The Lilly Brush.

Many of us who love working with squishy, soft yarns have had to face the fact that those yarns often pill. Fine, short fibers feel soft to the touch, and it’s those fibers that are the first to be pulled out of the yarn with abrasion, creating little puffs that stand out from the fabric while clinging to it. Fibers with longer staple lengths will not pill as quickly, and the same goes for tightly plied yarns, but the sad reality is that pilling is a part of life for nearly all knitted garments, especially those that get lots of wear–sweater armpits, for example. If we can’t avoid pills altogether, our best defense against them is removing them once they arise. Here’s a new tool for just this task: the Lilly Brush.

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This is yet another product that we can thank Clara Parkes for bringing to our attention; she recently reviewed the Lilly Brush on her excellent blog, Knitter’s Review. The bristles on the Lilly Brush pick up stray fibers and pills as you brush it across your garment. Anne and I put our sample brush to the test on her adult-sized Baby Surprise Jacket, made in Berroco Peruvia, an aran weight single ply wool. Single ply wools are particularly prone to pilling, as are sweater armpits, as I said before, so we started there.

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After a good Lilly Brushing, Anne’s sweater was good as new–still fuzzy, as single ply wools are, but looking fresh and pill-free. I bought one for myself and put it to work on one of my softest and most pilled sweaters, made in Swans Island Organic Merino Fingering. It’s a favorite sweater, one I wear all the time, and because of that, it’s pilled quite a bit. I’d made peace with the pilling, accepted that pills are the price we pay for soft sweaters, but with the Lilly Brush in hand, I declared war on the pills and brushed until the fabric looked smooth again. I love the result!

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The Lilly Brush is designed to be gentle enough to remove pills from natural fibers without damaging the fabric, and as a result, it’s a little too gentle to work on synthetics. According to Clara Parkes’ review, even yarn with only a 10-20% nylon content was too synthetic to succumb to the Lilly Brush. This suits us just fine, however, since we stock only natural fibers at the shop, save for those sock yarns that really benefit from that 10-20% nylon content.

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Come by the shop to pick up a Lilly Brush of your own, then pull out your sweaters and brush the pills away. See you at the shop!