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Why does knitwear sometimes bobble and how best to prevent it?

Keep your favourite sweater up to par with our pilling prevention advice.

04 June 2021 Words by Anniina 1 minute read Why does knitwear sometimes bobble and how best to prevent it?

We’ve all had to retire a favourite jumper early because of bobbling, but fear not, our guide on how to make knitwear last longer is here to help.

Why does knitwear bobble?
Bobbling or ‘pilling’ as it’s sometimes known, is perfectly normal and isn’t a sign of inferior-quality materials. It’s more noticeable on man-made materials where fibres are generally held together more tightly. Luckily Glenmuir's signature anti-pill finish and use of natural fibres such as lambswool, merino wool and cotton ensures long lasting durability and resistance to pilling. The unsightly bobbles form when fibres become loose over time and become knotted in a fabric rather than fall off. 

Why do golf sweaters have a higher risk of pilling or bobbling?
Golfers suffer particularly badly in the bobble stakes for two reasons; firstly, because we love a sweater more than most and secondly, because friction is one of the main causes of pilling. That’s right – all those swings on course and carrying that golf bag could be speeding up the pilling process. Glenmuir golf sweaters and Sunderland golf sweaters are specifically designed to reinforce high impact zones throughout the swing movement as well as areas which are susceptible to rubbing due to carrying your bag.

While washing and the way you store your golf jumper will contribute to wear and tear, we don’t know many other sports where you’d be so active and yet wrapped up so warm.

How should I wash my knitwear to prevent bobbles?
Prevention is always better than a cure and thankfully there are plenty of easy measures you can take to prevent bobbles from forming. You should wash all your golf sweaters inside out, so that most of the piling shows on the inside of your clothes, and always use a fabric conditioner too.

All lambswool, merino wool and cashmere items should be washed on a gentle cycle at 30°C, unless you prefer a handwash of course – the traditional method is much kinder on your clothes. No matter what approach you take, you should never dry your knitwear on a line as the weight of moisture can stretch your top out of shape. 

How to prevent knitwear from bobbling
How should I store my knitwear to prevent bobbles?
The most important thing to do is to stop your clothes rubbing against other items in your wardrobe. Garment storage bags offer a layer of protection and prevent moths and beetles from damaging your clothes too.

What can I do to help remove bobbles from jumpers?
When bobbles eventually appear on your clothes you can take steps to remove them. Garment combs, garment brushes, sweater stones and lint brushes work in a similar way to remove excess fibres but if you prefer a more modern approach, electric fabric shavers are a great option. Being gentle is key and you should take care not to snag on the material too much.