this.  So why does it happen?

The forming of little balls on the material of your cashmere cardigan is called ‘pilling' and is a natural occurrence that you can't avoid, no matter how much you paid for your garment.  Pilling happens when loose fibres work themselves free from the rest of the wool and then gather and clump together to form those annoying little balls of fluff that we hate.  These often appear in areas that get rubbed with daily movement, such as under the arm. 

These balls – or ‘pills' – are easily removed, however.  You can easily pull them off by hand or you can invest in a specially designed cashmere comb, allowing you to comb the wool of your cashmere cardigans and remove pills that way.  Simple. 

Some believe that when cashmere cardigans pill it's a sign that they are low quality, but this isn't always the case.  These loose fibres that work themselves free often come as a result of the manufacturing process and what is left over after the wool has been spun.  But the release of these loose fibres can actually benefit cashmere. 

When the fur is gathered from the cashmere goat and processed, only hair that meets specific guidelines are used to make the quality clothing we love.  These guidelines mean that only hairs measuring 34mm and over in length and 16.5 microns in thickness are used.  This ensures that the hairs are strong , are woven in properly and will remain in place, whereas anything shorter will work its way loose and create pills.  With the loose hair out of the way it leaves the longer, better quality hair in place which makes the garment feel softer and last longer, adding truth to the rumour that cashmere becomes better quality with age. 

Anything can contribute to pilling; the remainder of loose hair after being manufactured, to being mistreated and not looked after properly.  Even being hand washed too vigorously can have an effect.  Caring for your cashmere cardigans in the proper manner will dramatically reduce pilling but it won't stop it entirely.  And remember, these pills can easily be removed without causing damage to your garment, meaning that you can easily get the ‘in-brand-new-condition' look back again, something that will remain throughout the years to come.   
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